Employers, colleges and scholarship committees read endless essays in search of a worthy candidate. No matter the goal, their list of documents used to find one generally consists of an application, a resume and an original written piece by the candidate. The written portion most often shows up in the form of cover letters or essays and gives entrants a chance to show a side of themselves not evident in application formats. No matter which you are writing for, your main goal is to show who you are and why you deserve this opportunity.
Keep It Brief and Avoid Cliches
Most essays ask for 500 words or less, and cover letters should not exceed one page. Achieve this by sticking to main points and avoiding excessive detail. For example, if you had a life-changing experience on a camping trip, focus on the specific experience. Information on how well you slept adds unnecessary fluff to the essay, which is not likely to be well received.
Cliches are overused phrases that make your essay blend in rather than stand out, and should be avoided. For example, if you enjoy customer service, try something like "The energy of patrons motivates me," rather than "I am a people person."
Emphasize Your Qualifications
Most job descriptions or college applications provide a list of what they are looking for. Consult this list and emphasize qualifications you meet. For example, if you are applying for a scholarship that asks for 100 hours of community service and you have 150, bring it up in the letter by writing about your dedication to your community.
Highlight the strengths revealed in how you meet the qualifications. If you believe you are a dependable employee, use part of your cover letter to explain how you make it a point to help out when you hear of someone who needs an extra hand.
Explain Why You Are Worthy
You want to tell your audience why their institute would benefit from your presence. Get familiar with the company or scholarship organization you are applying to and explain how you fit their cause. For example, if you are seeking employment with a company known for being environmentally conscious, include ways you try to help the environment. Maybe you recycle and started a recycling drive or cut down on waste by making things yourself. Know the background of scholarships you apply to. For example, a scholarship sponsored by the Parent-Teacher Association may want to see ways you help put on academic functions.
Show Your Personality
When responding to an essay prompt or writing a cover letter, avoid generalizations. Often applicants find an easy way to relate and write an essay that could have been written by anyone. Avoid this by taking an experience and narrowing it to reveal your unique qualities. For college and scholarship applications, the essays usually request a particular accomplishment that you are proud of. You may include that you volunteer at a food bank in your resume. Rather than summarize your experience, illustrate what it has meant to you by writing about a time you helped a patron find a better job or connected to them.