Cover letters

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  • Don’t use “to whom it may concern.”

    • Look for a recruiter or talent acquisition name on Linkedin from the company. Do some digging!

    • “To whom it may concern” is generic, will dehumanize your letter, and make it seem like yet another piece churned out to the masses.

    • The wrong name is better than no name because it shows that you did some research. If you can’t find a name, at least write something along the lines of the position or committee that will probably look at your materials: XX recruitment team or XX hiring manager.

    • Check out this article about how to hunt down a hiring manager's email.

  • Your cover letter is not a paragraph version of your resume.

    • The cover letter will highlight a few experiences from your resume that are the most relevant and then go into greater detail.

    • A common mistake is to rehash your resume and list experiences and responsibilities.

    • A person should be able to learn more about you while reading the cover letter. What did you learn? How does this job tie into the new job? Why are you the best person for this job? Did you grow? What are you passionate about? Pick your top 2 or 3 experiences and go deeper.

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  • Remove all the “I think” “I hope” “I might” and use more confident language.

    • Write as if you are very certain of everything you are saying.

    • Reread your letter and remove any signs of hesitation. Your letter will most likely be able to read with the same connotation as you remove those phrases.

    • Confidence translates into your words. Why would an employer trust to hire you, if you don’t even believe in yourself.

    • While writing it can be easy to slip into disclaimers because it’s scary to put yourself out there.

  • In the salutation, do not use “Mrs.”

    • That is outdated, and you cannot assume anyone’s marital status or identity.

  • If your cover letter is generic enough that you could switch with a classmate and it would still be applicable then you need to rewrite it.

    • Read through your letter and think objectively: would you hire this person? Is this a person, or a robot? Sure, many people applying to the same jobs have similar experiences and internships. But besides the day to day responsibilities, what can you bring from those experiences that people with the same background cannot? What have you learned? How are you going to apply your knowledge to the new job?

  • Put a colon (:) after the salutation, not a comma.

    • This is just a standard formality.

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#WOCinTech Chat

  • In the intro don’t just write standard, “Hi my name is ___ and I’m excited to apply for the XX position”

    • That’s so boring - Why are you here? Who are you? This needs be engaging.

    • What motivates you?

    • What are some things that make you curious?

    • Why are you passionate about this work/company?

  • Keep it to one page.

    • Similar to the resume, you want this to be easy and quick to read.

    • It can still give details and insight about your experiences but do it in a concise manner.

  • Read it out loud to catch grammar mistakes and to make sure you what you wrote is what you meant to say.

    • It might feel silly to read your cover letter out loud, but it's amazing at how things actually sound verses in your head while writing.

    • When you read it out loud, it’s much closer to how the employer will be reading it for the first time.

  • Cover letter for every application, even if they don't tell you to do so.

    • Even if it is brief, it will help you stand out from candidates that did not submit one. Including one will also give you an opportunity to explain yourself or give them more context about you.

  • Always thank them for the opportunity at the end.

    • This is also where you can give additional contact information to follow up.

After reading your letter, someone should be able to answer these questions:

  • Why do you want the job?

  • What experiences have you had in the past that demonstrate you’re qualified for the new job?

  • What are you passionate about?

  • Why are you different from someone who has the same resume?

  • How can they get ahold of you?