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What is a Cover Letter?

The following article was written by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D. for Quintessential Careers website at www.quintcareers.com

What is a cover letter? It's a letter of introduction that highlights your key accomplishments and fit for a job opening. A cover letter adds focus to your resume. Few employers seriously consider a resume that is not accompanied by a cover letter; thus, a cover letter needs to be part of your job-search strategy. Each cover letter must be tailored to each job, each employer.

Your cover letter can explain things that your resume can't. If you have large gaps in your employment history, reentering the job market or changing the focus of your career, or relocating and conducting a long-distance job-search, a cover letter can explain these circumstances in a positive way.

Tips for writing a cover letter:

  • Whenever possible, address your cover letter to a named individual
  • Highlight your three to four key accomplishments/skills/experiences
  • Focus on the fit between your qualifications and the job requirements
  • Whenever possible, relate yourself to the company
  • End your letter by requesting an interview
  • Cover letters should be kept to under one page; electronic versions even shorter
  • Avoid all types of mistakes, including typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors