A cover letter is a crucial component of almost any job application, condensing your biggest selling points into a single easy-to-read piece of content. If you're one of the many job seekers who share common questions about this all-important document, however, read on to get some answers. That way, you can craft a cover letter that's both professional and eye-catching.
Do You Really Need to Include a Cover Letter?
Cover letters are essential if the employer asks for them, but even if not requested, they should still be included with your resume. Employers may not always read the full cover letter, but having one with your resume makes your application stand out — as only around one-third of applicants include them, according to Career Addict. Plus, the cover letter provides the easiest way for employers to see if you are a good fit for the job without having to dig into your resume.
What Should the Letter Include?
Your cover letter should state who you are, why you're applying, and the skills and experience that make you right for the job. If you are applying in response to an ad, explain how you meet the listed qualifications. Don't include references in the letter; these are best kept for the interview stage.
What Is the Appropriate Cover Letter Length?
A good cover letter is normally about four paragraphs long, and it should never be longer than one page. A long cover letter may prevent a busy hiring manager from even reading it. For best results, keep the letter short and concise, editing out any unnecessary words or information.
Do You Have to Customize the Cover Letter for Each Job Application?
Hiring managers can usually tell if a cover letter has been copy-and-pasted for multiple employers. Tailor your cover letter, including information specific to the organization and the position to which you're applying. This allows you to elaborate how you are a good fit for the position and the company based on your skills and experience, encouraging the employer to continue reading your resume.
How Do You Make Your Cover Letter Stand Out?
Ask yourself what makes you a better fit for the job than any other applicant, and create a paragraph based on this. Write as if you're selling yourself to the employer. You should also avoid templates and cliche phrases, such as addressing the cover letter with "To whom it may concern." Feel free to use bolding, underlining and bulleted lists in moderation, but avoid hard-to-read script or colored text.
Don't forget to proofread your cover letter for any spelling or grammar errors, and ask a mentor to look it over before you submit it. If you have time, put the cover letter aside for a day or two before picking it up again to catch any errors that slipped under your radar. If you work hard to craft a great cover letter, your potential employers are sure to notice.
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