Welcome to week five of the ICC’s Countdown to Summer! Each week the Internship and Career Center (ICC) will highlight a task that will help you be prepared to land a job or internship by summer. Breaking the process down to weekly tasks will make it less daunting and will yield success. This week we answer the questions: “How do I write a cover letter? How do I communicate with potential employers?”
WRITING A COVER LETTER
Your cover letter helps bridge the gap between the employer and your resume and gives them a better idea of who you are. A cover letter explains what you can bring to the position and why you’re a good candidate for the job.
Format: Use a standard business format for your letter. Visit the ICC Career Resource Manual online for samples.
Opening: Open a cover letter with “Dear Ms./Mr. (employer’s last name):” Research the organization’s website to find the contact information of the person you need to reach. If you’re still not sure, you can open with “Dear Internship Coordinator” or “Dear Members of the Search Committee.”
Introduction: The first paragraph is used to introduce yourself and explain how you found out about the job. Be sure to mention the title of the position, name of anyone who referred you to the opening and an overview of your interests and qualifications.
Body: You can use the body paragraph(s) to analyze your background and skills in relationship to the job description. Your goal is to give examples that demonstrate your qualifications so that you can land an interview. In this section you want to focus on what you can bring to the company instead of what the company can give you.
Closing: Start the concluding paragraph with a one-sentence summary of your qualifications. Tell the employer how you plan to follow up and thank them for reviewing your materials.
Signature: A standard signature for a cover letter is “Sincerely,” If you are going to send your cover letter electronically, it’s fine to type your name with a script font as a signature. Otherwise, it’s best to print and sign your cover letter.
Tips: Show your passion and enthusiasm for the position you’re applying for throughout your cover letter! Check the spelling and grammar of your letter repeatedly. If an employer sees misspellings or improper grammar, they may discard your application.
PROFESSIONAL E-MAIL CORRESPONDENCE
Communicating with potential employers is all about professionalism. If you went to the career fair recently, following up on opportunities will help you stand out from the pack.
Here are some tips and tricks!
- Make sure your e-mail has a professional subject (e.g.: Internship Opportunity from UC Davis Career Fair)
- When following up from a fair or other initial meeting, be sure to restate where you met as well as your interests and qualifications and send a resume specifically tailored to that position.
- Make sure your tone is professional. Resist using exclamation marks, smiley faces and caps lock.
- If you are attaching a resume and cover letter, keep the body of your e-mail short and use a single document for the cover letter and resume.
- For ease of opening, submit documents in .pdf and .doc formats.
Katie Stewart is an Agricultural and Environmental Sciences peer advisor with the ICC. As an Animal Science major she looks forward to spending her last quarter at UC Davis milking cows and is applying to veterinary school in the fall. The UC Davis Internship and Career Center (ICC), located on the second and third floors of South Hall and online at iccweb.ucdavis.edu, has decades of success helping to launch Aggies on their professional paths, and its services are FREE to currently enrolled UC Davis students.