Care and Cautions
Carelessness can be costly when you're job searching. If you misspell an
executive's name, or use an incorrect title, you're unwittingly telling an
employer something about yourself. An easy way to confirm the spelling of a
person's name is to simply pick up the telephone and call the company. A
receptionist will be pleased to supply the information. Overlooked sources of
basic information about many companies can be found from the telephone book,
or at the public library.
If you will be mailing a cover letter and resume by regular post, be
certain to use bond quality paper in a pastel color that would not be
inappropriate for the kind of position.
The Targeted Letter
The customized, targeted letter is aimed at a particular company and
individual you have identified as a prime employment target. The content of
your letter should reflect knowledge of the company and its specific needs.
The Ad Response Letter
Often, an employer will receive hundreds of responses to a single classified
ad. Those responses must then be screened and divided into two piles: yes or no.
Unless your letter is first sorted into the yes pile, you won't stand a chance.
To make the employer's job easier, make certain that your opening paragraph
addresses and satisfies the basic job requirements printed in the ad.
When you've completed a letter, step back and let a friend read it. Some
things that may seem obvious to you, can seem less clear to a more objective
reader. Re-write the letter as many times as it takes, until you're sure that
a reader will say, "Now this is someone I'd like to meet."
Cover Letters That Count!
Employers are receiving more cover letters and resumes than ever before.
May's release of new college grads into the job market will even further the
clutter. To set your self apart from the job-hunting pack, you'll need to have
an effective cover letter. The cover letter is your first opportunity to impress
an employer. It is the first thing they read and, if it's not good, it may be
the only thing the employer reads at all.
First, take time to look at some cover letter examples. CareerLab has a
library of sample cover letters. Similarly, About.com has a cover letter guide
that will walk you through the writing process. Each site contains good examples
of basic letters, however, you'll really need to personalize yours to catch the
Next, jot down some notes on what you want to include in your letter. Match
your skills with the skills the employer is asking for in the job description.
Always address your cover letter to a specific person. If there isn't a contact
person listed in the ad, look online for the name and job title of the person
responsible for hiring but also call the company and verify that person is still
in that position.
Nuts and Bolts
Writing your cover letter may be easier if you divide it into
three sections: The first paragraph states why you are writing. The
next explains why you are ideal for the position. And the final
paragraph closes by stating how you plan to follow-up.
In the first section, indicate how you learned about the
opening and mention the job title. The middle paragraph should relate
your skills and abilities to the qualifications listed in the job
posting. Address how you meet those qualifications with direct examples
from your resume. Be open and clear about what you have to offer the
Throughout the entire letter, use clear and simple sentences so
the reader doesn't have to decipher what you're trying to say. Keep
paragraphs short so they are easy to skim. Proof read. Then proof read
again. Even a small typo can look like a glaring error and may reflect
on your ability to perform accurate work. Read your letter out loud.
Does it make sense? Ask someone else to review it for you. Sometimes
it's hard to catch our own mistakes.
Finally, let the employer know how you plan to follow-up. Be
direct and indicate that you will call to set up an appointment at a
mutually convenient time. If the job ad specifically says not to call,
thank the employer for his or her consideration and let them know you
look forward to hearing from them.
Once you have written the letter, then you will need to make it
look good. The visual appearance of your cover letter is just as
important as that of your resume. Consider using bullets or bold fonts
to draw attention to the skills you wish to highlight.
Print your cover letter on standard size laser bond paper that
matches your resume paper. Use conservative colors like white or beige.
Brightly colored paper will not get you the type of attention you want.
Use one-inch margins and balance your paragraphs on the page. Most
importantly, don't forget to sign your letter. If you are sending a
cover letter via email, cut and paste it into the body of an email
message since many people are leery of opening attachments.
A well-written cover letter is worth the time investment. It's
the first tool an employer will use to decide whether to interview you
or not. So, make your cover letters count!
Co-Founder of ResumeRabbit.com
Cover Letter/Message To Employer
For hiring managers, choosing between two candidates with
comparable resumes often comes down to the content of their cover
letters. Though tailored letters should be written specifically for
each position you're applying to, following these fundamentals can
increase your chances of securing interviews.
Research before you write: The more you know about the employer's needs,
the more compelling your letter can be. Determine your unique selling points:
Set yourself apart. List the top five reasons why you're an excellent candidate.
Constructing the Letter
Heading/Date/Inside Address: Use a standard, business-letter format that matches your resume.
Salutation: Always address a specific person if possible; use "Dear Hiring Manager" if not.
Opening Paragraph: Clearly indicate the position you're applying
for, how you were referred to the opportunity and why you're an
excellent candidate for the job.
Body: Demonstrate how your credentials, experience and track record will benefit the hiring company.
Closing Paragraph: Provide a call to action for the hiring manager; restate you strong interest in an interview.
Complimentary Close and Signature: End with a professional close such as "Best regards," "Sincerely" or "Respectfully."
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