How to craft the perfect cover letter is always a challenge — creating the very first cover letter of your professional career can feel like a monumental task.
Don't overthink it; your cover letter should be a succinct introduction to who you are and what makes you the best candidate for the job. These six tips will help you organize your thoughts as you create an excellent recent graduate cover letter; they'll also guide you through the inevitable revision process.
1. Don't be overwhelmed
The quality of your cover letter can have a powerful impact on how employers perceive you. A flawless, detailed and engaging cover letter will help your application stand out from the wave of other recent graduates applying for the job. But hopefully it won't be your only chance to share your skills with a potential employer. If you're called in for an interview, you'll have the chance to discuss your background in detail. So focus on your most relevant skills and experience for the specific job in your cover letter.
2. Start by overdoing it
The first step to creating a cover letter for your first job is to list what you have done. Write way more than you need to. Take pages of notes, and try to think of any accomplishment, award or credential that might interest potential employers. At this point, you're just generating raw material. At a later stage, you'll narrow things down to a single page of text (or less). You may also choose to use different examples if you're applying for different kinds of entry level roles.
3. Draft a stellar opening line
Cover letters for first time job seekers should be lean, efficient, and packed with meaningful information. Start by stating the position title you're seeking and identifying how you can immediately add value. Here's an example:
- Mediocre sentence: "I'd like to apply for the Assistant Account Manager position you posted on LinkedIn."
- Great sentence: "I'd like to help Qualco expand its client base by stepping into the role of Assistant Account Manager. I saw the position posted on LinkedIn and I could tell right away that my skills are a perfect match."
You can check out more examples of high-quality opening lines in LiveCareer's Cover Letter Examples section.
4. Back up your claim with evidence
If you start out by telling the hiring manager that you're an ideal fit for the job, your second sentence should explain why. What do you have to offer this company that's special and what can you bring to the table? Focus on some specific traits or skills you saw in the job posting, then move on to describe the skills and credentials that set you apart from the competition.
5. Summarize your professional background (briefly)
Since this is your first cover letter, your work experience may be thin, but that's okay. You can still write a cover letter with no experience. Just focus on your studies, internships you've completed, activities with student groups, and anything else in your history that demonstrates the skills needed for the role you're seeking.
6. Use your final paragraph to draw attention to your resume
Leave your reader with a polite but enthusiastic call to action, such as: "I invite you to review my resume for more information about my background. I also welcome an opportunity to speak with you in person about the qualities that make me a perfect fit for Qualco."
An effective cover letter and solid resume go hand in hand, but there's no need to tackle either of these challenges by yourself. Take advantage of the templates, drafting tools and personal help available through LiveCareer's Cover Letter Builder and Resume Builder.