Why write a cover letter?

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For some aspiring professionals, how to write an effective cover letter may seem like a complete mystery. Many people even wonder why a cover letter is important.

When written correctly, a cover letter can help connect the dots between your resume and the job description, while providing additional details on what makes you the right candidate for the position. An effective cover letter can tie your experiences directly to the position and the organization’s mission statement, while providing anecdotes or examples that help quantify specific skills. Unlike a resume, a cover letter allows you to use the words “I,” “my” and “me,” as it’s written in narrative format, which provides an avenue to explain an experience in greater detail and showcase its value to the employer.

Your resume and cover letter are marketing tools that help you land the interview for a desired position. You can almost call the cover letter a career appetizer as it begins to show the employer that you’re fit for the organization but the main course is still to come. If, for example, you have worked in a hospital and want to showcase your ability to build meaningful relationships, including a detailed anecdote about how you assisted a patient will further quantify your value to the employer.

A strategic cover letter includes verbiage that appeals to the organization and fully expresses how you plan to implement certain skills if given the opportunity. So, if you hope to emphasize your relationship-building skills, say something along the lines of “I plan to implement my relationship-building skills by meeting with current and potential clients.” You probably know the exact words to use in front of your parents or professors that get them to agree to certain things and help them understand you better; now, you are using the same strategy on employers to get their attention.

The goal is to demonstrate that you read and understood the job description and are able to assess your abilities, skills and experiences, as they relate to the position. Cover letters can help the employer understand what makes you the ideal candidate. When structured effectively, they can be the first stepping stone to be asked to come in for an interview.

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