How To: Cover Letters

Cover letters are a part of the attaining a job process. Often, they go hand-in-hand with resumes. If you don’t know how to write a resume effectively, here is my past post on the subject. A cover letter seems to be a more baffling task though – often getting put on the back burner when it can be the difference between prospective employers even glancing at your resume!

An example of a cover letter. (photo by rabanito)

An example of a cover letter. (photo by rabanito)

What are cover letters? In essence, a cover letter is a written document (letter) explaining the contents of another document (your resume.)

According to about.com, there are three different types of cover letters you can write. There is an application letter, a prospecting letter, and a networking letter. You should be tailoring your cover letter just as you tailor your resume to certain job positions. Either you know a job opening (deserving of an application letter), you would like to inquire about possible positions within a company (deserving of a prospecting letter), or you would simply desire assistance in your job hunt (deserving of a networking letter.)

Often, successful cover letters depict reasoning for interest in a business or organization. You can identify your skills and experiences in the cover letter as well, even though they should also be depicted in your resume.

In the same way that I suggested that you should write resumes through formats (if you don’t know what to do, using a search engine to decipher the matter,) you should write cover letters through formats as well.

Forbes.com offers several examples of cover letters through their article, How To Write A Cover Letter, Roy Cohen, author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide, suggests that covers should be confined within a page. Subsequently, they suggest that the larger the company you’re applying for is, the less important the letter is.

If you know someone who works for the company, with their permission, you can speak of your relation to them and how they recommended you for the job as an opening for a cover letter. If you, more than likely, do not know an inner source to the company, you can write an opening sentence using an anecdote. A personal story unveiling your down-to-heart reasoning for wanting to join the company should be enough to interest the interviewer.

If anything, you will want to avoid the following things, as revealed by resumecompanion. One should, as much as they can, avoid these three things.

The first, being that information is too vague. You will want to, as stated previously, make the anecdote or recommendations personal. You simply can’t make anecdotes or recommendations vague. In turn, this immediately sets you apart from other applicants.

Another mistake people tend to make is sounding nonchalant about the job. Who wants to hire someone who doesn’t have a passion for the occupation they’re trying to obtain? Chances are, that person will just be a lazy worker, apathetic about his duties.

The last happens to be not requesting an interview. The purpose of a cover letter is to make the employer wish to hire you, just as a resume. Point is, they can’t hire you without interviewing you first.

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