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How to Write a Cover Letter

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By Alison Doyle. Job Searching Expert

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If you take it one step at a time, however, you'll soon be an expert at writing cover letters to send with your resume. A cover letter typically accompanies each resume you send out.

Your cover letter may make the difference between obtaining a job interview or having your resume ignored, so it makes good sense to devote the necessary time and effort to writing effective cover letters.

Choose a Type of Cover Letter

  • The application letter which responds to a known job opening (cover letter samples )
  • The prospecting letter which inquires about possible positions (inquiry letter samples )
  • The networking letter which requests information and assistance in your job search (networking letter examples )

The first step is to decide which type of letter you're going to write. Next, you'll highlight the skills that qualify you for the job.

What to Include in Your Cover Letter

A cover letter should complement, not duplicate, your resume. Its purpose is to interpret the data-oriented, factual resume and add a personal touch. A cover letter is often your earliest written contact with a potential employer, creating a critical first impression. Find out more of the differences between a resume and

a cover letter .

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Your cover letter should be designed specifically for each purpose outlined above as well as for each position you seek. Do not design a form letter and send it to every potential employer (you know what you do with junk mail!).

Effective cover letters explain the reasons for your interest in the specific organization and identify your most relevant skills or experiences (remember, relevance is determined by the employer's self-interest). The letter should express a high level of interest and knowledge about the position.

Each cover letter you write should be customized to include:

  • Which job you're applying for
  • How you learned about the job (and a referral if you have one)
  • Why you are qualified for the job (be specific)
  • What you have to offer the employer (match your skills to the job description)
  • Thank you for being considered for the job

Keep it Short

Keep in mind that your cover letter doesn't need to be long - one page is plenty. Here's information on how long a cover letter should be .

Write a Cover Letter in 5 Easy Steps

A well-written cover letter will help you secure an interview and get your application noticed. Take the time to personalize it so it shows the employer why you're a solid candidate for the job. Here's how to write a cover letter in five easy steps .

Review Cover Letter Samples

Here are cover letters examples, both written and email, that are designed for a variety of different types of job applications and employment inquiries.

This cover letter format lists the information you need to include in the cover letter you submit with your resume.

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