Archive for the ‘Cover Letters’ Category
You might wonder if a cover letter is necessary when you submit a resume. Unless otherwise instructed, a cover letter should accompany every resume, as a cover letter compels your reader to review your resume.
Your resume presents factual information about your qualifications, experience, and educational credentials, which present you as a good match for a position based on the content in a job posting. It is common for job seekers to use one resume for several employment contacts. While this is a customary practice for job postings with similar job responsibilities, a cover letter lets you personalize your resume package for a specific job opportunity.
You no doubt have value-added skills that are above and beyond those listed as the fundamental job requirements. These skills can distinguish you from other candidates. A cover letter lets you present this information and add value to your marketability.
In your resume package, your cover letter is an informative and even fun way to demonstrate that you can communicate in a clear and concise fashion. You do this with the words you use, the tone of the letter, and the visual presentation.
Although there are no set rules to creating cover letters, the following are some guidelines:
Be brief. Cover letters are not essays. Use one page to communicate who you are, what you can do for your potential employer, and why you are the best candidate for the position.
Be professional, yet personal. Avoid using the same tone and language you use in your resume. Address your reader as if you were speaking to him or her in person. Your cover letter should add to whatever is in your resume, not repeat it.
Tell who you are. Open the letter with a clear statement of who you are and what you do. Don’t make your reader search for that information in the body of the letter or worse, have to interpret the content of the letter to figure it out.
Maintain consistency. Use the same heading format on all documents within your resume package (resume, cover letter, references, follow-up letters, thank you letters).
Highlight your value-added skills. Spotlight your skills that do not appear in your resume such as your work ethics, teamwork ability, and skills that are not listed as requirements for the job but are useful to the organization.
Explain why you want to work for the company. Do you like their product or service, their financial standing, their position in the industry, or their direction for the future? Companies like to know that you have interest in their organization, not that you simply need a new job.
Proof, proof, proof. Make sure that your letter is clear, concise, and error free. Make a checklist that addresses grammar, punctuation, and words that are spelled correctly but are out of context (form instead of from, you instead of your, etc.). Use this checklist for your own proofreading, and have someone else read your letter as well, if possible.
A cover letter can make the difference between getting an interview and getting passed over. Use a cover letter to help boost your chances of getting the job offer.
Are you sending out dozens of resumes each week but getting no response? Do you feel discouraged by a tough job market and your competition?
In your efforts to get noticed, you should keep one thing in mind: Put yourself in the hiring manager’s place. Ask yourself, “What would the employer think of my resume in the initial few seconds she takes to read it?” Even if you’re exactly right for the job, you may never be asked to interview unless you make the proper first impression with a well-written resume and cover letter. Use these tips to guide you:
- Manage the content and format effectively. The content and format of your resume are very important. A resume that employs a tiny font and has too much information will be quickly passed over by a hiring manager in favor of a clean, easy-to-read, well-spaced document. Use bullet points and even-spaced margins. Don’t make the mistake of including every single thing you did at a previous job. Instead, list key accomplishments and major, progressive responsibilities that highlight your skills. You can then expand on your previous responsibilities in a cover letter and during the first interview.
- Make the content of your resume reflect transferable skills related to the position for which you’re applying. Hiring managers often glance at a resume looking for key phrases and buzz words that they want in their ideal next employee. Take the time to tailor your resume specifically to a job description. Including key phrases from the description may get you past the employers’ web-based application filter as well as generate enough interest for a first interview.
- Keep your resume free of spelling and grammatical errors. You want to convey that you are professional and detail-oriented, can write well, and take your work seriously. One glance at a resume with spelling and grammatical errors might cause an employer to think you are sloppy, make mistakes, and are wasting his or her time. Take the time to proofread your resume. (Don’t depend on the computer spell checker) Then have someone you trust review it for you.
- Your cover letter should always express your interest in the specific job. Does the position give you an opportunity to expand your skill set? Is the company dynamic and progressive? Clearly convey your strong interest in the company and position, and then explain why you’re the ideal candidate. This shows you have done your homework on the company and truly want to work there.
Putting the employer first by having a tailored cover letter and well-written resume will ensure you have submitted the best possible representation of yourself, bringing you a step closer to getting that interview and job offer.
You’ve heard the hype about the economy—there aren’t any jobs to be had, and things are tough all over the country. But since when do you listen to the naysayers?
Sure, you’re not going to step out of college and into a CFO position, but you’re also not stepping into a part-time job selling hot dogs on the side of the road. Being realistic about your opportunities goes both ways, and the most fatal mistake job seekers make is selling themselves short.
Congratulations, you have a college degree! Maybe you weren’t in the top of your class with a full academic scholarship, but you have a higher education, and that means something to hiring managers. What it means exactly is that you have the latest information about your field of study. You’ve most likely worked with cutting-edge technology. And, you’re not so set in your ways that you can’t be trained. This gives you a distinct advantage over people who aren’t fresh out of school. When you go to interviews, remember this.
College graduates have something many other job applicants don’t have. Enthusiasm! All things being equal, someone with a positive attitude will get the job over someone who is jaded, indifferent, or world weary. It’s not all about what you know. It’s also about who you are. Show hiring managers that you’re someone other people would want to work with.
Employers are looking for long-term investments and are hopeful that you will be loyal to their company. When they ask you what your five-year plan is, don’t tell them that you hope to be traveling in Europe, nor should you point to the company president and say, “I want to be there.” Consider your audience.
Don’t be so confident that you think everyone should want you. Always tailor your resume and cover letter for each position. Follow up with a phone call. If you don’t hear from the employer in four weeks, send another letter with another resume. Call again. Don’t give up until you’ve heard a definitive answer. If it’s a “no,” send a thank you letter anyway to ask that they keep you in mind for any future positions. Repeat for each job search. If you want an employer to see you’re willing to go the extra mile, show them up front.
Being a realist when it comes to job searching is hard work. Sure, it takes work to get work. But landing a job and putting yourself on the road to a successful career is worth it.