Landing an entry-level job isn’t as simple as walking up to a counter and asking to fill out an application. With a new wave of students graduating from college every year who are looking to begin their careers, competition is fierce. You need to do whatever you can to stand out.Research shows that 45% of jobseekers skip writing cover letters, so bucking that trend is a good way to separate yourself from the pack right from the start.
3 Tips for Writing Entry-level Cover Letters:
1. Focus on the goal
The purpose of an entry-level cover letter is to get the recruiter to read your resume application for an entry level job. The way you do that is by using the cover letter to connect the recruiter’s job requirements with the skills and achievements mentioned in your resume.
Once the recruiter sees you have the main qualifications they care about, of course they’re going to be tempted to take the next step and read your resume, and hopefully invite you for an interview.
2. Write for the recipient
The more generic your entry-level cover letter, the less likely it will be read, the less likely it will accomplish its goal of getting your resume seen. While many jobseekers write keyword-filled resumes aimed at applicant tracking systems, your cover letter should be written for actual people. And every cover letter you write should be different, as it’s written for different people at different companies.
Find out who the cover letter should be addressed to. Greet them and speak to them throughout the entire letter, using a polite yet conversational tone, similar to if you met them at a networking event or job fair.
3. Don’t overthink the format
Wouldn’t it be great if you could see entry-level cover letters that a given company’s recruiters liked, and use them for inspiration when applying there? While that’s usually impossible, you can at least save yourself time and anxiety by using a cover letter builder that will ensure you follow formatting best practices. Then, as you complete the cover letter builder’s form fields, adapt relevant cover letter samples with your own words instead of writing from scratch.
The 4 Sections of an Entry-level Cover Letter:
1. A personal greeting
Simply start with “Dear Mr/Ms/Mrs…” If you don’t know the name of the recruiter or hiring manager, do some research on LinkedIn. This information is usually accessible with a little bit of digging. A personalized letter will always be more eye-catching than one that uses a generic greeting.
2. A short introductory paragraph
Explain which position you’re applying for and why. For example, you might write:
“As a recent Architecture graduate with honors, I’m writing to you about the assistant city planner role listed on your company job board. The role sounds very similar to projects I successfully completed at school.”
3. Short paragraphs about why you would be a great hire
While it may be tempting to rehash all the goodness listed in your resume, a great cover letter isn’t overly long, and doesn’t rehash information on your resume. Rather, it expands upon the resume as it relates to the job, while being focused and impactful.
Make clear that you would be a great choice since your attached resume details your success with the skills and achievements that the company is looking for most.
For example, you might write,
“Your entry-level graphic design position sounds as if it was written for me. Both at school and as a freelancer, I’ve designed many print ads, web banners, and email newsletter templates in the past, always delivered on-time and with the positive ratings to show how happy the clients were.”
A well-written entry-level cover letter will not only get your resume read, it will also set you apart from the competition by making you appealing as a person that the recruiter would like to meet, planting the seeds for an interview invite and hopefully, a quicker job offer.
Here’s another example:
“Your junior accountant job description mentions visits with clients, their staff, partners, and customers, all things that I did with my internship at ACME Enterprises last summer. Some of the vendors were so delighted with how I helped them lower costs that they even posted recommendations on my LinkedIn profile.
The job description also lists strong MS-Excel proficiency. While a senior, that’s something I helped younger accounting students with as a TA in my program, part of which involved creating a few related explainer videos on YouTube that became popular and were picked up by a few accounting blogs.”
4. Closing paragraph with thanks
Finally, thank the cover letter recipient for taking the time to read your letter and your resume, and mention when you will follow up about moving forward
“Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and my attached resume and references, and I appreciate you considering me for the position. I look forward to hearing from you so that we cab set up an interview appointment.”
It's short, to the point, and it gives the impression that you’re an action taker.
Ultimately, a well-written entry-level cover letter will not only get your resume read, it will also set you apart from the competition by making you appealing as a person that the recruiter would like to meet, planting the seeds for an interview invite and hopefully, a quicker job offer.
Need more help writing your entry-level cover letter?
LiveCareer has a bevy of resources to help you make your cover letter sing!