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Cover Letter Workshop Rationale: Welcome to the “WorkOne Job Letters Workshop.” This presentation is designed to introduce the basic concepts of developing.

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Presentation on theme: "Cover Letter Workshop Rationale: Welcome to the “WorkOne Job Letters Workshop.” This presentation is designed to introduce the basic concepts of developing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Cover Letter Workshop Rationale: Welcome to the “WorkOne Job Letters Workshop.” This presentation is designed to introduce the basic concepts of developing effective letters for working class jobs. This presentation is ideal for job letter workshops at WorkOne or other employment organizations. This presentation may be supplemented with the following OWL resources: - Community Writing and Education Station (CWEST) Job Search Resources: Directions: Each slide is activated by a single mouse click, unless otherwise noted in bold at the bottom of each notes page Writer and Designer: H. Allen Brizee and the kind, generous participants of the CWEST-LARA/WorkOne research project. Contributors: Jaclyn Wells, Jeff Bacha, Norman Houseman Revising Author: Developed with resources courtesy of the Purdue University Writing Lab, Purdue University, the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy (LARA), and WorkOne © Copyright Purdue University, 2000, 2006, 2008, 2009

2 Overview This lesson will cover Cover letter basics
Cover letter sections Cover letter design Cover letter samples Follow up letters Key Concept: The facilitator should stress the fact that if the attendees doesn’t understand the reason they are creating the cover letter, they could waste time worrying about the wrong parts.

3 Cover Letter Basics What is a cover letter?
A document that explains your job goals, education, job history Cover letters also explain why you are capable of filling the job position Why do I need a cover letter? Employers use cover letters to Get more information than provided on résumé See who can do a job Read about your past jobs, skills See if you can write/communicate Decide which applicant will be interviewed Key Concept: The facilitator should emphasize that a cover letter should make someone stand out from the rest of the applicants. Each cover letter will be different according to experiences, jobs, and applicants. Remind the attendees that although they may seem hesitant to make more than one cover letter, each cover letter should be tailored to a particular job or assignment to be most effective. Tailoring letters to match specific jobs and companies will help the letter stand out from the rest of the letters that may be generic cover letters. The tutor should also remind students that although a cover letter should highlight points from their resumes, they don’t need to put every single activity or skill in their cover letter. They should concentrate on “selling” the main points to the prospective employer.

4 Cover Letter Basics What is the goal of my cover letter?
To get an interview! (In order to then get the job!) Key Concept: Like a résumé, the main goal of a cover letter is to get an interview. Keeping this in mind, the facilitator should remind attendees that applicants can talk more in the actual interview; their life stories don’t need to be condensed into one letter.

5 Cover Letter Basics What should my cover letter contain? Heading
Introduction Body paragraphs (support information) Closing Like the résumé, the cover letter should be split into easily read sections. The cover letter usually contains a heading, an introduction, the body paragraphs that support the initial points made in the introduction, and a closing that wraps up the letter and provides contact information.

6 Cover Letter Basics What should my cover letter accomplish?
Show employer you have tailored the letter to the company, job Explain your experiences in a clear way that matches the information from your résumé Explain your experiences that relate to the job you want Explain how your experiences/skills will help the employer fulfill job requirements Provide a good example of your communication skills Your cover letter and résumé should work together as a complete argument that persuades employers that the applicant is a good match for the company and that the applicant can do the job.

7 Cover Letter Headings Headings should contain: Date you are writing
Your mailing address address, if you have one (professional tone; no Address of employer Key Concept: The “Header” should include: Applicant’s address Date Employer’s address

8 Cover Letter Introductions
Introductions should: Greet specific person (if possible) State position you are applying for, how you heard about it Explain why you are a good match for job, company Introduce two examples from your résumé you will use to explain why you can do job The facilitator should express that many applicants will try to use “To Whom it may Concern” or other informal salutations. The facilitator should tell the attendees that a cover letter will be more likely to get to the right place if written to a specific person. Applicants can find an addressee for the cover letter on company websites, in the job ad, and if all else fails, it’s fine to call the company to see if someone specific is handling the hiring. Activity: The facilitator can demonstrate how to find the names of people on a company website. Key Concept: The facilitator should explain that a lot of times the introduction is where the attendees are really going to have to work to find out why they are interested in working for a company. Sometimes the attendee may have to do some further research to have a better reason than “I just need a job.” The first paragraph provides the thesis for the rest of the cover letter.

9 Cover Letter Introductions
Here are two example introductions: Key Concept: These are examples of a standard beginning paragraph.

10 Cover Letter Body Paragraphs
Body paragraphs should: Support your argument that you are qualified for job, good match for company Explain the two examples from your résumé you use to support your points First body paragraph example: Key Concept: The facilitator should remind the attendees that they should pick no more than two skills or benefits to discuss in the body paragraphs. Some people get in the habit of listing qualities, which tells the employer absolutely nothing. Applicants have to support the thesis from the introduction (good match, can do job) by connecting the skills listed on their résumés with how they make the applicant a good match and how they will help the applicant to the job. Organize your body paragraphs to emphasize your strongest and most relevant qualifications. Only include the two of the strongest qualifications from the résumé. Make it easy for readers to scan your letter by beginning each paragraph with a strong topic sentence.

11 Cover Letter Body Paragraphs
Second body paragraph example: Key Concept: This is an example of an effective middle paragraph.

12 Cover Letter Body Paragraphs
Another example of a body paragraph Key Concept: This is an example of an effective middle paragraph.

13 Cover Letter Closings Closings should: Restate your qualifications
Ask for an interview Provide contact information Reference résumé Thank employer Close politely Remember to sign your name, list enclosures Key Concept: This paragraph brings the entire cover letter together and expresses what the applicant will do, or the applicant’s expectations.

14 Cover Letter Closings Sample closing:
Key Concept: This is an example of very common closing format.

15 Letter Language Avoid weak language:
I worked as a ramp agent at Comair. Use Strong language: As a ramp agent, I assisted in loading baggage, oversaw fueling the aircraft, and stocked commissary items on the aircraft. “Translate” language employers may not know (military): Received and stored bulk and package petroleum, oils, and lubricants products. Vs. Coordinated and distributed petroleum products and monitored quality control systems. Key Concept: If the facilitator has time and notices any weak language, he or she can help the attendees change these sentences to better describe the applicant’s experiences. It is important to create your résumé in a way that employers will understand. Creating an effective résumé for your civilian life means you will have to use language people outside the military can understand. For example, in the experience section of your résumé you will need to do some “translating” between military terms and civilian terms:

16 Letter Tips Avoid unprofessional language Letter length
Letter should only be one page! Strongest and most relevant qualifications should be highlighted Limit to a few qualifications Easy to read Begin with topic sentences Key Concept: If the facilitator notices any sexist or informal language in letters, he or she should remind the attendees that although it may seem appropriate, the applicant has no way of knowing who will read the letter. Sometimes applicants may argue that they know the person who will be receiving the letter. That person may see the letter, but may also want to share the applicant’s cover letter with others. Therefore, the language should be appropriate for all audiences.

17 More Letter Tips Appeal to company values, attitudes, goals, projects, etc. Explain how you will help organization Elaborate on the information in your résumé Provide evidence of your qualifications Proofread carefully for grammatical and typographical errors Key Concept: The facilitator should remind the attendees that some of the work experiences they have had may not seem to be relevant, but still usually has some aspect of the job they want. Attendees may seem down about some of their work experiences or lack of work experiences. Sometimes, the facilitator just needs to encourage them and help them realize that they have valuable skills even if they don’t think they do.

18 More Letter Tips What do I do about any times I was not working?
Short breaks in work experience shouldn’t hurt your chances Be ready to talk about what you did: Volunteerism Faith-based activities Family-related responsibilities Short times in between jobs or work experience should not hurt applicants’ chances of getting an interview. But you should be prepared to talk about those breaks when you meet with the employer. If you were not working for pay but volunteered doing something in the community, talk about that experience to show you were busy doing something.

19 More Letter Tips What should I do if I have been in trouble? Be honest
Talk about what you did (positive things) while you were “serving your sentence:” GED Vocational training Faith-based activities Learned from your mistakes If attendees have been incarcerated, tell them be honest with the employer and to talk about what they did while they were serving their sentence that may contribute to their job skills. For example, many prison systems offer General Education Development (GED) programs so inmates can receive the equivalent of a high school diploma. Prison systems also offer vocational training in carpentry, plumbing, electronics, auto mechanics, etc. If attendees have received vocational training in prison, suggest that they talk about this in their interview. People reentering the work force from prison may want to write a skills-based cover letter. Skills-based cover letters focus on what you can do now rather than explaining an entire work history.

20 Cover Letter Design You may choose between: Block Modified Block
Generally, it’s safest to use the block format because it’s the most traditional, and it’s the easiest to set up. Block Modified Block

21 Cover Letter Design Or: Semi-block
Semi-block, however, is also a nice letter format to use. To find out what type of letter the company may prefer, attendees may want to go to the company’s Website to see if they can find company documents (press releases or mission statements) that may be on company letterhead. Semi-block

22 Cover Letter Samples Dear Mr. Lee:
I read in the June 7, 2009 Journal and Courier employment section that Hoosier Distribution is hiring a warehouse worker and truck driver, and I would like to speak with you about this job. My strong work ethic and solid teamwork skills make me a good match for Hoosier Distribution. Also, my warehouse experience and excellent driving record at Small Car Parts International make me a good candidate for this job. As a warehouse worker and deliver driver for Small Car Parts International in Lafayette, I lifted and carried boxes well over 100 pounds, tracked inventory, and I used maps and directions to deliver car parts. I also interacted with gas station and auto mechanic shop employees to conduct business. As a pizza delivery driver for Ernie’s Premier Pizza, I drove routes in a heavily trafficked urban and suburban areas, interacted with delivery customers to conduct business, and worked with employees and customers from diverse ethnicities and cultures. I believe that my warehouse and driving experience will make me a strong member of your distribution team. I am looking forward to meeting with you about the warehouse and truck driver position. I am sure that my strong work ethic and experience can help Hoosier Distribution maintain a high level of service. If you have any questions, please call me at For your reference, I have included my résumé. Thank you for taking the time to review my documents. This is an example of an effective cover letter. Note how the thesis is clear in the introduction and how each paragraph supports the thesis but listing skills but also stating how those skills will help the applicant help the company.

23 Cover Letter Samples Dear Ms. Millhouse:
I saw your flier at Lafayette Beauty Academy for the cosmetologist position, and I would like to speak with you about this job. My strong work ethic and solid teamwork skills will make me a valuable member of your staff. In addition, my experience at the JCPenny Salon will allow me to start work with you immediately without much training. I am an Indiana state licensed cosmetologist (# ), and I really enjoy working with people in a salon environment. As a salon assistant and receptionist at the JCPenny Salon at Tippecanoe Mall, I gained experience working in a salon by assisting cosmetologists in washing hair, cleaning, tracking inventory. When working as a receptionist, I performed point of sales transactions and helped customers schedule appointments. During my training at Lafayette Beauty Academy, I acquired the skills necessary to work as a licensed cosmetologist, maintained an excellent attendance record, and scored high on all tests. I believe that these experiences will enable me to begin work in your salon without much training. As a licensed cosmetologist, I can clean, sterilize, and disinfect areas and equipment, and I can order, receive, inspect, and store equipment, merchandise, and supplies. In addition, I can perform manicures and makeup applications and give scalp treatments and shampoos, as well as cut, shape, style, tint, rinse and dye client’s hair according to existing cosmetology practices. Lastly, I can give permanents and work on a variety of synthetic and human wigs. I am looking forward to meeting with you about your cosmetologist position. I am sure that my strong work ethic and experience can help your salon maintain a high level of service. If you have any questions, please call me at For your reference, I have included my résumé. Thank you for taking the time to review my documents. This is an example of an effective cover letter. Note how the thesis is clear in the introduction and how each paragraph supports the thesis but listing skills but also stating how those skills will help the applicant help the company.

24 Follow Up & Thank You Letters
Follow up letters State that you are still interested in job Ask whether or not employer has received your documents Explain that you are waiting to hear what to do next Thank you letters Thank employer for job interview Ask whether or not job has been filled Follow up letter and thank you letters are other forms of correspondence attendees may need to use during the job search. Follow up letters are used to initiate contact between applicant and a company if the applicant has not heard from a company for two weeks after submitting an application or résumé. A thank you letter thanks the people with whom the applicant interviewed.

25 Follow Up Letter Sample
Dear Alex Carson: Two weeks ago, I submitted a résumé and cover letter in response to your job ad for the welder apprentice position (#46). I am following up to make sure you received these documents. I am still very interested in interviewing for the job if you have not yet hired someone. I am looking forward to meeting with you to discuss the welder apprentice position and how I can help A & D Industries. I feel that my years of welding experience will allow me to be a valuable member of your team. If you have not received my résumé and cover letter, I would be happy to resubmit them or drop them off in person. If you have any questions, please call me at You may also me at This is an example of an effective follow up letter. It’s not pushy, yet it gets the point across.

26 Thank You Letter Sample
Dear Alex Carson: Thank you for taking the time to interview me for the welder apprentice position (#46) at A & D Industries. I enjoyed speaking with you and am still very interested in working for A & D. I realize that the welder apprentice position can be challenging because of the long hours and hectic work environment. However, I am sure that my years of welding and experience working in fast-paced jobs will allow me to excel at A & D Industries. It was a pleasure meeting with you and learning more about the welder apprentice position at A & D Industries. I look forward to hearing from you about the position. If you have any questions, please call me at You may also me at This is an example of a thank you letter sent after an interview. Thank you letters are a great way to keep your name and interview in the minds of the interviewees, and thank you letters show a high level of professionalism that may make the difference between getting a job or not getting a job.

27 Cover Letter Help Access hundreds of cover letter resources at the Community Writing and Education Station (CWEST): If you don’t have Internet access from home, remember you can access these resources from libraries or WorkOne offices, print out the resources and take them home.

28 The End Thank you, and good luck!


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