Cover Letters: More Helpful Hints
We're not talking about Amsterdam's Red Light District. We're talking about finding a job. Cover letters are your first sales pitch to potential employers. Remember that employers receive hundreds of resumes and cover letters from people that are applying for the job YOU want. Your goal is to stand out from the other candidates. A good cover letter introduces you to an employer and explains why you are one of the best candidates applying for a job with the organization. It should motivate the employer to read your resume and hopefully invite you to interview for a position you are seeking.
What does a cover letter do? Basically, it expands on your resume and lets you write about yourself in a more personal way. Cover letters don't have to be stiff and formal--avoid the "rubber stamp" letter. The voice behind the letter should be warm, friendly and genuine. Employers want to hire real people, not robots. Although your letter should reflect your personality, always keep your audience in mind. Catchy opening sentences are wonderful for creative jobs in communications and advertising, but Wall Street might not appreciate it. Before you send out your cover letter, show it to someone in the industry to get feedback.
Ten Basic Rules:
Contact Person's Name
Your full name (typed)
1111 School Street
January 1, 2000
Ms. Snapple Lady, Director of College Recruiting
Dear Ms. Snapple:
I am writing to express my interest in the marketing position you recently advertised with the Career Services Office at Stonehill College. I will be graduating from Stonehill College this May with a degree in Management Science and I am very interested in beginning a career in sales and marketing with Snapple Industries.
You will note from the enclosed resume that many of my extracurricular and work experiences involved the organization, promotion and publicizing of events. I have had direct sales experience soliciting potential customers for We Three Caterers and have been successful in managing employees in various capacities. Perhaps the most challenging and rewarding experience I have had was working with Congressman Kool and the organizing committee of the Stonehill College Literary Festival. I am confident that I have the sales and managerial skills required to be a contributing member of the Snapple organization.
A letter and resume can tell you only so much about my motivations and qualifications. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss my background with you in person. I will call you at the end of next week to discuss whether such a meeting would be possible and to confirm appropriate next steps.
Thank you for your consideration.
253 Brompton Road
January 1, 2000
Mr. Richard Smith
Dear Mr. Smith:
In response to your recent advertisement in the Boston Sunday Globe, I would like to apply for the position of Personnel Assistant.
I recently read with interest an article about Adams Products, Incorporated, in the Journal of Industrial Relations. Your research in the area of employee maximization through quality of life considerations is an exciting development and I would like to begin my career in labor relations with your company.
My qualifications are based upon a unique combination of education, skills, and work experience. While completing my major in Management at Stonehill College, I studied topics including strategic management, cost accounting and economic theory. This was combined with twelve hours of psychology which included coursework in motivation theory and workplace ecology. These courses gave me an understanding of the concerns facing the personnel specialist. This knowledge is complemented by practical experience of employer-employee relations gained while working first as a clerk and then as an evening manager in a retail store.
My resume is enclosed for your further consideration. I am available for an interview at your convenience, and I look forward to discussing with you the contribution I can make to Adams Products in the position of personnel assistant. Thank you for your consideration.
Tips For Writing Cover Letters
Aaah...the dreaded cover letter. Or is it? Cover letters are actually a great way to set yourself apart from the rest if you write it correctly.
Cover letters allow you to actually get your personalized message across to the hiring manager or possible interviewer. The key is to be brief and direct...just like a resume...the person on the other end will want to quickly read your cover letter...so make sure you don't write a short story.
Use the cover letter to peak the interest of the reader. The purpose here is to get the reader interested so that he/she will want to examine your resume.
Keep reading below for some of the finer points to writing effective cover letters. Use a combination of these tips and fine tune your cover letter for maximum results!
Tips For Writing a Cover Letter
Cover Letter Basics You Need To Know
The cover letter has one primary purpose: to generate interest in order to land an interview. With this in mind, writing an engaging cover letter is crucial.
These 9 cover letter writing tips will help ensure that your next cover letter attracts ample (positive) attention.
1. It's Expected.
In nearly all cases, a cover letter should accompany every resume that you send out. This is a basic part of business etiquette and failure to do so could make you appear clueless. As a general rule, unless specifically instructed to NOT send a cover letter, it is safe to assume that one is expected.
2. Using E-Mail.
It is perfectly acceptable to send your cover letter (and resume) electronically. When distributing these items via e-mail, make the cover letter the body of the message and add your resume as an attachment. The subject line should include your name and the position you desire. Send the message from a job search only email address that you check at least twice a day.
3. Be Unique.
A canned cover letter screams laziness. Do you really want this to be a prospective employer’s first impression of you? It is expected that you tailor each letter to the specific company. Tailoring can be as simple as describing what drew you to the company or mentioning how you enjoyed speaking with the company representatives at a job fair.
4. Avoid Careless Errors.
The people who make hiring decisions often have numerous applicants to consider in a minimal amount of time; they often must make quick decisions. A misspelled word or grammatical slip-up may be all it takes to end your chances of landing an interview. Take the time to proofread. Also, have your most meticulous friend or family member look over each cover letter.
5. Brevity Is A Virtue.
Ideally a cover letter should be around two-thirds of a page in length and composed of two to three paragraphs. Never send a cover letter over a page long. Sentences should be precise and crisp. Avoid flowery words and redundant phrases. Hiring managers are busy people. If your cover letter looks like it will take more than a minute to read, chances are it will be tossed on the reject pile.
6. Address It To A Person.
Whenever possible address your cover letter to a specific person at the company (preferably someone with hiring authority). If you cannot obtain a name, then consider addressing your letter to the department head of the area that you are interested in (e.g. Director of Marketing). Letters addressed to HR departments have a greater chance of getting lost in the paper shuffle.
7. Describe Your Qualifications.
Use the body of the letter to give a quick overview of your skills and proficiencies. Describe success you have had in the past using your talents. If possible, obtain a job description of the position you seek. Using this as a guide, focus on including your strengths that could benefit the employer and the job. Bullet points may be used in order to convey your points more concisely.
8. Remember The Details.
Cover letters, just like resumes, should be printed on quality paper. Generally this means a watermarked paper with 25% cotton content in white or ivory. Print each cover letter on a laser printer; copies even on good paper will not do. Sign each letter in pen (blue ink is preferable). There should be no smudges, stains or even correction fluid on your letter.
9. Don't Re-hash Your Resume.
Your cover letter should not replicate your resume. The cover letter is your chance to add information that does not generally fit into a standard resume, such as why you want to work for the company. Take advantage of this opportunity to distinguish yourself.
Next time you write a cover letter, remember these 9 tips to ensure that you have the basics in place. A well written cover letter will help you get noticed and stand out among the competition.
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