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Five Things A Cover Letter Can Show That A Resume Canít

These days, the professional cover letter has taken a backseat to its much more popular cousin, the resume. Although it is often seen as stuffy, antiquated, and even frivolous, the cover letter actually has the power to establish the all-important first impression. And what you put in that letter could be the catalyst that sets you apart and gets you an interview.

Though many people underestimate the importance of a cover letter, one reason is because many donít really know what goes into it. It is actually a great place to catch a hiring managerís attention and showcase things that just canít be communicated as well in a resume.†

Like a resume, a cover letter can give highlights of your career accomplishments, a brief summary of your career path, and your relevant skills required for the position. But, what can a cover letter make an employer see about you that a resume often canít?†

1. Your ability to sell yourself.†Though a resume is where you sell your skills and experiences, a great place to sell yourself as a strong investment is in the cover letter. This is not just for those of you in sales Ė everyone is expected to sell themselves! Being able to do so shows you are assertive and confident about your abilities. Take the time to create a compelling opening paragraph and hook the hiring manager or recruiter right away!†

2. Your reasons for job gaps or choppy work history.†You may have taken time off work to go back to school or care for an ill relative, but that isnít something easily explained (or appropriate to state) in a resume. A short, concise paragraph should provide honest, yet tactful answers into any questions about the chronology of your work history.

3. Your reasons for seeking a new job.†Unless you are unemployed, giving a reason why you are looking for a new job can be insightful for an employer. There is no need to go into detail or badmouth your current/past employer, but a simple statement about wanting to grow in your field or change your career path would be sufficient. This statement is especially useful if you have a unique situation driving your job search.

4. Your reasons for changing careers (if applicable).†If you have spent 20 years in investment banking are now pursuing a career in teaching, the hiring managerís first question will be, ďWhy the change?Ē Offering some insight will give them perspective about you and where you are career-wise. Not explaining your reasons for changing careers could even make an employer think you are desperate to apply for any old job (even those not in your field), or worse yet, make them think you accidentally applied for the wrong job! †

5. Your personality!†Unless they are professionally written, most resumes are boring, conventional, and show very little personality. Employers are interested in not just your hard skills, but also your ability to excite, collaborate, motivate, sell, create, lead, and grow. What better way to show you have these abilities than in the language you use in your cover letter? Let your real personality come out in your cover letter and it will complement the skills and experiences you showcase in your resume. †

In addition to the above, a cover letter is a great place to present client/colleague testimonials or give background information about a corporate award you earned. These are just some reasons why a cover letter should not be looked at as a less popular cousin to the resume, but rather an equal and complementary partnerScience Articles, helping to establish you as the best candidate for the job!

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Cathy Eng is a Certified Advanced Resume Writer (CARW), author, and owner of Resume Rocketeer, Inc. With corporate expertise spanning marketing, communications, operations, and human resources, Cathy boasts a distinctive talent for maximizing client experiences to create compelling and effective resumes and cover letters that consistently win interviews. An accomplished author, Cathy also holds a B.S. in Journalism. For a free resume analysis, visit

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