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Transferable Skills Cover Letter Examples

Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts.

presentation skills cover letter

What Are Transferable Skills?

How to Send an Email Cover Letter

Are you changing jobs—or maybe even industries? Especially if you’re making a big career transition, it’s important to emphasize transferable skills in your cover letter , resume, and during your job interviews.

Transferable skills are those that can be used in different industries and jobs, and they can help make you a valuable candidate for employers. Transferable skills include the hard and soft skills that are applicable in both your current role and the job you’re seeking.

Transferable soft skills are particularly important to mention when you lack much professional work experience; or are transitioning to a new career where you haven’t yet developed industry-specific job skills.

For example, you might have developed time management , communication, and conflict resolution skills in your student job as a food server. All of those skills will be useful to you when applying for a retail or customer service job, even in an entirely different industry.

How to Demonstrate Transferable Skills in Your Cover Letter

Match your qualifications to the job description. Analyze the listing and tease out keywords that describe the role, its duties, and the company’s requirements. Then match your skills, experience, and abilities to their needs, emphasizing how your qualifications translate to the role.

Include examples of projects, teams, or training you've been a part of allows the company to gain a better understanding of your background and helps them to see the potential positive impact you'll make on their business.

Customize your cover letter for every job. Remember, the following cover letter examples are merely guides.

It is important to tailor the letter to fit your situation and the job for which you're applying.

Transferable Skills Cover Letter Example #1

If you are a current college student or recent graduate, you will definitely want to emphasize the transferable “soft skills” (like leadership, attention to detail, or communication) that many employers seek in entry-level personnel.

This is a transferable skills cover letter example for a college student or recent grad. Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

Transferable Skills Cover Letter (Text Version)

Michelle Applicant 123 Main Street Anytown, CA 12345 555-555-5555 michelle.applicant@email.com

October 13, 2020

Rosa Lau Director, Human Resources Acme Software 123 Business Rd. Business City, NY 54321

Dear Ms. Lau,

In reviewing your corporate website, I was excited to learn about your management training program. Please consider the attached resume as a sign of my very deep interest in becoming an Intern in this exciting program.

During my undergraduate studies in Business Administration at ABC College, I have enjoyed the opportunity to explore subjects including retail merchandising, customer service strategies, and business communications – studies which have inspired me to pursue a career in retail management.

To this end, I have worked for our campus bookstore for the past six months as a sales clerk, acquiring a solid knowledge of how to provide excellence in customer service. My duties in this role have also included merchandising, stocking, and inventory control.

I believe that as an Intern in your management training program, my enthusiasm for customer service and retail sales will become clear. I also look forward to using my leadership skills (developed as Captain of the ACB College Crew Team and Rush Chairman for my sorority) to learn how to motivate and coordinate store teams, with an emphasis upon honesty, diversity, inclusion, and safety. Other skills that will transfer well to this role include:

Thank you for your time and consideration in reviewing the attached resume; I would be grateful for the opportunity to speak with you directly in a personal interview. Please let me know if there is any additional information I can provide in support of my candidacy for this internship.

Signature (typed letter)

Michelle Applicant

Transferable Skills Cover Letter Example #2

This cover letter example focuses on changing industries and emphasizes transferable sales skills.

Jane Brown 27 Chestnut St., Apt 2 Business City, NY 20733 Phone: 555-234-5678 Email: Jane.Brown@email.com October 13, 2020

Linda Lee Human Resources Manager Widget, Inc. 200 Office Park Way, Ste. 300 Business City, NY 20733

Dear Ms. Lee,

It was with much interest that I learned about your recently posted advertisement for a Sales Representative.

In various roles in the retail sales sector, I have developed strong sales skills that have enabled me to build a record of sustained sales increases. I thrive on challenge and change, and I look forward to new opportunities to build positive customer relationships every day.

I believe that as a Sales Representative for Widget Inc., my energy, analytic skills, organizational abilities, and creativity in tackling problems will make a positive contribution. I am equally comfortable working independently to meet company goals, as well as collaboratively as part of a team. I have always been able to establish and maintain excellent relationships with clients and coworkers at all levels. My professional skills include:

I would welcome the chance to provide you with additional information to supplement what appears in my enclosed resume and demonstrate how my sales skills will seamlessly transfer to the IT sales sector. I am available for a personal interview at your convenience. I know you are busy and have many applications to review, so please let me know if you wish to further discuss your requirements and my ability to meet them.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sending your cover letter via email offers several advantages: it’s faster, more efficient, and saves the cost of a stamp. Many employers ask for email cover letters or require them as part of their online job application system. To make sure your email cover letter impresses the hiring team:

Use the right subject line. List your name and the job title in the subject line of the email message, e.g., “Senior Graphic Designer – John Smith.” 

Skip the employer’s contact info. In an email submission, it isn’t necessary to list the employer’s contact information (as you would in a “snail mail” letter). Instead, begin your letter with an appropriate salutation and include your personal contact information in your email signature.

Proofread and test your email before hitting send. Have a trusted friend check your email for typos and errors after you’ve completed your draft. Then send yourself a copy before emailing your cover letter to the hiring manager, so that you’re sure your formatting holds up. 

CareerOneStop. " Identifying Transferable Skills ." Accessed Oct. 13, 2020.

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What It Takes to Give a Great Presentation

presentation skills cover letter

Five tips to set yourself apart.

Never underestimate the power of great communication. It can help you land the job of your dreams, attract investors to back your idea, or elevate your stature within your organization. But while there are plenty of good speakers in the world, you can set yourself apart out by being the person who can deliver something great over and over. Here are a few tips for business professionals who want to move from being good speakers to great ones: be concise (the fewer words, the better); never use bullet points (photos and images paired together are more memorable); don’t underestimate the power of your voice (raise and lower it for emphasis); give your audience something extra (unexpected moments will grab their attention); rehearse (the best speakers are the best because they practice — a lot).

I was sitting across the table from a Silicon Valley CEO who had pioneered a technology that touches many of our lives — the flash memory that stores data on smartphones, digital cameras, and computers. He was a frequent guest on CNBC and had been delivering business presentations for at least 20 years before we met. And yet, the CEO wanted to sharpen his public speaking skills.

“You’re very successful. You’re considered a good speaker. Why do you feel as though you need to improve?” I asked.

“I can always get better,” he responded. “Every point up or down in our share price means billions of dollars in our company’s valuation. How well I communicate makes a big difference.”

This is just one example of the many CEOs and entrepreneurs I have coached on their communication skills over the past two decades, but he serves as a valuable case in point. Often, the people who most want my help are already established and admired for their skills. Psychologists say this can be explained by a phenomenon called the Dunning-Kruger effect. Simply put, people who are mediocre at certain things often think they are better than they actually are, and therefore, fail to grow and improve. Great leaders, on the other hand, are great for a reason — they recognize their weaknesses and seek to get better.

The following tips are for business professionals who are already comfortable with giving presentations — and may even be admired for their skills — but who, nonetheless, want to excel.

1) Great presenters use fewer slides — and fewer words.

McKinsey is one of the most selective consulting companies in the world, and one I have worked with many times in this area. Senior McKinsey partners have told me that recent MBA hires often try to dazzle clients with their knowledge — and they initially do so by creating massive PowerPoint decks. New consultants quickly learn, however, that less is much more. One partner instructs his new hires to reduce PowerPoint decks considerably by replacing every 20 slides with only two slides.

This is because great writers and speakers are also great editors. It’s no coincidence that some of the most memorable speeches and documents in history are among the shortest. The Gettysburg Address is 272 words, John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech was under 15 minutes, and the Declaration of Independence guarantees three unalienable rights — not 22.

Key takeaway: Reduce clutter where you can.

2) Great presenters don’t use bullet points.

Bullet points are the least effective way to get your point across. Take Steve Jobs , considered to be one of the most extraordinary presenters of his time. He rarely showed slides with just text and bullets. He used photos and text instead.

Experiments in memory and communication find that information delivered in pictures and images is more likely to be remembered than words alone. Scientists call it “ pictorial superiority .” According to molecular biologist John Medina, our ability to remember images is one of our greatest strengths. “We are incredible at remembering pictures,” he writes . “Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%.”

Key takeaway: Complement text on slides with photos, videos, and images.

3) Great presenters enhance their vocal delivery.

Speakers who vary the pace, pitch, and volume of their voices are more effective, according to a new research study by Wharton marketing professor, Jonah Berger.

In summary, the research states that effective persuaders modulate their voice, and by doing so, appear to be more confident in their argument. For example, they raise their voice when emphasizing a key message, or they pause after delivering an important point.

Simply put, if you raise and lower the volume of your voice, and alternate between a high pitch and low pitch while delivering key messages, your presentation will be more influential, persuasive, and commanding.

Key takeaway: Don’t underestimate the power of  your voice to make a positive impression on your audience.

4) Great presenters create “wow” moments.

People don’t remember every slide and every word of a presentation. They remember moments, as Bill Gates exemplified back in 2009 in his now famous TED talk .

While giving a presentation on the efforts of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to reduce the spread of malaria, Gates stated: “Now, malaria is, of course, transmitted by mosquitos. I brought some here just so you could experience this.” And with that, he walked out to the center of the stage, and opened the lid from a small jar containing non-infected mosquitoes.

“We’ll let those roam around the auditorium a little bit.”

This moment was so successful in capturing his audience because it was a surprise. His audience had been expecting a standard PowerPoint presentation — complete with graphs and data. But what they got instead was a visceral introduction to the subject, an immersive experience that played on their emotions.

Unexpected moments grab an audience’s attention because the human brain gets bored easily. According to neuroscientist, A.K Pradeep, whom I’ve  interviewed : “Novelty recognition is a hardwired survival tool all humans share. Our brains are trained to look for something brilliant and new, something that stands out, something that looks delicious.”

Key takeaway: Give your audience something extra.

5) Great presenters rehearse.

Most speakers don’t practice nearly as much as they should. Oh, sure, they review their slides ahead of time, but they neglect to put in the hours of deliberate practice that will make them shine.

Malcolm Gladwell made the “ 10,000-hour rule ” famous as a benchmark for excellence — stating, in so many words, that 20 hours of practice a week for a decade can make anyone a master in their field. While you don’t have nearly that long to practice your next presentation, there’s no question that the world’s greatest speakers have put in the time to go from good to great.

Consider Martin Luther King, Jr. His most famous speeches came after years of practice — and it was exactly this level of mastery that gave King the awareness and flexibility to pull off an advanced speaking technique: improvisation. King improvised the memorable section of what is now known as the “Dream Speech” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. When he launched into the “I have a dream” refrain, the press in attendance were confused. Those words were not included in the official draft of the speech they had been handed. King read the mood of his audience and, in the moment, combined words and ideas he had made in previous speeches.

It’s believed that King gave 2,500 speeches in his lifetime. If we assume two hours of writing and rehearsals for each one (and in many cases he spent much more time than that ), we arrive at the conservative estimate of 5,000 hours of practice. But those are speeches. They don’t take into account high school debates and hundreds of sermons. King had easily reached 10,000 hours of practice by August of 1963.

Key takeaway: Put in the time to make yourself great.  

Never underestimate the power of great communication. It can help you land the job of your dreams, attract investors to back your idea, or elevate your stature within your organization. But while there are plenty of good speakers in the world, using the above tips to sharpen your skills is the first step to setting yourself apart. Stand out by being the person who can deliver something great over and over again.

presentation skills cover letter

Partner Center

presentation skills cover letter

How to write an effective cover letter (with samples)

You will have to prepare a number of materials for employers while looking for a job. One type of document is the cover letter, which is included with your resume when requesting a job interview. An effective cover letter is directed towards a specific position or company, and describes examples from your experience that highlight your skills related to the role.

You want to convince the reader that your interest in the job and company are genuine and specific. You also want to demonstrate ways that your experience has prepared you for the role by sharing a few brief stories that highlight your qualifications. This takes time and research; use the job description and the company’s web site or LinkedIn page to identify traits and skills the company values.

Cover letter structure and format

A cover letter should be no longer than one page with a font size between 10-12 points. Be sure to include your contact information and address it directly to the hiring manager, using their name. If you are not sure who to address the letter to, write “Dear Hiring Manager.” If the role you are applying for has a reference number or code, be sure to include it in your letter so that human resources is able to accurately track your application. The reference code is usually included

Cover letters typically take the following structure:

Introduction (1st paragraph)

Example : I am a second year master’s student in MIT’s Technology and Policy Program (TPP) writing to apply for a consulting position in Navigant’s Emerging Technology & Business Strategy group. After speaking with John Smith at the MIT career fair, I realized that Navigant’s values of excellence, continuous development, entrepreneurial spirit, and integrity align with the principles that guide me every day and that have driven me throughout my career. Moreover, I believe that my knowledge of the energy sector, passion for data analysis, polished communication skills, and four years of consulting experience will enable me to deliver superior value for Navigant’s clients.

Body (2-3 paragraphs)

Example : As a graduate student in MIT’s Technology and Policy Program, I spend every day at the cutting edge of the energy sector. In my capacity as an MIT Energy Initiative research assistant, I use statistical analysis to investigate trends in public acceptance and regulation related to emerging energy technologies. Graduate classes in data science, energy economics, energy ventures and strategy, and technology policy have prepared me to help Navigant offer the expert services that set it apart from competitors. Furthermore, I will bring Navigant the same leadership skills that I used as the student leader for the MIT Energy Conference’s Technology Commercialization round-table, and as the mentorship manager for the MIT Clean Energy Prize.

Even before MIT, my four years of work experience in consulting—first at LMN Research Group and then at XYZ Consulting—allowed me to develop the skillset that Navigant looks for in candidates. As a science writer and policy analyst at LMN Research Group, I developed superb technical writing and visual communication skills, as well as an ability to communicate and collaborate with clients at federal agencies such as EPA and DOE. As a research analyst at XYZ Consulting, I developed an in-depth understanding of data analysis, program evaluation, and policy design.

Closing (last paragraph)

Example : I take pride in my skills and experience in several domains: critical thinking and analysis, communication, and leadership. I note that Navigant values these same ideals, and I very much hope to use my abilities in service of the firm and its clients. Thank you for your time and consideration, I look forward to speaking with you further about my qualifications.

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Presentation Specialist Cover Letter Sample

Kick-start your career and learn how to improve your cover letter with this modifiable Presentation Specialist cover letter sample. Copy and paste this cover letter example free of charge or try to redesign it using our HR-approved cover letter creator.

Milan Šaržík — Certified Professional Résumé Writer

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Presentation Specialist Cover Letter Sample (Full Text Version)

Anna Pramoj

Dear Hiring Managers,

I writing this cover letter to express my deep interest in applying for the Presentation Specialist job within DEMM Corporation, Inc. in Norwich as I believe that your requirements and needs for this role match perfectly with my qualifications. Furthermore, I am confident that it would be a great opportunity for me to apply my expertise and grow my career.

First and foremost, I am a creative and results-oriented professional offering exceptional communication and negotiation skills and the important ability to work under pressure. At Devonshire Appointments, Ltd., where I worked as a Presentation Specialist for more than two years, I was recognized for my professional attitude and a proven track record of success in finishing all assigned projects in a timely manner. Besides producing presentations, storyboards, and print materials, I was in charge of developing new marketing solutions, providing beneficial support to clients, and I also represented the organization at various shows and industry events. During my time there, I had proved numerous times that I am an excellent team player with the ability to function in fast-paced environments.

Next, I am a Certified Marketing Management Professional possessing a Business & Management degree from the University of East Anglia which serves as a great evidence of my field knowledge. Moreover, I am experienced with all software programs described in the job posting, including iContact Pro, SendPulse, and Pipedrive. Last but not least, I am a native Thai speaker with a proficiency in English and Spanish and a strong determination to meet and exceed all your goals and expectations. I have attached my up-to-date resume for your further review so please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions on my career history and qualities. I can be reached at 555-555-5555 or via email at [email protected]. Thank you for your time and consideration and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Kind regards,

Edit this sample using our resume builder.

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Career Services Blog

The cover letter: bringing your skills to life.

presentation skills cover letter

Cover letters are a crucial part of the application process and can determine whether you get an interview. Unlike resumes, which are given a quick skim, cover letters are usually read a little more closely by recruiters. It is important to take the time you deserve to craft a strong cover letter to sell yourself and bring your skills to life. 

Keep in mind that in the legal world, a cover letter is the first and most important writing sample that an employer sees. It must be well-written, persuasive, show good judgment, and have no typos. Just like with resumes, having spelling and grammatical errors in your cover letter will likely get your application removed from consideration, no matter how qualified you are. 

Here are some tips to help you get started:

Use the Same Design as Your Resume: Just as choosing a format/design for your resume is important, the same is true for your cover letter – keep it elegant, simple, and traditional. Make sure your resume and cover letter match aesthetically. It can appear sloppy and careless to submit mismatched materials that look like two different people submitted them. Coordinate these documents by using the same header, design elements, and font on your cover letter as your resume.

Use Standard Business Letter Format: The format of a cover letter is standard business letter, single-spaced, with the following key components:

  • Use the same header as your resume , with your name and contact information at the top.
  • Include the date at the top.
  • Following is the employer’s address block , with the name of the company, the name of the person hiring (or Human Resources), and full mailing address. Go out of your way to look up the company’s address, even if you are emailing the letter. If emailing, you can write “via email” with the email address underneath the physical address.
  • Next is the opening salutation . Try your best to find the name of the person who will be looking at your application materials; if you can’t find this information, though, you may write, “Dear Hiring Committee” – a modern version of “To Whom it May Concern” (also acceptable). If you are not sure whether the person you are greeting uses Ms. or Mr., then it is acceptable to use both first and last name, “Dear John Smith.” Be very careful to spell the person’s name correctly.
  • After the body of your letter, use a closing salutation such as “Sincerely” or “Best,” followed by your signature and name.

Use the Persuasive Essay Concept: While formatting is crucial for the first impression, organization and content is even more important. Do you remember first learning to write persuasive essays in grade school? Well, a cover letter is, at its core, a persuasive essay to convince an employer to give you an interview. Just like any other persuasive essay, your cover letter will consist of an introduction paragraph that includes an overview of your key supporting arguments, body paragraphs that offer evidence and support for your main points, and a conclusion to recap your stance and wrap up. IRAC, if you will. Following this structure will help guide and organize your thoughts to prevent rambling – a common problem with cover letters.

Introduction – Create a Roadmap: The introductory paragraph serves to answer the following questions:

  • Who are you? Rather than restating the obvious with, “My name is Jane Doe,” use this paragraph to provide useful context: “I am a second year law student at Lewis & Clark studying environmental law…” or “As a recent graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School, …”
  • Why are you writing this letter? Tell the employer what position you are applying for: “I am interested in your opportunity for a summer associate” or “it would be an honor to work with Smith Law as an Associate Attorney in your litigation section.”
  • Why do you want to work for this employer? Even if you want this job for the experience and connections, and even if it will look good on your resume, recruiters do not want to hear that. People want to be wanted , and this is true even for employers. Make a genuine connection with this position by presenting what is exciting to you about this specific company and position, not in terms of what you think you will get out of it. Consider how your passions match this opportunity, and what it is about this company or position that genuinely appeals to you: “Your firm’s job posting stood out as a perfect fit because I enjoy working in small collaborative work environments and I am eager to gain more hands-on experience.”
  • What makes you a strong candidate for consideration? This is where you make a few persuasive points to advocate for yourself. What skills do you have to offer? What relevant experiences do you have? These points will be what you delve into more deeply and give supporting evidence for in the following paragraphs. “I am a strong candidate for this position because of Skill or Attribute A, Skill or Attribute B, and Skill or Attribute C.” This is your essay’s Roadmap , the promise of what you intend to talk about in the next paragraphs: Skills or Attributes A, B, and C (in that order!).

presentation skills cover letter

Organize your paragraphs by discussing Skill or Attribute A and B in the first middle paragraph, and then Skill or Attribute C in the next paragraph. Or A in the first and B and C in the next. Lead with your strongest and most descriptive experience.

Use the investigatory Ws – Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How – to describe your work. Pick experiences that are in line with the work you might be doing for this prospective employer or that highlight universally transferrable skills such as research, writing, client service, time and project management, leadership, presentation or oral advocacy, communication skills, teamwork, or a demonstrated interest in the subject.

For example, rather than simply declaring that you “have good communication skills” and are “able to communicate with people from a variety of backgrounds,” draw a picture with your words of your communication skills in action:

  • Before law school, I worked as a high school English teacher in a Title 1 district for four years. I am no stranger to difficult conversations, difficult people, or difficult situations. That experience has blessed me with the maturity to confront critical issues with grace and care. It also taught me how to communicate effectively to a range of audiences, to manage administrative as well as substantive workloads, and treat people with professionalism and respect. One of the greatest compliments I ever received as a teacher is that I have a way of making people feel seen. Now, as a law student, I hope to bring those skills to bear in making meaningful change.

Instead of an unsupported statement that you “have outstanding written and verbal communication skills,” describe a project where you really used those skills while volunteering or performing an internship during law school. Here is an example of how to show communication, research, writing skills, as well as a subject-matter interest:

  • I value communication skills, as demonstrated by my deep interest in supporting the performing arts through pro bono and volunteer work over the past four years. Through my work with the Oregon Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, under the supervision of an attorney, I took on a project to produce guidelines for local nonprofits to gain tax-exempt status. This required me to conduct extensive research into local tax codes and write a usable document for the organizations that explained the law to a non-lawyer audience with starter forms the organizations could use to complete and file in order to obtain the desired status. I met with each organization to learn about their needs and to explain whether and how a tax-exempt status might help them. My background in economics came into play and I enjoyed using my education in conjunction with my current legal training to help my clients in a tangible way.

This method works even for those without much work experience. Do not sell yourself short. Use experiences gained through your academic work, club involvement, volunteer work, or subject-matter interest. For example, to highlight your academic writing experience without the benefit of practical experience, rather than asserting you “are a good writer,” go deeper:

  • My academic performance and background give me the technical skills necessary to be a thoughtful, resourceful, and effective clerk. In Lawyering (legal writing), during my 1L year, I earned a High Pass and then an Honors Pass – the highest grades offered for that course. After completing the required courses during the first year in law school, I purposefully chose courses requiring an intensive writing component that will bolster my writing skills and allow me to apply the law to a broad range of topics. My academic accomplishments during my first year also opened the door to Lewis & Clark Law Review where I contributed as a Member this past year. This experience further refined my ability to properly cite, edit, and appreciate legal writing. I expect that my skills in the technical aspect of legal writing will only grow as I take on the responsibility of Lead Article Editor next school year.

Pull out tangible achievements such as high sales numbers, positive customer reviews, and other wins. Use the job description from the posting to make sure you address skills that are important to the employer. Click here for more examples of how to bring your skills to life in a cover letter.

A helpful strategy to make this customization of each cover letter easier and less time consuming in the long run is to keep a Cover Letter Paragraph Bank. Prepare paragraphs about your key skills/attributes/experiences ahead of time and then draw from this saved document to create tailored cover letters without starting from scratch every time. You will thank yourself later.

Final Paragraph – Recap and Close: The final step is to write a short conclusion paragraph, consisting of a brief restatement of what you have told them. Take care not to repeat yourself verbatim. Finding different ways to phrase your skills and attributes will be more impactful than repeating yourself. You can even mention strengths, interests, and skills that are adjacent to those you discussed in your letter, so long as there is a clear connection and you are not bringing things up seemingly out of nowhere. An example of this would be to highlight the genuine enjoyment you feel from working with people, which relates to and enriches the information you’ve already provided about your strong people skills, but isn’t something you’ve already said – and is self-explanatory enough that there is no need to substantiate it.

Additionally, the final paragraph will be where you make your ask. Tell the employer that you would like to work or intern with them in plain language. Again, people want to be wanted, so make sure they know that you want to work there and are hoping for an interview. Make a point to thank them for their consideration.

For more guidance, see the examples on Lewis & Clark Law School’s Career Services website . To keep your cover letter authentic and to honor your own skills, experiences, and voice, use the examples as guides without using the language directly – otherwise, your letter may end up looking too similar to others who are using the same examples.

Law Career Services is located in Gantenbein on the Law Campus. MSC: 51

email   [email protected]

voice   503-768-6608  

Law Career Services Lewis & Clark Law School 10101 S. Terwilliger Boulevard  MSC 51 Portland   OR   97219

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Cover letters are the first chance you have to impress an employer – they’re not just a protective jacket for your CV. Here’s our guide on what to include and how to format them

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The first thing a potential employer sees in your job application is the cover letter. This doesn’t just support your CV – it’s an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd and persuade the recruiter to put you through to the next round.

Be wary of spending hours on perfecting your CV at the expense of your cover letter. If you need some inspiration on what to include and what format to use, here are our helpful guides – just remember not to copy them as exact templates.

1. Standard, conservative style

This is ideal for sectors such as business, law, accountancy and retail. For more creative sectors, a letter like this might be less appealing, and could work against you.

Dear Mr Black, Please find enclosed my CV in application for the post advertised in the Guardian on 30 November. The nature of my degree course has prepared me for this position. It involved a great deal of independent research, requiring initiative, self-motivation and a wide range of skills. For one course, [insert course], an understanding of the [insert sector] industry was essential. I found this subject very stimulating. I am a fast and accurate writer, with a keen eye for detail and I should be very grateful for the opportunity to progress to market reporting. I am able to take on the responsibility of this position immediately, and have the enthusiasm and determination to ensure that I make a success of it. Thank you for taking the time to consider this application and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future. Yours sincerely

2. Standard speculative letter

This may vary according to the nature of the organisation and the industry you’re applying to.

Dear Mr Brown, I am writing to enquire if you have any vacancies in your company. I enclose my CV for your information. As you can see, I have had extensive vacation work experience in office environments, the retail sector and service industries, giving me varied skills and the ability to work with many different types of people. I believe I could fit easily into your team. I am a conscientious person who works hard and pays attention to detail. I’m flexible, quick to pick up new skills and eager to learn from others. I also have lots of ideas and enthusiasm. I’m keen to work for a company with a great reputation and high profile like [insert company name]. I have excellent references and would be delighted to discuss any possible vacancy with you at your convenience. In case you do not have any suitable openings at the moment, I would be grateful if you would keep my CV on file for any future possibilities. Yours sincerely

3. Letter for creative jobs

We’ve used the example of a copywriter but you can adapt it for your profession. The aim of a creative letter is to be original and show you have imagination, but understand what the job entails. Balance is essential: don’t be too wacky, or it will turn off the reader.

Dear Ms Green, · Confused by commas? · Puzzled by parenthesis? · Stumped by spelling? · Perturbed by punctuation? · Annoyed at the apostrophe? (And alliteration?) Well, you’re not alone. It seems that fewer and fewer people can write. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who can read. So they’ll spot a gaffe from a mile off. And that means it’s a false economy, unless you’re 100% sure of yourself, to write your own materials. (Or to let clients do it for themselves.) To have materials properly copywritten is, when one considers the whole process of publishing materials and the impact that the client wishes to make, a minor expense. Sloppiness loses clients, loses customers. There is an answer. Me. Firm quotes are free. You can see some of what I do on my multilingual website at [insert web address]. If you’d like, I can get some samples out to you within 24 hours. And, if you use me, you’ll have some sort of guarantee that you can sleep soundly as those tens of thousands of copies are rolling off the presses. Luck shouldn’t come into it! With kindest regards

Other helpful resources

How to write a perfect CV and cover letter

Applying for jobs without experience? How to build and sell your skills

Five steps to the perfect graduate CV

School-leavers and graduates: how to write your first CV

How to write a personal statement for your CV

CV templates to fit every stage of your career

Looking for a job? Browse Guardian Jobs for your next career step.

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