Whether you e-mail, fax or snail-mail your
resume, you'll want to include a cover letter. This document can direct
the reader to the meat of your resume and establish rapport between you
and the potential employer. Here are some important ideas to keep in
mind as you compose your letters:
- Purpose - Not only does your letter
serve as an ambassador for you, introducing your credentials, but an
effective letter must also generate the reader's interest in you.
Ultimately you want to prompt a favorable reply.
- Audience - Keep in mind the
perspective of the person who will be reading your letter. He/she is
not interested in what YOU want, but rather in what value you will
bring to the organization. What you convey should prove of interest
enough to lead an employer (or recruiter) to want to interview you.
- Structure - A letter should be
- introductory paragraph that is
interest-generating, states or implies interest
- value-selling paragraph that
demonstrates your ability to add value
- highlights of your key strengths and
- background summary that briefly
describes your relevant education and experience
- statement that either compels or
insures follow-up action
- statement of appreciation
- Point of View - Write your letters
in the first person; yet vary your sentences with beginning phrases
and clauses so that each line does not start with "I."
- Match Needs with Qualifications -
List the requirements of the job side-by-side with your
qualifications for a response to a job ad. Doing so will show the
reader you have the right stuff and will simplify the process of
reading your letter.
- Good Writing Requires Rewriting -
Don't be satisfied with your first draft. Let your first draft be a
stream of consciousness. After you let your ideas flow, go back and
review your writing for glaring grammatical errors. Edit to remove
unnecessary words and phrases. Limit your paragraphs to six or seven
lines, so you don't overwhelm the reader.
- Appearance - Proof your letters
carefully. Have someone else review them. Don't rely on a computer
spell-checker. A word may be correctly spelled but inappropriate for
- Networking - A letter can be an
entr�e to a person who can lead you to a job opportunity.
- Start with a mention of the person who
referred you to the contact.
- Provide a brief summary of your career
- Maintain the initiative by suggesting
a meeting and that you will call for an appointment.
- Follow Up Letters - Every meeting
and interview should result in a follow-up letter. Reiterate the
high points of the meeting and include ideas that distinguish you
from the pack.
- Stay in Touch - Maintain visibility
by sending letters periodically to your key contacts. Look for
articles of interest to include to "gift" the receiver with
information they can use to better do their job.