What is a Cover Letter

What Is a Cover Letter? Simply stated, it's a letter of introduction that is attached to, or enclosed with a resume, job application, or curriculum vitae.

Many job seekers think including a cover letter is optional and that it doesn't make much of a difference if they do or don't;

...but in today's job market it's essential to include one if you want to be perceived as a viable job candidate for positions that you apply for.

Job seekers send resumes attached to cover letters to prospective employers indicating their interest in job openings.

Conversely, employers look at cover letters to identify applicants who they may be interested in hiring.

Consequently, cover letters are important documents in the job seeking process.

Is there an ideal format for a cover letter? Yes, there is. Resume cover letters are generally at most one page in length and are divided into four distinct sections; a header, introduction, body, and closing.  Here are some guidelines of how to construct the perfect cover letter.


The Header. Resume cover letters are written standard letter style, starting with the sender's name, address and other contact information, followed by the date the resume was sent.

Next comes the recipient's name and address in the upper left hand corner. Following that is an optional reference section indicating what the letter is about. It's noted like this:

RE: Enclosed Resume for Employment Consideration

Last, but not least, is a salutation, such as: Dear Mr. Williams

The Body. The body of a cover letter is comprised of three parts; a first paragraph, a second paragraph, and a third paragraph...and each one plays a different role.

First Paragraph - Immediately state the position you are interested in and the reason that you would be the best candidate for this position. Also, mention how you found out about the job opening. Finally, if you do any research on the company mention it here.

Second Paragraph - This is where you discuss your qualifications and how you can be of value to the company. Highlight your experience, accomplishments, special licensing that you may have, and/or degree and related titles as it specifically relates to the position that you are applying for. However, you want to present the information in bite size chunks, so use a bulleted list if you need to.

Third Paragraph- Convey in clear terms that you want to speak to the reader in person to follow up on your interest in the job. Make a direct statement that you will call them on a certain date and time, or ask them for an interview give your number so that they can reach you.

The Closing. A closing sums up the letter, and indicates the next step the applicant expects to take. It may indicate that the applicant intends to contact the employer, although many favor the more indirect approach of simply saying that the applicant will look forward to hearing from or speaking with the employer.

After the closing is a valediction ("Sincerely"), and then a signature line. Finally, be sure to mention that there are enclosures, if any.

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