04/23/2015 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

A Captivating Cover Letter: 5 Tricks

four varying colored puzzle pieces

Your cover letter is one of the most important documents in your job search. cIt’s the first—and sometimes the only—opportunity you have to convince a school that you would be a good fit for its community. Your cover letter adds detail and personality to your resume and can help put you on the top of the “next steps” pile or relegate you to the bottom.

Want to write a cover letter that captivates? Try these five tricks.

1. Take a Day

Upon receiving a referral to a dream job, your first inclination may (understandably) be to shoot off an application ASAP. Step back, though: moving too quickly could lead to typos or other silly mistakes (like spelling the school name wrong, for instance, or addressing the wrong contact). More importantly, though, if you don’t take the time to personalize a cover letter and tailor it to the position and school at hand, then your words will come off as dull and formulaic. Don’t sell yourself short by moving too fast: take the time to write a killer cover letter that convinces a school that it needs to talk to you.

2. Read Our Summary

When we refer you to a position in CandidateConnect, we include much more information than simply the job title and school name. In the “Referrals” section, you will find contact information, the school’s follow-up preference, and a detailed summary including information about the school. Make sure to read what we’ve included; you’ll be able to get a feel for what that school values and what constitutes a good fit at that particular institution.

3. Embrace the Mission

In preparing to draft your cover letter, head over to the school’s website. Scan their pages to get an overall sense of the culture and feel of the school. Read and embrace the school’s mission and values, and think about how your skills and experience complement the school’s overarching vision. If you can allude to the school’s mission and show—don’t tell!—how you are a mission-fit in your cover letter, you’ll catch a reader’s attention.

4. Read the Course Catalogue

If you can find it, check out the course catalogue and see what courses are offered in your department. Assess how your background could best fit into—and help grow—the existing program.

5. Be the Missing Puzzle Piece

It can be easy to confuse the purpose of a cover letter: when you spend a full page typing out your accomplishments, ideals, and interests, it can feel very much like the cover letter is a document that is about you. It’s a mistake to view it as such, though; the cover letter is, above all, about the school and how you fit into it. To secure an interview, you need to make yourself irresistible to the school, demonstrating how your candidacy will fill their void. So scour the job description, the school website, and our notes to read between the lines and ascertain what gap the school is trying to fill. Once you figure it out, use your cover letter to explain how you fill that gap.

Image credit: Microsoft

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