What’s a Cover Letter and Why Do I Need One?

A cover letter is an introduction, sent with a resume to an employer, to communicate the background and interest of a prospective employee.�¯�¿�½

In simpler terms, a cover letter is a little personal touch that engages the prospective employer and makes them want to read your resume and review your experience and education. The cover letter allows a more personal touch than the resume and gives you the opportunity to show off your written communication skills, both of which will impress employers.
A cover letter is your first impression. Just as you take time to make yourself look professional and put together for the interview, you should take the time to make your cover letter as professional and readable as possible. It may make the difference between getting the interview and not. The cover letter is your first step to the interview. If the employer can’t read the cover letter or resume, you won’t get the call.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

A cover letter, though more personal, is not meant to be informal. You should still be as professional as possible. Using complete sentences and impeccable spelling and grammar you can explain, beyond your education and work experience, what you can offer the company. Avoid slang, spelling errors, and incorrect punctuation. Make sure the cover letter is typed and printed on clean, crisp paper.�¯�¿�½

So, why can’t you just send your resume and be done with it? Well, you can. However, a cover letter adds a personal touch. It offers a one-on-one connection with whoever is reviewing your resume.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

It’s not always necessary. Sometimes, companies may specifically ask for a cover letter. If they specifically ask for a cover letter, never send just a resume. If they ask for a cover letter not only do they want to read it, but they may also want to see how well you can follow direction. If the ad does not specifically ask for a cover letter, take some time to evaluate the company and decide if a cover letter would best help you sell your skills in addition to your resume. Never send out just a cover letter.
Also, don’t send out a generic cover letter with every resume you send out. Tailor each cover letter to the position you are applying. Find key words in the ad or listing and echo those words in your cover letter. Mention the company by name. You may even want to search online for the company’s motto or purpose statement. Use key words from the statement in your cover letter to show your knowledge of the company.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Even with all this information, you don’t want to overwhelm the employer. Be succinct. The cover letter should never be more than a page, and should strive to be around a half a page.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Yes, this is time consuming. But finding a career position is a full time job in itself. The point is to put your best foot forward, get your foot in the door, and then wow the perspective employer on the interview. In order to do so, you much catch their attention with professionalism and tact even in your cover letter and resume.�¯�¿�½

If you decide to send a cover letter, don’t just throw something together. Take some time and effort. Proofread, proofread, proofread and then have a friend proofread. Reread the letter out loud to make sure it flows and sounds professional. Remember this will be your very first impression. If your cover letter sounds unprofessional or is riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes an employer is not going to want to interview you.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Even if you won’t be using writing in your day-to-day career, having a clear and concise cover letter and resume will show off your communication skills. And every single job/career out there utilizes communication skills! Having a cover letter and resume that is grammatically correct and does not contain any spelling errors lets the employer know that you are precise, pay attention to detail, and know what you are doing.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Above all else, you have to feel comfortable with what you’re sending out. Make sure you’re being professional, honest, and yourself.

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