Now, let’s think about the transferable skills you’ve attained exclusively in the classroom. If you want to highlight the important skills discussed in part one, but have little or no work experience, don’t forget to use your classroom experience as an example. These skills include:
- Ability to meet deadlines, thrive under deadline pressure: College is a cornucopia of deadlines. If meeting deadlines is an important skill in the job you seek, by all means exploit in your cover letter your ability to do so.
- Ability to handle multiple tasks: Remember how you wanted to smack all your instructors for requiring simultaneous major papers and projects? Multi-tasking is increasingly valued in the workplace, and your cover letter gives you the chance to boast of your ability to juggle many projects at once.
- Ability to achieve goals: Your good grades are proof of that skill, so do boast about them if they’re exemplary. You may have met other goals while in school, too, such as graduating in three years instead of four (which may be why you don’t have any job experience). Any goal you’ve met while in school is potential cover-letter fodder.
- Ability to adapt: Your college years probably gave you your first opportunity to make adult decisions and act independently. How did you handle stumbling blocks and disappointments along the way? The way you rose above difficulties can provide solid examples in your cover letter.
- Writing skills: Jobs that require good writing skills are a lot more common than you probably think they are. If you demonstrated your ability to write well in college, you can highlight that skill in your cover letter. And, of course, your writing talents should be self-evident from the quality of your cover letter as well.
- Research skills: How many people who’ve been out in the “real world” have research skills that are as fresh and recent as yours? How many know as much as you do about, say, conducting research on the Internet? Probably not many, so for jobs where this ability may be helpful, be sure to emphasize your research skills.
Go back to Quintessential Careers: Transferable Skills.
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
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