Cover Yourself with a Cover Letter

The dreaded cover letter. Writing one can be a daunting task, but important, nonetheless. If you take it one step at a time, you’ll soon be an expert at writing cover letters to send along with your resume. There are two general types of cover letters to consider as you begin your job search: the application letter and the networking letter.

The most important type of cover letter is certainly the application letter that accompanies your resume. Your cover letter should be designed for each position you seek. Do not design a form letter and send it to every potential employer. Effective cover letters explain the reasons for your interest in the specific organization and identify your most relevant skills or experiences. They should express a high level of interest and knowledge about the position. A cover letter typically accompanies each resume you send out. Your cover letter may make the difference between obtaining a job interview and having your resume ignored, so it makes good sense to devote the necessary time and effort to writing effective cover letters. A cover letter is an accessory to your resume; it should be a carbon copy. It should complement your resume. Its purpose is to interpret the data-oriented, factual resume and add a personal touch. A cover letter is often your earliest written contact with a potential employer, creating a critical first impression.

Another effective job search tool is the networking letter. This job-hunting tool lets you reach out to friends, friends of friends and professional contacts, asking for job leads, career advice, referrals and introductions. The letter’s focus is not to ask your contacts for a job, but to request their assistance in your job search by connecting you with people or opportunities. Who should you target with your networking letter? Consider all these sources: friends, your spouse or significant other’s friends, current or former coworkers and supervisors, professionals you have met through online networking sites, associations (alumni, civic and professional organizations), clergy, nonprofit organizations, customers/clients, vendors, teachers and classmates. You may even consider distant acquaintances as part of your networking campaign — someone you met at a lecture, trade show or seminar might be willing to assist you or someone you have met online through professional networking sites. To be effective, a networking letter must do more than communicate that you are job searching. It needs to provide a brief summary of key strengths you bring to the table and include a few examples of ways you benefited your employers — such as saving money, generating revenue, increasing efficiency and improving service.

Cover letters introduce your resume to a company. It allows you the job seeker to set the tone and is a clear expression and representation of your unique personality. Make it shine. Make it count.

“Cover Letters.” Job Searching. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2012.

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