A cover letter is an original statement that introduces you by highlighting your interests, education, and experience as they apply to a particular employer and its available position. The personalized cover letter and resume form a package designed to get you to the next stage: the job interview. While your resume should be tailored to the job which you are applying, the cover letter is your best chance to connect the dots for the employer.
A successful cover letter should follow the standard business letter format and is one page with three to five paragraphs. It can be structured using a few basic principles:
The first paragraph can make reference to a specific position or an inquiry about possible positions in a particular field. If applicable, you can mention who referred you to the organization. Also mention why you are interested in that company.
The second paragraph relates your interests and background to the specific activities and needs of the employer. Be specific in stating how your background meets their needs. It is imperative that you name your top skills and back them up with examples and experiences. The letter should convey that you know something about the organization, that you are excited about exploring the possibility of working with them, and that you feel you have the potential for making a valuable contribution.
The final paragraph requests the opportunity for an interview or mentions that you will call on a specific date and that you hope to discuss your background and interests at that time. Close with an expression of appreciation.
As the cover letter is the employer’s first glimpse at you as a candidate, it must be organized, professional, and 100% error-free. When you spend time crafting a customized letter, you will stand out from the pool of applicants.
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