Muschamp Rd

Writing a Cover Letter

May 8th, 2008
Job Wanted

I’m written too many posts about looking for work and being unemployed. I try to be productive and positive but it is a challenge. I recently collected the best advice I could find for jobseekers into a single location. This post though older contains some good information still. Mobilizing Mouse offering simple, practical advice to job seekers. I’m not sure he deals with a lot of MBAs but his advice is still applicable, I particularly recommend his posting on dealing with gaps in your resume and the purpose of cover letters.

More recently I discovered Eric Shannon’s “The complete job search guide – how to land a job at a great company” which I recommend. Hannah Morgan regularly gives career advice at her website Career Sherpa, read what she had to say about writing cover letters.

Everything I know about writing cover letters I swear I learned from UVIC’s Computer Science Co-op. It has been a long time but basically breaking down the four paragraphs:

  1. State the position title, reference number if any, and where you saw the advertisement. Recruiters like to see how effective particular job ads were. You can also have a short one sentence description of yourself and why you are a good fit for the position, including your top three qualities or qualifications.
  2. Restate the job description in terms of your qualifications. It is that simple. Write about how the qualities they are looking for are the very qualities you possess. Simply mention the ones you have and ignore completely anything you are lacking. Supposedly if you have 50% of the requirements you should apply for the job, as you never know what the response to the ad will be or how realistic the recruiting company’s expectations actually are.
  3. Additional Information on “why you” I don’t remember what this paragraph was actually suppose to be about, I use it to provide additional information or reasons why I am right for the position. I often include information that isn’t elaborately detailed or even mentioned at all on my resume. I agree with demonstrating that you actually researched the company or the position or the industry, this is doubly important in the interview. I sometimes have professional experience discussed in the second paragraph and education and non-quantitative qualities discussed in the third paragraph.
  4. Thank them for their time and give them a reason to contact you. I rarely change my fourth paragraph, the important thing is to be positive, enthusiastic, and to give them a call to action. Offer references, or writing samples, if none had been explicitly required.

You’re going to have to look far and wide for someone who has written more cover letters than me, I have written over 1000 since doing my Sauder MBA.


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