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Writing the Perfect Cover Letter 

Lia Fialho

Applying to jobs is inherently stressful. First there is the anxiety inducing job search, and then the whole application process which can be even worse. While applying to jobs, you want to stand out. You need to make  it clear that you are interested in what you are applying for and leave an imprint in the minds of those reading your resume. Many companies will require that you submit a cover letter along with your resume. Cover letters are important documents in the application process, so here’s a little “how to” to help you write the best cover letter possible.

You should already have a completed resume before writing your cover letter. Having this means that you can match your cover letter to your resume. When I say match, I’m not talking about copying the format or making them exactly alike. However, your cover letter should reference and explain the experience you share in your resume. Use your cover letter to explain why this experience is relevant to the job that you are applying to and to show off a bit of your personality.

When addressing your cover letter, it is better to address a specific person. If you do not have someone specific to address, then you may address the company or institution as a whole. To start off your cover letter, provide a brief introduction of who you are and your qualifications. In the introduction, keep the explanation of your qualifications brief, as you will expand on them in the rest of the letter. Depending on the job you are applying for, you may also mention where you found this job, or how you heard of it. This is helpful for those who put the application out, because they can see how you became familiarized with their job or company.

In the body of the letter, you have an opportunity to showcase your strengths and qualifications. Explain past work that you have done but keep it within a relative frame. If you are mentioning a previous job or experience, provide examples of what you did during your time there; this will help those reading your resume understand how this experience relates to them.  If you are within the research field, then you can use the opening of your cover letter to state your research objective. This can be done in a sentence or two. You can then expand on this in the body. Even though this is a professional document, make sure that you do personalize it and allow who you are to shine through. The individuals reading this cover letter are interested in the person who wrote it. Your experience is important but it is even more important to convey the information in a way that is unique to you. Ensure that they know that you will be an asset to their company. 

Finally, be sure to finish strong. Use your final section of your letter to really express how much of an asset you will be. Show that you have done your research and are familiar with what you are applying for. Finish your letter with confidence and strength, and provide multiple ways of getting in contact with you (for example, an email address and a phone number). These guidelines, although general, will hopefully remove a little bit of stress out of your application process.

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