Recruiting Daily is pleased to once again welcome our good friend and guest blogger this week – Ken Sundheim

After posting an open internship at my organization, we received about one hundred different resumes from students all around the New York City area. Accompanied with the majority of these documents was, of course, a cover letter.

However, about 9 out of 10 of the cover letters sent by college students to our agency, with minimal work, could have been drastically improved and could have significantly raised their odds of being called by one of the executives at our firm. Instead, as an employer, they had the opposite effect on us.

As a young job seeker, how do you take advantage of the lack of effort that other students put into their cover letters and get into the company you want whether it be for an internship or your first job?

Here are 4 simple ways how. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the most worthwhile 10 minutes you will even spend in college.

Take the Time to Customize Your Cover Letter

You think that this would be a no-brainer, but it is not. It is quite obvious to an employer if your cover letter says nothing about the company, what they do or whom you’re actually writing it to. It is accepted fact for employers that you are likely not applying to only one job or internship. It ought to be an equally accepted fact for you as a prospective intern or employee that you put effort into learning about any company where you want to work and learn.

Before you sit down to formulate the document, make sure that you do a significant amount of research on the firm. It’s not about you being a hard worker or claiming that you are punctual, it’s about what you can do for the employer.

For example, if you want to intern in the fashion/garment industry:

“I have read over your website, and about your executive team. After doing so, I’m interested in learning more about the fashion industry from your company’s perspective; about what your firm does on a day to day basis; and whether you feel I would be able to learn about the garment business to an extent that would garner you giving me a chance.

Hard work comes naturally to me, especially when it comes to things that I am passionate about – style, clothing and, from what I know, the garment manufacturing process as a whole.”

Short Paragraphs and an Easy to Read Font
80% of the cover letters I receive are nearly impossible to read and have very long, drawn-out sentences that result in paragraphs that mirror the length of War and Peace. In a cover letter, as in a professional email, stick to clear, concise sentences.

Professionals don’t have time to put on reading glasses every time they receive a cover letter. At least, those professionals who receive enough resumes for competitive jobs certainly do not. Writing paragraphs that are more than 3 sentences will likely direct your resume and cover letter right into the trash folder.

As a rule, begin using a font like Sans Serif, Arial or Verdana and stop a paragraph after 3 sentences. Writing a cover letter is not a formal government exam, you can switch your font and structure around – but keep it simplistic and easy to read.

The above customization aside, the simple act of making the document readable, will put you ahead of 70% of the candidates.

Always remember, when writing a cover letter, make it as easy as possible for the recipient to read what you have taken the time to write.

About the Author: Ken Sundheim was the Founder is the acting President of KAS Placement. KAS does executive search for companies ranging from BNY Mellon to smaller, start-up organizations. The agency was founded by Ken from a studio apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. KAS also has 2 new businesses ready to launch this year. Ken and his wife, Alison, live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Interested in sharing a post at Recruiting Daily? Open to a guest blogging opportunity? Feel free to contact RD at [email protected] to learn more.