In today's working world, the competition is staggering. With over 300 million people in the USA, finding a good job is a tough chore for almost any American. National estimates show that your average American citizen can be on the jobhunt for almost 9 months! With competition like that, you're going to need an edge if you want to find any kind of decent job.
Such an edge does exist. It's not a sure-fire employer snare, but it can drastically raise your chances of getting a better job and cut down your time spent out of work. It's all about the cover letter.
The right cover letter is like showing up to your interview in a beautiful, perfectly-fitted Armani suit. It exudes professionalism, makes you look good, and makes you appealing to employers. Now imagine that same interview, except you show up in a ratty pile of rags that look like you stole them off of a bum on the street. Imagine that interview going a little differently? That's what the wrong cover letter is like. And the worst thing is, to use no cover letter is like showing up naked! Yikes!
Now, first elimination is always the cover letter. The people who show up naked to their interviews get thrown out first, while the guys with the best, most expensive suits go much further. The better your cover letter, the better you start out. Of course you'll have to be qualified for the job and ace your real interview, but a great cover letter can GET you that interview.
So what do you do to improve your cover letter? Why don't you try looking at some example cover letters that have worked for other people? It'd be a bad idea to copy someone else's letter, but learning from examples and utilizing someone else's technique is pure genius. Ask yourself a variety of questions as you read the examples, such as why this worked for them and what makes it different from yours.
And another good thing about taking this particular road is that you'll also be building important critical thinking and analysis skills. That sounds boring and difficult, but it's really not a big deal, and it looks really good to employers. Skills like that make you valuable as an employee, and that means job security.
And if you pay attention to nothing else that I say in this article, pay attention to this: the cover letter has two very important key purposes, and if they aren't met you should consider it a failure. It must both outline your qualifications for the job, and above all push for an interview. Now, the first is fairly obvious. A cover letter goes with a resume, so of course it'll want to describe your skills and qualifications.
However, you must remember that the highest priority of your cover letter is to promote and/or request an interview with the potential employer. If your cover letter doesn't do this, rewrite it. Never forget that making perhaps the single most important part of applying for a job is getting the jump from "the next piece of paper in the large stack" to "person sitting in my office" in the minds of your potential employers. You are no longer just another application, and instead become a serious potential employee...that's when the cover letter can be considered a success.