Tips for Writing a Killer Cover Letter
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Writing a cover letter for resumes is not difficult, but it does take some research. Here is a Cover Letter Example
Everyone needs to know how to write a cover letter for resumes! Even if the term "Cover Letter" is never mentioned in an advertisement, it's expected that you will write one and include it with your resume.
Always include a cover letter tailored to a specific company and/or position. The cover letter gives you another chance to emphasize what you have to contribute to the company or organization.
Don't give the person screening the resumes a second to entertain the thought: "But how can this person help us?" Your cover letter and resume will answer that question.
I realize that there are some who believe that a cover letter for resumes is a waste of time and that no one pays attention to it. The hiring agencies, managers and recruiters that I have talked to say that if they see a "YOUR NEEDS - MY SKILLS" table (discussed later) in the cover letter, then it is the first part of the resume they read. Just keep that in mind.
What makes an EXCELLENT cover letter for resumes?
- No spelling or typing errors. None!
- Address it to the person who can hire you.
Resumes sent to the Human Resource (HR) Department have a tougher time being seen by the person who will do the hiring. It is HR's duty to ensure that you DO NOT get hired. Their sole purpose in life is to screen out most candidates, so here is where your research comes in.
If you can find out (through networking and researching) exactly who is making the hiring decision, then:
- Address the cover letter to that person and:
- Be sure the name is spelled correctly
- Make sure their title is correct
- Address the person as Mr., Ms., Mrs., Miss, Dr., etc.
The online research sources I recommend are:
- The company's website (If they have one)
- Hoover's Online
- General Search Engines:
- Business Journal
- Your favorite search engine here
I normally start out with a company name search and go from there. If you have the time, your main library (local branches might have them too) should have some excellent sources to research the company that you are interested in. I recommend you try these:
- America's Corporate Families.
- Directory of Corporate Affiliations.
- Mergent/Moody's Industrial Manual.
- Million Dollar Directory.
- Standard & Poor's Corporate Descriptions.
- Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors, and Executives.
- Wards Business Directory of U.S. Private and Public Companies.
- Ward's Private Company Profiles.
These sources list departments, vice presidents, managers, etc.
If you are brave, you can call the company you are interested in or go there personally and talk to the receptionist. Sometimes they will give you the name of the person you need to contact. I have found this rare in my searches, but it does happen. If all else fails, then address the cover letter to HR, but don't expect too much from them.
When writing a cover letter for resumes be sure to write it in your own words so that it sounds more personal. Employers are looking for enthusiasm, knowledge, and focus. Show that you know something about the company and the industry. This is where your research comes in. Don't go overboard--just make it clear that you didn't pick this company out of the phone book. You know who they are and what they do!
Use terms and phrases that are meaningful to the employer. (This is where your industry research and networking pays off) If you are applying for an advertised position, use the requirements in the ad. For example:
Make sure your cover letter contains each of these requirements and how your skills fulfill that need.
One method is the "YOUR NEEDS - MY SKILLS" table in a cover letter. Example:
|Your Needs||My Skills|
|Processing Magnetic Media||Five years Magnetic Media Processing|
|Benefit Plan Design||Benefit Plan Designer at XYZ, Inc.|
|Business Skills Manager||Product Analysis at OAZ, Inc.|
You get the picture. Try to point out as many of your skills that match the company's needs. This makes it easier for the Hiring Manager to see your qualifications up-front. I have found the table very helpful in landing interviews. End your cover letter with a statement that reflects positive and enthusiastic interest. Example:
"I look forward to discussing my qualifications further regarding this exciting opportunity at RST, Inc. Please call me, at your convenience, to arrange an interview."
Remember that the cover letter is the first impression a hiring manager has of you. A generic cover letter is not going to get you an interview.
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