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M. Reber © 5/9/2015 Cover Letters Your Introduction to a Prospective Employer.

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Presentation on theme: "M. Reber © 5/9/2015 Cover Letters Your Introduction to a Prospective Employer."— Presentation transcript:

1 M. Reber © 5/9/2015 Cover Letters Your Introduction to a Prospective Employer

2 2 Cover Letters Overview What a Cover Letter Is Not What a Cover Letter Is What an Effective Cover Letter Does Cover Letter Design Cover Letter Content How to Address Difficult Issues Cover Letter Do’s Cover Letter Don’ts Why Write a Cover Letter Sending a Cover Letter

3 3 What a Cover Letter Is Not Merely a formality or an afterthought to accompany your resume A comprehensive rehash or a summary of your resume A catalogue of all your past jobs or duties A chance to tell your life’s story

4 4 What a Cover Letter Is Your first contact with the company A complement, not a duplicate of your resume A tool to make you stand out from other applicants Proof that you understand the company’s needs and requirements Evidence that you are qualified, enthusiastic, and talk the talk A chance to briefly explain potential concerns (e.g. work gaps)

5 5 What an Effective Cover Letter Does Offers you as the culmination of your relevant work experience, skills, characteristics, and strengths Synthesizes your experience to show you to be a sum greater than your parts Markets you as your own unique brand Shows you can communicate well and are self confident and literate Makes the reader want to talk to you Gets you an interview

6 6 Cover Letter Design Design a personalized letterhead Use 1 inch margins on all sides Left justify (not full) all body text Use single space throughout Use one blank line between paragraphs with no paragraph indentation (except where noted) Ensure a 1 page maximum Print on lb. weight professional paper Ensure correct watermark orientation Use a high quality laser printer

7 7

8 8 Cover Letter Content Reference identification (RE: Job ID in source name) and transmission note (Via to are Salutation  Find out name of person responsible for hiring and address letter to this specific person (check online or call company if needed)  If name is unavailable, use specific job title of the individual  If you can’t identify name or job title, use "Dear Hiring Manager”  Don’t use “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam”

9 9 Cover Letter Content (cont.) Introductory paragraph  States briefly the specific position and how you learned of it  Grabs the reader’s attention from the very first sentence, and entices the reader to read on Body paragraphs:  Write 1-3 concise body paragraphs, 2-5 sentences per paragraph, each devoted to a distinct set of skills or experience relevant to the job  Use an effective topic sentence for each paragraph  Use phrases and descriptions from the job announcement and/or the company website to describe your skills and achievements  If necessary, explain circumstances that the resume can't (employment gaps, etc.)

10 10 Cover Letter Content (cont.) Closing paragraph:  Thank the reader  State the next step: calling to arrange an interview at the employer's convenience or wait for recipient of letter to call  Be sure to include your contact information

11 11 How to Address Difficult Issues Lack of experience or skills  If you have nearly all required skills, don’t mention minor deficiencies  If you are lacking only preferred skills, don’t address deficiencies  If you have only about 70% of the required skills, explain how you can be successful with your skills even if you lack some key requirements Don’t mention in the first body paragraph. Begin with examples of what you can do and how you’d be an excellent fit. Mention lacking skill towards end of the letter after the reader is interested Put admission at the beginning of a sentence and follow up with why you believe you can do the job anyway. End the sentence on a high note.  Example: “While I may not yet be a certified paralegal, 5+ years experience working directly with a Chief IP Counsel has allowed me to develop the appropriate skills…”

12 12 Sample: Lack of Experience

13 13 How to Address Difficult Issues (cont.) Gap in work history  If the gap was 6 months or less, don’t mention  If the gap was up to a year but you have had significant and consistent work experience since, avoid mentioning it  If the gap was for a significant amount of time, but you have had some limited work experience since then, you may need to address it  If you are currently unemployed and have been for close to a year or more, you must address it Mention shortly the cause of the gap Describe the valuable skills/qualifications/volunteer work you acquired while not working  Example: “After raising a family for several years…” or “After earning a degree in Technical Writing … ”  Education is the best way to cover a gap!!

14 14 How to Address Difficult Issues (cont.) Request for salary information  Stating your salary may screen your application out because you are outside a pre-established range  NOT providing required info may disqualify your application Avoid identifying a salary requirement as long as you can If/when required, check salary ranges for desired job online Do not mention your salary requirement until you have sold yourself as well as possible (put at end of cover letter) State a salary range, rather than an exact number Focus on your desired salary range rather than your current salary State your salary range with the caveat that the job challenge is the priority and salary considerations are negotiable  Example: “My desired salary range is $X-X, but my compensation requirements are negotiable depending on the total package and the opportunity for growth.”  To get an idea of the salary range for the desired position, check “salary.com” or “salary.monster.com”

15 15 Cover Letter Do’s Send a targeted letter to each employer Get their attention even from the first sentence Use active, lively sentences that sell your unique abilities  Functional but dull example (from an on-line “resume resource”): “I am writing to express my interest in the position as mentioned in the paper, and have enclosed my resume for your consideration”  More effective example: “ Seven years of deep financial and accounting experience at both public and private companies makes me an ideal fit for the position of _________ as listed on __________. Lift words and phrases from the announcement and integrate them naturally into your writing to show you have what they’re looking for Organize each paragraph according to a relevant attribute, skill, or type of experience with a solid topic sentence

16 16 Cover Letter Do’s (cont.) Be businesslike, friendly and enthusiastic – make your letter stand out Be sure to suggest a next step  Good example: “I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm with you in person. Please call me at to set up an interview.” Spell-check and proof read carefully  Real-life example that wasn’t properly checked: “I am seeking a new position as i have recently been laid.” Always sign if you send a paper copy Keep copies of everything you send Follow up if you promise action (call, etc.)

17 17 Cover Letter Don’ts Don’t send out mass produced letter not written with a specific company in mind Don’t use clichés and phrases Don’t misspell any name or use incorrect address (when in doubt, use Ms.) Don’t address to “Dear Sir”, “Dear Madam” or “To whom it may concern” Don’t write an unfocused, rambling cover letter or just re- hash your resume Don’t send out a letter containing any grammatical or spelling mistakes

18 18 Cover Letter Don’ts (cont.) Don’t begin too many sentences with “I” Don’t emphasize a weakness or a negative, but instead focus on what you have to offer to the company

19 19 Why Write a Cover Letter A job application is a career-marketing package consisting of both cover letter and resume Cover letters are expected by many hiring managers The letter is the first glimpse of your personality, potential and value to the employer Cover letters may eventually be read if the employer is interested in you, so why waste an opportunity to sell yourself?

20 20 Sending a Cover Letter Printed job application  Consider sending a paper application to company you sent an electronic application to unless specifically directed not to  Match look and style of cover letter and resume Electronic job application  Avoid sending complete cover letter in body of if possible (hard to format) unless specifically required  Write short message in the and send two attachments consisting of cover letter and resume (.pdf preferred,.doc okay)  Use polite, precise and professional language in the even if it is just a short message  List what position you are applying for and where you heard about it in the body of the message

21 21 Cover Letters – Additional Resources

22 22 For One-on-One Employment Coaching Marrietta Reber Executive Upgrade Consulting


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