Tips for developing an effective cover letter

Category: Career Resources

Have you recently seen a posting for that perfect position? You may already have an updated resume ready to send, but remember that the cover letter is just as important. Following are some tips for developing a cover letter that will captivate your reader(s) and secure you an interview:

• Research, research, research! Take the time to truly study the position description and to thoroughly research the institution prior to beginning your cover letter.
• Tailor your cover letter to the position; that is, never send a generic cover letter! Your letter can be addressed to the search consultant, human resources department, the hiring manager, or to Whom It May Concern, but it should always indicate the exact title of the position as well as the name of the institution to which you are applying. A generic cover letter that does not indicate the position and institution is an immediate turn off to hiring managers and can quickly remove you from consideration.
• Do not repeat the information on your resume! Instead, take the opportunity to explain any gaps or inconsistencies in your work record, i.e., short tenure in one or more positions, any periods of unemployment, etc.
• Explain your interest in the position and why you are applying for it. This should be done without reference to your personal (family) situation, but should reflect your personal knowledge about the institution gained through your own experience or your research.
• Do take the opportunity to discuss your strengths and accomplishments by providing concrete examples of your work that may be relevant to the position. Also, be sure to elaborate on your committee work, additional assignments and awards or honors and try to tie all of this to the position for which you are applying.
• Proofread your cover letter and resume very carefully. Ask a friend or family member to review your materials before you submit them. A cover letter or resume with even one small typo is likely to be summarily dismissed, even if you have the educational and experiential qualifications for the position.

Kendra Dane

Search Associate - Spelman Johnson

Kendra Dane earned her BA from Mundelein College (now part of Loyola University) and her MS from National Louis University. During a career in higher education that spans over 30 years, Kendra has most recently served as assistant dean and director of admissions at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. Prior to moving to St. Paul, she served as executive director of admissions and marketing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), as well as the executive director of enrollment services at SAIC. Kendra began her career in higher education at National Louis University in Evanston, Illinois, where she served as an associate vice president for financial aid for many years. Kendra has been active in the Illinois Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (ILASFAA), held leadership positions in Midwest Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (MASFAA), and served in a volunteer capacity as a financial aid trainer with the U.S. Department of Education.