There are few things more stressful than the job search process. You have most likely spent countless hours perfecting your resume so your education, work history and professional experiences represent you in the best possible light. However, it is important that your cover letter receives an equal amount of treatment and care since it is your introduction to potential employers.
The importance of including a cover letter is the subject of constant debate. Some believe that the purpose of the cover letter is to keep from sending a blind resume, while others feel a cover letter serves to introduce both the applicant and the resume. It makes sense that employers view the cover letter with some sort of importance; otherwise there would be no sense in asking for one. If a potential employer puts forth the effort to make the request, then not only should you provide an excellent letter, but you should also assume that the employer will read it.
What a potential employer wants to read in a cover letter can vary. When an employer has a specific request, such as desired salary or specific information regarding applicable experience, that desire is normally communicated in the application instructions. If no such requests are made, then you should use the cover letter as a formal introduction. If possible, include the name of the hiring manager in the cover letter. This information can often be obtained by calling the company and asking for it, or by searching the employer directory on the company's website.
Other information you want to provide in a cover letter includes a brief work history, highlights from your education and contact information. Although your contact information should also be included on your resume, in the event that your cover letter and resume become separated, an employer will still know how to contact you. It is also a good idea to explain where and how you heard about the job to which you are applying. This helps hiring managers determine whether their advertising is working and the type of applicants the ads are attracting.
If you treat the job search process as an actual job, then your cover letter can be considered your business card. The object of a cover letter is to get a potential employer to look at the resume, therefore the cover letter should be interesting and enticing for the reader so they are compelled to flip to the next page.
A cover letter should provide the reader with information that highlights what the resume will reveal, and it should present the information in a format that makes the reader want to look at the resume for more information. Whether the employer reader or skims, you want to present a cover letter than gets and keeps an employer's attention.
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