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How to Develop a Cover Letter

Knowing how to write a cover letter is a vital skill for finding a job.

While a resume is a standard requirement for any job application, a cover letter can be your opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Once you have written a great resume and included all of the latest resume tips into your profile, you need to evaluate your cover letter options.

The cover letter offers you a chance to go into further detail about your abilities and how you can fulfill the requirements of the job. This document is written in full paragraphs, as opposed to the resume being filled with bullet points.

Whether you are a fantastic writer or far from it, the cover letter can be a challenge to get just right. Never be afraid to ask for help with your job application documents. Take advantage of local and online resources to make sure you give yourself the best chance of getting the job of your dreams.

Why Write a Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter is a chance for you to impress a recruiter or hiring manager at the company. While the resume will highlight your qualifications and experience, the cover letter gives you a chance to show more of your personality and career goals.

You can use this opportunity to explain any gaps in your career or to further detail specific attributes that make you the perfect person for the job.

A cover letter might not be necessary for every job application, however. There are some job descriptions that will explicitly tell you not to include a cover letter, so be sure to follow those instructions accordingly. Generally speaking, you should plan to include a cover letter with your application.

Cover letters are important because they show how interested and invested you are in getting this job. A hiring manager or recruiter will note your inclusion of a cover letter as an additional step taken to show that level of sincere interest. Failing to include a cover letter might appear as if you did not really try when submitting the application.

Learn How to Develop a Cover Letter

Developing a cover letter requires you to evaluate the information you have already included in your resume in combination with the job description. For example, if there are any areas of experience or education that are required or desired in the job description that you do not meet, a cover letter might help you to address those.

If you have taken time off of work or if you are changing career paths, this offers you space to explain your situation. A personal statement in a resume addresses these issues briefly, while the cover letter can better inform a hiring manager.

Developing a letter means deciding what information is most important for you to include. Review the job description carefully and find the keywords and phrases used. You should have used those in your resume as well, but the letter is another chance to show how perfect you are for the position. Use those keywords and explain your abilities and experience in the same terms the company used for the open position.

A cover letter should only be a single page, so remember that limit when you plan what you will include in yours. Only write about the highly relevant details and always remember to keep your writing professional. You can show more of your personality in a letter, but you do not want to appear too informal or at all unprofessional.

What to Include in a Cover Letter

To develop a great cover letter, you need to understand the various components included within it. The following is a suggested basic outline that you can consider based on the exact role and industry where you intend to work. Remember that a letter is a formal, one-page letter written in paragraphs. There should be a beginning, a middle and an end to your letter that flows smoothly.

The Introduction

If it is at all possible, you should always try to address your letter to the individual who will read it. This might be the Human Resources Manager, a recruiter or a direct manager in a specific department. Try to figure out this name and address the cover letter accordingly. Addressing a letter as “Dear Sir or Madam” is an overly formal start to your letter, so try to avoid such a start.

The Opening

Your first paragraph should introduce you as the applicant and indicate the exact role for which you are applying. This is just a simple starting formula to ensure the reader since there could be multiple positions open at the same time. You might also want to include how you found out about the job opening.

Standing Out

After introducing yourself, your next goal is to stand out from the crowd. You need to use this space to highlight exactly why you are the perfect person to hire. Keep in mind the keywords from the job description that you also included in your resume and be sure to use those in this section.

Use your judgment for this section. Base your tone on the specific role, the industry and the company you are applying to join. If the company is modern and has a more informal culture, then cut out any stiff or traditional language. Be yourself to show how you could fit into that company culture. But if you are applying to a more traditional company or industry that expects formality, be sure to write accordingly.

The Conclusion

When you’ve reached the end of your letter, you should thank the hiring manager or recruiter for his or her time and attention. Be sure to indicate that you would appreciate an interview to discuss how you could be a great match for the company and reiterate your interest in the position.

Writing a great letter is an investment of your time and energy, but it is certainly worthwhile. It could be the reason a hiring manager chooses to interview you instead of another candidate. The process of finding a job is a series of steps forward until you reach a successful conclusion. Writing a great cover letter is a vital step in your application process that you cannot underestimate.