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Effective Cover Letter Techniques
Applying for a new job, or a new career, can be a major task if you are not prepared with knowledge about yourself and techniques for revealing the best information about yourself when you are applying through the mail for a new position. Sending your resume off through the mail can often seem like you are blindly putting yourself ”out there” for everyone to look at and review. But if you use the information in this article, you can create a cover letter to accompany your resume, one that will get you in the door for an interview. Taking that step from mailing your resume to actually getting an interview is one that many people find difficult, but it does not have to be. The first thing you really need to get a handle on is how to convey your skills, your abilities, and your flexibility in accepting a new position with any company.
What is a cover letter?
- A cover letter is a brief introduction about you and why you are seeking employment with this particular company. If you are writing a cover letter and you are including all the same information that is listed on your resume, you are not going to get the response you want from the company. What you want to do with a cover letter is to catch the eye of the screener without being repetitive.
- Remember that sometimes when business mail is opened, it is passed on to the first logical person to read—but that first person is not always the person who does the actual hiring! Catching the eye of the person reading the cover letters and resume can be done if you are short and to the point in what you are writing about yourself. Remember, you don’t want to list all the information you have on your resume, but you want to tantalize the reader with specialty items and topics.
What specialty topics should you address with your cover letter?
- Your cover letter is a short introduction to you. The first paragraph is generally an opening statement about the position you are applying for, something along the lines of "I am applying for the position of X that was advertised in the Y paper or at the Z career listing service."
- You must use that first paragraph to stand out, including a statement such as "I feel I am a great candidate for this position, as I have the [skills, education, life experience, or whatever you might have to fit this position best]." Make the sentence short, and be sure to leave out the word "because." You want to make an action statement that you are proud of, a statement that makes your cover letter one that is full of confidence. As you come across with professionalism and confidence in your skills, experience, and abilities, the potential employer is going to notice this and put you on the short list.
- Along with a sentence about the position you are applying for and a statement about why you feel you are a great candidate for this position, you also need to emphasize that your personality fits the company. Make a statement that fits you as well as the position you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a position in marketing, you can state: “I am a very well-versed, outgoing person who can strike up a conversation with anyone in almost all situations.” This is something that may not be appropriate on your resume, but that will be important to this type of position.
What is going to make your cover letter stand out at a glance?
- You want the cover letter to be typed, never hand-written. You need to get the point across that you are professional when applying for a professional position!
- You need the cover letter to be clean, crisp, and on paper that will match your resume. In using good stock paper for writing a resume, you should use the same paper for your cover letter. This is professional and good practice.
- You always need to sign your cover letter. Taking the time to personalize your cover letter, and taking the time to sign your cover letter will make the potential employer realize you are complete and thorough in what you do.
- Never include an e-mail that might embarrass you! This is important. Many times, people from around the world use e-mail addresses that reveal just a little too much about their personal life. One time I received a cover letter and resume from a very good candidate. She was not put into the short list for interviews simply because of her email. The email was firstname.lastname@example.org. This was not something that should have ever been listed or included on a resume. I am sure you get the point, but there are many types of e-mails you can create that will include your name, and that emit a great professional appearance without giving too much personal information. This is a must.
- The final statement of your cover letter should include a sentence stating that you are available at a certain day and time, or if you are available any time for an interview. Including a statement that you will be waiting to hear from the company about when interviews will be scheduled is important. An effective cover letter is going to make the statement that you are interested, that you fit the position, and that you are ready for an interview. Including a statement that “I will be expecting your call about scheduling an interview for this position” is a strong statement, but it will show you are confident in thinking you are well qualified for the position that is open.
An effective cover letter should not only state the position you are applying for, but should also include information about your personal skills and confidence levels about doing this job. To make sure your cover letter is complete, you should include the date you are writing the letter, the complete business name and address of where you are applying, and your signature in closing of your letter.
- Linda Matias
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