Subject: The covering letter, from a new perspective
As Hannah (the founder of The Intern 247 incase you forgot) recently posted about “Things that should never appear on your CV”, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and post my two-cents about Cover Letters.
I believe that, while a CV will give HR a great overview of your basic stats (let’s call it that), the Cover Letter is where you should really catch them and set yourself apart. HR will receive hundreds of CVs from qualified candidates – people who will be more or less as qualified as you, let’s say.
So use the Cover Letter to shine brighter, to prove that you and only you are right for the job! Of course I can only speak from personal experience as someone who has written a lot of Cover Letters over the years, rather than someone with experience in HR – so please jump in if you know more!
I generally stick to a one-page format, up to one-and-a-half pages, with a formal letter style – yes, even though it’s digital, I do it. I also recently started to print the letters, sign them with a pen, and scan them to my computer again – I think it’s just a more personal touch and shows that you really took some extra time, and also gives more weight to your document.
Now for the contents, I find that adding personality through your writing style is key. I used to write very dry, factual Cover Letters, because I thought it was more professional. If I didn’t get a rejection, I didn’t even get a reply from the places I applied to. Since I started to stick with my personal writing style a bit more – not totally casual and colloquial, of course, I have always gotten courtesy calls, interviews, or even internships.
It’s a fine line between too personal and too impersonal. I suggest you check the tone-of-voice that the company uses on their own website, and try to match the lingo, while being true to yourself. Underline your skills and your CV information by giving examples of things that you’ve learned from previous (work) experiences and how that fits into the role you’re applying for. This is obviously the main focus of your Cover Letter! But don’t shy away from a memorable line, even some humor, perhaps. It may be polarizing, but at least they won’t forget you.
Remember, an internship should be about LEARNING new things, and gaining experience. You obviously won’t walk in knowing everything, if anything, but don’t be scared to apply for a position because you are intimidated by the brand or the requirements – assert yourself and do your best!