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Writing Cover Letters

Job search letters can be one of the most confusing aspects of applying for positions. Remember that a well-written letter will only help your application; however, a poorly written one can be detrimental. Since there is no one way to write a letter that will work for every situation, you should give as much thought and time to your letter writing as you do your other search activities. These tips should help get you started on the right track.

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These simply don't work. Tailor your letter to the organization and the position for which you are applying. Doing so will demonstrate that you are informed, motivated and a good fit.

Pay attention to the qualities that are being sought. Consider brainstorming before you write the letter. Make a list of the stated needs from the position description and identify your qualifications.

Don't focus on why you need the position. Be sure to write your letter from a work/employer-centered perspective. This is your chance to show that you can add value and cause the employer to want to learn more about you.

Include specific examples. Don't just state that you can use Microsoft Excel. Give a detailed example that shows how you've used it in the past. You need to lay all of your pertinent information out in a way that lets the hiring manager easily see that your experience and qualities fit the employer's needs.

If you are applying to several similar positions, you may be tweaking the same cover letter and using it for multiple openings. Don't forget to update the company, job and contact name.

A great cover letter is concise but compelling. You want to respect the reader's time. This isn't an essay; use business letter format.

This is your chance to tell a brief story proving the skills and qualifications that are briefly outlined in your resume. Employers often request a cover letter to evaluate your written communication skills so don't regurgitate what's on your resume.

You want to present the best image possible, and typos and grammatical errors create a poor impression. Be sure to have your letter thoroughly proofread.

This can be one of the most effective tools in a search. It is used to express appreciation and strengthen your candidacy. A good rule of thumb is that everyone who helps you gets a thank you letter. It's a great way to follow up after an interview. If you forgot to discuss a relevant accomplishment, include it in the thank you.

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