Monday, February 15, 2010

Cover Letter Keys - Part One -Cover letters that respond to job postings

If you have resolved to move your job search into high gear, don’t forget the importance of the cover letter as part of your self-marketing materials. The cover letter is essential for creating a positive first impression.

Unlike a resume, which usually remains unchanged, cover letters should be customized according to each of the four basic job search strategies:
  1. Responding to job postings.
  2. Résumé distribution to prospective employers in your target market.
  3. Contacting recruiters or head-hunters.
  4. Networking among your professional contacts.

Each strategy requires a different type of cover letter.

Cover letters that respond to job postings:
This is the most common job-search activity. Rather than respond with a canned message, it is important to take the time to write a brief cover letter that maps your work experience to the job qualifications.

When responding to job postings, take the time to do the following:

  • Whenever possible, address the letter to a specific person rather than “Dear sir or madam” or “To whom it may concern”. You should never be afraid to call the company for the name of the recipient; at worst, they will not give you the name. Ask for the correct spelling of the recipient and use their full name rather than try to guess if the recipient is a “Miss”, “Mr.” or “Ms.”
  • Take the time to match your letter to the job description by using the key words and phrases found in the ad. This type of ‘mirroring’ will increase the chances of getting your documents flagged by the software used to scan incoming documents. Where applicable, list point by point how you match the requirements of the position.
  • Provide accomplishments that illustrate the level of your qualifications.
  • Avoid over use of the word “I”. Translate “I” sentences into “You” or “Your” sentences. For example, turn “I am interested in the position...” into “Your company will benefit from my experiences as...”

Cover Letter Keys - Part Two - Targeted Market Letters