1) What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a 1-page letter that you submit with your resume when you apply for a job.
2) What’s the purpose of writing a cover letter?
Quite simply, the cover letter’s goal is to persuade the prospective employer to look at your resume—and the resume’s goal is to get you an interview. (And it's during the interview process that actual hiring decisions are made.)
3) Why do you need a cover letter?
- Only about a third of job candidates use cover letters, so just by sending one, you’ve differentiated yourself from about two-thirds of the competition.
- Some employers reject applicants without cover letters.
- Other employers don’t care about cover letters, but they won’t penalize you for sending one.
- There’s no way to know how a given employer feels about cover letters, so send one just to be on the safe side.
4) What does a cover letter do that a resume doesn’t?
- It introduces you and adds a personal element by putting the facts of your resume into context.
- It calls attention to your most relevant qualifications for the job.
- It acknowledges and helps the employer understand (and hopefully overlook) any employment gaps, lack of experience, or other red flags on your resume.
- It expresses your enthusiasm for the job.
- It serves as a sample of your writing skills.
- It shows that you’re willing to “play the game,” even if it requires a little extra effort.
5) What are some tips for writing a cover letter?
- Never copy a cover letter template or sample cover letter word for word.
- Write in full sentences and paragraphs.
- Keep your language clear and concise; avoid long-winded explanations.
- It’s OK to use the words I, me, or my, but sparingly.
- Show some personality by using a conversational style -- not too formal, but still professional.
- Remember the goal is simply to convince them to read your resume, not to overwhelm them with fancy words or unnecessary details.
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