Published on March 16, 2016
1. COVER LETTERS & LETTERS OF REC ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
2. Cover Letters ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
3. Your cover letter is more powerful than you might think… During your job search, you should never underestimate the power of a cover letter. Your cover letter can be the deciding factor in getting you the interview over someone who has essentially the same resume. Hiring managers do take the time to open your cover letter. However, if they see that someone does not take the cover letter seriously or that they’ve copy pasted it from another job that they had applied to, it’s an automatic no, regardless of past experience. Keys to a great cover letter ● Keep it concise ● Tell a story ● Don’t use the same cover letter for every application ● Don’t write out your resume in paragraph form ● Share why you’re excited about the opportunity ● Don’t sell yourself short ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
4. Keep it concise Keeping a cover letter short and concise is sometimes harder than it sounds. Keep your cover letter to one page. This makes sure that even if the reader is skimming it, they’ll get the main idea right away. It’s important that you have someone read over and edit your cover letter because they’ll be able to help you decide where to cut something out or where you can make sentences clearer and shorter. ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
5. Tell a story Your cover letter is your chance to let your personality shine through and to tell a story that relates to the position that you are applying for. You could share about a time when in class or an internship or past job you had to overcome something or how you got assigned a project that let you realize what you are passionate about. ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
6. Don’t use the same cover letter This one can be pretty tempting, especially when you are applying to so many jobs. You might think that substituting a word here and there will customize it enough to work. Most hiring managers can see right through this. Think of your cover letter as you having a one-on-one conversation with someone. Even if it’s the same topic, it’s going to be different depending on who you are speaking to. ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
7. It’s not your resume in paragraph form Your cover letter is not a chance for you to write out your resume in paragraph form. That’s what your resume is for. If a hiring manager is reading your cover letter and it looks just like your resume, they’re going to move on to the next candidate who is ready to put in the effort to go above and beyond in their job application. ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
8. Share your excitement While your resume tells a hiring manager why you are qualified for a position, the cover letter is your chance to share why you are excited about the opportunity. Hiring managers want to hire candidates who are excited about not only the job, but about being with the company long term. They want to see that you are excited about building a career there. ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
9. Don’t sell yourself short Too many times applicants use the cover letter to apologize for their lack of expertise in something or to talk about their weaknesses. Whether this approach is to sound humble or honest, it’s not the time or place. This is the place to sell yourself and explain why this job is the one for you regardless of your past experience. ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
10. Recommendation Letters ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
11. How to ask for a recommendation letter for a job or grad school application: If you’ve started the application process for graduate school, then you already know the importance of lining up your three recommendations letters. Even if you aren’t applying to graduate school and instead are applying for full time jobs, you’ll see that you need to line up your references as well. These tips work for both situations and will ensure that you are asking for recommendation letters in a professional, polite, and successful way. Keys to asking for a recommendation letter ● Ask someone who knows you ● Be mindful of the timing ● Let them know your goals ● Give them a copy of your resume ● Say thank you ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
12. Ask someone who knows you When it comes to choosing who you are going to ask for a recommendation letter from, make sure that you ask a professor, mentor, or manager who actually does know you and how you work. Ask the professor whose office hours you attended or whose class you raised your hand in. Even if you didn’t get an A in the course, they’ll still be able to write you a quality letter because they’ve gotten to know you. What you don’t want to do is ask a professor in your 150 student lecture who might not even know your name. The people who read recommendation letters read hundreds of them and they can tell the difference between a letter written by someone who knows the student and someone who is writing a generic letter that could work for just about anyone. ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
13. Be mindful of the timing It is important that you are respectful of the time of the person you are asking to write your letter. Make sure that you ask well in advance so that they know that they have an upcoming deadline and can plan their schedule accordingly. What you don’t want is to make them feel rushed to meet the deadline and they feel stressed or aren’t able to provide a high quality letter. Ask if they would be willing to write the letter about two months in advance. About four weeks before the deadline, follow up with them letting them know that the deadline is four weeks away. ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
14. Let them know your goals In order for someone to write you a great recommendation letter, it’ s important that you let them know why you’re applying for something. Let them see your passion in this next academic or professional move so that they can see the importance of you being accepted. The more details you give them, the more specific and compelling your recommendation letter will be. ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
15. Give them a copy of your resume If you’re asking a teacher to write you a recommendation letter, they may know what you’ve been up to in the classroom but not outside of the classroom. By taking a look at your resume, they will be able to get a holistic view on how you spend your time and your experience. ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
16. Say thank you Don’t forget to say thank you and send a handwritten thank you note. They have taken the time out of their schedule to help advance your education and career, so make sure that you let them know how much they appreciate it. ©HonorSociety.org, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
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