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The Perfect Cover Letter

  1. When responding to an ad in the newspaper, use the cover letter and resume method. Most applications are initially screened by human resources departments, and they tend to favor this traditional approach.
  2. A cover letter is sent to an employer along with the job seeker's resume. It serves as an introduction and states why the job seeker is a good fit with the prospective employer's company.
  3. A broadcast letter is a hybrid of a resume and a cover letter. It is not accompanied by a resume and therefore must, on its own, convince the employer that you deserve a job interview.
  4. Your cover letter may be your first opportunity to show interest, not just in any job or any employer, but in a particular job and a specific employer.
  5. A letter that reveals personality is one that says you're "selling" a completely unique product—you—since there's no one else with exactly your character!
  6. When an employer first gets your cover letter and resume in hand, you have only eight seconds to convince him to read your information in detail. We're talking about a quick scan by a very busy manager! For that reason, it's vital that you format your material so that it's inviting and quick to scan.
  7. Research is a key factor in creating a successful letter—learn as much as possible about your reader's company.
  8. If you want to create a cover letter that generates immediate results (such as a phone call for an interview) instead of one that goes unread, then think of your letter as a marketing piece instead of a stodgy "form" letter.
  9. When researching to whom your letter should be sent, be sure to get the correct spelling of the employer's name, as well as his or her exact job title.
  10. Sending a dynamite cover letter with your resume adds a personal touch that increases the chance of your resume being read by employers.
  11. Contrary to what you may think, you cover letter is not a formal letter—it's a marketing piece that serves to introduce you. So, refer to yourself the way you like to be addressed. If your first name is Elizabeth, but everyone calls you Beth, feel free to use "Beth" in your letterhead. Middle initials are optional.
  12. When creating your letterhead, place your name in the center or on the right-hand side of the page.
  13. Right from the start of your letter, give the hiring manager a sense of your communication style. This is one way for the employer to know how you'll fit into his team.
  14. Don't (I repeat: don't) start with a hackneyed line (such as "I am responding to your add ...," "I would like to apply for ...," "enclosed, please find my resume ...") that sounds like all the other cover letters in the world. You want to make an introduction that is uniquely yours, and doesn't sound like it's from an automation.
  15. The goal of your letter is to turn a monologue (your letter) into a dialogue (an interview) with your prospective employer. To achieve this objective, show sincere interest in your reader's needs, which in turn will spark his interest in you.

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