Cover Letters

Cover letters—also known as application letters—serve a simple purpose: They provide a narrative and a bit of a timeline that shows how your previous experience and exposure can work for the target company. They “cover” your resume, in that they provide an introduction and help direct the reader’s attention to how your resume’s content relates to the work opportunity for which you’re applying.

A cover letter succeeds when it is tailored to a specific job. You craft a cover letter based on either specific qualifications or duties noted in the job posting, or research you conduct about the job and company.

Cover letters are formulaic, which means you don’t have to be especially witty or creative. All you need to do in a cover letter is provide three skills, or areas of knowledge or experience, that you possess and that match the needs of the company, and show how you’ve implemented them. Humans, especially hiring managers, are curious animals. Providing examples about how you’ve used and acquired skills satisfies that curiosity, but also helps a reader visualize you at work.

These letters are not devoted to you simply stating that you’re a hard worker, problem solver, quick learner, analytical thinker, and other jargon-ish terms. Rather, they show tasks and duties and skills that you specify for consideration by the company. For example, don’t just state you’re a problem solver; describe a problem you solved, and how. And maybe provide the end result or outcome.

A well-crafted cover letter can snag you the interview through its effective use of relevant detail, so you’ll usually want to create one every time you apply for a job. These letters also help you begin to organize your thoughts about what you’ve done so far, which can help in responding to interview questions.

For complete cover letter instructions and examples, please log into CareerBuzz. Go to the Resources menu and click Documents Library. In the Search box type Cover Letter Instructions and/or Cover Letter Examples.

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