What is a Resume Cover Letter?

Updated on: by Amy Kennedy

what is a cover letter

What Is A Cover Letter?

Have you asked this question before? If so, you’re not alone. Maybe you have written many cover letters in the past, but are still unsure of exactly what function they serve. After all, if you have sent in a cover letter to a potential job opportunity, then you have also sent in an application, and doesn’t the application say everything the cover letter says?

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Well, kinda. But not really.

I will do my best to explain to you the function of a cover letter, why it’s important and how to make yours sparkle!

Cover Letter 101

A cover letter is simply a letter that introduces yourself to a prospective employer. It accompanies an application or a resume. Basically it just says, “I am Jane Smith and I am interested in your marketing position. I have ten years of marketing experience and if you want a motivated hard worker for your company, contact me for an interview.” That’s the gist of a cover letter, but there are several parts of a cover letter that are essential.

First of all, there needs to be a header. This will have the recipient’s name and contact information and yours as well.

Then there’s the introduction. This is where you introduce yourself and state what job position you are interested in.

The body of the letter highlights information on your resume or application. For example, this is where Jane Smith (in the above example) would say she has ten years of marketing experience. The body is also the place where you will showcase your skills and talents.

Finally, there is the closing. A closing sums up the letter and states that the applicant looks forward to hearing from the recipient. A common closing might say, “I look forward to hearing from you to set up an interview.”

Then, you will sign your letter.

Why Send A Cover Letter?

You may be wondering why cover letters are even important. After all, everything in the cover letter is in the resume and application. That is a good point, but hear me out. Sometimes employers use cover letters as a means of screening applicants. Yep. They may disregard employees with either a poorly written cover letter or no cover letter. OR they may place a creative, well-constructed cover letter into a “Call immediately for an interview” stack. This is why you should send a cover letter, no matter what position you are seeking out.

Make Your Cover Letter Shine!

Other than making sure you have all the essential parts of your cover letter, how can you make yours stand out in the crowd? First of all, make your cover letter as specific as possible. The more vague the letter, the less effective. It should be specific to the position for which you are applying, specific for how you will benefit the company, and specific for how the employer should contact you for an interview.

Your cover letter should also be properly formatted and no longer than a page. No one wants to read a long cover letter (Aint no body got time for that!) Design your letter in a way that is clear, concise and easy to read.

Use strong words, particularly verbs in your cover letter. Because your letter will be short, every word counts. This means, go through your written letter and see if you can cut anything. Then go through and replace weak words and phrases with stronger ones. For example, instead of writing, “I am a good team player,” write, “I work well with a variety of people because I am communicative, cooperative and respectful.”

Next time you feel the need to leave out the cover letter for a potential job, think again. Instead of thinking it is a boring, mundane task, get out your laptop, tap into your creativity, and design the best cover letter possible. It may just be the last cover letter you will ever write!

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