Cover Letter Tips
Your cover letter is the first impression you give to a prospective employer. Before writing one, it’s important to understand how a cover letter can help or hurt your chances of landing your dream job in America.
It’s important to use your cover letter as an opportunity to grab an employer’s attention, explain why you are the best person for the job, list your skills and tell them why you’d be a perfect fit for the company.
- Explain why the position interests you
- List what you bring to the table – explain your relevant skills and experience
- Share something unique about you that makes you different from the hundreds of other candidates
- Make it clear that you have a visa and valid US work papers for 12 months – your employer will want to know that taking on a talented international graduate is easy and worth their while
Check that your cover letter
Contains a header with contact information
Include your full name, address, telephone number and email. It makes you look professional and ensures that your information is easy to find.
Is addressed to the right person
Find out who is in charge of hiring for internships and job placements and address your cover letter to that person. Statistics show you have a better chance of being hired if you know who’s doing the hiring, so take time to research who will be reviewing your submitted materials and address them specifically.
Grabs the reader’s attention
The person reading your cover letter will most likely be reading countless others, so it’s vital that you grab their attention with the very first line. Start your cover letter with an interesting or entertaining fact that relates you to the company. Try to avoid a typical salutation.
Demonstates your unique traits
Employers want to know what you can bring to the table, so why beat around the bush – give them what they want! It’s rare for a hiring manager to read an entire cover letter from start to finish, so try using bullet points and bold text to identify the important information they’ll be looking for.
Finishes strong and lets your confidence shine
Let the company know why you are the best person for the job and what value you will add to their team. Adding a signature will personalize your cover letter in a professional way.
Be sure to email your cover letter and CV as a PDF or Microsoft Word document version 2003-2007. Not all organizations can open .docx files. And if they can’t open it, they can’t hire you!
Your resume is what sells your skills and talents to a potential employer. When writing a resume, tailored to US employers, there are a few key things to keep in mind:
- Keep to one page in length maximum
- Personal details: Name, address, phone number and email address. Do not give your date of birth or your gender
- Tailor your resume for each specific position that you apply for. Analyze the job description of the position that you are applying for; identify the keys words and requirements and use these in your resume
- You can use these key words in your ‘Objective’ section which should appear at the top of the page and list clearly what you hope to achieve professionally
- List your qualifications and experience in order of relevance rather than chronologically. If you are applying for a job as an office manager and were an office manager 3 years ago, then this should be at the top of your resume as it is the most relevant experience that you have
- Make sure to quantify your experience where possible to show marked improvements within a position that you held; sales figures and profits, increased efficiency, etc.
- Don’t include primary/secondary school education if you have a third level qualification. Years attended, course taken and final grade achieved is sufficient information
- If you are a current student/recent graduate with little or no practical work experience, then you can focus a bit more on the academic qualifications, include your thesis or dissertation information if applicable
- If you have more than one qualification or have done some on the job training or additional short courses; include these under heading ‘Summary of Qualifications’
- Use action verbs when describing your experience rather than repeatedly saying ‘I’ and make sure to use concise descriptions of any projects completed as too much waffle can turn an employer off
- Personal Interests are not generally included on a resume, unless your extracurricular activities can add anything to the position that you are applying for
- Ensure that you proofread it yourself, as well as allowing at least 1 other person to review it. It’s amazing what you might miss out on or how another person might phrase something and a lot of employers will not even read a CV that contains basic spelling errors and shows grammatical weaknesses