Cover letter and resume tips to land that summer job

By Maya Juman
06/03/2016
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For many students, searching for jobs can be a challenge, especially with limited work experience. Even if you're just starting out, here are nine tips for writing a cover letter and resume that will make you look your best!

How to write a cover letter

Cover letter and resume tips

1. What's the point of a cover letter?

Essentially, you want to convey to your potential employer why you're enthusiastic about the job you're applying for, and why you think you are the perfect fit. Your resume may include related experience and skills, but a little explanation in the cover letter can help tie this information to your application in a more personal way. What specific skills have you gained from extracurricular activities that you feel will help you in your job?

2. Write formally, but with a friendly tone

Don't be afraid of showing your personality, but maintain a professional tone and address the employer politely. Be sure to include the current date at the top, followed by a salutation (like "Dear Mrs. Flumberboots" or "Dear Sir"), and a valediction (like "Sincerely"). Organize your letter in clear paragraphs and add your contact information at the end so the employer can reach you. It may be worthwhile to look at some online examples to help you with formatting and layout.

3. Begin by introducing yourself and briefly describe your background

Mention where you go to school or will be attending school in the fall, and explain your interest in the job. How did you hear about it? Why did you decide to apply? Remember, you want to convince the employer that you are right for the job, so sound enthusiastic about the position!

How to write a cover letter

4. Create connections between you and the job

Review the job description and the type of employee they're looking for. Explain why you'd be a good match for the position, and include details from past experiences. If you've held jobs before, talk about what you learned from them and how you may apply these skills to future jobs. If you haven't held a job but have volunteered, played on a sports team, or managed an organization or group, you can refer to these roles and the skills you developed that make you a good fit for the job you're applying for.

5. Follow up

If you don't hear back within a week or so, don't be afraid to follow up. Send an email reiterating your interest and thank them for the opportunity.

6. Proofread, proofread, proofread

Your letter should sound as professional as possible. A little personal tone is great, and fully necessary when discussing your interest in the job, but make sure to check your spelling and grammar and avoid sounding too casual.

How to write a resume

The resume is the meat of the application, and should connect directly to your cover letter. Your cover letter will discuss aspects of your resume, so you need to back up your interest in the job with as much substantial experience as you can provide. This doesn't have to be limited only to jobs — in fact, you should think about what experiences you have under your belt that may help you as an employee, whether work-related or not (for example, a tutoring job).

How to write a resume

7. List your educational background

What high school do you (or did you) attend? If you're a graduating senior, which college will you be attending in the fall? Include your years of attendance, as well as any honors or special achievements. If you feel it will help your application, include your GPA. Even if your educational experiences aren't the focus of the resume, you should include them.

8. List relevant experiences, starting with the most important ones

These can include jobs, internships, service opportunities, leadership positions in school clubs or organizations, etc. For each position, add a brief explanation of your responsibilities and any special skills you earned. Include locations and dates. Again, don’t feel limited only to jobs — there are definitely benefits to other experiences that your employer will recognize. Point them out in quick explanations of each activity.

9. Be sure to include your certifications

If you completed lifeguard training and are CPR certified, add this along with the date of your certification. The same is true for first aid certification or other job-specific skills that may apply to the job you're interested in.

If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be on the right track to getting yourself a summer job. Remember to be confident about approaching employers and showcase your best qualifications. Happy job hunting!

Summer job money isn't the only way to help pay for college. Check out our Scholarship Match to find scholarships that are perfect for you.

All animations courtesy of Giphy.

About the author

Maya JumanMaya is our most recent Top Ten List Scholarship winner. She is a high school senior from New York City who will be attending Yale University this fall. She plans to major in ecology and evolutionary biology, and is a fan of whales, baseball, and classic rock.

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