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Life After Business College - Your MBA Cover Letter

Mar 9, 2008
An MBA carries with it a great deal of power. Perhaps that's one of the reasons that you chose an MBA program to begin with. The skills that you've developed in your studies are a highly marketable tool once you graduate. Now, persuading a prospective employer to hire you is not unlike trying to impress the admissions board at your college. The business world is extremely competitive. It's time for you to distinguish yourself from your fellow graduates and land that dream job. And, like preparing a good MBA essay is to impressing a college admissions board, so is writing a stellar cover letter to accompany your resume.

Think back, if you can, to that MBA essay. What was it about what you said that persuaded the college admissions board that you deserved a seat in their program? That's likely what will also persuade a prospective employer to hire you. That's what you need to express in your cover letter.

Your resume is something like your business school primary application. It is the place to list all of your educational, work, and volunteer experiences. Your resume needs to be a concise list, and there isn't much room to expand on your qualifications. If you did, many prospective employers wouldn't take the time to read it anyway. After all, dozens or even hundreds of resumes may land on the desks of company executives monthly. This is where the cover letter becomes important. While your resume is somewhat generic, the cover letter will target the specific company from which you are seeking employment.

The contents of your cover letter should include these basic elements:

* Customized greeting. Avoid using "To Whom it May Concern" when addressing a prospective employer, if possible. If you are responding to an ad for a particular position, address it to the name of the executive who placed it or is doing the hiring. If there isn't a name on the ad, do some sleuthing to find out who in a particular company is in charge of receiving resumes and short-listing candidates.

* Know the company you are applying to. Do not send a resume to a company simply because you are desperate for work and you happen to see an ad for employment. Research the company. Get to know exactly what it does and what its philosophy is. Find out what its annual earnings are. Much of this information can be found by Googling the company's name. Check out the company's own website, as well as any other information on the web about it. Read its annual earnings report. If it's a public company, find out what its stocks are currently trading at. This information will help you write a cover letter that is tailored to that company. It shows that you have initiative, and it will give you a chance to share why your skills will benefit that particular company.

* Choose words that are concise but powerful. A good rule of thumb is to limit your cover letter to no more than two pages. More than that, a busy executive may decide he or she simply doesn't have the time to read it. That means choosing your words carefully. Use as few words as you can and still get your point across. Choose language which is descriptive and packs a punch. Say what you need to say, no more and no less.

* Observe the rules of grammar. By now you should have a good grasp of grammar, even if it wasn't your strongest subject in college. Few things come off as unprofessional as poor spelling or sentence structure.

* Follow any requests as set out by the employment advertisement. For example, some companies request a hand-written cover letter. If that's what they want, don't second guess them.

Remember, your resume is like your college application; your cover letter is like your essay. Your resume, like your application, is a list of your experiences. Your cover letter, like your essay, gives a prospective employer insight into who you are as a person and why you'd make the best employee.
About the Author
Michael Fleischner is the Managing Director of EssayEdge.com and a marketing expert with more than 12 years of professional experience. He has appeared on The TODAY Show, Bloomberg Radio, and other major media. For help with your MBA Essay or personal statement visit http://www.essayedge.com
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