When you go to write your cover letter, you might be wondering how your work experience comes into play. The term "work experience" is thrown around quite a bit in the world of employment and job seeking, but how should you integrate it into your cover letter, and how can it help you? Work experience is a vague term, but there are a few actionable tips you can follow to help you know whether or not, when, and how to integrate it into your cover letter.
You might think that employers want to know every bit of work experience you have. If you don't have a lot, this might be true. But if you've worked a few retail jobs, a few legal jobs, and a few sales jobs, you likely don't need to include all of it every time you apply for a job. Let's say you're applying for an accounting position. You can include all of the experience you have that has to do with accounting, or positions you held where you learned or applied accounting skills. But you probably don't need to include your job as a waitress in college.
As a rule, you always want to include work experience of some kind in your cover letter, even if it is very limited. However, only highlight the work experience that will either impress your potential employer, or will demonstrate your experience in the industry at hand. Your resume has a list of all the jobs you've held, so re-listing them in the cover letter is not necessary. Instead, focus on the ones that you're proud of and use them as leverage to convince the prospective employer to keep reading (and then call you).
When using your work experience to strengthen your cover letter, don't simply list off the places you've worked. Instead, highlight what you accomplished, any big name companies you've worked for, and accolades you received while working for other employers. For instance, saying "I have worked for ABC, XYZ, and 123 Company" isn't as compelling as saying "While at ABC Company, a Fortune 500 Company, I was instrumental in creating a paperless filing system, which helped the company obtain the "Top Green Companies of 2012" award." You're still telling the prospective employer that you worked at ABC Company, but you're doing so in a way that illustrates how having worked there can benefit them. You know yourself best, so be sure to do what you can to effectively explain your qualifications to your prospective employers through your cover letter.
Some people wonder if work experience truly makes an impact on the quality and effectiveness of their cover letters. The answer, quite simply, is yes. While a lack of work experience will not necessarily disqualify you from a position, having solid work experience greatly improves your cover letter and chance of landing certain positions. Entry level positions are more likely to hire individuals who do not have work experience. However, you can always capitalize on your life and educational experience, as well, if it applies to the job at hand. Many times employers are more willing to hire you, or at least call you for an interview, if you can demonstrate any experience that will help you be a better employee for them, even if it wasn't in a corporate environment.
Your cover letter is the first impression prospective employers will have of you, and it's important to make sure it's done right. Visit LiveCareer and use the Cover Letter Builder tool to create an effective and impressive cover letter.