Cover Letter's Ins and Outs

John Krautzel
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Not all jobs in contemporary society require a cover letter. Many employers do not scrutinize the document nearly as much as a resume when recruiters and HR managers search for someone with the proper skill set. Regardless of requirements, this correspondence may add a personal touch that gives you an advantage over a fellow candidate who does not include one.

A cover letter puts a personal story on your particular skill set and experiences. Instead of rehashing what you write in a resume, show how you apply your experience, education and accomplishments to help your potential employer. Do not write three or four boring paragraphs of text. Mix it up with some bullet points that explain your unique situation.

Make a personal greeting to start the cover letter. Research someone within the organization and put "Dear Mr." or "Dear Ms." with a surname. An impersonal greeting makes someone disregard the rest of the correspondence from the get-go.

Connect your skills to the company. Find three or four of the most important aspects of the job description and summarize how you demonstrate each one. Show, with relevant examples in the cover letter, how you become the perfect person for the job rather than telling a prospective employer you represent the ideal candidate.

Your skills should go into the first paragraph of the cover letter. Include your passion for the company's mission statement and company culture. Put the most relevant information towards the top of the page. If you do not know what format to follow, search for relevant templates to use as a guide.

Research the company in current news or on the firm's press release section. Briefly explain in your letter how you can help the company overcome some of the current dilemmas faced by the business. Clearly define your role in moving the employer forward.

After you write a first draft, edit your piece for content, clarity and grammar. No one wants to read through something only to stumble over a typo. If you do not feel comfortable editing your own stuff, give the letter to a friend who can look it over. Read the letter aloud several times to listen to the flow of the work.

Make your contact information easy to locate. Delineate a portion of the top of the letter to include your name, address, phone number and email address. Add a standout header that contains your vital information in case a recruiter or HR manager wants to reach out to you.

Your letter adds a personality to your name, accomplishments and skills. Every other candidate may have similar educational degrees, work references, networking skills and accomplishments. However, no one else has your personality, panache and rapport to put your passion on paper. Do the courteous thing and submit a cover letter, even if the job posting does not require one.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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