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How to Write a Great Cover Letter

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Cover letters can help you explain parts of your resume that may not be obvious to your prospective employer, like how how your current responsibilities resemble those in the open position.   They can also help you smooth over any rough edges or inconsistencies in your resume.  In your cover letter you can mention that you took a few months off to care for a sick relative, or explain that you changed careers a few years back. Without your cover letter as a guide, a prospective employer would not know how to interpret your resume in these instances.

Here are some things to keep in mind in creating your cover letter:

  • For cover letters that will be in paper form, make sure you always use high quality paper
  • Be sure to mention the specific job title you are applying for in the letter
  • Tailor the letter to speak to the specific qualifications they have asked for for this position - don't send a form letter
  • Express that you are excited about the position and feel you would be a good fit
  • Close the letter by saying you will give them a call in the next week to follow up

Cover letters are a good vehicle for elaborating on the experiences you know the employer is looking for.  Cover letters allow more space for providing details than a resume. If your target job requires a lot of proofreading, you can expand on your relevant job responsibilities in greater detail in a paragraph of your cover letter.  Use our list of resume phrases for ideas on how to craft strong sentences that clearly convey your achievements.

To get an idea of what a good cover letter looks like, look at different samples and try to incorporate the ideas you see in them.  Don't copy the actual text from a sample cover letter though, no matter how good it looks.  For all you know, someone else may have had the same idea.   You want to create a letter that is uniquely your own that sells your qualifications and expresses your enthusiasm as only you can.

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