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UMGC Career ConnectionTips for Writing Cover Letters

UMGC Career Services
By UMGC Career Services

You often have only one opportunity to make a favorable impression on someone. It is particularly crucial when introducing yourself, your skills, and your work, as it shapes people's perceptions of you. This is certainly true when it comes to learning how to write great cover letters.

Whether you are graduating from UMGC this semester or are already on your way, you will have to read many job descriptions while searching for your dream job and write an effective cover letter in some professional capacity.

The Purpose of a Cover Letter

In this age of hastily scribbled emails, emoji-filled texts, and simple “liked” replies, we are not well-versed in the art of the introductory paragraph or a few opening lines, let alone how to construct (or even know why to construct) a cover letter to a possible job recruiter. In the professional job-search space, as in most professional situations, it is customary to fashion a cover letter.

Some of the job search situations when you need to send a cover letter include:

  • As an introduction to your resume.
  • When approaching an employer for job consideration, even prior to sending a resume.
  • When approaching someone, either personally or through your work, that you are introduced to through a third-party personal connection, be they a hiring manager or just someone you want to foster a further relationship with.
  • When the job description asks for a cover letter and you need to highlight skills.

All four of the above can certainly apply if you are looking for an internship or part-time position while still attending UMGC classes and after you graduate with your degree or certificate. Cover letters are also applicable in non-job communications for a whole score of reasons when you are looking to introduce yourself as succinctly as possible.

What Should You Say in Your Cover Letter

Our cover letter webpage will guide you through writing cover letters and offer cover letter samples. There are some hard and fast rules that most professionals follow; then, there are those suggestions that you should apply (or not) to your job specific situation. You certainly want to lead with your best experience and educate yourself on the process of writing a cover letter that will have your recipient standing up and taking notice, but there is not just one way to write a cover letter, or one type of letter that will suffice in applying for a job situation.

Here are a few quick tips to remember:

  • Your cover letter should be as specific as possible to whom and for what job title you are applying.
  • You can use pre-written cover letters and personalize them to stand out.
  • Your cover letter should be kept to one page. Simply put, job recruiters, hiring managers, even just someone who might be good enough to pass along your resume, have limited time in their day. Get to the point here but leave nothing out.
  • Make sure your contact information is visible so the reader can contact you.
  • Of course, the letter should be free of grammatical errors.

Selling Your Most Valuable Commodity: You

This CareerBuilder study found that almost half of the HR managers surveyed consider the cover letter the second-best thing for boosting an applicant’s resume. Your resume or reputation might list or reveal the cold, hard facts of your skills, undoubtedly vital information for an employer to have when considering you for a job. However, a resume or a sterling job record doesn’t reveal your personality, nor can it build a connection between you and the person you are contacting, no matter what it is you are contacting them for.

Writing a powerful cover letter gives your recipient a quick course in you, how you conduct yourself, your facility with words, how well you can bring your ideas across, and how quickly and plainly you can make your case. Remember, the person who is going to sell you best is you. Writing a cover letter will surely help you accomplish this goal.