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What Is a Cover Letter for a Resume?


Cover letters should be included when submitting a resume to a potential employer. This letter is the first thing that the employer looks at and should briefly state your qualifications and reasons for applying for this particular position. A cover letter should be free of errors, short and to the point.

Do Your Homework

Before you even begin your cover letter, gather information about the employer and the company that you are applying to. You can visit company web pages or simply call the front desk or secretary to find out more information. The key is to show in your cover letter that you are familiar with the company's background and where it is headed in the future. This shows the employer that you are anxious to be a part of their team.

Get Organized

Because cover letters are the first impression that you make on an employer, you want to be sure that you have organized the letter properly. A proper cover letter includes a heading, an inside address, a salutation, the body of the letter with a good closing, your signature, and finally your name, typed. Preview examples of cover letters in books and on the Internet to see how they are laid out. Remember, you only get one chance to make a good first impression, and your cover letter will be yours.

Names

A successful candidate for a job opening takes the time to find out the names of the key people in the organization where they are applying. Addressing your letter to the specific person you will be interviewing with is beneficial and important. No one wants to receive a letter addressed to Dear Sir or Madame. The salutation is your chance to make a personal connection with the employer.

Specific Job

The cover letter is the place where the potential employee should mention what job in particular they are applying for. A successful cover letter tells the employer at a quick glance exactly what sort of work the candidate is seeking and enables her to make a quick decision whether to keep reading or not.

Job Requirements

A cover letter should show the employer that you have the qualifications to perform the job you are applying for. This portion of the letter should address the job requirements and how you will perform them better than someone else. This is where the job candidate sells himself and his qualifications to the employer.

Closing

The closing of a cover letter is where you should sum up why you are the perfect person for this job. Then ask the employer for an interview. It is important that a cover letter accurately expresses your abilities; this is not the place to exaggerate. The cover letter is finished off with a closing salutation such as, "Thank you for your time," or "Sincerely," and your name. Sign the cover letter in ink, just above your typed name.

References
  • Grammar and Composition Handbook, Glencoe McGraw-Hill, 2000
About the Author

Karen Silvestri is an English professor at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Fla., and has been writing professionally since 1997. She also leads workshops on memoir writing, journaling, creative writing and poetry in her community and online. Silvestri holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, and studied business and education at the graduate level.

Photo Credits
  • Guide to Grammar and Writing