Finding Your Perfect Job - Step 6: Write a Great Cover Letter

Step 6: Write a Great Cover Letter

The cover letter is an important job search tool that must always accompany your resume. So much time is focused on a dynamic resume that we often ignore, or hastily put together, our cover letter. Take the time to carefully prepare your cover letter just as you would your resume.

The benefit of this letter is that it provides you with an extra marketing piece to sell yourself to a company. In the cover letter you can show an interest in an employer that you can’t show in a resume. As well, you have the opportunity to point out one or two key skills or achievements so as to peak the interest of the company to want to read your resume.

While each cover letter should be unique and personal, there are specific components that form each paragraph:

First Paragraph: Keeping it short and with the purpose of generating interest, outline the position you are apply for (or why you would complement the organization) and what prompted you to write (i.e. job position on a website, career fair, networking contact).

Second Paragraph: Explain how an organization may benefit from your qualifications and highlight any skills or accomplishments that may set you apart from other candidates.

Third Paragraph: Incorporate any relevant education or past experience that would make you attractive to the employer.

Fourth Paragraph: Express your interest in the company and make a request for an interview (or informational interview). Suggest how you will follow up and ensure your last sentence thanks the employer for their consideration.

This structure outlined is meant to illustrate the components of a ‘typical’ cover letter. The most important aspect is to make the cover letter as personal as possible. Avoid using form letters, as employers can pick up on this very quickly. Keep your cover letter brief and to the point. Don’t just repeat information verbatim from your resume, but strive to explain what you can offer a company (not what you can gain from them). As with your resume, do not overuse the personal pronoun “I”, and make sure that your cover letter is error-free.

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