A cover letter is one of the documents that will introduce you as a candidate to an employer. The other document is the résumé. Thoughtful, well-written and succinct documents will catch an employer's attention and place you above the rest of the applicants. Remember, you'll have limited opportunity in these short documents to make an impression. Employers will typically spend less than 30 seconds scanning an application ... so always put your best effort into their preparation.
The Cover Letter
The cover letter serves as an introduction. It supplements the résumé and should be customized for each employer. In order to accomplish that, you should first find out everything you can about the potential place of employment. The Internet is a good place to start. Typically, a cover letter should be three paragraphs long:
Your cover letter and résumé should show enthusiasm for the desired position. Make sure any voice mail messages and email addresses reflect a professional image.
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