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A Cover Letter…Sort of

November 17, 2009

As a skilled job seeker, you know the importance of including a personalized cover letter with every application and resume you submit. But what about when you are contacting an employer for something besides a permanent employment position; what do you include then? Examples of such a situation include an internship experience (whether it is required by your school or not), a volunteer position, and a site to complete your clinical experience. In this case, you will want to submit a letter of interest to the employer.

A letter of interest is a combination cover letter and information sheet. You can use your standard cover letter format for the letter of interest. For those of you who haven’t taken a look at your cover letter in a while, the standard format is:  The header (same header as on your resume); today’s date; the name of the person you are writing followed by his or her company’s name and address; an introductory paragraph; one or two body paragraphs; and a concluding paragraph followed by your signature. In the introductory paragraph, introduce yourself and state the reason you are contacting them. For example, “I am currently a Medical Assisting student at Herzing University seeking a proctor for my upcoming clinical.” In the next sentence, specify why you are interested in working with this particular company/organization. If you are writing to inquire about a volunteer position, your sentence may look something like, “The Red Cross’ commitment to assisting individuals both locally and abroad makes me excited about the possibility of volunteering with your organization.”

In the body paragraph(s), there are three subjects you will want to focus on: your goals, the requirements, and your previous related experience.

  1. When speaking about your goals, answer the question, “what do I hope to get out of this experience?”  Focus on why you are choosing now to complete an internship or similar experience and what you hope to learn while at the facility.
  2. In the requirements section, you can be very detailed (such as your school requiring a set amount of hours or tasks you must complete while at the site) or more general (“I am looking to volunteer 10 hours a week until at least June of next year). If you have additional materials you can provide to the organization to further describe the requirements, mention them at this point and then attach to your letter of interest.
  3. The last subject—your previous related experience—will be most similar to what you would include in a standard cover letter. Highlight your education and the relevant coursework completed and skills obtained while working towards your diploma or degree. Mention any previous work experience you have had in the field. If you don’t possess any related work experience, touch upon the transferrable skills you do have. Previous experience working with computer programs or providing customer service are relevant to nearly all positions you will be pursuing.

In the conclusion, always bring the reader back to the reason you are writing-to obtain an unpaid position with their organization where you can expand upon your skills and/or interests. Specify when you will be calling him or her to follow up on the information provided and to answer any questions or address any concerns.

The letter of interest is your opportunity to sell yourself to a potential internship sponsor, clinical proctor, or volunteer supervisor. Take advantage of it.

Written by Holly

To find out more about Herzing University Online please visit us on the web at www.herzingonline.edu or contact us at 866-508-0748, ext 240. If you are an employer looking for a GREAT employee, please check out our interactive job seeker map by clicking here.

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