Use a Cover Letter
For Resumes to Your Benefit

A cover letter for resumes serves two purposes. The first is the most obvious – it introduces you and your resume. The second purpose the letter serves is to give you an opportunity to provide additional explanation for something on the resume you know the reader will have questions about.

The goal is to stopgap a rejection of your resume simply because something looks odd or unexplained. For example, you have a gap in your employment history that needs an explanation. A couple of sentences of explanation in the cover letter can go a long way towards relieving immediate recruiter concerns.

The brief explanations you include in the cover letter can cover a lot of territory. You can mention why you are changing careers, or that you are returning to the workforce after successfully raising your children. You can mention that you had to change jobs several times because of company layoffs that were out of your control, or even why you are not overqualified for the job you seek.

Give Me a Chance!

In effect, the cover letter says, “Give me a chance!” Of course, you can’t say it exactly like, that but that is probably what you would like to write. Though you can use a few sentences in the body of the letter to provide additional information, anything you write needs to be positive. The cover letter should not be negative in tone or information.

To write an effective cover letter, you need to identify your strengths and focus on those. If you use your cover letter to provide additional information that expands the resume, it’s important to avoid including a lot of detail. You want to spend your few paragraphs demonstrating you are qualified, enthusiastic and offering the employer many benefits.

Turn a Detriment into a Positive

The cover letter is an important document that accompanies the resume. It can be posted on online job search websites, emailed or mailed along with the resume. Anything a prospective employer can discern by reading between the lines can be quickly dispatched with a direct comment in the letter.

Turn what could be a detriment into a positive by showing how you used that time of unemployment to expand skills that can now be utilized with an employer. Or you can mention how you ran the local charitable organization while a stay-at-home mother and developed outstanding leadership skills.

The bottom line is that the cover letter requires some finesse. You want to keep it simple and direct. It should be enthusiastic, upbeat and honest. In other words, a cover letter for resumes should promote your best interests.

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