Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Resume Tips - Session 3 --More About "Cover Letter"

Resume Tips - Session 3 --More About "Cover Letter"
What Employers Expect in a Cover Letter
·         Tailored skills from the job description - 33%
·         Clarity (specifying job applied to) - 26%
·         Details from resume - 20%
·         Your (personal) value - 19%
As you can see, employers expect personalized cover letters that show them why you are a strong fit for the position and a valuable candidate worth taking the time to interview.
That said, in defense of applicants who are sending cover letters as though they were 140 character tweets, it can be hard to justify taking the time to write a customized cover letter, especially when you don't hear back from employers after sending out, in some cases, hundreds of cover letters and resumes.
It's tough when you put effort into applying - over and over again - and your applications get lost in the "black hole" of the Internet.
Required Cover Letters
The bottom line though is that if an employer requests a cover letter, you need to send one - a real cover letter, not a sentence or two. It's in your best interest to send one even if it's not a requirement.
Create a Cover Letter Template
One way to make cover letter writing a little easier is to start with a cover letter template, customize it to include some basic information about your skills and experience. Save your cover letter as a Word document with a file name that's easy to recognize i.e. coverlettertemplate.doc.
Personalize Your Cover Letter
Each time you apply for a job, open your cover letter template document and create a new version of your cover letter. Personalize what is now your cover letter template to fit the job requirements of the postions you apply to.
Edit the contact information section to include the information for the new employer. Edit the salutation with the new hiring manager's name, if you have it. Edit the first paragraph of your letter to reflect the job you're applying to and where you found the posting.
Personalize the body of the cover letter and relate your skills to the job description. Your final paragraph, closing and signature won't need to be changed.
Be sure to save your cover letter with a new file name (File Save As) so you have a copy of each cover letter you send to employers.
Tweaking is easier than starting from scratch and it won't take long to write a tailored cover letter and you'll make a much better impression than if you simply say here is my resume.
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:
Body of Cover Letter
The body of your cover letter lets the employer know what position you are applying for, why the employer should select you for an interview, and how you will follow-up.
First Paragraph:
The first paragraph of your letter should include information on why you are writing. Mention the position you are applying for. Include the name of a mutual contact, if you have one. Be clear and concise regarding your request. Convince the reader that they should grant the interview or appointment you requested in the first paragraph.
Middle Paragraphs:
The next section of your cover letter should describe what you have to offer the employer. Make strong connections between your abilities and their needs. Mention specifically how your skills and experience match the job you are applying for. Remember, you are interpreting your resume, not repeating it. Try to support each statement you make with a piece of evidence. Use several shorter paragraphs or bullets rather than one large block of text.
Final Paragraph:
Conclude your cover letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position. Include information on how you will follow-up. State that you will do so and indicate when (one week's time is typical). You may want to reduce the time between sending out your resume and follow up if you fax or e-mail it.
Complimentary Close:
Respectfully yours,

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