Cover Letters for New Graduates

Sharon Williams ImageBy: Sharon Pierce-Williams, M.Ed., CPRW
Owner / Guru, JobRockit

“Do I need a cover letter with my resume?” is a frequently asked question. Approximately two-thirds of hiring managers will pay attention to the cover letter by either reading it thoroughly, or skimming it quickly to pass along with the resume. A compelling, properly written cover letter shows how you differ from other applicants, that you have knowledge of the organization, and that you are the ideal candidate for the position!

The primary purpose of your letter is to have the reader act (read: give you an interview). Written in a persuasive, Attention-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA) format, this is your chance to build interest by selling your “sizzle” as the ideal match for their personnel needs. Since the facts are already on your resume, there is no need to repeat any of those. As another marketing tool, the cover letter is a place where you can explain, for instance, that your GPA (without repeating the number) was a result of “a determination to reach personal goals and a focus on academics”-your chance to speak from the heart.

First, address your letter to a specific person. To find out the name and address of the person who should receive your résumé, check the ad, call the organization, or check the company website for current information. Then, begin to write your letter with the AIDA format …

Attention

Grab your reader’s attention in the first paragraph by stating or implying your passion for what it is that you do. If you saw the job in an ad, tell them where. If you were referred by someone, tell them by whom. A well-written first paragraph will draw the reader in and provide a transition to the “Interest” paragraph

It has always been my dream to be an architect. As an elementary student, I remember drawing projects from my own perspective–viewing the world through different eyes than those of my classmates. Because I enjoy my work and know that success and fulfillment stem directly from working in one’s passion, I submit the enclosed resume and portfolio to you for consideration.

Interest

Summarize what you have to offer by citing specific examples of your experiences and skills that qualify you for the position. It seems that college students have a difficult time determining their soft skills.

To provide you with a broader understanding of my qualifications, let me share my skills and abilities that match those established by your firm. Briefly, they are as follows:

• a strong background in computer-oriented design as evidenced by keen realistic imaging and detail-oriented visualization to provide innovative design solutions;

• internship experiences with exposure to various projects where the development of preliminary drawings and construction documents included the fundamental elements of interior and exterior elevations, section details, connectors, electric panels, plumbing, and building code compliance; and

• an innate ability to build relationships based on mutual respect and trust with consultants and contractors to produce the best results for clients.

Desire

This is the hardest paragraph to write because it takes research time. Basically, this paragraph shows the company that you cared enough to do your homework about the company and the position – breaking from the starting gate ahead of the candidates who did not! Sell your passion…to say, “I can make a difference!” This paragraph should give the hiring managers the desire to interview you.

I recently saw on the cover of Buildings magazine where WTW Architects was awarded “Best New Construction” for the Hetzel Union Building/Paul Robeson Cultural Center at Pennsylvania State University. The article caught my attention because I visited Penn State with my cousin in the spring and saw the “HUB.” The building’s oval interior commands a unique presence through the use of natural light and open spaces a concept developed and perfected by Frank Lloyd Wright. One of your senior principals, Paul Williams, stated in the article, “The circle is symbolic of mankind a symbol of civilization, a symbol of the town, the village, and the individual.” The influence of Frank Lloyd Wright’s design and expression is clearly evident through your firm’s architecture the same design and expression woven throughout my portfolio.

Action

Last, but not least, you need to ask for the interview, and then make it easy for the hiring manager to contact you. Be sure to refer to the enclosed resume in your letter, and always “thank” the reader. You can show initiative in this paragraph by stating that you will follow up at a later date.

Because proven skills are best explained in person, I welcome the opportunity to introduce myself in an interview to discuss my desire to be a contributing member of your team. I will follow up with a phone call to your office next week. Thank you for your time and professional courtesy in reviewing my resume and portfolio.


Sharon Williams, Owner / Guru of JobRockit, is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), and a member of Career Management Alliance and Career Directors International (CDI).

Sharon holds BSBA and M.Ed. degrees from Bowling Green State University and has served as a college instructor in Northwest Ohio for the last 16 years. She is a Thirteen time National Winner of  Best Resume / Cover Letter Honors  including Best Executive Resume, Best New Graduate Resume and Cover Letter, Best Professional, Best Career Change, and Most Creative categories.

Most recently, Sharon earned the designation of “World’s Best Resume Writer” voted upon by career professionals nationwide and Career Directors International members. Contact Sharon for questions about driving your job search forward—Sharon@JobRockit.com or 419.422.0228.