It’s cover letter season. Most of us, if we haven’t already, are scrambling around to secure an internship or job for the summer, and unfortunately, this means that all of our (abundance of) free time is spent writing (or avoiding) cover letters. To help you with your job or internship search, here are a few tips to make the dreaded cover letter writing process a little less painful.
- Do your research. Before writing any cover letter, be sure to check out the company’s website, social media pages, and any other relevant sources. Take notes on the company’s main functions, values, and beliefs. Look back at your notes when you’re done. What does this company want in an employee? Incorporate this information into your cover letter and argue that you are the best fit for their company. Hiring managers will be impressed by your knowledge of the company, and this makes you stand out among other candidates.
- Find a real person to address your letter to. Search LinkedIn or the company’s website to find the name of a human resources manager or recruiter. Addressing your letter to one of these people is more personal than addressing it to the hiring manager or hiring committee. It also shows that you’ve done your research.
- Pull out key words from the job posting and integrate them into your letter. I like to print out job ads, pull out my favorite colorful pen, and then scribble all over the ad, circling words and phrases that describe traits and skills that I have. Pointing out the specific ways I fit the job description helps me organize my professional experience and write about it in a way that fits the job I’m applying for. Including key phrases from the job posting in your cover letter shows that you’ve paid careful attention to the position’s duties and roles within the organization.
- Write a new cover letter for every job. Companies will recognize a cookie cutter cover letter right when they see it. Instead, customize your letter to fit the position and company you’re applying for. Mention specific information about their company and the position. This shows hiring managers that you’ve put in the time and effort to write a cover letter catered directly to their needs.
These suggestions cover only the tip of the iceberg. For more advice, visit careernetwork.msu.edu. And don’t forget—we’re always available to help at the Writing Center!
Hey there! Welcome to my very first Consultant Diaries post. I’m Erica, and I’ve been working at The Writing Center for exactly one semester (and a half).
I absolutely love working at The Writing Center. It’s not a boring on-campus job where you’re doing the same thing every day. I mean, you kind of do the same thing every day (you consult people, obviously), but each consultation is different and there’s something new to learn from every single one.
This week, I’ve learned about the importance of being quiet, of sitting back and letting the client think or just take off writing. In WRA 395, the class you take to become a consultant here, we called this “letting the client lead the session.”
For instance, the other day I had a client who wanted help writing a cover letter. She had never written a cover letter before, so I spent a few minutes explaining the general requirements for content and organization. The client took notes while I explained all this. Then suddenly, she dove in and started writing her intro paragraph. I just sat there and let her write. She got stuck and asked me for advice. I gave her some, and then she started writing again. So I sat there and let her write. And so we continued for most of the session.
It felt weird just sitting there because I didn’t feel like I was helping the client. But then I realized that what I was really doing was letting her follow her own writing process. And that always leads to the most success.
Those are my words of wisdom for the week. I’ll be back in a couple weeks. Until then, drink some tea, write a lot, and come say hi to us at The Writing Center! If you’re lucky, there will be chocolate in the bowl on the counter. =)
Nika Harper does vlogs on the Geek and Sundry Youtube channel. Her vlog series is titled “Wordplay” and its topic is creative writing. You might be wondering how creative writing videos might help you become a better writer, right? Well keep reading!
Creative writing can be important in an academic setting because you’re not always going to be writing boring 5 paragraph essays or lengthy research papers. Anyone who has written a literacy narrative knows what I’m talking about, and personal statements to an extent. Essentially any situation in which one must tell a story, it’s creative writing that gets this done. Creative writing can hone skills that are essential to becoming an effective writer in any context or genre, like writing for different audiences and writing in different voices.
However, all of Nika’s videos aren’t about creative writing. This video is actually about cover letters:
This video is especially practical, yet the video is still entertaining and quirky in her own creative way.
Even if you don’t like creative writing, I highly encourage you to check out this vlog series, it’s very entertaining and informative.
This time of year many of us are thinking about the “rest” of our lives and getting to the next step. An important piece in the process is The Cover Letter. If you are applying for jobs in academia, the cover letter is an entirely different beast. It is totally fine to go past one page, but keep to the point. Make sure that everything you say truly adds value to the letter. Check out this An excellent guide to applying for academic positions is at The Chronicle of Higher Education.