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Cover Letter for Job Applications

Updated on July 6, 2015

The Importance of a Great Cover Letter

People tend to forget just how important a cover letter is. It's just as important as your resume and, therefore, needs just as much TLC to get you that job interview you're working for. Unlike your resume, it can be a little more personal as it allows the employer to delve deeper into who you are and determine whether or not you're really the right person for the job. It's also your opportunity to go into more detail about your qualifications and what makes you stand out from the rest of the pack.

Four Major Elements of Cover Letters

There are four basic pieces of a cover letter that you must have in order to write a successful letter. Each of these can be divided into four different paragraphs, giving you a basic outline of your letter before you begin writing.

  1. Introduction: What are you applying for? Why? Make sure you clearly state the purpose of your letter at the very beginning. Being concise is essential to a great cover letter.
  2. Meeting the Requirements: How do you qualify for this position? How do you qualify based on what is listed in the job description?
  3. Exceeding the Requirements: How are you the best person for this job?
  4. Conclusion/Contact: Give the letter some closure and leave the reader with a way to contact you.

Three Important Things to Have in Your Cover Letter

  1. Personalize it: Don't just write a basic cover letter and send the same out out to each place you apply to. Employers are trying to determine whether or not you're a good fit for the job, if what you say is too general, it's forgettable. Read through what they're looking for, create a list of the qualifications you have, and then write about those in your letter. The reader will appreciate that you actually took the time to read through what they're looking for for the job so that they can be certain you know what you're applying for and if you're qualified. Also, find out who will be reading through your resume and cover letter, addressing it to them instead of just "to whom it may concern" is also much more personal and shows how much you care.
  2. Be concise: Get to the point and don't go into too much about your qualifications, that's what interviews are for. The person(s) reading through your application are also going through probably hundreds more so you don't want to take up too much of their time reading just yours because wasting their time may mean you don't get that call back.
  3. Proofread: Nothing is more unimpressive than a bunch of grammatical errors, typos, and wrong information. Just like personalizing your letter, actually reading it through and making sure it's as perfect as possible shows the employer how serious you're taking it.

What Not to do When Writing a Cover Letter

  1. Don't be generic: This point is not only tied to the first point above about personalizing your letter. Being generic makes your letter boring and also makes the employer have to work to figure out why you think you're qualified. Don't just say you're goal-oriented, explain why with specific examples. Making your letter generic just shows that you've put less effort into it than if it was more personalized and specific so keep that in mind and try to think about your letter from the employer's point of view.
  2. Don't be passive: You're the one looking for a job so show some initiative and end with a promise to call them and check on the status of your application, rather than saying that you look forward to hearing from them. This is effective only if you actually do it.
  3. Don't send it out without another look: Not only is it important to review your own letter but it is even more important to have someone else look at it before you send it off. Usually when a different person reads your work instead of yourself, they will see what you didn't and help you fix that before it's too late.


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    • Monis Mas profile image


      7 years ago

      Very interesting and useful! Thank you for the great read!

    • charmike4 profile image

      Michael Kromwyk 

      8 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      The key here is customisation of your core letter to ensure that you can promote your qualities to the employer.

      I also agree with being concise - 1 page an employer I won't read beyond the first page.

      Finally, most of the roles I recruit for are managerial, if the person can't put a concise relevant letter together then I have concerns about how I am going to manage them when writing papers for me.

      Thanks for sharing. Cheers Michael

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      8 years ago from Western NC

      This information is good to know. Well-presented here and I think you're spot on. I'll refer back to this - I may be making one of these soon. :)


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