Do you know what is in your cover letter?

When putting together your cover letter, make sure you stand out above others in a good way.

What is a cover letter? What goes in a cover letter? Do we need one or is it required to include with a job application or resume? These are questions being asked by those getting ready to enter the work force. Whether it is the first job youth will have, a second job or securing the career job of their dreams, the cover letter is an important piece of the beginning of building that resume and adding to that job application. Employers see this piece of paper first as they begin to get to know a candidate and their qualifications.

Michigan State University Extension shares these tips for writing a better cover letter:

  1. Not everyone writes a cover letter, but it shows the employer you took the time to introduce yourself, so they will continue to read through your resume.
  2. When applying for different jobs, use a different cover letter to show you took the time to find out about that specific job. Each cover letter is a chance to tailor your message to suit that position or skill set.
  3. When addressing the cover letter, address it to the department to which you are applying. In the case of a small business owner, address it to the business owner. If you are applying for a specific department within a company, address it to the manager of that department. If you do not know the name of the manager, call and ask.
  4. Keep the cover letter short, usually only one page, and to the point to get the employer’s attention.
  5. Four paragraphs will cover your story: introduction, qualifications, personal attributes and thanking them for their time.

For more information on creating a cover letter and other career exploration or job preparation resources, please visit the Michigan 4-H website. You can also check out these MSU Extension resources:

MSU Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives. 

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