Written by: John Lemp
Mastering a Professional Cover Letter: College Edition
Writing a cover letter in college can be a daunting task, especially if it’s your first one. Where do you even start?
In the first article in the series “Learn to Write Like a Legend,” I will be discussing the importance of the professional cover letter in the employment recruitment process. I am in the midst of applying to a number of summer internships in finance and management consulting, and would like to share my style for writing cover letters with fellow college students and young professionals.
As is necessary for all other types of writing, cover letters require attention to detail when editing and proofreading, especially when using a general, multi-function cover letter that only requires you to change the address, salutation, company name, and job position. For example, sending a cover letter to Morgan Stanley and having in the first line, “I am writing to J.P. Morgan…” is the ultimate no-no, and most likely will lead to a rejection of your application.
Cover letters serve as a way for you to introduce yourself to a potential employer, demonstrate your writing competence, and provide a means of elaborating upon a few key elements of your resume.
[SPOILER ALERT] — I created a cover letter template for your reference — you can download it from the link below!
Let’s take a look:
Writing your professional cover letter — 6 tips:
- Find out the name and title of the person responsible for hiring in the department that is of interest to you. Then, address all professional correspondence to that individual.
- State how you heard about the position. (Ex. campus recruiting, personal connection, recruiting website, staffing agency, etc.)
- Convey that you are informed about the employer / organization and knowledgeable about the job’s functions and responsibilities.
- Describe how your qualifications and skills meet the hiring needs of the employer.
- If applicable, in your opening sentence, refer to a personal or professional contact who directed you to that potential employer / organization.
- In the concluding paragraph, provide your contact information (phone number and email address). Also, thank the employer for their time and consideration and state that you look forward to hearing their decision and/or speaking with them.
Formatting your professional cover letter, 6 “can’t miss” items:
- Provide your current return address. The recruiting process for summer internships happens rather quickly and you should want any potential employer-related correspondence to go to your current address, not your permanent address, if you live on-campus.
- When writing return and destination addresses, be consistent. For example, if you abbreviate the state name in the return address, do so for the destination address. If you decide to write out the full state name, do so for both the return and destination addresses.
- For the salutation, use “Dear Mr. / Ms. _____ : “ Using a colon is necessary when addressing people in a formal, professional manner.
- Cover letters should be single-spaced, with one line’s space in between the paragraphs, salutations, and closing.
- Finally, use a professional closing, such as “Sincerely,” “Truly yours,” or “Best Regards.”
- Follow whichever closing you decide to use with a comma, skip one line’s space and write your signature.
These tips will have you writing cover letters like a legend in no time. Best of luck to all those students seeking summer internships and undergoing the recruiting process right now.
[AS PROMISED] - Legendary Collegian — Cover Letter Template
The next article in the series will be about resume tips, so stay tuned!
Do you have any tips we missed? How about any questions for us? We want to hear about it. Please keep us updated on your efforts in the comments below!