Do you need a Cover Letter?

Once your resume is prepared and ready to send, the question frequently asked is, “do I include a cover letter?”

The answer is yes.

You should always include a cover letter regardless if you’re sending your resume via email, fax,   postal mail or hand delivery.  Besides the fact that most employers expect one, it’s your opportunity to introduce your resume with a “sales message” tailored to the position, as well as to the employer.  In addition, the cover letter shows an employer that you can write and you can use it as a tool to explain something on your resume, if there is a need, like a gap in employment.

The Cover Letter begins with your address & date – make sure the date is correct.

Next, is the Company Information which includes; the name of the recipient of the letter is provided followed by his or her position and the full address of the company. Whenever possible, address your letter to the person responsible for hiring. If you don’t know who that is, call the company and politely ask. Make sure to get the correct spelling of the person’s name.

After the salutation or greeting, the body follows and is divided into three sections, each being about a paragraph in length including:

• Introduction
• Your Sales Message
• Closing

The Introduction: tells the potential employer that you are aware of the job opening and how you heard about the position. How you heard      about the position will determine which type of introduction you use. For example, if you were referred to the position through an employee of the company, be sure to note who referred you:

“Mary Johnson, a Sonographer in your department, suggested that I forward my resume directly to you in response to the job opening at Memorial Hospital for a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer.”

Your Sales Message: This is your opportunity to “sell” yourself by briefly highlighting two or three positive aspects of your qualifications.  Your sales message should be short and to the point and when responding to a specific position, try to match your qualifications to the requirements/duties of the job opening. For new graduates, as well as “career changers,” be sure to include any transferable skills that you’ve acquired which can be applied to the position. For example, direct patient care experience can be viewed as a competitive advantage in healthcare job openings that involve patient interaction.

The Closing: ends your letter by thanking the reader and asks for, or implies a future contact to arrange an interview. Take control of the moving to the next step and let the employer know that you’ll contact him or her in a week to arrange the interview.

The Cover Letter can be a valuable job search tool. Take the time to craft an effective Letter that is tailored for the position and supplements your resume presenting your “Sales Message” leading to the next step – an interview.

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