A cover letter is a letter of introduction that accompanies a resume when applying for a job or an internship. It helps establish a first impression with a potential employer before they even go through a resume. It is important that the cover letter creates a good first impression which will significantly increase the odds of the hiring manager setting up an interview with an applicant. The letter is a display of your communication skills and your ability to put coherent thoughts into writing. It is no surprise then that most potential employers require a cover letter, or an equivalent statement of introduction, in a job application process. This begs an important question: how do you write an effective cover letter?
Research The Description Of The Internship
The most basic step is to research the job description of the internship. Knowing the day to day activities during the internship will guide an applicant in writing a cover letter that directly caters for the potential employers. For example, if the job involves the intensive use of MS Office in presentation, the cover letter can mention proficiency in using MS Office.
The description will also list the qualifications required for the position. This list informs the applicant of which qualifications to mention in the cover letter.
Writing The Cover Letter
Applying for an internship with a poorly arranged cover letter filled with grammatical errors – including poor spelling and punctuation – and informal language paints the picture of a disorganized applicant who does not take the role seriously. Such a cover letter will be tossed aside.
Each cover letter should be customized to make it stand out. Customization will require some research into the company to help present an image that is consistent with the values of the company. It is quite tempting to create a general cover letter to send different potential employers but generic cover letters never get noticed.
It is also important to personalize each application. A cover letter addressed to “Whom It May Concern” comes off as impersonal, and might get put aside. Do research – by visiting the official company website – into the name and title of the person with hiring power in the company, and address the letter to them. If this information cannot be found, the letter can be addressed “Dear Human Resources Manager”.
The cover letter should be brief, with a maximum of one page in length. Hiring managers usually have a few minutes to skim over the hundreds of application letters that come their way. A lengthy application might be off-putting. Brevity encapsulates the applicant in a nutshell.
It should be precise. It should cover the role being applied for, a short profile of the applicant, and any personal strengths, achievements, or previous experience that would make them well suited to the role.
It should be formal. A cover letter is a professional document and as such should avoid going into details that are too personal or using informal language.
It should show enthusiasm for the role and a willingness to start as soon as possible.
Finally, the font of the cover letter should match that of the resume. Proofread the application once completed.
All the best as you apply for an internship.