What is a Cover Letter?

What is a cover letter and, more importantly, what is a good cover letter?

We know that sending a resume without a cover letter is generally a waste of time. The resume rarely gets read or receives the attention it deserves.

Providing concrete evidence of your skills and competencies as they relate to the job opportunity in a well constructed cover letter is an essential step in your successful job search.

Take the right steps to construct a letter that gets you the job interview.

What is a cover letter?

  • a cover letter is a customized and relevant presentation of what you can bring to the job and why you are the right job candidate.
  • it adds a personal dimension to your resume
  • your cover letter should create sufficient interest to get your resume read properly
  • your cover letter and resume work together to convince the reader of your suitability for the job opportunity
  • it demonstrates your ability to communicate your strengths and competencies to a prospective employer

Are cover letters really necessary?

Yes, a cover letter is necessary. Employers are pressed for time. They are likely to ignore resumes that arrive without a cover letter for 2 main reasons:

  • the candidate has not made the effort to write a concise and clear summary of his or her skills and strengths as they relate to the job opportunity
  • without this summary of why the individual is a suitable job candidate, the employer will have no motivation to give the resume the attention it deserves

When your competition has taken the time to compile a well written and targeted cover letter and you haven't, your job application will go to the bottom of the pile.

  • straight off a good cover letter grabs the reader's attention
  • it creates enough interest to persuade the reader to continue paying attention
  • it converts the interest into desire to find out more about you
  • it turns desire into action - the employer will move on to your resume, read it carefully and then set up an interview

How to create a cover letter that works

Follow these steps to write a cover letter that grabs attention, creates interest, turns the interest into desire and the desire into action.

1. Get the reader's attention

  • use an easy-to-read structure and cover letter format
  • customize the cover letter by addressing it to an individual. "To whom it may concern" is not going to get your cover letter read. Find out the full name of the person to whom the letter should be sent and make sure you get the spelling and position right!
  • start your cover letter with an attention-grabbing opening sentence such as "I have over 6 years solid bookkeeping experience in a challenging environment..."
  • make sure your spelling and grammar is 100% accurate

2. Stimulate the reader's interest

  • the first paragraph clearly indicates your conviction that you are a suitable candidate
  • it highlights the benefit of reading your cover letter
  • it introduces you as the right candidate for the job - "I am confident that my experience and skills closely match your job requirements." or  "I am enthusiastic about the positive contribution I can make to XYZ Company."

3. Turn interest into desire

  • make the reader want to learn more about you
  • focus on your achievements and summarize why you are the right job candidate
  • a good way to do this is with bullet points - short and simple but powerful.

4. Convert desire to action

  • motivate the reader to read your resume and call you for an interview
  • explain where and how you can be contacted
  • be proactive and tell the employer that you will be following up by a certain date if you haven't heard from them

Phrases that create a strong closing include:

"I will call you next week to be sure you received my resume and to answer any questions you may have."

"I look forward to learning more about your company and how I can contribute to the success of your department."

"You can reach me at ... to arrange an interview. I know that your time invested in meeting with me will be well rewarded."

Closing a Cover Letter

Knowing what is a cover letter and how to write a convincing letter is key to your job search success.

Use the selection of free cover letters to help you.

Winning Cover Letter Resources

Cover Letter Template

Cover Letter Tips

Basic Cover Letter

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