2017 HBCU Careers Magazine

HBCU Careers Magazine

The Ultimate Cover Letter Tool Kit By: Alexandra Arrington, LPCA, NCC, DCC Career Counselor, Consultant and Coach

Cover letters can be an ungraspable concept for many a writer, let alone a college student getting ready to start breaking into the career arena. On account of this dilemma comes The Ultimate Cover Letter Tool Kit. Having a detailed outline of the critical elements of a cover letter can help alleviate some of the stress around writing them. Also, understanding your strengths, unique giftedness, and qualities that set you apart from others—referred to here as your “great greatness”—is key to writing a compelling cover letter. The Purpose of a Cover Letter Many people find it hard to write a compelling cover letter for

two reasons: they don’t know exactly what to write or how to write it. Understanding the purpose of a cover letter is the first step toward working through those common road blocks. Like the resume, cover letters are marketing tools. The difference with a cover letter is that you have a bit more space to tell a story about the “great greatness” you possess i.e. what you do, how you do it, and why you do it in ways that are different and better than others. Writing cover letters, although they are tedious, provides the opportunity to do more than “cover” the resume, but to expound on the information in your resume that gets straight to the heart of meeting an organization’s expressed business need. By extension, you are able to share how you have done similar things in the past that you can apply to the organization, which is a critical part of the cover letter’s purpose. The cover letter structure, which answers the “how to write it” question, is the next important part to master. The Anatomy of a Cover Letter The cover letter structure or the essential items to be included, also, can be missed or misunderstood easily, which is a set up for failure when it comes to the content. What should be included in a cover letter, at minimum and more or less in order of appearance, is: 1. Contact information for where the letter is going (e.g. company/department name, street address, email address, and phone number) 2. The date of submission 3. Greetings to A SPECIFIC point of contact, encountered through research (instead of “To Whom it Concerns” or “Dear Hiring Manager”) 4. A point of connection to the opportunity (How did you find out about the role? Who referred you?) 5. A one line summary of your interest 6. A two sentence summary of background, experience and relevant qualifications


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