Top 10 Tips for an Eye-Catching LIS Cover Letter

Career Blog

Published: June 9, 2018 by Evelyn Hudson

How many cover letters do you have in your arsenal? Just one? You might want to reconsider your strategy. Cover letters are your potential employers’ first impression of you. You don’t want to send them a generic form letter that doesn’t properly show your enthusiasm for the job. So, how do you craft that perfect cover letter that demonstrates both your skills and your excitement about the job? Read on.

  1. Spell check. This almost goes without saying—but it’s still important to remember. A glaring error never leaves a good taste in your potential employer’s mouth. If you can’t find someone to proofread the letter for you, read the letter out loud to yourself. This can reveal errors that reading silently hides.
  2. Stay appropriate. Cover letters should keep a professional tone and format. There are lots of great examples online if you need a refresher. Also, remember to choose an appropriate font for your letter. Times New Roman is always a safe choice, but Calibri provides a clean, spacious look.
  3. Write a new letter for each application. Yes, this is extra work, but it will pay off. Tailoring each cover letter to every position makes for a much stronger letter and a better chance for an interview. How? See below.
  4. Mirror the job description. Are they looking for a self-starter? Explain the initiative you began at work or the leadership you show in group work. Explain how you meet each requirement in the job description as part of your letter.
  5. Be brief. A potential employer is looking for highlights—not your entire background. Save some great examples of your work for the interview. For example, mention a project and explain that you would be happy to discuss it more during the interview.
  6. Show your knowledge of the organization. Demonstrate that you’ve done your research by mentioning something you admire about the organization or something you could impact if you were hired. Prove that you know—and care—what the organization does.
  7. Explain why you’re a great fit. You can make this blatantly obvious. “I would be a great fit for this position because…” Cover letters are meant for bragging. Don’t be afraid to really shine and be proud of your accomplishments.
  8. Make positive suggestions. If you see an area within the organization that you could improve, feel free to mention it in your cover letter. For example, if your organization doesn’t have much of a social media presence and that is one of your skills, explain how you could impact that area. Show that you are already seriously thinking about the job.
  9. End strong. Be sure to thank the reader for his or her time and state that you would be happy to come in for an interview. You could also add a few potential talking points for the interview here. E.g. “I would be happy to elaborate on my time working as a …”
  10. Check your resume. Make sure your resume matches up to your cover letter. For example, if your primary job duty as a librarian was reader’s advisory on your resume but you go into detail about cataloging in your letter, it might raise some red flags for an employer.

What are your cover letter best practices? Share in the comments!


New LIS Jobs in Handshake

Senior Taxonomist, Structured Data – Walmart eCommerce     Walmart Labs
Librarian INTERNAL/EXTERNAL     Madison Area Technical College

Don’t forget to explore job openings outside of the public and/or academic libraries in Handshake. Consider searching on topics such as taxonomy, research, data management, digital asset management, and similar terms that may reflect your particular LIS skills or area of emphasis