Cover Letters can be Your Friend

Nancy Anderson
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You are on the hunt for a new position. You did a great job preparing your resume and now you are wondering if you need anything else. Oh yes – the dreaded cover letter. Everyone hates to write cover letters. However, the importance of the cover letter cannot be stressed enough.

Your cover letter is more of an introduction to you than your resume. An employer will get a good indication of your skills and qualifications as well as your writing skills. Soft skills such as writing are becoming more and more important in the job market. If your cover letter contains misspelled words, punctuation and poor sentence structure you will pretty much take yourself out of the running.

So what is needed on this dreaded cover letter? Well, probably the first thing you need is an introductory paragraph. The paragraph doesn’t need to be long but it does need to include a brief summary of why you are sending it and of your desire for the position. If you have included an objective or professional profile on your resume, do not duplicate that here! You need to come up with different phrases and terminology when you write the introductory paragraph.

Then, in the next paragraph, it would be a good idea to just use bullet points. A good way to present yourself is to create a table with one column being the qualifications the company is seeking and the second column what you bring to the table. Do not make this a long list, either – just brief and to the point.
Then you could write a short closing paragraph – just a sentence or two. Typically this paragraph includes a sincere thank you for your consideration and then how to contact you.

If you are using a job board to locate and apply to positions, you will not be able to include the table as indicated above but you can still add bulleted qualifications. For example, if you are applying for an administrative assistant position, you could include:

• Microsoft Office Products including Projects and Access – 5 yrs
• DreamWeaver – 3 yrs
• Expense Report accounting – 7 yrs

In addition, if you are in an industry, such as technology or healthcare, where you have to actually define your position and you are using a job board, you probably want to have more than one account on that job board. This way you could create an individual cover letter on each account and then apply for a job posting from the account that corresponds to the job description.

Do not be afraid of cover letters. As long as you create short and to the point cover letters, they can allow you to get your “foot in the door”!

By: Nancy Anderson, Staff Writer
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