What is a Cover Letter?
In today's job search, most applications are done online, but many times you will need to supply additional materials along with your résumé and/or application. A cover letter introduces you and your résumé to a potential employer. When possible, you should send a cover letter with every résumé you submit, even when one has not been requested.
What is the Purpose of a Cover Letter?
The purpose of the cover letter is to gain the interest of an employer and be invited to an interview. While the résumé provides an overview of your background, the cover letter allows you the opportunity to highlight those aspects of your background that are relevant to the position you are seeking. A good cover letter can help heighten the employer's incentive to learn more about you by reading your résumé and meeting you for an interview. It also gives the employer a sample of your writing skills. To write an effective cover letter, you need to take time to research and write an original letter. The letter should be tailored to each employer and reflect your knowledge of the employer's needs. Researching the organization and position before you write your cover letter will make this task much easier.
It will be to your advantage to keep an organized file of your correspondence to and from each employer (i.e. résumés, cover letters, references, applications, job postings and employer research materials). Save a copy of each letter you send and receive. As with other aspects of your job search, a centralized record of all action you have taken will lessen the guesswork in following up on job prospects, interviews, and offers.