When have you written a cover letter in the past? What has been your general approach to designing this kind of document? What do you think are some of the key things to keep in mind when composing an effective cover letter?

Looking back at my past experience with writing a cover letter, I can’t say that I either have written a lot of them or been in a situation where I would have to make one for the sake of getting a job. I do recall that in grade school, I was taught to write a cover letter as part of an exercise and for practice. However, when it came time to apply my knowledge in making cover letters for seeking employment, none of the jobs I’ve applied to (so far) required one. In fact, the only jobs that do require one for the most part I see, are careers that also require having a degree of some sort and / or an extensive resume. When I applied for a graphic design co-op via the university’s job board, the employer needed a cover letter and that’s when I made one for the first time.

Taking what I previously learned from school and using a template, I made sure to incorporate all my main ideas I wanted to highlight. This included the following: describing how my coursework and learned skills have prepared me to demonstrate what I know to what I can do in the workforce, why I am applying to that particular job and how it could help me gain experience and open doors after graduation and last but not least, addressing my enthusiasm and eagerness to gain experience and work hard for it if hired. Basically, that was my approach content-wise; length-wise, I kept my wording at a 1-page minimum and wording-wise, I made sure to delve right into my points.

After reading course lecture notes, I was pleased to know that my approach to writing a cover letter was on par with most of the crucial details to include. I was also interested to have found out more ideas one could take in improving or adding to their cover letter. Tips that I found that will be helpful for me are having a more formatted heading, using acceptable margins and requesting an interview (which hadn’t occurred to me to put until I read about it). In all, one of my key points in writing an effective cover letter is to elaborate on why one is interested in a job in a manner that doesn’t simply mimic a resume; as a resume demonstrates learned and applied experience, a cover letter is the only chance to allow a job seeker to put into words (prior to an interview) of who they are and what they represent as an ideal candidate for employment.

Therefore, it gives the employer a chance to learn about an applicant as a person and not just a number in an applicant pool. One other key point is to keep a cover letter organized and short as doing neither will ensure it to either being passed on (for being too long) or read but not accepted (for being unprofessionally formatted and written).

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