Your resume and cover letter are your introduction to your potential employer. They create the first impression that will either lead to an interview or to the trash can. Any employer will tell you that a good resume and letter will make or break an application, so ensure that yours is the one that stands out.

Cover Letters

When you send a resume, it should ALWAYS be accompanied by a cover letter. The cover letter introduces you to the employer and highlights your career goal and most marketable qualities. You should compose and type a cover letter for each job you apply for. As with broadcast letters, cover letters should be addressed as specifically as possible to the correct person in the organization, in order to maximize the chance that they will be read.

Use the same paper and font for your cover letter as you used for your resume. Your cover letter should be clipped to your resume.

As with a resume, there are common basic elements to a cover letter:

Opening Paragraph: In your first paragraph, state the reason for the letter, the job your are applying for, and the means by which you learned of the job opening, I.E. "in the October 5, 2000 issue of the Calgary Herald" or " as per the posting on your website".

Paragraph 2/3: Indicate that you believe you would be a suitable match for the job. You do not need to re-copy your resume here, but you should refer to key skills that make you right for the position. Give two or three specific examples of your relevant skills, in brief sentences. Include "hard skill" training, such as your Science Degree, as well as "soft skills", such as an ability to work in teams or strong presentation skills. Try whenever possible to refer back to the specific qualifications listed in the job posting.

Final Paragraph: Refer the reader to your attached resume which summarizes your qualifications and experience. Indicate your desire for an interview at the reader's convenience. Thank the reader for his or her attention, and repeat your contact information.

For an example of a cover letter, click here: [or in PDF Format]

Important Do's and Don'ts for Resumes and Cover Letters:

Do check and re-check your spelling and grammar!
Do have a friend, parent or faculty member proof read your resume and cover letter.
Do use action verbs and the present tense whenever possible in your writing.
Do make sure that your references know you plan to use them and are in agreement.
Don't send letters "To Whom it May Concern". If you are uncertain of the correct name of the person, at least direct your letter to a department, I.E. - "Manager, Human Resources" or "Supervisor, Engineering Services".
Don't exaggerate your skills or experience in a resume. It is acceptable and necessary to present yourself in the best light possible, but be honest and clear at all times, for your sake and that of your employer. It will save you embarrassment and difficulties later on.