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Cover Letters: More than Simple "Hellos"

Apr 20, 2008
Despite the fact the ideal cover letter is short and brief, it is far more than a simple "hello." This for a couple of reasons. First, the cover letter contains more than just a greeting and introduction, not to mention the fact that the structure complex while coming across natural in expression. This suggests that an ideal, winning cover letter cannot be "whipped out" and requires practice to get it right. Many applicants, though having an impressive resume, lost out on employment due to a sloppy, ineffective or slipshod cover letter, which is the very first thing the potential human resources interviewer reads of an applicant. If the cover letter doesn't catch the attention of the employer, the resume certainly won't.

As for its format and content, yes, there are several variations - the cover letter typically consists of either three or four short-to-medium-sized paragraphs, the last being the smallest. The first paragraph contains the "hello" along with some reason why the applicant was attracted to the company in question (which is why applicants should research the company beforehand to know something about it), such as an achievement or its level of integrity.

This not only introduces the applicant, but it does so in the context of an knowledgeable and interested profession who is making an immediate attempt to fuse her or himself in with the company in some way that will show the employer how the applicant would benefit the company to which she or he is applying. Employers are looking for this, and so addressing this major point in some unique or colorful way right off-the-bat will catch the reviewers eye. First impressions are the strongest, as the saying goes.

The second paragraph of the cover letter delineates, or summarizes, the applicants qualifications without reiterating that which is provided in the resume (that document speaks for itself). This paragraph either quickly outlines specific information from the resume that pertains to the particular job in question, or it casually mentions something regarding personal qualifications that isn't showcased in the resume. Sometime both can be done. Extensive details are to be left out, of course (leave that for the interview), lest the applicant puts the reviewer to sleep, and that would not be good at all. Applicants should get right to the point but be lighthearted yet professional, human and not robotic.

Finally the last paragraph (if only three are written) is the sign-off, which is why it is usually the smallest paragraph of the entire document. Here, the occupant thanks the reader for her or his time and acknowledges a follow-up to the initial submission or application, which is acceptable because it reflects an ongoing interest in the company and job in question. Also, the applicant can acceptably confirm calling for setting up a possible interview for some point in the near future. This isn't at all pushy; on the contrary, it is assertive and reflects confidence and a positive attitude, both of which are very appealing to a prospective employer or interviewer. The applicant should always end the paragraph with a polite "Thank You" and then cordially sign off.

The cover letter is a crucial document and must be crafted with insight and care. This will show through, and it will weigh heavily toward a state of acceptance and employment.
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