The Importance of a Cover Letter in Your Job Hunt

John Krautzel
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Candidates spend countless hours polishing resumes and putting the finishing touches on their cover letter, all while wondering if the effort is worth the time. A well-written letter, though, may be exactly what you need to stand out above the rest of the applicants. Craft a letter that is unique, creative and professional to prompt hiring managers to seek out your skills and experience.

A cover letter serves as a bridge between you and the hiring manager during the job hunt. Hiring managers seek out candidates who can accurately and professionally detail why they want to work for the company and how their skills are an ideal match for the position. Customize your letter so that it is written for each and every position to stand out.

A key part of the job search process is researching companies you would like to work for in the future. Your cover letter should reflect this effort. Mention what you know about the company's standing in the industry and accomplishments and community efforts you find impressive. Detail specific reasons why you want to work for the company versus broad statements such as "I've always wanted to work for XYZ Company." Use phrases such as "Your company's initiative to preserve the environment is in line with my personal values" instead of vague phrases often found on a general template. Hiring managers appreciate candidates who are knowledgeable about established missions and goals.

Match your skills to the desired traits listed in the job description or job ad. Hiring managers scan through hundreds of letters from applicants. Make their job easier by outlining specific skills and experience you possess that are in line with the position. Use keywords from the job advertisement in your cover letter that capture the attention of the employer right away. Keywords are especially important when using online platforms to apply for positions. Automated software scans resumes and letters to pinpoint acceptable candidates during the job search, and a lack of keywords used in the job description can eliminate you before a hiring manager has the chance to evaluate your qualifications.

Don't underestimate the power of networking during your job search. Candidates who have connections to people who work for the company or industry professionals should reference these connections in the cover letter. Hiring managers are often more comfortable interviewing or hiring applicants who have reputable references that can be checked easily.

Job applicants who take the time to write a thorough, professional and proofread cover letter can offer the employer more information than what is included on their resume. Show your personality and professionalism by detailing how you work well with teams, aspects of the company you admire and a genuine interest in contributing to future successes with the business.

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