When applying for an internship, the recruiter might request you submit a cover letter with your resume, cover letter, and other important documents. A cover letter allows you to showcase your skills and experience. It gives you the opportunity for sharing important information that you were not able to include in your resume.
Are you wondering whether you need a cover letter for your internship application? The answer is yes. An internship application is just like any other hiring process and thus the recruiter will go through your resume and cover letter to decide whether you are qualified for the position. More than 56% of recruiters prefer a cover letter with an applicant’s application and most of them read through the cover letter.
A cover letter allows you to add all the important information that you were unable to include in your resume. It also gives you a chance to explain how the role you are applying for is tied to the skills you possess. Thus, a cover letter is very essential and complimentary to your application package for an internship.
What to include in a cover letter
A great cover letter should highlight all the relevant skills and experience that make you the perfect fit for a certain role. It should capture the attention of the reader and convince him/her that the applicant is the perfect match for a certain role. To write a perfect cover letter and win an internship, you should follow the guidelines below:
A cover letter for an internship position should follow certain formatting. Before you start writing your cover letter, ensure you understand the format well. Otherwise, your cover letter will be disorganized which will give the recruiter a hard time understanding your thoughts. An internship cover letter should follow the following format.
Recruiters hate cover letters written for any job without specifications. Almost 50% of recruiters and hiring managers rarely read cover letters that have not been customized for a certain role to the end. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by mentioning the role you are applying for in the cover letter opening. This allows you to:
When the hiring manager is reviewing your application, they tend to scan your cover letter or resume looking for the right keywords that would lead to your qualification for the internship. Thus, it is important to include the right keywords when writing your cover letter.
Are you wondering how you might find these keywords? This is simple as you only need to look at the internship job description and go through the required skills and responsibilities and identify the keywords the recruiter could be looking for. Once you have the keywords, you can do the following.
When using the keywords, avoid overdoing it as this might look like you copied the job posting which can lead to the dismissal of your cover letter or resume. Using the keywords used in the job description without backing the skills up with experience can make the hiring manager think that you only copied the requirements from the job description but you do not have the required skills.
To be on the safe side, avoid copy-pasting all the keywords from the job description. In case you mention a lot of the keywords, ensure you back them up with practical experiences.
In most cases, students searching for internship opportunities do not have a lot of work experience. If you are in this position, your education and relevant coursework are the best tools to show that you are the best fit for the internship. Show the recruiter the kind of courses you have completed and how relevant they are to the internship opportunity as this will make your internship cover letter impactful. Ensure you have mentioned all the relevant courses and related accomplishments to show the recruiter how qualified you are.
Although most interns are responsible for making coffee and organizing filing cabinets, not all do that. Many companies give promising interns real projects that affect the company’s bottom line. In most companies, the best interns are usually offered a job once they are done with the internship.
When writing a cover letter, ensure you create one that shows that you are interested in doing more than just the simple office roles. Show the recruiter that you are capable of handling the responsibilities of the job and that you are self-driven.
Internships are designed to be entry-level positions and most hiring managers do not expect you to have a lot of work experience. Instead of experience, hiring managers are looking for interns who have enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.
Communicating your passion through a resume can be hard and that is why a cover letter is important to have a cover letter. A cover letter will help convey your passion by highlighting your motivations and convincing the employer that you are the best fit for that position.
NB: A cover letter that puts emphasis on your passion instead of your skills and experience is also known as a motivation letter.
The following are the three ways you can communicate your motivation to a potential employer when writing a cover letter for an internship.
If you do not have the required experience, you can focus on other experiences you possess that qualify you for the internship. For instance, you can mention any relevant college coursework, extracurricular activities, or volunteer work experience that is related to the industry you want to intern in.
Expressing your motivation and passion make you appear eager and ready to expand your knowledge. It also makes you appear more qualified. You can list the experiences using bullet points in the body of your letter.
You can claim that you have certain skills but can you prove it? Anyone can say that they are great at doing something but what makes the difference is if they can prove it. For example, when applying for an internship, instead of only talking about the skills you possess, you can back this up with a past experience that can prove it.
This can be something you did in the community as a volunteer or how in the family. You can use the skills you possess to take up some roles in the family business. This can be important if it is added to your cover letter. These skills should match the skills the company expects from its interns.
Apart from just listing out the skills that are relevant and beneficial for the internship, you should also explain why you are the best fit for the position. In this case, you have to connect the dots between what the company is expecting to gain from its interns and how well you can deliver those services.
You can do research to understand what the company expects from you. After this, you can create a cover letter that explains why you are a good fit for that position. Show the employer how you are able to handle the roles effortlessly and your willingness to learn.
After showing and providing proof of your skills and how the company can benefit from having you as an intern, it’s time to show the company how you will benefit professionally from working with them. This is because the main purpose of internships is to help students and young professors acquire in-depth knowledge about a certain industry, create a network, and develop skills that will help them throughout their careers.
Thus, it will help create a positive impression if you can show the employer that you are aware of how you will benefit from the internship and how the internship will help you grow professionally.
Once you are done writing your cover letter, there is one final thing that you should never ignore. It’s time to proofread it to make sure it does not have any mistakes. Check carefully for spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. A spelling or grammar mistake might not disqualify you but in most cases, recruiters can view it as a red flag that you are not attentive enough.
To create a positive impression in the eyes of the recruiter, match your cover letter design with your resume. You can submit a generic word cover letter template, but why fit in when you can stand out? You can create a resume that matches your cover letter. On the other hand, you can come up with a cover letter that has been written for that specific role and you can be sure to make your application special.
When writing a cover letter, view it as a sales pitch to the hiring manager. Use it to explain why you are the best fit for the company and not as a free space to talk about yourself. Instead of spending all the time talking about yourself and your wants and needs, take the opportunity and talk about the needs of your prospective employer. Include any information you think the recruiter would love to read.
You should first understand why the company is willing to hire for this role. In other words, understand the pain point the position is going to solve. Once you have understood the hiring manager’s concerns, you can use your skills as the solution to their problem. Once you have done this, you get a better chance of avoiding cover letter mistakes and can easily capture the recruiter’s attention.
Do talk about a few relevant strengths and noteworthy achievements that will highlight your skills for that specific position.
Don’t overuse “I” by sharing your life story as if your cover letter is your autobiography. Avoid coming up with irrelevant competencies you think will make you look good. This is a huge cover letter mistake that should be avoided at all costs.
If you have submitted your resume, remember that the recruiter already has this document and thus there is no need to repeat your job history when creating your cover letter. The issue of repetition has led to many employers disregarding the cover letter as they have read many cover letters written to summarize a resume.
You should use the cover letter to prove to the recruiter that you are worth the job. You can surprise the recruiter by using the opening of your cover letter to demonstrate your understanding of the company’s position and need in the marketplace. After this, highlight your work experience and accomplishments and how they relate to these requirements.
Unless you are applying for a managerial or executive position, your cover letter should not exceed one page. Think of your cover letter as the highlights reel of your career. A good cover letter should meet the following three objectives:
The cover letter should not be longer than is necessary to get all your points across. The ideal length of a cover letter is 250-400 words or between three to six paragraphs.
Every cover letter you deliver should be tailored to each job that you apply for. Submitting one of those generic cover letters that you just copy and paste from the internet samples shows that you only submitted the cover letter because you have to submit it and not because you have a genuine interest in that position.
You should submit a cover letter that you have put the effort into creating as this is all that makes the difference from other applicants. But if you are applying for many jobs and don’t have time to write all those cover letters, you can use the same cover letter but ensure you at least customize the company’s and hiring manager’s name in each before submitting them.
You may be tempted to use phrases like “I’m an excellent team player”, “dedicated problem-solver”, or “great communicator” when writing your cover letter. Although these are important skills, the phrases have been used so often in cover letters and resume that they have become clichés. If you decide to use these phrases, make sure to back them up with your past experiences.
For example instead of saying “I’m a great communicator”, you can say “I’m a great communicator as proven by experience this, this, and this”.
Whenever you are applying for a position or preparing for an interview, take the company’s culture into account. You can check the company’s career section online, read reviews, search its profile on LinkedIn, or follow their social media accounts to get a better sense of the employer’s brand. You can also talk to your networking connections who have worked at the organization and they will advise you on the type of greeting to use.
If you are unable to address the cover letter to a specific person, you should avoid incredibly formal introductions like “To whom it may concern” as they are not conversational and can be considered off-putting. This also applies to super casual openers like “Hi!” or “Hello”. Even in a case where you are dealing with an organization that prides itself on being non-traditional, you should such type of greetings in your cover letter as it is a little too laid back for your first communication. This may lead to the reader questioning your professionalism.
To be safe in a case where you do not know the name of the recruiter, you can stick to gender-neutral greetings like “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Recruiter”.
A very small mistake in your cover letter can be used to eliminate you from the pile of applicants especially when you are competing against a large pool of candidates for one role. Today most people depend on spell-check and autocorrect apps to edit their communication and you can also use them. Don’t let silly mistakes derail you from a job application.
It’s easy to overlook the small mistakes such as using “higher” instead of “hire” but this should never happen and that is why you should always review your cover letter before submitting it. You can also hand the cover letter over to a friend or a family member and request them to check it out for grammar and punctuation.
If you hold the company’s values, mission, or culture at a high standard, feel free to mention how it inspires you professionally. But this does not encourage you to use the cover letter to throw random compliments at the company with the hopes that the recruiter will like you. You only have to flatter your achievements and not the company.
Avoid going off the topic when writing your cover letter at any cost. You may think this is okay as long as you are talking about work. Talking too much and explaining the back stories of your professional decisions might be very boring to the recruiter which might discourage them from reading your cover letter to the end. If the recruiter can’t read your cover letter to the end, then the probability of you getting the job is too low.
When writing your cover letter, avoid including the following information.
Generally, you should avoid giving any information that does not convince the recruiter that you are the perfect fit for the position you are applying for.
We always encourage you to read the instructions several times before you start writing your cover letter. In some cases, we hurry so much to get things done that we completely miss what we are being asked. This should never be a mistake you commit and thus you should always read the description carefully before you decide on what to include in your resume and cover letter.
In case the hiring manager has provided specific requirements about the cover letter’s content or format, you will find them in the job description. Give this part due attention to know what is required for the cover letter and resume.
Signing your cover letter shows business etiquette and attention to detail and thus you should always make sure you sign it. But if you are sending the cover letter and job application as part of the email, you do not have to sign your cover letter.
Another thing to put into consideration is how you end your cover letter. People are bound to remember the ending of things. Thus, you should conclude your cover letter as politely and as memorably as possible.
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