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A good cover letter is a most important part of the entire job search process. A cover letter is far more flexible than your resume and as such can target specifically the employer's requirements.
There is not the same set of expectations around a cover letter so you have the freedom and flexibility not necessarily available to you while writing a resume.
Having said that, a good cover letter does have a specific format and there are guidelines that you must observe.
Before you begin to type your cover letter I advise that place yourself in the readers shoe's. Be clear in your objective and what benefit to the reader is going to be.
In addition to this be clear about your own objectives, the purpose of your letter to be very frank is to get an opportunity to meet and state your case.
Be very aware that the person who will read your resume and cover letter is certain to be a very busy person who has a limited amount of time at their disposal to complete this recruitment process. As a result your cover letter must capture the readers attention to ensure that it and your resume get read. In the event that your letter is poor in quality or content, you will be lucky for the reader to scan it and then dispose of it.
Don't use extremely formal language; write your cover letter in your own words almost as though you were speaking to the reader. This works to your advantage in that it allows your personality to shine through.
The cover letter must not be too long, if it is the reader will lose interest before they even begin. Don't use long sentences or paragraphs as they are very distracting and demonstrate poor use of language.
When you have created an effective cover letter, end it on a positive note requesting a meeting with the reader and whatever you do, do not forget to sign the letter. Forgetting to sign makes you look careless or indiscriminate as though you were performing a bulk mail job search, neither of which will earn you any credit with a prospective employer.
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