New Grads, To Create a Knock-out Cover Letter Answer This One Question

Congratulations to new graduates, near and far, high school or college! Your hard work has paid off. Now it’s time to find your dream job, ideally. However, when you’re coming straight out of college or high school, it can be difficult to write an effective and impressive cover letter during your job search. You may not fully understand what you bring to the table strengths-wise or regarding your experience (that’s normal and a topic for another blog post:). You may even think that a cover letter isn’t really that important.

While it’s true that some companies may not pay much attention to your cover letter, many do require a cover letter. Having one versus not having one can make a big impression on the employer regarding how much you care about getting the job. If you don’t include a cover letter with your resume, the hiring manager could pass over your application and focus on other applicants who did take the time to write a cover letter. So, if you want to make the best first impression possible during your job search, it’s essential to write a cover letter. Even with the existence of LinkedIn as a job search tool, a cover letter is still a critical piece to your job search.

While a cover letter will not necessarily be the reason why you are hired, it is a way to generate interest in you as a potential hire. It demonstrates your written communication skills and is another opportunity to sell yourself. It will help make the hiring manager feel compelled to look at your application further. Your purpose in writing a cover letter is to explain why you would be a good fit for the position. And you can do this whether you have extensive job experience or not by the way.

When writing a cover letter, keep in mind that you want to answer the following question: What does the employer need, and how do I fit that need? To determine what the employer needs, look for clues in their job posting. Look for keywords, responsibilities of the position, and the requirements. We suggest identifying 3-4 areas where you best fit the job description to include in your cover letter.

As a new graduate, keep in mind that you don’t have to fit all of the requirements to apply for a  position. You should have many of them (generally the most important requirements are listed first in a job post) and be able to provide compelling reasons for them to hire you without having all of the requirements. You don’t have to match the job description in every way, you have to find where you are a good fit and accentuate those areas in your cover letter.

Use your high school or college experience as proof that you have honed certain strengths. For instance, if one of your strengths is that you are a problem-solver, mention it in your cover letter in the context of how you’ve developed the strength. For example, “in my four years of experience in my University Business Club I was consistently asked to find creative solutions to problems.” Providing context for gives the hiring manager evidence for your strength, so it is more believable than simply saying, “I am a problem solver.” Give them an example of how you leveraged this strength.

Starting with this one simple question to answer will help you write a compelling, strong cover letter. So start there…

If you need additional assistance with your resume, cover letter or job search in general, set up a time to talk with Hallie about your needs and how we can help. Best of luck in your search!