Preparing for success

Cecilia Areta

Most applicants do not realize the importance of cover letters. Having one at hand can make you a more competitive job seeker.

Writing one is not as difficult as it seems. It is an opportunity for potential candidates to speak directly to the hiring manager. The hardest part is cutting out unnecessary details while still having your personality shine through.

Counselor Perla Vizcarra conducted a Cover Letter Workshop on March 21 at City College. One of the most important points she said to keep in mind is the tone of the cover letter.

“It is important to do your research on the culture of the place you’re applying to . it should reflect the style of your targeted organization.”

For example, if you are applying to a place that is a little more modern and casual, then you should not write your cover letter in a formal tone.

The length of a cover letter should never exceed a page. If it does, then it is getting a bit lengthy. The point is to “give a little taste of who you are and to entice the reader to keep looking,” said Vizcarra.

There will be a handful of applicants applying for the same position, so with the short amount of time spent scanning through each candidate’s paper, one must offer an attention grabber to hook the hirer.

There are many formats to cover letters. The most commonly used are the blocked and the indented format. Vizcarra prefers the “format where the text is all flushed to the left.”

With new templates found on Microsoft Word and other programs, there are numerous cover letter page designs available.

The important element to remember is to not make the page too busy. If the interviewer is looking at your cover letter, you do not want them to have to use an index to find your information. It is essential to keep your letter clean-cut but still attractive.

When all is complete and your cover letter is sent, follow up with a courtesy phone call to show your potential employers that you are sincerely interested in the position.

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Cover letter tips

The core of your letter should consist of three parts: an introductory paragraph, a body and a conclusion.

Introductory paragraph:
Mention only what is relevant
Mention the reason why you are writing
Write how you learned about the position and what got you interested in applying
Refer to your current employment and your duties
Answer the question: Why do you want to work for this company?

Body:
Include items in your background which meet employers’ needs
Refer to qualifications you have that make you an outstanding candidate

Conclusion:
A summary of the most important information: The reasons for writing, what you will provide to the company, your contact info, and a thank-you for their time
Be assertive without being too pushy