Cover Letter Basics

A dynamic cover letter can be an important part of your college internship or full time job search, and is not really used by a lot of college students. It is like the introduction to a sales or marketing packet with one slight difference - you are selling yourself. In order to do a great sales job, there are some basics that are essential. When getting ready to create your cover letter it is important to remember that this is your letter of introduction and it should be unique to you and your potential employer. The first paragraph, therefore, should be to the point and capture the employer's attention. It should point out the positive contributions and attributes you will bring to the company and it should paint a clear picture of your uniqueness.

Highlight the things that set you apart from other potential candidates. As you move into the second paragraph, you should share details about your professional and academic qualifications. However, before writing anything down, take a minute to think about what kinds of qualifications and skills the job requires.

What is the hiring manager going to want to see in his or her ideal candidate? Now you can start writing the second paragraph. Many people point out their job responsibilities and duties, which can be very mundane. Instead, take the opportunity to highlight your contributions, accomplishments and achievements, especially those that are relevant to the position you are applying for. For example, if you are applying to be a sales manager, you could name an accomplishment such as: "I led my team with XYZ Company to double sales and profit by the end of my first year. Our team received Sales Team of the Year for the entire company worldwide, as a result.

" If I am looking to hire someone, that just caught my attention. Even if I am interrupted or don't read much further, I know I want to at least speak to you. If you don't have that much experience in the field, highlight the skills that you have that are transferable to the position you are applying for and use the same writing principles. Your third paragraph should explain why you should be considered by this company for this position. Describe your qualifications and show your knowledge of the company.

You should take the time to research the company. In your letter, show that you are familiar with the company. Research the company I advance by looking them up on the internet by name or by checking sources such as Forbes or Fortune 500 online. If the company is smaller, thoroughly explore their website or try to obtain any written information, such as brochures, financial reports to give you a picture of who they are and what they do. If you have a fourth paragraph, it should proactively ask for an interview or a meeting and reiterate that you feel strongly that you would be a perfect or great fit for the job.

Convey these thoughts confidently but not in a conceited or overpowering way. Also be proactive by stating that you will call/contact the individual/company at a specific time, such as next Tuesday or by the end of next week, to follow up. Once you have done all this hard work and completed your letter, it is essential that you follow-up. This can't be stressed enough.

You may be following up by phone or email, but either way, it is important to follow up. I have often heard employers say that they hired a particular potential employee because that individual continued to follow up so much and so well, that it was obvious that she would work hard for the company as well.

This article was written by Bob Halgren, an expert on educating college students on how to get a college internship or full time job. For more information and other articles, visit

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