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Expert tips from a York University career workshop
“How do you write a general cover letter?” asked a student during the brainstorming session of a cover letter workshop I attended last Friday at York University in Toronto.
“We generally don’t recommend that,” Liz Cook, the workshop’s leader, diplomatically replied. “A general cover letter won’t sell your skills.”
Next question: “Okay then, how do I modify the general cover letter?” Cook’s patient answer: “Don’t use a template. Writing a new cover letter for each job is time consuming, but worth it.”
The basic fact that cover letters are the only chances we get to sell our biggest accomplishments, unique personalities and divine fits for particular jobs seemed lost on many of these students at the beginning of the workshop. But after 90 minutes with Cook, they sounded much more capable of writing targeted cover letters that will get picked out of the stacks. Students should make every effort to attend a workshop like this one before graduation. For those who can’t, here are seven cover letter tips I learned on Friday:
1. Write a new one for each employer.
Employers have told York’s Career Centre that many students submit applications that show no knowledge of their companies. The cover letter should draw connections between the applicants skills/experiences and what each employer specifically needs. If there’s a job posting, read it.