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Do I Really Need a Cover Letter?

As you prepare for your job search, you may be wondering if a cover letter is really needed.  After all, a cover letter can be a lot of work and job seekers often don’t want to waste their time if it isn’t needed anymore.  Cover letters are still an important part of the job application process and should be included with every resume sent out.

A great cover letter can sell your resume to employers.  As they glance over your cover letter, they may gain excitement for the resume.  Conversely, if they first read your resume, a cover letter can further sell prospective employers on your skills and abilities.

Cover Letter Tips

Cover letters should generally be short; try to limit your letter to no more than one page.  Additionally they should be structured in a basic three paragraph format.

Cover letters should be specific.  Fill your cover letter with specific details about your experience, interest in the position, and more.  Additionally, you should use your cover letter to demonstrate that you have done your research about the company.  Address your letter to the specific person doing the hiring.  If you don’t know their name, find out.  Write your cover letter to a specific position, don’t just generally write that you are interested in working for the company.  You have a great opportunity to sell yourself in your cover letter, take advantage of it.  If you find a specific position in the company, you can better sell yourself to the position.

Use your cover letter to your advantage.  Don’t just use your resume in the cover letter.  You can use your cover letter to truly sell yourself to prospective employers by highlighting experiences.  You can use this opportunity to create interest in your resume.  You can add some additional and interesting details to really make your resume come alive.

One great tip for cover letters that is often neglected is to let the company know that you are an ideal candidate for the job.  Don’t assume that the company will figure this out for themselves.  Let them know you are qualified for the position and then explain why.  You are selling yourself in your cover letter, don’t be afraid to brag about your achievements.

Remember to thank the employer for their time.  They are busy, make sure they know you appreciate them for taking the time to consider you for the position.  Finish the resume off with follow up information.  Let them know that you will contact them in a few weeks or when you will be available to start working.

Of course, while cover letters are generally required, there are a few instances when you can not include one.  These include:

•    If an employer specifically asks you for your resume.  As an example if during an interview they ask for a resume, don’t include a cover letter.

•    If you are at a career fair or job expo.  If you are handing out general resumes, a cover letter is not required.  A cover letter can make you stand out in these situations.  If you choose to include a cover letter, make sure it is general and applies to all prospective positions.

•    If you are working with a recruiter.  When working with a recruiter, generally only a resume is required to help determine if you meet the needs of the available position.

You should also avoid including a cover letter if the company specifically asks you not to.  When applying for jobs it is generally wise to follow company requests even if they seem odd.

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