Whether the job is for a life insurance agent, a pharmacy technician, or a medical transcriptionist, you’ll need a cover letter to introduce yourself to your future employer. A cover letter is different from your resume, although it should always accompany the latter when you submit a job application. A cover letter is like your business card, in expanded personal form, announcing who you are and what your intentions are. A resume without an accompanying cover letter is like a police dossier and will probably only end up in the recruiting officer’s waste basket. Most cover letters are job application letters, but they can also be prospecting letters inquiring about available positions or they can be networking letters soliciting information and help in a job search. The cover letter is normally the first formal contact between employer and prospective employee, so it’s good form that you exert some effort to make a good impression of yourself—or your application withers and dies at the door. Writing an effective cover letter takes a little time to master, but once you get the hang of it, the writing should be a breeze. The cover-letter writer should remember that the cover letter complements the resume. Its reason for being is to present the highlights of the resume in a way that best answers the requirements of the job position and best presents the personality of the applicant. Specifically, it should make clear why you’re interested to be a part of the company and emphasize your specific and most relevant skills and experiences. It also must show that you’re very knowledgeable about the position. Some tips concerning the letter’s format: Body of the cover letter. This is the meat of the letter. The most basic pieces of information that should appear here are: the position you’re applying for, the reasons why you’re the right person for the job, and how you’ll follow up. First paragraph. This part of the letter should say why you’re writing, what position you’re applying for, and where you read the job listing. Middle paragraph(s). The middle paragraphs should identify what you have to offer to the employer, specifically explaining how your qualifications meet the requirements of the job position. The operant word here is match. Last paragraph. End the letter gracefully by thanking the employer for considering your application. Don’t forget to include information about how you can be contacted.