Your resume is complete and you are ready to apply for jobs. Some of the ads you look at request a cover letter. And come to think of it, you have heard that before. But what exactly is a cover letter? And how do you go about writing one that will lead to your getting the job?
A cover letter is a chance to sell yourself to the potential employer. As a teenager with little to no work experience, the cover letter is an important opportunity to show what you offer and why the employer should hire you for the job. You will be competing with many other applicants and a well-written cover letter can help you stand out. Click here to learn more about why a cover letter is important.
This blog post will cover the following:
For additional information on how to put together a cover letter as a high school student, click here.
When beginning the process of creating a cover letter, you will first want to learn as much as you can about the position that you are applying for. Sometimes, this is easy as some employers offer long job descriptions that you can read before you start your cover letter.
Other times, it is more challenging. If you see a “help wanted” sign, it may not give you many details about the job itself. Or an ad online may be equally vague.
Here are some things you will want to investigate before preparing your cover letter:
Once you know what it is that the employer is looking for you will be able to talk about how your experience and skills meet their need. Employers will appreciate that you took the time to understand their business and the job they are looking to fill.
Let’s say you have learned that the job you are applying for as a host at a restaurant requires excellent customer service and problem solving skills. Take a moment to think about yourself and any experience you have in these areas.
While you may not have formal work experience where you have developed these skills, they may have come up in other areas. Perhaps you were in charge of a club at school where there were conflicts among members. Or maybe you participated in a regular fundraiser for your basketball team that brought you in regular contact with people.
It is a good idea to take notes that you can refer to when you put your cover letter together. Consider the following:
The cover letter is the first impression the employer will have of you. As a high school student, it is likely you won’t have a lot of formal experience. A cover letter can complement your resume and highlight the reasons why you would be a great employee.
You now know about the employer and what they are seeking, as well as have an idea of all that you can offer to meet their need. It is time to put the cover letter together. As the cover letter is the first impression the employer will have of your application, you will want to put the effort in to make sure that impression is a good one. You will want to:
Proper format includes a header, with the contact information of both the employer and yourself. You will follow with “Dear Hiring Manager” if you do not have a name for whom to make the cover letter out to. If you know who to direct the cover letter to, you will use their name.
Then, introduce yourself and state the job that you are applying for and how you heard about it. If someone referred you to the opportunity, this is where you will use their name. Sometimes having a personal referral by itself will get your resume looked at. Briefly explain how your skills and/or experience are a fit for the open position.
The next paragraph or two are where you will sell yourself. Look at the notes you took about your skills and experience and how they relate to the job. Here is where you will let the employer know in more detail why you are the right person for the job and would make a great employee.
This section is where you can give information that is not necessarily on your resume. Let’s say you were the President of a club at school. This may be on your resume, however the resume will not include how you were faced with resolving conflicts within the group’s membership. If that type of experience is relevant to the job, you will want to mention it in your cover letter.
In your closing paragraph, you will want to briefly restate what you wrote and why you should be considered for the job. You will then sign the cover letter. For additional information regarding what to include in your cover letter, click here.
Make sure to edit your cover letter. It may be helpful to have a friend or family member review it as well.
When applying for jobs that don’t require a lot of experience, chances are there will be many applicants. A good cover letter will help you stand out among applicants as well as give you the chance to point out all that you have to offer the employer.
So, what do you think about how to write a cover letter? Do you agree with what was said above? Comment below to let us know!