By Rachel Rooney, Toppel Peer Advisor

You’ve done it. You’ve submitted your resume and been approved on HireACane.com. You’ve been to Career Expo and passed out copies of your amazing and impressive resumes. You are now getting ready to apply for jobs. Ahead of you are applications, resumes, and cover letters. After you make it through, you win an interview. Cover letters are perhaps the hardest part of the application. It’s not the same thing as a personal statement; when I find that I have to write cover letters I end up writing personal statements! Toppel recommends a format for cover letters that is one-two-three paragraphs and then you’re done. 

Paragraph one defines the purpose of your letter: what position you are applying for, why you want it, what you hope to gain and contribute to the company, what skills you have. This is not a place to restate what is on your resume, but you do want to show that you are a qualified and ____ candidate. 
In the second paragraph, focus on the specific position and organization you are applying for. Do your research beforehand and attend employer information sessions held at Toppel. Scroll through the company website and the job description. Mention something interesting you learned from your research and focus on how your skill set would benefit the organization. Give examples of when you had to use your skills and your strengths. 
The final paragraph allows you to take action. Ask to set up an interview or a follow up meeting. Restate your phone number and your email address. Indicate your enclosed resume and thank the reader for his/her time and consideration. Finish with sincerely and your name and you’ll be good to go! 
A few things to watch out for are the length and grammatical and spelling errors. Do not address your letter to “to whom it may concern” instead address it directly to the person. If you do not have a contact, address it “dear hiring manager.” Be sure to include your address and the date at the top of the page, followed by the full address of the organization. 
If you need any help at all, come to walk in hours at Toppel between 10:00 AM and 4:30 PM Monday through Thursday.