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Clair Lam

SFU Co-op Student
Beedie School of Business

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Throughout your education, you have been gearing up for a job by being an active voice in your class and in the community. Take your resume and look at all the different experiences you have had up until now, and celebrate this!

Are you wondering why you are reading about a post about cover letters with a picture of me at BC place stadium? I recently had the privilege of working at Visa’s FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 for GMR Marketing thanks to writing an awesome cover letter!  Applying for jobs can seem tedious and through my experiences, I have compiled six tips that can help you improve your results and get noticed!

Clair at 2015 Women's FIFA

When you are writing a cover letter, you have only a couple lines to catch an employer's attention and draw them into your application. You have to be compelling, yet not arrogant and detailed while informative. The purpose of a cover letter is to highlight your key experiences and personality to show that you are the right fit for the position. Read on for six tips that can help you articulate your talents to the right audience so you can increase your success in your job search. 

1. Know Your Value

Remember that you have awesome skills to offer to the job market! Throughout your education, you have been gearing up for a job by being an active voice in your class and in the community. Take your resume and look at all the different experiences you have had up until now, and celebrate this! Everyone has different advantages over others, and we forget this sometimes. The experiences that you have had are unlike anyone else, and you have much to offer; anyone who hires you is lucky to have you working for them – so be picky about the jobs that you apply for!

2.  Choose Wisely

Re-evaluate your career goals and truly understand the industry that you are trying to get into. Often times, it is easy to panic and apply for every position that seems like the right fit, but this can be a huge time waster. Time is your most valuable asset; spending an extra 15 minutes to “Google” the company can give you more insight about the company culture and how you could add value. Look carefully at the job description and ask yourself if the position seems easy or challenging to you. Spend the time researching about the position you want. Who are some of the influential people in your community that hold that position, and do you (or can someone you know) help you connect with them? Understanding the key qualities of someone in the same position can help you to define how you can prepare to be the perfect candidate. With this, you can feel free to get creative, there are so many different positions that you may have never thought about, but feel passionate about. Do your research, and be diligent and serious about finding the right position for you. Choosing the right job to apply for may be the hardest part before you even start typing your cover letter! 

Panorama

3.  Be the Perfect Match

Now that you’ve compiled a list of the positions you want, you are probably looking at the job description to determine what to write in your cover letter. Even though your experiences stay the same, they are often relevant to different parts of the job description. The good news is that being the perfect match is not as hard as you think! The most important question to ask yourself is: What makes you the perfect fit for the position you are applying for? As you are reading the job description, start to write in chronological order about your own experiences and highlights about what interests you the most about the position and how you are the perfect fit. The more organized this is, the easier it is for the reader to understand. Simply put: make it easy for the reader to hire you. Entice the reader in eager want and make them believe that indeed, yes, you are the one that they are looking for.

4.  Leverage Talents

If you are feeling pretty confident about some of the skills that are required for the job, evaluate how comfortable you are with the tools and if you have some projects that showcase that work. Examples of your work speak louder than words, sometimes a school or community project can show your employer a lot about your work quality and skillset. Consider including a link to your online profile, website or an attachment of your work. If you are lacking some of the skills, then ask yourself how quick are you to pick up new skills? For example if you haven’t used a certain program before, is there a similar one that you have used? Try to download the program and play around with some of the tools that the job requires, this may take about 30 minutes of your time, and this is an investment towards your future!

5.  Format for Success

Formatting is crucial to making your first impression! The organization of your cover letter is just as important as the content that is in it. Think of meeting someone completely new; are you going to start out by blurting out everything you have ever done? You probably want to start off with your name and a bit about who you are and what you are looking for! The best part is that once you have figured out the formatting, it usually stays the same for your other cover letters.

Here are five simple tips when it comes to formatting: (1) Try to avoid the dreaded “To whom it may concern,” by finding out who the hiring manager is. The best way to address the manager is “Mr.” or “Ms.” with their full name. (2) Write with intention because every sentence in your cover letter matters. Do this with a clear introduction, integrate strong examples of your experiences and end with a strong conclusion (3) Never go over a page and insert your signature at the end of your letter.(4) Remember to reiterate what interested you most about the position and why you are the perfect match for it. (5) Add some color, but not too much. Be selective about the color scheme you want to use and be consistent.

6.  Be Professional in Your Communication

Now that you are ready to send your cover letter, take a moment to think about what format you want to send it in. Details DO matter! Read the job description to make sure you are not missing anything.  Should you send your application package combining your resume and cover letter as one PDF?  Should you send it separately?  How should you label your job application when you save the document?  A job posting might have the preferred method listed.

Here are five simple tips when submitting your application: (1) Check that there are no spelling or grammatical errors. (2) Read it aloud to double check that you did not accidentally copy and paste something from an old letter that jumbles the meaning that you are trying to make. (3) Take the time to make sure that your email introduction is courteous and professional before sending. (4) Name the file so that your full name is included. (5) Make sure you have attached the files before hitting send. 

Writing a cover letter does not have to be as difficult as you may think! By following these six easy steps to tweak your cover letter, you can increase your chances of being noticed for the right reasons. 

I wish you success in your future applications!

  • Clair Lam  Jul 20, 2015
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About the Author

Image of Clair Lam

Clair Lam

SFU Co-op Student
Beedie School of Business
Clair Lam is SFU Business Alumni who worked for GMR Marketing department at Visa’s FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015. She shares her success tips for writing an amazing cover letter. Connect with Clair on LinkedIn.

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