By Penny Loretto, About.com Guide
Cover letters tend to follow a very simple format:
1. 1st Paragraph – Why you are writing.
2. 2nd/3rd Paragraphs – What you have to offer.
3. Last Paragraph – How you’ll follow up.
When sending out a cover letter it is important to let the employer know what you are applying for at the very beginning of your letter.
Please accept my application for the summer analyst position recently posted on MonsterTRAK.
Always be clear, concise, and specific in your communications. This provides the employer with the exact information they need up front to direct your letter to the appropriate person or department. If you have a mutual contact that referred you, the first paragraph is the place to include it.
Ms. Mary Smith, a Brandeis alumna and Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Merrill Lynch, recommended that I mention her name when applying for the Merrill Lynch summer analyst position recently posted on MonsterTRAK. My strong academic commitment in addition to my participation in a number of co-curricular activities as well as a previous internship with Smith Barney makes me an excellent candidate for this position.
What you have to offer includes all of the knowledge and skills you have acquired in your college courses, co-curricular and volunteer activities, as well as previous internships and jobs. (You may designate one paragraph to discuss relevant coursework and co-curricular activities and the second paragraph for relevant work/internship experiences or you can choose to include them all in one paragraph.)
During my first two years at Brandeis University I continually excelled in all of my business courses, especially finance and economics. I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges that these courses have provided and I found myself totally immersed in the overall management and business course culminating in a major project and presentation completed before several visiting corporate executives. The project required a great deal of organization along with strong team work skills to make the presentation a success. The outcome was received well by executives and the feedback included a statement that they planned on implementing several of our recommendations at the corporate level. In addition, I served as treasurer of my sophomore class for two semesters and we put together two major fundraisers for charities of our choice in the time span of four months.
My internship with Smith Barney allowed me to fully utilize my analytical skills and quantitative reasoning learned in the classroom. After six weeks on the job, my supervisor recommended that I participate in a project involving senior analysts and I ended up assisting with the final presentation developed for the board of directors. This experience helped me to learn how to think on my feet while also developing an increased sense of self-confidence.
The last paragraph is an opportunity to sum up the letter and approach how you will follow-up. Unless the posting specifically states that they do not accept phone calls or that they request that you please do not contact them, this is where you will describe how you will follow-up to ensure receipt of your documents and possibly request an interview. By following up you not only ensure that your documents are received; hopefully, you will encourage the employer to take a second look at your qualifications. It also indicates to the employer that you are still interested in the position and are looking forward to learning more about it.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I would like the opportunity to make a positive contribution to Merrill Lynch while interning as a summer analyst. I will call you in one week to further discuss my candidacy.