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Friday, June 14, 2024

Cover letters: do you really need one?

If it were up to me I would submit my résumé to a company and call it good. After all, it has all of my professional and extracurricular experience on there so that should be enough right? Résumés used to be the standard, but cover letters are quickly becoming an additional norm. With so many applications to sort through, a well written cover letter can really set you a part from the crowd. It’s an opportunity to bring your résumé to life and add a personal touch to a bulleted list of experiences. So the short answer is yes, if submitting a cover letter is an option then you need one. Here are a few basics to get you started:

-A cover letter is supposed to be written like a letter. That seems obvious, but the formatting can be confusing. You need the works: contact info, salutations, body paragraphs, etc. to put this letter together.

-Know who you’re writing to. Letters are supposed to be addressed to a person so make the effort to find out the name of the person you’re writing to. If you can’t get a name, use something like “Recruiting Team of X Company.”

-Make sure to sign and type your name at the end. Leave your phone number or email address to help indicate that you want to be contacted

-For every cover letter I’ve seen, there’s a résumé to go along with it. You indicate you’re also including a résumé by putting the word “enclosure” at the bottom of your letter. It would be a waste if they read the letter and not the résumé.

-Just as your résumé should be short and sweet, so should your cover letter. Keep it to three short paragraphs and focus the content on what you can do for the company. Change any of your “I’s” to “You’s.”

-Don’t just recite exactly what’s on your résumé. That’s a waste of time for both you and the employer. This is the chance to let some of your personality shine through your writing. Writing skills are one of the most prominent attributes looked for in a potential candidate, so show them off!

-You can’t write a standard cover letter. Even though you can recycle your résumé and use it for multiple companies, your cover letter has to be personalized for each company and recruiter you’re writing to. Double and triple check the person addressed is from the company you’re applying to. Getting that wrong is hugely embarrassing (trust me, I know).

Time to get the applications rolling! A solid résumé and a well written cover letter have you well on your way to an interview, and hopefully a job. Those documents are a dynamic duo well worth your time and effort.

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