In an extremely competitive job market, neglecting your cover letter is a big mistake. Why? A cover letter is your first opportunity to tell a prospective employer about yourself, and to do so in your own words. Make sure your cover letter is an asset, not a barrier, by following the steps below.
Do personalize your letter.
Cover letters that begin with phrases like "To Whom it May Concern," sound like random junk or bulk mail, rather than an important correspondence. You expect the company to take the time to read through your material, so you too need to take some time to research the correct addressee. Call the company, look on its Web site or talk to others to find the correct contact.
Do address the specific position advertised.
Companies that post openings are making your life easier by telling you the qualities they are seeking. Show the company that you paid attention. If a company advertises that it is looking for medical experience, make sure you address your medical experience. One way to do this is by making a table for yourself before writing your letter. List the company's stated needs in one column, and your corresponding experience and qualifications in another column. Then use that information to write a letter that tells them exactly what they want to know.
Do get to the point.
Hiring managers receive letters and resumes from dozens and even hundreds of applicants, and often just don't have the time to read lengthy, wordy letters. Be direct. In the first paragraph, include the title of the position you are interested in and then move on to your specific qualifications immediately.
Do write and edit your letter with great care.
Nothing says "I don't really want this job" like a cover letter with typos, incorrect information, or spelling errors. Make sure the company's name is spelled correctly. Check to see if the contact is a male or female. And, while it sounds almost too obvious to mention, be sure to sign your letter.
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