Getting it out There
Cover Letters

Cover letters provide an employers' first impression of a job-seeker. They are essentially the written equivalent of a handshake. They are also one of the first and only opportunitiesy a job-seeker has to make a more personal connection with an employer.

A cover letter adds that personal note, that resumes don't always address.

Cover letters can follow a template, but should always be tailored to a specific position or company. Here is a guide to an effective cover letter's contents:

  • Your contact information
  • Employers correct address
  • 1st Paragraph - About the job
  • 2nd Paragraph - About the organization
  • 3rd Paragraph - Your qualifications and skills
  • 4th Paragraph (optional) - Your additional skills
  • 5th Paragraph - Conclusion
  • Sign off
Within a cover letter a job seeker should bring in more information than was listed in a resume, as well as any information that doesn't necessarily fit.

Throughout a cover letter it is important to include good transition sentences, in order to connect your personal qualifications with the job requirements.

People assume that the employer will make the necessary connections, and this isn't the case.

Writers should write a letter like they are writing about somebody they don't know, because even the obvious needs to be explained. Because a cover letter is so personal, it is often more difficult to write than a resume.

A big mistake people make is selling themselves short. It's often easier to market anybody but yourself.

Using action verbs and providing back up statements are one way for a job seeker to use language that naturally increases their marketability. Examples of action words include, "increased," "designed," "created" or "managed." These words can make a statement sound more assertive, successful and positive, and will increase a cover letter's chances of being noticed. Addressing a cover letter to a specific person is also an important tool in making your application stand out from the others.

If you put 'To Whom It May Concern,' then it won't be a concern to anybody.

Before sending the letter, call the organization to find out who will be reviewing your application. It's also important to get the correct spelling of the name and the proper job title. If writing a cover letter seems daunting, it may be helpful to talk to someone who has the expertise and experience to help create a cover letter that will get noticed and be an effective part of a job search.

It does help to talk to job or employment coach. I would highly recommend getting a second or third opinion.