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RESUME WRITING > Do I really need a cover letter

Your cover letter is critical to your job search. Think of it as your cover page for the most important business proposal you have ever done. You can have all the credentials and experience out there, but without showcasing these skills, your job search will not likely lead to expected results.

Your cover letter (also sometimes referred to as a letter of introduction, letter of application, or employment letter) is a vital part of your job-search correspondence package.

Think your cover letter is ready to be seen by employers? Few employers seriously consider a resume that is not accompanied by a cover letter; thus, a dynamically written cover letter needs to be part of your job-search strategy.

Why is a cover letter so important? A resume is useless to an employer if he or she doesn't know what kind of work you want to do. A cover letter tells the employer the type of position you're seeking -- and exactly how you are qualified for that position.

A cover letter highlights the aspects of your experience that are most useful to the potential employer, and you can earn points for knowing what those aspects are. Employers get hundreds of resumes, especially when they advertise a choice position. Employers are also very busy. Often the person screening resumes skims each for only a few seconds. Your cover letter can call attention to the skills, talents, and experience the employer is looking for.

Your letter can explain things that your resume can't. If you have large gaps in your employment history or you are reentering the job market or changing the focus of your career, a cover letter can explain these circumstances in a positive way.

A cover letter can serve the same function as the "job objective" on your resume, and expand upon it. Some applicants are reluctant to limit themselves by putting an objective on their resume. Although it is best for a job-seeker to target the type of work desired as specifically as possible, you may be open to more than one option.

Finally, a cover letter is a little window into your personality. A good cover letter can suggest to an employer, "I'd like to interview this person; she sounds like someone I'd like to get to know better. This seems like just the kind of dynamic person this company needs."

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