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An Applicant’s Guide to Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 9/12/2011

What does it take to get invited to a job interview? Making a great first impression with a resume is a must. Yet even before the resume comes under scrutiny, it is the cover letter that has to pass muster. You are sure to find this applicant’s guide to cover letter writing a most valuable resource.

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    A cover letter whets the reader’s appetite for the resume. Whether you are trying to put an executive job search to bed or hope to move up the career ladder internally, cover letters are essential. Follow these guidelines to custom craft a letter that is sure to get results.

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    Cover Letters for Stay at Home Moms Going Back to Work

    Employers usually view a large break in between jobs as a negative. For the SAHM ready to return to the workforce, putting a positive spin on this absence is a key-component included in the cover letter. Is it possible to be personable without coming across as being too forward? The answer is an emphatic “yes!"

    A Relocation Cover Letter Sells You Before You’re in Town

    Another group with a historically significant disadvantage in the job market is the out-of-towner. What does it take for the business to take a chance on someone who is not local? How much should you reveal about your reasons for leaving your hometown? What should remain left unsaid? Interestingly enough, there is an easy balance to strike.

    MS Word CV Cover Letter Templates

    The curriculum vitae supplants the traditional resume with a summary of academic credentials and educational highpoints. As such, a standard cover letter does not do justice to the highly educated and expertly trained individual. Explore a fresh approach to a critical aspect of the academic hiring process.

    Crafting a Teacher’s Cover Letter

    Even if your sights are not set on a college-level teaching position or an administrative post in academia, educators still have to conform to their own style requirements. It begins with the greeting style and from there covers the early establishment of a professional reputation. Would you know how to draft a short letter that packs a powerful punch?

    Sample Cover Letter for Law Enforcement Jobs

    Applying for work within the criminal justice system? The process calls for a highly specialized approach. Once again, the cover letter must be crafted with agency-formulated guidelines in mind; yet even here there is room for personalization that makes the applicant stand out from the other candidates.

    Sample Cover Letter for a First Job Search

    The freshly-minted high school or college graduate is brand new to the workforce. The applicant does not have a lot of baggage, but there is also a notable absence of hands-on experience. Overcoming this void with a skillfully drafted cover letter is possible, especially when it hooks the hiring manager in the second paragraph. Find out what to say -- and how to say it.

    Sample Cover Letter for a Retail Management Position

    Prove to the business owner or human resources manager that you are accustomed to being in charge. A cover letter highlights this attitude and aptitude almost as easily as the resume. Of course, coming across as a know-it-all would be disastrous. How do you avoid this pitfall? Easy!

    Sample Cover Letter for an Accounts Payable Position

    The financial sector has its own language. Just like you would be expected to include certain buzz words in the resume, the cover letter, too, should contain industry-specific information and terms. Learn the fine points of augmenting -- not repeating -- a resume.

    What to Include in an Internship Cover Letter

    Paid or unpaid, an internship has a lasting effect on a future job seeker’s employability. Find an interning opportunity with a highly regarded business, and future employment may be easier to locate. Show the business that you are zealous, skilled and eager to turn a classroom education into a hands-on experience.

    What Should a Cover Letter Include?

    You know to include your contact information, but would you know what to leave out? Should you replicate some of the information you plan to include in the resume? There is a generally agreed upon format that the job seeker should work with -- if the candidate wants to be recognized as a professional.

    Reading Between the Lines: Cover Letter Format Guidelines

    Does letterhead quality matter? Of course it does! How about the sorting of the information and the mode of address? Once again, the answer is a “yes." Learn how to format the perfect cover letter and offer a hiring manager information about your professionalism by the way you set up this type of communication.

    From Cover Letter to Letter of Inquiry

    Cover letters and letters of inquiry are loosely related. One is in response to a posted job opening, while the other one seeks to drum up interest -- even if no job ad has been posted yet. Although basic mechanics are similar, a few major differences make this business correspondence very intricate to draft for the novice.

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    Cover letters are an art form that takes a little practice to learn and hone. Do not allow an inexpertly written missive to detract from a stellar resume. Following the guides highlighted here makes it possible to wow a potential employer -- before the hiring manager even takes a first glance at the resume.

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