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Writing a Cover Letter

A cover letter is an important tool that candidates can use to market themselves for a particular position; either within or outside a company. In most cases, a cover letter, along with a resume, is the first opportunity to catch an employer�s eye and receive an interview. The cover letter should be of high quality and error free, since even the smallest of errors can make the difference between getting the job and never even getting a fighting chance. The main purpose of the cover letter is for applicants to briefly tell the employer about themselves, as well as what makes them best suited or qualified for the position.

Correct Format of a Cover Letter

There is one basic format for a cover letter. At the top of the page should be your address and the date. Do not put your name in this space. After this, add the employer�s formal name, title, company name and address. When beginning a cover letter, always start with Dear Mr/Mrs and then the employer�s name. There should only be 3 sections in the cover letter: intro, body and conclusion. The first paragraph answers the unspoken question of why; this means explain the reason for writing, the position of interest, and the job position was discovered.

The second section (1-3 short paragraphs) should detail the applicant�s qualifications; however, do not repeat your resume since this section should instead enhance and extend the resume. Highlight the most important experiences and qualities as they pertain to the position under question. The last paragraph should refer the employer to the resume and state that the prospective employee looks forward to an interview. Lastly, always make sure to sign the cover letter politely.

Highlighting Qualities in the Cover Letter

There are five rules to remember when writing a cover letter: write it for the employer�s perusal, don�t restate the resume, style, do not lie, and avoid mistakes and grammatical errors. Personalize the cover letter; show that you are serious about working for the company; be informational but keep it brief. The cover letter should highlight strengths, and provide facts, relevant skills and accomplishments. Highlight only what pertains to the position that is being applied for. Lastly, keep the cover letter positive and upbeat, and avoid going over the top as well as underselling yourself.

Various Uses of a Cover Letter

There are three types of cover letters for job seekers: invited, uninvited and the networking letter. The invited cover letter is accompanied by a resume for an open job position. Uninvited cover letters request information on possible positions that may be opening within a company, and networking letters are used to apply for positions through the help of a friend or colleague. Cover letters are also used in conjunction with loan applications or proposals. Some of the more prestigious colleges such as Harvard or MIT will request a cover letter with their admission application.

Final Cover Letter Considerations

The closing of the cover letter should be sincere and sum up the contents of the letter. It will provide information about what the job seeker�s next action is going to be. Always refer to the enclosed resume and above all else, thank the employer for taking the time to review the cover letter and resume. End with a sincere closing such as, �Respectfully yours�. Type your name and make sure to sign the letter. Have a look online for some cover letter samples that can provide some additional insight into the correct format, styling and structure.

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