The Role of the Cover Letter

A good cover letter should do the following:

  • Indicate interest in the position and company.
  • Assist you in establishing yourself as a viable candidate.
  • Get your foot in the door for the interview.

Format and Content
First impressions are everything - especially when applying for a job, and the cover letter is often a potential employer's first impression of you. An effective cover letter begins at the end by telling the employer why you are the perfect candidate for the position. Highlighting notable achievements and responsibilities is always a plus. It's important to remember to use a conversational tone and tailor the letter to the position for which you are applying.

Doing your homework and knowing your audience is an important part of writing a cover letter. The more you know about the company to which you are applying, the more you can focus your cover letter on skills that match those listed in the job description. Demonstrating knowledge of the company's products, services or marketing strategies may be beneficial. Mention any recent positive news coverage, or if you've met or worked with a current employee of the company, mention this fact in the first few lines of the letter.

The letter should be printed on the same paper as your resume. If you send it via e-mail, it should be text-simple. Graphics, bullets and special commands (bold, underline, italics) do not always translate well over e-mail. It should also be kept to no more than three paragraphs. Typos or spelling errors most often will get your resume thrown in the waste can, so remember to proofread your cover letter (or better yet, have someone else do so) before sending it.

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