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When Should You Include A Cover Letter With Your Resume

Focus It On The Future

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While your résumé is meant to be a lookback at your experience and where youve been, the cover letter should focus on the future and what you want to do, says Glickman. It can be helpful to think of it as the bridge between the past and the future that explains what you hope to do next and why. Because of the pandemic there is less of an expectation that youll be applying for a job that youve done before. There are millions of people who are making career changes voluntarily or involuntarily and need to pivot and rethink how their skillset relates to a different role or industry, says Glickman. You can use your cover letter to explain the shift youre making, perhaps from hospitality to marketing, for example. Think of it as an opportunity to sell your transferrable skills.

Key Elements Of A Cover Letter

The cover letter is usually the first item an employer reads from you. Your letter should immediately indicate what position you are applying for and then give information that demonstrates why you should be considered for the position. Do not repeat all of the information contained in your resume. Instead, highlight or elaborate on resume items that are directly applicable to the position for which you are applying. The following information should be included in your cover letter.

Information about you

Begin your cover letter with your contact information. It should be in block style, on the left margin of your paper, towards the top.

  • Name

Include a date as you would do with any business letter.

Contact Person’s Name, Title, Employer, and Address

Including a specific name can get your letter and resume to the hiring manager more quickly and can be an effective personal touch. If you are applying for an advertised position that does not give a name to contact, call the company and ask for the department manager’s name.


Choose the appropriate way to address the contact person.For example:

  • Dear Mr. Johns
  • Dear Ms. Smith
  • Dear Prospective Employer

Opening Paragraph

In the opening paragraph tell how you learned about the position. You may, for example, know of a job through:

Middle Paragraph

This paragraph gives a summary of your background and critical skills that make you qualified for the position.

Contact Information and Closing

Pro: Cover Letters Let You Reveal Your Personality And Build Rapport

A resume tends to be fact-based and somewhat formal, but a cover letter can be infused with personality. Dont be afraid to inject personal notes about interests or philosophies that may help employers determine if you will fit into their culture, says Roleta Fowler Vasquez, professional resume writer and owner of Wordbusters in Fillmore, California. To increase the wow factor of their cover letters, she encourages applicants to add a few standout accomplishments that dont appear on the resume.

Laila Atallah, a Seattle career counselor and owner of Career Counseling with a Twist, agrees that a cover letter can be more revealing than a resume. The best cover letters are infused with energy, personality and details about the applicants skills and achievements, she says. I get a sense of the person and what theyve accomplished, and its easier for me to picture them in their next job.

Job seekers often make the mistake of sending a resume without a cover letter, says Ann Baehr, president of Best Resumes of New York in East Islip, New York. This is a missed opportunity to establish rapport with employers and provide a sense of who they are beyond their work experience, she says.

Thinking about skipping the cover letter when applying for an internal position? Don’t. Use the cover letter to show how well you understand your employers mission and remind management of how much you have already accomplished.

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When To Use A Curriculum Vitae

If you are considering positions in academia , you are generally asked to provide a curriculum vitae instead of a resume. Your CV will highlight your scholarly and professional experiences when applying for academic , research positions, academic postdoctoral research opportunities, grants, and fellowships. Keep in mind the purpose is also to have the hiring committee interested in interviewing you. Therefore, be selective in your accomplishments to show you are a strong candidate for the job, department, and institution.

CVs vary from discipline to discipline. It is recommended to reference the CVsof others in your field and have your advisor review them as well. The CV is focused on expertise and provides a complete summary of your academic achievements. The typical CV length is 2-3 pages, with additional pages added to further your career and academic successes.

Standard CV sections include: Education, Teaching Experience, Research Experience, Honors and Awards, Professional/Volunteer Experience, Publications, Presentations, Scholarly/Professional Affiliations, Research Interests, Extracurricular Activities, Licensing/Registration/Certifications, Grants/Fellowships, University Service, Technical Skills, and References.

What To Put In A Cover Letter Body

Should You Use A Cover Letter With Your Resume

The cover letter middle part or body should contain the meat and potatoes of your pitch. Here you must make your case that you are the right person for the job. So, what to put in a cover letter body?

Include bullet points to make your best examples really stand out. If you have an achievement or three that you really want to feature prominently , then bullet points are a perfect mechanism to break up the flow of text and draw the reader’s eye.

Experience is key, so if youve got it, flaunt it. Your resume will list your past employers, but your cover letter should also stress your job-related experience. Dont just mention where youve worked or for how long, but emphasize what you actually accomplished at these jobs. Use facts and figures where possible, like new revenue you generated, percent growth you achieved, number of customers you handled.

Include accomplishments that are illustrated by action verbs. You can only prove that you have what it takes to smash your future role if you share examples of what you have achieved in the past. Including descriptive action verbswithin these accomplishments will make them jump off the page. Offer context and quantify the accomplishment where possible – only then can an employer make an informed estimation of potential.

Try to include at least one anecdote, a short little story, about a challenge you faced at a past job and how you resolved it successfully.

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If You Want To Build A Connection With Employers

Since a cover letter allows you to go into more detail or provide more insights about yourself than your resume, it can help you build rapport with potential employers. This may work especially well when applying to smaller organizations. The hiring manager can read your letter to learn more about your personality and qualifications, assessing how well you’d fit into their team. In this situation, you can use your letter as an opportunity to tell a story about yourself or show a connection with the organization’s mission and values.

What To Include In A Cover Letter For A Job

When writing a cover letter, specific information needs to be included: a contact section, a salutation, an introduction to the hiring manager, information on why you are qualified for the job, a closing, and your signature. The way the information is listed and the format depend on how you are sending your letter.

The goal of your cover letter is to make a case for getting selected for a job interview, so it’s important to include all required information along with a compelling argument for why you would be a strong candidate for the position.

It can be time-consuming to write a custom cover letter for each job you apply for, but it’s important to take the time and effort to show the company why you are a good match.

The more your experience and your skills match the job description, the higher your chances of getting picked for an interview.

Be sure to include information in your letter about how you possess the particular skills and requirements that the employer is seeking.

Don’t simply repeat what’s in your resume. Your resume lists your skills, but your cover letter should highlight how you have put those skills to use.

Before you start writing, review cover letter examples and make sure that your letter explains how your skills relate to the criteria listed in the job posting. Looking at examples of effective cover letters will give you a starting point for creating your own letter.

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Key Elements Of A Successful Cover Letter

Your cover letter is often the first thing employers see when reviewing your job application. To get an employer’s attention and convince them to consider seriously consider you for an interview, a cover letter needs to include several key elements within a clear format. Because hiring managers review dozens of job applications every day, they look for specific content in cover letters that tell them the most about the candidate and meet their professional expectations. In this article, we’ll talk about the key elements of a great cover letter and provide a formula for writing your own.

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Have A Conversation With Smaller Companies

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Roles at smaller companies can have a big impact on the organizations culture, so hiring managers will sometimes use cover letters to determine how well a candidate will fit in with the team. This means your cover letter can have an especially meaningful effect by allowing you to introduce yourself, reference why youd be a good fit for the role and the mission of the company, and make a personal connection.

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Highlight The Right Experiences

Not sure what skills and experiences you should be featuring? Typically the most important requirements for the position will be listed first in the job description, or mentioned more than once. Youll want to make sure you describe how you can deliver on those key priorities.

Another trick: Drop the text of the job description into a word cloud tool like WordClouds, and see what stands out. Thats what the hiring manager is looking for most.

If The Employer Asks For One

Employers might ask candidates for a cover letter because it helps them gain more insight into who you are and what you offer as an employee. If the employer makes this specific request, draft a cover letter highlighting how you meet the role’s required qualifications. For example, you might describe your relevant experience in the field or particular skills that align with the position’s responsibilities. If an employer expects a cover letter without receiving one, it may affect how they view your application.

Related:What Is the Purpose of Cover Letter?

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Be Open To Other Formats

If youre applying to a more traditional company, then the tried-and-true three-to-five-paragraph format probably makes sense. However, if youre gunning for a more creative or startup jobor need to explain to the hiring manager, say, how your career has taken you from teaching to business developmenta different approach could be appropriate.

Here at The Muse, weve seen cover letters use bullet points, tell stories, or showcase videos to get their point across. One woman wrote a cover letter from her dogs perspective. This professional even turned hers into a BuzzFeed-style list!

Go Beyond Your Resume

Therefore, you need to do everything possible to be sure ...

A super common pitfall many job seekers fall into is to use their cover letter to regurgitate whats on their resume. Dont simply repeat yourself: I was in charge of identifying and re-engaging former clients. Instead, expand on those bullet points to paint a fuller picture of your experiences and accomplishments, and show off why youd be perfect for the job and the company.

For example: By analyzing past client surveys, NPS scores, and KPIs, as well as simply picking up the phone, I was able to bring both a data-driven approach and a human touch to the task of re-engaging former clients.

Having trouble figuring out how to do this? Try asking yourself these questions:

  • What approach did you take to tackling one of the responsibilities youve mentioned on your resume?
  • What details would you include if you were telling someone a story about how you accomplished that bullet point?
  • What about your personality, passion, or work ethic made you especially good at getting the job done?

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Q& a: Should You Include A Cover Letter

Cover letters are a time-consuming part of the job application process, especially when done well. You might be wondering: Should I include a cover letter in my job application?

The answer: Many career experts agree that sending a cover letter is almost always the best decision. In the world of automated applications, a well-written cover letter allows you to show a personal side and demonstrate why hiring you is a smart move. Its a way to stand out among hundreds of other candidates.

Email Cover Letter Length

When sending an email cover letter, it’s even more important to be concise. The first paragraph is what readers pay attention to when reading an email. The rest of the message is typically skimmed. Two paragraphs one that serves as an introduction, and one that explains your qualification for the job and then a closing is sufficient.

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The Only 3 Things To Include In Your Cover Letter

While workers should be detailed about their qualifications on a resume, they need to be quick and creative when it comes to their cover letter. Siegel estimates that hiring managers spend an average of 20 seconds reviewing a given cover letter.

The majority of hiring managers from the ResumeLab survey said the most important thing they’re looking for in a cover letter is the applicant’s reason for wanting to join the company.

Siegel agrees this is one of just three things job seekers should include in their cover letter.

“The golden rule of applying to a job is showing specific interest,” he says. “A lot of people write cover letters to describe their background and explain why they’re a fit for the role. But I would start my cover letter with the sentence, ‘I’m so excited to apply to this job because … ‘ and fill in the blank about the business.”

Beyond that, Siegel boils down the most important things to include in a cover letter to three points.

“Show enthusiasm, show you’ve done research, and show you want to come in there and make a contribution,” he says.

According to the ResumeLab survey, hiring managers also find cover letters helpful in understanding anything surprising about the candidate’s work history, such as a reason for changing careers or explaining an employment gap.

When Should You Not Send A Cover Letter

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You should not send a cover letter if it is explicitly stated in the job post not to include one. Also there are some electronic submission systems whereby there is no accommodation for cover letter entries.

Otherwise, attach a cover letter. When you are competing for a job, you should not leave anything to chance. The worst thing that can happen is that the recruiter will simply ignore your cover letter. The benefits of attaching a cover letter with your resume are too significant to be ignored.

Last Updated on July 21, 2021 by Felix T. Web

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Add This In Place Of Your Cover Letter

The point of a cover letter is to build a bridge between yourself and the hiring manager. It shows you have something to say, that you know about the job and are interested in working for the company, says Martin Yate, author Knock em Dead: The Ultimate Job Search Guide.

Todays digital landscape allows you to accomplish all that and more. Experts suggest designing an eye-catching resume or building a portfolio with relevant examples.

Brooke also advises you to provide solid references and get a letter of recommendation. References are a great opportunity for someone to say to the hiring manager that you were a good employee in your last positionand here is the proof.

How To Write A Cover Letter

Perhaps the most challenging part of the job application process is writing an effective cover letter. And yes, you should send one. Even if only one in two cover letters gets read, thats still a 50% chance that including one could help you. Before you start writing, find out more about the company and the specific job you want. Next, catch the attention of the hiring manager or recruiter with a strong opening line. If you have a personal connection with the company or someone who works there, mention it in the first sentence or two, and try to address your letter to someone directly. Hiring managers are looking for people who can help them solve problems, so show that you know what the company does and some of the challenges it faces. Then explain how your experience has equipped you to meet those needs. If the online application doesnt allow you to submit a cover letter, use the format youre given to demonstrate your ability to do the job and your enthusiasm for the role.

No one likes job hunting. Scouring through online job listings, spiffing up your résumé, prepping for grueling interviews none of it is fun. For many, the most challenging part of the process is writing an effective cover letter. Theres so much conflicting advice out there, its hard to know where to start. Do you even need one, especially if youre applying through an online system?

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