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8.3: Cover Letter and Resumé

  • Page ID
    6641
  • Cover Letter

    A cover letter is the introduction to your résumé. The purpose of your cover letter is simple: it should entice your prospective employer or the admissions officer to the school of your choice to read your résumé. A cover letter should be a short three or four paragraph document. Each paragraph has a specific purpose.

    Paragraph 1

    Explain to your reader how you heard about the job or internship for which you are applying and why you wish to work there. If your letter is to a school, you should provide specific details about why you want to attend that school.

    Paragraphs 2-3

    In these paragraphs you should explain who you are and why you are a good candidate for this job. Describe the skills and abilities you will bring to the job or school. You should point out accomplishments from your résumé which indicate your strengths. For example, if you baby-sit regularly for a neighbor, you might point out that you are punctual, responsible, and organized, which is why your neighbors trust you to take care of their children.

    You should highlight something from your résumé. Because a résumé is written in short phrases, you may wish to expand upon an experience or award listed on your résumé in your cover letter. (For example: I have excellent time management skills. As you will note on my résumé, I have done after school tutoring for three years, while also playing in the Scranton High School Marching Band. As a band member, I am required to practice with the band 10 hours a week; I practice playing the trombone on my own 4-5 hours a week. I tutor 4 hours a week. I have maintained a GPA of 3.75 since my sophomore year.)

    Closing Paragraph

    What do you expect to happen next? Do you want the admissions officer to contact you? Will you contact them? In the closing paragraph, you spell out your expectations, and thank your reader for his or her time and consideration.

    Although your cover letter is short, it is not an easy document to write. Consider it a 15-second advertisement for you. You want your letter to capture your reader’s attention and get him or her excited about reading your résumé.

    Tip: Your letter must be error-free. After you have finished it, spell check it, and then read it very carefully to be sure that you have no errors. When you feel you have a perfect document, share it with your teacher, counselor, parents, or someone else who will read it carefully and provide helpful feedback.

    Parts of a Cover Letter

    Your return address (Type out your complete return address.)

    Date (Write out the name of month, followed by the day and the year.)

    Inside address (This should include the name of the person to whom you are writing, his or her title, the name of organization or school, and the address of the organization or school.)

    Greeting (Use your addressee’s title and last name only, not his or her first name.)

    Body of your letter (Typed, using a business font such as Times New Roman, size 11-12 font, single spaced, with a double space between paragraphs.)

    Closing

    Your signature

    Your name, typed out

    Sample Cover Letter

    123 South Arlington Avenue

    Anytown, Florida, 93331

    October 8, 2010

    Susan Jones, Admissions Officer

    Lapkin School for the Arts

    444 South Marion Avenue

    Lapkinsville, Florida 85544

    Dear Ms. Jones,

    Enclosed are my resumé, transcripts, and portfolio for application to the Lapkin School for the Arts Summer Internship Program. I learned of this program through my art teacher at Arlington High School. I wish to participate in this internship program because as an intern at Larkin, I will be exposed to some of the most prestigious programs in the state of Florida. As an aspiring artist, I would be proud to be a part of this internship.

    I will be graduating from Arlington High School in June 2012. As you will note on my enclosed resumé, I have maintained an outstanding GPA, participated in art shows, and volunteered 10 hours each week after school. I have received numerous awards for my art. Notably, I was named Best New Artist in the Florida State Innovative Arts Show; I received a first and third place award for my water color and acrylic still life paintings at the Florida All State Art Show; and I received an Honorable Mention in the National Art USA Exhibit for high school freshmen.

    I have taught art classes at Anytown Elementary School since 2008. When the state budget cut all elementary art classes, my art teacher at Arlington High organized Arlington Art Outreach (AAO), a program in which high school art students go to the local elementary schools to teach art. After one semester of tutoring, I was selected to become a tutor mentor and trainer. In this capacity I develop original lesson plans, solicit donations to provide art supplies, and provide teaching tips to tutors. I believe these activities demonstrate my passion and leadership ability, and make me an excellent candidate for your internship program.

    Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to further discussing my qualifications for this internship with you. I can be reached at (555) 222-5555, or you can email me at J.Smith@aol.com. I will call you in two weeks to check on the status of my application.

    Sincerely,

    Joanne Smith

    Joanne Smith

    Tip: If you say that you will be calling to check on the status of your application, be sure to follow up with a phone call. Mark your calendar so you don’t forget.

    Review Questions

    1. Write a letter applying to be an after school tutor or coach for a local elementary school. When writing your letter, be sure to consider what qualities would such a job require? Explain in your letter why you would be a good choice for this position.

    Resumés

    A resumé is a concise summary of your personal strengths and accomplishments. There are many reasons why you need to write a resumé. You may be applying for a job, to a college, or for a scholarship or grant to help pay for your education. Regardless of the organization for which you are writing your resumé, there are rules that you should follow to create a document which effectively and accurately represents you.

    In most cases, a resumé should be one page, and should be clearly formatted so your reader can easily spot your personal information, your purpose or objective, and your qualifications.

    Parts of a resume include:

    • Contact information
    • Objective
    • Education
    • Experience
    • Additional information (if necessary)

    Contact Information

    The first thing your reader should see on your resumé is your name and contact information. Your name should be at the top, with nothing else written on the same line. Under your name should be your address, phone number, and email. Be sure you have an appropriate email address. (e.g.: “2cute4u” or “1337ninja” are amusing to you as a high school student, however, such a frivolous email address may seem inappropriate to a prospective employer or college admissions officer. Your first and last name, or first initial and last name, followed with your internet service provider is a good choice: Jane.Smith@aol.com or J.Smith@aol.com)

    Objective

    This is a brief statement of the purpose of your resumé. Your objective indicates the type of position you are seeking, or the school or program you hope to gain admission to. It should be very clear and specific; include the job title or the name of the school or program in your objective.

    Education

    List the name and location of the high school you currently attend and your graduation date. If you have good grades (a 3.0 grade point average [GPA] or above), include your GPA under your education.

    Experience

    The term “experience” does not mean the same thing as “employment.” “Experience” refers to the accomplishments that make you a good candidate. As a high school student, you may feel you don’t have much experience. However, there are things you can list that will indicate your skills and positive characteristics to your reader.

    Have you played on a sports team? Have you tutored at an elementary school? Did you participate in a fundraiser? Did you help organize a school event? Do you volunteer for a non-profit organization? These accomplishments indicate that you have leadership skills, work well with others, and are interested in things other than yourself. All of these characteristics would be appealing to a prospective employer.

    Next to each item you list, include the date(s) you were involved with that activity.

    Tip: If you cannot think of anything to list under “Experience,” check with a teacher, friend, or adult who knows you well. You can brainstorm with them to think of things you have accomplished. After talking with someone, if you truly have nothing to list under “Experience,” now is the time for you to get out there and do something!

    Additional Information

    You want your resumé to fill one page. After you have completed the four sections listed above, if you still have space, here are some other items you may wish to include. Next to each activity or accomplishment, list the date(s) of any awards received or when you were affiliated with the organization.

    • Awards, honors, scholarships
    • Affiliations (clubs, professional or student organizations, sports teams, philanthropic organizations). What was your position in this organization? If you were an officer or team leader, indicate your title and the dates you held that position.
    • Special accomplishments (projects, publications, certifications)
    • Special skills (foreign language(s), photography, computer expertise, etc.)
    • Hobbies

    Tip: If you volunteer for an organization, instead of saying “Volunteer,” use a job title that describes for your reader what you did for the group. Following the job title, use specific terms so that your reader will be able to understand exactly what your responsibilities include. Because you use the term “Experience” rather than “Employment” you can list volunteer work as experience.

    Sample Resumé A

    Joanne S. Smith

    123 South Arlington Avenue

    Anytown, Florida, 93331

    (555) 222-5555

    J.Smith@aol.com.

    Objective: Admission to the Lapkin School for the Arts Summer Internship Program.

    Education:

    Arlington High School, Graduation date: June 2012

    Anytown, Florida

    GPA: 3.75

    Experience:

    Arlington Art Outreach, January 2008-present

    Anytown Elementary School

    Art Tutor: Teach art to elementary school students grades 3-6 in an after-school program six hours a week; classes range in size from 8-15 students. Develop lesson plans; critique student work in a positive nurturing manner; and mentor students.

    Tutor Trainer: Train high school tutors in developing art lessons; art evaluation techniques, and classroom management; schedule tutors in three elementary school programs.

    Community Outreach: Solicit donations to support AAO; educate the public about the importance of art.

    Anytown YMCA, June 2007-present

    Anytown, Florida

    Computer Co-Pilot: (This program matches a high school volunteer with a senior citizen to teach them how to use computers more effectively.)

    Awards:

    Best New Artist in the Florida State Innovative Arts Show, October 2008

    Florida All State Art Show, January 2009

    First Place Watercolor; Third Place Acrylic still life

    National Art USA, April 2007

    Honorable Mention for Watercolor by High School Freshmen

    References provided upon request.

    Sample Resumé B

    John Anderson

    4444 Third Avenue East Apt. 23

    New York City, New York 99999

    John.anderson@aol.ocm

    Objective:

    Seeking a position coaching Little League Baseball

    Education:

    City High School, Graduation date: June 2013

    New York City, New York

    Experience:

    City High School Baseball Team, September 2009 – present

    • Play various positions, including catcher, outfield, and second base
    • Work with teammates on improving skills such as catching, throwing, and batting
    • Support coach by staying after on practice days to clean and put away equipment
    • Participate in annual team fundraiser for team travel and uniforms

    New York City Little League, May 2004 – October 2008

    • Played on several little league teams; my team went to playoffs each year
    • Played various positions, such as pitcher, catcher, and outfield
    • Helped my father coach my younger brother’s team; worked with individual players on special skills

    City High School Baseball Team Annual Fundraiser, October 2010

    Advertising Team Leader

    • Solicited donations from sponsors to advertise in the program for our annual fundraiser
    • Took photographs of team members to use in the program
    • Help plan and create the layout for the 27 page program

    Interests: Sports, Skateboarding, Photography

    References available upon request.

    Review Questions

    1. Think about a job you would like to do this summer. What sort of skills will you need to be able to do this job? What makes you think you would be good at this job? Make a list of the skills you think would be appropriate for this job and indicate why you think you would be good at this job. Then organize a résumé that indicates your qualifications.
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