Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Job Search Tip: Writing a Cover Letter

Submitted by Amberly Lebeck Brown, Rio Salado College Counselor

Although job postings may not specifically state its need, a cover letter is an important piece to an applicant’s submission for employment. A cover letter provides an opportunity to demonstrate passion for the company or position and to express a professional personality in a way that cannot be expressed in the resume.

Cover letters are often more difficult to compose than resumes. The opportunity for pitfalls is exponentially increased. Although templates for cover letters do exist, using them is not recommended.

Templates are designed to make documents look uniform. Although, the professional look provided by a template can be useful, it is critical that the ideas are unique to the applicant. The goal is to get an application to stand out above the rest (without going overboard). Templates do not serve this purpose very well.

Some other things that job seekers should be aware of when writing cover letters include:
  • A cover letter is not a one-line email, but it should also not be a novel covering the applicant's entire life history. Aim for three or four short paragraphs. 
  • A formal business letter format is preferred.
  • Applicants should write a unique cover letter for each potential position; using the same letter over and over will only ensure that the application ends up in the circular filing bin.
There is no easy way to compose a cover letter. Remember, though, that the time invested will eventually pay off in the form of that coveted position! Rio Salado’s Career Exploration (CPD102AB) course can help students navigate through the process of creating a winning cover letter to go with their attention getting resume. Visit the Rio Salado College Counseling and Career Services page to learn more.