Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When and How to Use Application Cover Letters

One important type of cover letter is an application cover letter.  Application cover letters are used by job seekers when applying for a specific job.  These letters should be written after a job and it's requirements are identified so it can be written to the specific job.  When writing application cover letters, keep these tips in mind:
  • Highlight your most important or relevant skills or accomplishments to the specific position in which you are applying.  This is your chance to show an employer that you have met all of the basic requirements (and maybe even some of the desired or preferred requirements).  Allow those skills may already be present in your resume, if a hiring manager or recruiter does read your cover letter, your skills really stand out.  Hiring managers or recruiters will not have to dig through your resume.  Instead, you have an excellent chance to impress them!
  • Organize your cover letter so it is easy to read.  Bullet points are a great way to make your cover letter easier to read.  Each bullet should be short, but descriptive and to the point.  Bullet points are an easy way to break up your letter so each chunk is shorter to read.  Recruiters and hiring managers will appreciate this.
  • Proofread and revise your cover letter.  Let's be honest, no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, especially grammatical mistakes and type-o's.  Unfortunately, one simple mistake on your cover letter may not be forgiven.  Cover letters best represent you as a worker and mistakes do not represent you well.
  • Utilize a template.  Application cover letters can generally follow the same format.  If you create one that works or that is written exceptionally well, reuse it!  Most job seekers apply for many jobs.  Save time be using a template.
Now that you have some advice on how to write cover letters, let's talk about when to use them.  The general rule is to include a cover letter for all applications.  However, there are some exceptions.
  • Do include a cover letter if the online or paper application requests one.
  • Do include a cover letter if the application does not specify.  If you do not, you may be passed up!
  • Don't include a cover letter when going on interviews or career fairs.  Make a positive impression and get your points across in person.
  • Don't include a cover letter if the application says not to include one.

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