Oh the cover letter – little makes me cringe more. Even the resume I can handle. I’ve spent way more time than I’d care to admit over the past couple of weeks retooling, from the ground up, my resume to resemble something that I can hand to a hiring manager with pride.
I now feel like I have an even better handle on the art of employment, thanks to my favorite session on the day, led by Karen Testa, longtime Associated Press employee, now hiring manager. Testa. She touched on a lot in a short time.
And she made me realize I’ve been beginning my cover letters all wrong, all the time.
Like most internship-seekers, my first line has read something like, “My name is Michael Bodley, and I’m writing to apply for the position of X at Publication Y for the coming summer.”
As Testa put it best: yawn. The best cover letters she’s seen – and she’s seen thousands – treat the exercise like an act of journalism, filled with showing, not telling. It’s all about the beginning, telling a story of a challenge you’ve faced or a situation in which you’ve excelled.
I need to writing a new cover letter. But it’s not all bad news. After the presentation, Testa pored over my resume. Her verdict?
“I wouldn’t throw yours away. Congratulations.”
– Michael Bodley