2019 HBCU Careers Magazine

HBCU Careers Magazine

7. TWO TO THREE detailed and poignant examples of how you have demonstrated meeting the expressed needs of the role and what preferred skills/qualities you possess (think STAR/BAR method – Situation/Task/Action/Result or Behavior/Action/Result). No more than two paragraphs, about 4-5 sentences each. Alternatively, in bullet format you can highlight more examples, but this section should not take up more than one half of a page. 8. A short request for an interview 9. Closing greetings and your contact Information You should be able to tell a hiring manager or gatekeeper how and why you have what they need explicitly, that they should continue on to review your resume, and that you want to be interviewed in no more than three quarters of a page. Breaking up the content with bullets or information chunks and using subtle design elements can serve as tie-breakers if all else is equal. Things NOT to Have in a Cover Letter Things that are too general or unsubstantiated: • “I am a great fit for this position.” Instead of saying you are great fit, give specific examples of why and how you are a great fit. • “I possess many skills that would be useful for the role.” Concentrating on what those skills are and how they would be useful for particular needs expressed in the job description responsibilities is best.Things that are obvious: • “My name is…” The reader will know your name because it is on the page already so avoid taking up space with this kind of unnecessary filler content. • “Please feel free to contact me if you need more information.” Rest assured, if the reader does need or want more information, they will contact you, so use this word count to give them a reason to contact you! Things that are not relevant to the job/job description: • If team work is a strength you have, but the job description describes the role you are applying for with words like “self-starting, self-motivated, minimal supervision, independent,” then it may not be the right role for you or you will need to focus on other strengths that lend to the type of needs that the job description includes. • Personal examples are much less powerful than professional/academic ones. • For the cover letter, use the class project where you helped bring the team together with your negotiation and diplomacy skills versus how you settled an argument as the middle child between your siblings.

Things that are automatic red flags: • Bad grammar and/or typographical errors

Proofread the cover letter! Read it to a friend. Get a third review from you’re your Career Services office. If you have errors and bad grammar in a cover letter, it is like typing “THROW THIS IN THE TRASH” at the top of the letter in 78 point font.


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