Writing a great cover letter

Part of healthy youth development includes being hired into first-time job positions.

When interviewing candidates for an internship position, I noticed that many of the students needed tips on writing and submitting a cover letter. One of the biggest components of a cover letter is spelling and grammar. The cover letter is supposed to be your best work and sets the base for what the employer will think your work is going to be. Besides the spelling and grammar, here are six tips for a great cover letter:

  1. Don’t repeat your resume
    A lot of people write cover letters as if they were paragraph format resumes. Instead, use your cover letter to show personality, curiosity and an interest in the field you are applying to work in. Use it to show expertise and interest.
  2. Keep it short
    Youth applying for internships early in their career; especially their first positions should keep their cover letter to a half page.
  3. Address nobody
    Sometimes, you don’t know exactly who you should be addressing your letter to. Eliminate the generic and bland “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To Whom It May Concern.” If you absolutely don’t know who you should be addressing, then don’t address anybody. Instead, just jump right into the body of the letter.
  4. Never ever, ever use the following phrase
    “My name is… and I am applying for the position as….” They already know this, and you’ll sound inexperienced.
  5. Close strong
    Finish off by quickly explaining how your experience or worldview will help you at the job. That’s key, it’s the closer and it can be done in one to two seconds. If it goes any longer, you’re just rambling.
  6. Send it as a PDF

    Not every office computer can read .docx or .pages files, but virtually everybody can open a PDF file without any conversion.

Michigan State University Extension offers programming for youth to help them gain the confidence they need to enter the career world.

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