While a well-thought out and edited resume is incredibly important when applying for jobs, it is often not the only thing a prospective employer wants from applicants.
Cover letters are commonly required, but many companies do not inform applicants of what they are looking for in these letters, leaving many people confused as to where to begin. However, if one follows a few simple rules pertaining to cover letters, then it should be easy to give employers what they’re looking for and land a job.
If writing a cover letter seems like a daunting task, start first by looking at examples of cover letters in books or on the internet. The Kansas City, Kan., Public Library has a great career collection that includes many books on resumes and cover letters. Check a few books out from the nearest library branch and look over the example letters they contain. This will help demystify the process by displaying the desired end result. Also, these books, as well as myriad websites, contain templates for cover letters that can be followed or give ideas on formatting.
While cover letter examples and templates are an excellent jumping off point, it is important to personalize every cover letter. Make sure that a letter submitted to a restaurant, for example, does not discuss the same job details or skills as one sent to a school. While the skills of an applicant may not change from letter to letter, the way they are described and related to the specific job description should be altered every time. This shows the employer that the description and posting have been thoroughly read and that the applicant is able to envision himself in a particular job.
When writing a personalized cover letter, it is important to use keywords that really convey to the company that the applicant’s skills are a match for the open position. However, if the job description terms are simply repeated verbatim, it will seem as though little effort was involved in writing the letter. Instead of copying the description, attempt to paraphrase and use synonyms so that the skills being presented represent the skills desired by the company, without restating their own words. When it comes to resumes and cover letters, active words are best. Some examples of great keywords to use in a cover letter: wrote, planned, taught, and created. Find a list of 100 words to use at www.aie.org.
Following these tips will start job applicants on the path to writing successful cover letters. But if more assistance is required, all are welcome to visit the Working Wednesday program at the Kansas City, Kan., Public Library – Main branch. Beginning July 17, attendees can get one-on-one help with any job-related task from 1 to 3 p.m. every Wednesday, including writing a cover letter. For more information on this program, check out the library’s calendar at www.kckpl.org.
Emma Claudius is the business librarian at the Main Kansas City, Kan., Public Library, 625 Minnesota Ave.