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Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

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1 Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

2 What is a Cover Letter?  A supplement to the resume that includes more detailed information about yourself  It highlights key points in your resume  Expresses your interest in a position  Shows off your qualifications to a prospective employer

3 Pre-Cover Letter  If you have a company or employer in mind, do some research regarding their policies and principles  Review websites, brochures, pamphlets and any other pertinent materials you can find about the company  If you can, try to speak with current employees; this will provide you with a unique inside perspective

4  Once you’ve done your research and you have a good idea of what qualifications the company is looking for, it’s time to separate yourself from the rest of the pack  Before you begin writing your letter, take some time to brainstorm. Make a list of reasons why you’re the ideal candidate Pre-Cover Letter Continued

5 A Few Things to Keep in Mind  Do not over use “I” Instead, place the focus on the employer and use the word “you”  Avoid writing more than one page; since you are probably competing with other applicants, employers just don’t have the time to read two pages  The point of the cover letter is to flesh out your resume’s selling points not to repeat the same things that appear in your resume

6 Beginning The Letter  You should address the letter to a specific person at the company you’re applying to. You can usually find a name in the company’s publications or you can inquire by telephone Example of Header: James L. Pierce Principal Warren Elementary School 750 P Street Sacramento, CA 95826

7 Salutation  If you are addressing the letter to a specific person, start out with the formal salutation: Dear Mr. Pierce. If you don’t know the name use: Dear Hiring Manager  Refrain from using the old standby’s: To whom it may concern or Dear Sir or Madam

8 Opening Paragraph  The opening paragraph should accomplish a couple of goals: 1. It should grab the reader’s attention 2. Discuss the position you are applying for 3. List your references or how you heard about the job 4. Highlight the main points you will focus on in the letter

9 Opening Paragraph Example Dear Mr. Pierce: Warren Elementary School, its children, and its parents deserve the very best Teacher’s Assistant. I am confident my professional hands-on experience will contribute to the education your school provides. Please consider this letter and enclosed resume my official candidacy to help maintain the important and tough standards your school sets in elementary education.

10 Body Paragraph(s)  The body paragraph should accomplish a couple of goals: 1. Refer employees to certain points in your resume 2. Emphasize your strongest qualifications or top selling points 3. Show how these qualifications will benefit the company you’re applying for 4. You may provide examples of your achievements that have benefited previous companies 5. Be specific in your descriptions

11 Body Paragraph Example My experience is relevant and extensive, as described in the enclosed resume. What my resume cannot illustrate are the intangibles that set me apart from other candidates. I have a tremendous love for children and place a high standard on learning. I possess a calm attitude and a superb understanding of children’s needs. Family and friends are surprised by how comfortable their children feel with me. If you are looking for someone who is positive, personable, and able to perform in a pressure cooker environment, look no further.

12 Closing Paragraph  Your closing paragraph should accomplish a couple of goals: 1. Ask for an interview 2. Set up a possible time and date 3. Try using an active ending; in other words, rather than asking them to contact you, tell them you will contact them in a few days 4. Be genuine and thank them for their time

13 Closing Paragraph Example Please take the time to look over my resume, and feel free to contact my references. I would love to further discuss this position in person. I will follow up with you in a few days to answer any preliminary questions you might have. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me at 916-424-4444. Thank you for your time and consideration.  Don’t forget to sign your letter

14 Double and Triple Check Before Sending  Check for spelling errors and typos--professionalism is a must  Don’t go over a page  Always customize your cover letter. Don’t forget to change your contact information  Maintain a friendly and professional tone throughout the letter

15  Be sure to send both resume and cover letter to the prospective employer.

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