Writing a cover letter when you are a new graduate or about to graduate is one of the hardest things to do. How can you make yourself interesting when you don’t have anything concrete to offer? If that’s what’s on your mind, don’t worry. Employers know that you are new in the field and won’t be expecting the same from you as from someone experienced. Remember, you will be applying for an entry-level position, not an executive position.
What are recruiters looking for in new grads? Potential, and a willingness to learn and work hard. Students graduate with a lot of theoretical knowledge, but little practical experience. Although this may sound like a weakness, it also offers flexibility and adaptability. Structure your cover letter to emphasize that.
There is no formulae to a perfect cover letter. However, here are some suggestions:
- Keep in mind what your game plan is. You are not selling your experience. Instead, you are selling your “potential” and your eagerness to learn.
- Introduce yourself in the first paragraph by stating where you studied, what degree(s) you hold, and what position you are applying to.
- In the second paragraph, refer to your work experience (summer jobs, internships, part-time jobs) or activities you participated in that relate to the position you are applying to. You want to show that you are proactive, have a real interest in your field of study, and are willing to learn. The person reading your cover letter has to sense your enthusiasm.
- In the third paragraph, state why you want the job. If you can come up with a good reason why you want the job, that will show genuine interest and will differentiate you from other applicants. The last thing that you want to convey is that you want the job because you “need” a job. We all need to work to earn a living, but beyond that, there must be true interest.
- Conclude briefly by reiterating your interest in the position and asking for a chance to meet the recruiter in person.
- Once you are done drafting your cover letter, ask yourself, if someone were to read your letter, would you stand out? If the answer is “no”, something is lacking. Revise your cover letter until the “no” turns into a “yes”.
Good luck in your job search!
by John Sylo