What's the Point in a Cover Letter?

Nancy Anderson
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If you've been in the job hunt for a while, chances are you've seen individuals walk into office buildings, drop resumes onto foyer counter tops and leave the premises with nary a nod to the receptionist, let alone a cover letter. This tactic may have been the norm back in the 80s and 90s, but now that we're firmly planted in the 21st century, it's time to change tack.

You've filled out the application; you've printed a copy of your resume onto watermarked paper. You could send your package off as it is — but you'd be missing out on a vital job seeking trick: the cover letter. The fact is, along with an effective resume, a stellar cover letter might just get you the interview you've been waiting for.

An effective resume, particularly if it has been honed for the field in which you plan to work, is a vital part of the job application process. Too often, however, the problem lies in its method of delivery. If you drop off your resume with a potential employer without a letter of introduction, chances are, it'll be thrown into an enormous pile of other resumes.

In these situations, a well-written cover letter can be the perfect way to get your resume in front of a hiring manager or a lead decision maker within the corporation. To ensure your resume makes it through the static, your letter must be compelling. Starting with, "My name is John/Jane and I would like to work for your company" might not do the trick.

Instead, concentrate on providing the human resources staff with a great hook. The first sentence in your cover letter needs to pique the interest of the reader. Naturally it can't be too dramatic, but neither should it be dull and lifeless. A good cover letter opening sentence might go like this: "For the past three years, I have worked in the marketing department at Company X and during that time, I achieved an unparalleled campaign success rate."

Make sure your cover letter conveys the very best aspects of your personality, particularly when they relate to teamwork, drive, determination, motivation and success. Your potential employer wants to know what you can bring to the table, so tell them all about your special powers.

Before you even think about putting a stamp on that application envelope, take the time to write a meaningful cover letter. If you can give the hiring staff an impression of your skills and personality up front, your chances of being called in for an interview increase exponentially. Ensure your cover letter is written specifically for the firm you plan to work at, and you'll most likely see success.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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  • Lynn C.
    Lynn C.

    Good article. A well-written cover letters is critical.

  • Pamela T.
    Pamela T.

    Only network will help

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