The most important part of a cover letter is the function of a cover letter.  Too often, this tool gets confused with the function of a resume.  While a resume seeks to obtain a job, a cover letter seeks to obtain an interview.  A cover letter sells an individual’s skills and abilities.  Basically, the applicant states interest in the position and then, very briefly discusses his skills, but seeks to entice the employer to want to know more at the same time.  Further, the applicant requests to send the attached resume for review.

 How is this done?

Because the cover letter is a quick, three-paragraph page, there are a few tricks to utilize.  Primus recency acts as the first one.  This term means that more often than not, people retain the information first received and last received.  In your letter, the employer will remember what you say at the beginning and the very end.  It’s important that these two paragraphs make a good impression.  Of course, the middle paragraph still matters, but the “meat” of the letter will be contained in the first or third paragraph.

 Taking primus recency into consideration, the first paragraph should state an individual’s interest in the position and depending on what the job asks for, state which skill most qualifies him for the job.  To elaborate, a job applicant may say something like this, “Your advertisement on myjobs.com for an administrative assistant with a degree in business information systems and office management caught my special attention.  I believe my bachelor’s degree in BIS:  Office Systems Support and my additional administrative job experience have given me the skills needed to fit this placement.”  Right here, an individual expressed interest, demonstrated educational background, and alluded to work experience.

 As mentioned above, this paragraph can be tweaked a bit.  Some jobs ask for specific job experiences.  If that is the case, an individual could mention that they have met the criteria.  On the other hand, a job may ask for a specialized certification.  This time, it would be appropriate to mention this.  Again, keep the function at the forefront of your mind.  Remember, you are trying to obtain an interview (not the job), and you need to capture the audience in three small paragraphs.

 The second paragraph, typically involves a bit more fluff.  This is where the individual can state his most outstanding professional skills or accomplishments.  However, these need to be briefly stated.

 The last paragraph explains that the applicant is attaching a resume.  Many times, individuals state how the resume will further illustrate an individual’s capacity to meet the job requirements and offer value to the company.  Then, the individual extends an invitation to the employer to interview them.  This is typically done in question format to show humility.

 Refrain from writing, “I hope you’ll consider me for the job,” “It would be in your best interest to hire me,” or “I know you’ll want to hire me after we meet.”  Anything close to these statements, and the potential employer will not only laugh, but also view the applicant as arrogant and overly self-confident.  Furthermore, statements like these, defy all purposes in writing a cover letter.

 All of these items should be contained in a standard letter format with a proper heading (your return address, email, phone), date, address of recipient, salutation, and then, a proper closing with necessary attachments.  It shows your professionalism when the letter is organized properly.

 If an individual will stick to the tips mentioned above, he should have no problems obtaining an interview.  Together, with his resume, his chances have greatly increased to land the job.

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