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Taking the Extra Step: How to Write a Cover Letter

Taking the Extra Step: How to Write a Cover Letter


By Rowe Leathers, GCDF
Contributor and Career Coach, APUS

When it comes to cover letters, applicants minimize the importance of them and overlook the necessity of including one when they submit their resume.

How important is a cover letter and what exactly is its purpose?

A cover letter should be written to support the information on your resume, but not duplicate it. It should convey your intent and qualifications regarding the job role; the goal of the letter is to quickly capture the interest of the reader/hiring manager to land an interview.

Your letter should quickly identify the position you are applying to, and be sure to include the location if the company is hiring for various sites. Make yourself stand out by briefly mentioning your relevant qualifications, such as years you have in the industry, specialized training, or an advanced degree. To ensure your letter is not one-sided, use the job post to review the needs of the employer. Align yourself with the company’s goals by addressing the requirements and present yourself as part of their team.

Briefly describe your strongest achievements to illustrate that you possess the skills and experience necessary for a successful candidate. The goal is to convey that you will be effective in the role.

To convey your effectiveness, consider highlighting the following career milestones:

Recognitions – If you have received awards for exceeding expectations on a project, performance, or challenge, be sure to mention them to illustrate the quality of your work.

Contributions – How did you help improve the organization? Describe the contributions you have made to your previous employers to illustrate the talents you will bring to the new employer. When listing accomplishments, be sure to quantify your success by using numbers to illustrate your outcomes.

Promotions – Briefly state that you have climbed the ranks within the same company. Internal promotions convey that you are a valued employee, capable of handling growing responsibilities, and successfully adapt to change.

After calling attention to your qualifications, let the reader know you would welcome the opportunity to discuss the possibility of joining their team. Consider information about one of the company’s objectives that you would like to discuss further, if you have insight to share.

Lastly, be sure to address your cover letter accordingly. If the job posting does not include a name, contact the company to find out. A name may not always be available, but in cases when they are, you will have placed yourself ahead of other candidates by taking the extra step.

[Related articles: The Path to the Perfect Cover Letter]