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Writing to potential employers (either via the postal service, fax, or e-mail) is the method most frequently used by job seekers. During an independent job search, you’ll need a cover letter to send with your resume when writing to a prospective employer. However, you will not need t o provide a cover letter for co-ops applied to through SCDCOnline. The cover letter provides a brief introduction to who you are, why you are interested in the company and/or its positions, and how you could benefit the organization. In addition to these functions, the cover letter highlights explain the unique features of the Drexel co-op program to prospective employers.
Instead of repeating the information found in your resume, your cover letter provides more of a synopsis of one or two key points that will be most helpful in demonstrating that you are the most qualified person for the position. The cover letter should expand upon the experiences, skills, and strengths you have acquired that are listed on your accompanying resume.
Approach the letter from the perspective of the employer. Take into consideration the skills and abilities that the employer most needs to know about you to determine if you are a viable candidate. As a rule, the cover letter should elaborate on the primary features of your background, but should not exceed one page. It is best to tailor your letter to fit each specific company because employers value candidates that take the time to take a personal approach in the development of their letter.
The first paragraph of the cover letter informs the employer of how you heard about the position (e.g. newspaper advertisement, colleague, website etc.) If you were referred to the company or position by someone you know, be sure to provide the exact name of the referral and their relationship to the company (if any) in your introduction. If you learned about the company’s opening through a newspaper or internet advertisement, include the name of the publication or site and the date it was printed/posted. Next, in one or two brief sentences, tell the employer why you are interested in being considered for the position. The first paragraph is also where you tell the employer that you are a Drexel co-op student and that your Co-op program allows you to work in your chosen field for a period of six months. Some employers may be unfamiliar with Drexel Co-op so it is a good idea to stress the benefits of the program to these employers. Some benefits of Co-op are:
- Available for 6 months of full-time employment
- Combine classroom knowledge with real-life industry practice
- Create a professional partnership between Drexel and employers
You can also consider including a Drexel Co-op Brochure or a link to the SCDC website with your resume and cover letter. Keep in mind that some companies have internships that are similar in nature to the requirements of Drexel Co-op. Be sure to check with your coordinator to make sure that the internship offered at a company is compatible with the requirements needed to fulfill Drexel’s Co-op program.
The second paragraph demonstrates that you have researched the company’s products and/or services and that you have some knowledge about their mission. In this paragraph, you can state why you are interested in working for them and how you believe you are a good fit for their team.
The third paragraph of your cover letter provides an opportunity for you to match your skills, strengths, education, and experiences to what the employer needs. You may want to mention other experiences or skills not included on your resume that match the ideal candidate’s role. Convince them why they should hire you. To determine what to write consider the following:
- Based on the job description, what are some of the skills the employer needs?
- Job-related skills (technical)
- Transferable skills (skills needed in any job, such as communication, customer service etc.)
- Adaptive skills (personality)
Finally, in the last paragraph, thank them for their time, reiterate your interest in the position, and let them know how you plan to follow up with them. You can choose to request that they call you to follow up. You can also tell the employer that you will contact them to follow up on the status of your submission. If you take this more assertive stance, be sure you follow up via a phone call or second letter in the time frame that you said you would.
Cover letters are generally used to write to companies that have posted open positions. However, if you want to submit your resume to a company that has not listed any openings, you can submit a Letter of Interest along with your resume. As its name suggests, this type of correspondence expresses your interest in working for a particular company. This type of letter requests that the employer review your credentials for consideration for any type of position for which you may qualify. This letter can also be used to signify your interest in a company that is opening a new market, division, or department in the near future and who may require additional staff and co-op students to meet their personnel needs.
You can use the same format as the Cover Letter (see Cover Letter Worksheet); however you’ll want to focus a bit more on how your skills and/or experience can fit within different facets of the company or within a very specific division of the organization. If there is a particular department that you’d like to work for, you can indicate that in your opening paragraph; if not, you give a broad overview of your transferable skills and how you can contribute to any team that has an opening. You can use the Sample Letter Samples page of Interest as a guide in creating your own letter.
After your interview, always remember to send a thank-you letter to each person who interviewed you. Collect the business cards of each person with whom you met so that you can be sure to spell their name correctly and include their title.
Your letter should be short, polite, and highlight some of your qualifications again for the employer. Try to mention something that you spoke about during the interview. This will help the interviewer remember you and it will make the note more personal. Send your letter within one day of your interview and type it on paper that has the same heading as your resume. In this way, you are creating a very polished and professional image of yourself as a potential candidate.
You can think of thank you letter as the cover letter written backwards. It is made up of four paragraphs:
- The first paragraph thanks them for their time and reiterates your interest in the position
- In the second paragraph, you have a chance to address any unresolved issues:
- Is there a question that you wish you had answered better?
- Is there more information on a point that you forgot to bring up?
- Did the employer request more information on anything?
- The third paragraph reiterates your skills as they match the employer needs. Now you can clarify this based on additional information you learned at the interview
- In the fourth paragraph, thank them again and let them know how and when you plan to follow up