7 Ways to Improve Your Psychology Cover Letter

By: Jenna Savage

Last week, we addressed the various points that psychology students and graduates should include on their resumes to help them stand out among the pool of candidates within their field. While resumes are important, they are only part of the job application process. In addition to having an updated resume with a clean format, you also need a cover letter – and not just any cover letter. Your cover letter needs to introduce your skills and abilities in a concise but appealing manner. Below are seven ways that you can fix up your cover letter to make yourself seem worthy of the career position for which you are applying.

  1. Use a Strong Opening Sentence.It’s tempting to begin a cover letter with a sentence like, “Allow me to introduce myself,” but phrases like that are common, and do not grab the interest of the hiring manager you are addressing. Instead, try to make your first sentence stand out. Consider highlighting an experience or skill to make your letter seem worth reading. If you have experience as a research or laboratory assistant, you may want to consider opening your letter by introducing that experience, and briefly describing the skills you acquired from that position. If you’re low on experience, but you excelled in school, consider mentioning your honors. If your first sentence grabs the reader’s attention, they are more likely to continue reading – and to follow that by looking over your resume.
  2. Be Specific. The more specific your cover letter is, the more it will stand out. If you drop general phrases like, “detail-oriented,” and, “good interpersonal skills,” you risk losing the hiring manager’s attention. Instead, think about the specific skills that make you a good fit for the position. What experiences do you have that can make your letter seem unique? How do the job’s requirements specifically apply to you?
  3. Highlight Relevant Experience. While you do not want to list everything that’s on your resume in your cover letter, you do want to briefly mention the skills and experiences you have that relate to the position for which you are applying. Be concise, but address the work and school experiences that make you a good candidate for the position. As mentioned above, be as specific as possible.
  4. Address the Company’s Needs. Read the job listing and visit the company’s website. Get a good idea of the function that the company serves and what the company needs from an employee. Then, in your cover letter, acknowledge those needs, and address how you can meet and even exceed them. Arming yourself with information about the company will not only benefit your cover letter, but it will also help you in the event that you are called in for an interview.
  5. Express Gratitude. At the end of your letter, you should thank the hiring manager for taking the time to read through it and for considering you for the position. Phrases like, “Thank you,” and, “I appreciate,” go a long way.
  6. Reread and Revise. This is the most important step in the cover letter writing process. Grammatical errors, typos, and spelling mistakes can make an employer reject an otherwise perfect cover letter. Instead of saying that you are detail-oriented, prove it by rereading your letter and checking it for errors. Make sure it flows well, too. In the event that sentences seem award or you do not feel as though your cover letter will get you the job, rewrite it.
  7. Repeat. You should write a new cover letter for every position for which you apply. And for every cover letter you write, be sure to go through steps one through six. It may seem tedious, but having a specific cover letter designed for each individual job opening will make you an appealing candidate – and it may help you get the job, too.