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Chapter I. Selling Yourself on Paper
Resume Cover Letters
The cover letter is a key step in the successful job search. It is the first thing the employer will see and read. Your resume is not addressed to anyone in particular; however the cover letter always gives you the opportunity to address one specific person. Make the letter versatile so you can change it for each employer. Never write a form letter to be duplicated and sent out!

Your cover letter must be brief and interesting, and ensure that your resume will be read. The first 20 words are most important; they should attract the reader's attention.

There are two types of letters you may write. One is an answer to a specific advertisement, and the other is a letter of inquiry to an employer who has not advertised. Remember to keep copies of all correspondence you send and receive during your job search.

Ten Tips for Great Cover Letters

A cover letter is a sales tool. It should always accompany your resume or application. Here are a ten tips for great letters:

    Always include important information. Your name, address, and phone number (with area code) should be clearly visible on every cover letter you send.

    Make it personal--address a specific person within the company. If necessary, call for a contact name. "Dear Sir/Madam" letters are less likely to get attention than those addressed to an individual.

    Make the opening sentence catchy. Employers scan cover letters for content: Who is it for? What's the opener? Attention-grabbing first sentences (those that address the interests of the employer) will encourage the recipient to read on.

    Write each letter for a specific job. There is no such thing as a generic cover letter. Each job you apply for is different. Show how you meet the needs of a given job. Refer to the specific job in the first paragraph.

    Describe your skills as they relate to the job! Here is a chance to highlight several additional skills. Tie your experience to your job skills and relate your skills to the job description.

    Type and proof-read your cover letter. First impressions are important. Appear professional by not making mistakes.

    Be brief--use descriptive action words. Employers receive hundreds of cover letters and resumes daily, so get right to the point with as few words as possible.

    Be confident, creative and upbeat! Next to your resume, your cover letter is your best selling tool. Let your personality come through.

    Avoid negatives. If there has been a health or some other problem (ex-offender, etc.), the cover letter is not the place to mention it. Discuss employment gaps in interviews.

    Always end with an action you will take. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to end the letter asking the employer to respond. You have to be assertive. Call the employer to make sure your cover letter and resume arrived and to set up an interview.

Sample Letter

Note how Laura takes the highlights of her qualifications and compares them to the job requirements. (See sample resume - Clerical/Managerial)

Mr. Howard Peterson
Jackson Industries
62-15 W. 58th Avenue
Astoria, NY 11160

Dear Mr. Peterson,

I am responding to your advertisement in today's New York Times for an Office Manager. As I read the requirements, I am struck with how similar they are to my background and skills.

Bachelor's in Business Bachelor's in Business
from C.W. Post, 1979
Bi-lingual I speak Spanish, French and Portuguese
10 years experience managing diverse
offices in manufacturing settings
7 years as Office Manager,
Gaetano International - Widget Division
Brooklyn, NY
6 years Assistant Office Manager,
ABC Manufacturing Hempstead, L.I.

I am a motivated self-starter with excellent inter-personal skills. I enjoy working in a manufacturing setting and feel I have the knowledge and background to be a true asset to you.

I have enclosed a copy of my resume for your review. I look forward to sharing with you how I feel I might fit into your organization. I will be in touch with you early next week to discuss the possibility of arranging for an interview.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 516-555-1212. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to meeting with you!



Laura Hernandez

Copyright 2008 Career Planning Associates. Distributed by Pearson.
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