How to Summarize Work Experience in a Cover Letter

By Elle Di Jensen; Updated July 05, 2017
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When writing a cover letter to apply for a job it is important to make a good first impression. That is what your cover letter is, after all, an introduction of yourself and your resume, and it will be the first impression a potential employer has of you. Many resumes are dismissed without thorough review and interview opportunities lost because of an ineffective cover letter. Knowing how to efficiently summarize your skills and work experience will help you write a letter that will turn your application into an interview.

Preparation

Update your resume, if necessary.

Examine the job listing for the position for which you will be applying. Compare it to your resume, and from the requirements listed in the job description make note of the ones that match your experience.

Select three to four main items of experience that relate directly to the job. These will be ones that you’ll want to focus on in the cover letter.

Expand your key points just a little to give brief examples of your resourcefulness in applying your experience and the positive outcome from those instances.

Writing the Cover Letter

Begin the letter by addressing a specific person, if you know the name of the person, who will be reading your letter and reviewing your resume.

Express enthusiastic interest in the position that you are applying for. Briefly explain why you want the job and why you want to work for the company.

Incorporate the three or four main items of your experience with the examples you summarized into the cover letter. It is effective to bullet-point these key items and follow each with the brief example that you previously outlined.

Point out any accomplishment or experience that you did not include in your list of your key skills, but ones that you feel may be useful for the interviewer to know. Only include this information if it is truly applicable to the position you’re applying for and, as always, be brief.

Close the letter with confidence in your value as an addition to the company and its success and encourage the interviewer to contact you with questions or to schedule a meeting.

Tip

Keep in mind the importance of being brief throughout your cover letter. It shouldn’t be more than one page in length and you don’t want to give too much information. The prospective employer won’t have the time to read your autobiography. Include just enough information about your experience relevant to the job to make a potential employer want to know more.

Investigate the company that is offering the job. A little time spent on the Internet will provide you with background knowledge of the business that will be helpful not only when crafting your letter, but during the interview as well.

Be creative in relating your experience to the job. At first glance, you may not appear to have the ideal background for a job that you feel is right for you. Take some time to consider what you have to offer the employer and how you can apply the background you do have to benefit the company in ways that others may not be able to.

About the Author

Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.