Your cover letter should include 3-4 paragraphs with the following information:
The main purpose of the first paragraph is to introduce yourself and tell why you are writing. You want to grab the employer’s attention: why you are interested in this position and/or why this organization. Use your community: if someone has referred you to the organization (a current employee, friend, family member) include his or her name in the first sentence.
Tell the employer your story: describe your qualifications for the type of position you seek using specific examples from academic, work, volunteer, and/or co-curricular experiences. Connect your accomplishments, skills and knowledge directly to the type of position, organization and/or field. Avoid repeating facts outlined on your resume by focusing on key concepts.
Summarize or give a final statement of interest/qualifications. Thank the employer for his/her time and consideration. Plan to follow up with the employer with a phone call or email.
Job Search Preparation
Now it's time to pursue that change in career. You know what you want, but how do you get it?
Things To Do
- Search for open positions: Search for jobs at the University of Michigan Careers website
- Prepare your resume.
- Write a great cover letter.
- Brush up on your interviewing skills: Michigan State also has some good information to help you build those interviewing skills.
- Start networking with others: Social networking sites like LinkedIn are great places to connect with other working professionals. If you are a U-M alum, the Alumni Association can help you connect with other alumni.
Supervisors prefer the standard reverse chronological type of resume. This style gives an overview of your progress over time, reveals gaps in the work history, and should have enough substance about what you have done to help the person hiring see what you bring to the table. This is needed to answer the underlying question, "Is it worth using my time for an interview?"
The purpose of a resume is to get you to the interview. If you are getting invitations to interview, you probably have a good resume. If you are not getting the job, the resume is not the issue and you should take a look at the section on polishing your interview skills.
A resume should contain:
- Your name and contact information
- Your knowledge and experience
- List your work history in reverse chronological order
- Optional: Your job-seeking objective and any awards, or other information pertinent to the career.
If using a non-traditional type of resume, be sure you help the hiring supervisor see your skills, how you got them, and how well developed they are. A long list of skills or claims that lacks substance does not make a strong positive impression.
Present yourself as the ideal candidate for a position. Proofread your resume carefully and ask a trusted friend to proof it too.
Other sources of information:
Pointers for Cover Letters
Cover Letters are your chance to really introduce yourself in the selection process. At the University they are usually considered optional for our staff positions, but you should take it upon yourself to make it mandatory and to use that as an opportunity to demonstrate your capabilities to the hiring manager.. Many units see a lack of a cover letter as "unprofessional" and that usually means no interview.
- Write it as a business letter
- Address it to someone. Try to do some research to discover the actual hiring supervisor; or the individual handling the posting.
- Help the supervisor to see how the information on the resume, and other aspects of your background that are not on the resume, make you a strong candidate for the position.
- Proofread before sending.
- Address the letter "To Whom It May Concern."
- Speak of yourself in the 3rd person.
- Repeat information verbatim from your resume.