1- Cover Letter Tip: How to Write a Cover Letter- Get noticed in 10-20 seconds!
You could write the best resume in the world and be highly qualified for a job, but if your cover letter is poorly written, generic, or misguided, you can pretty much throw your chances out the window. The cover letter is your first, and sometimes your only opportunity to grab an employer's attention and let them know why your resume is worth reading. Since there are many different ways to write a cover letter, depending on the employer and the method of transmission, for example, here are some ways to make yours stand out along with some examples you can tweak to your liking.
Employers typically spend 10-20 seconds on their initial review of cover letters. In order to stay out
of the trash file, keep the information on your resume pertinent for the job posting.
Before Writing the Cover Letter:
1. Update your resume (more on this later). If you don't already have a resume, then write one -- the experiences and skills you list on your resume should be tailored to the particular position you're applying for, reflecting strengths that will be desirable to your potential employer.
2. Research the target organization or business so you can include information or facts relating to your desired job or industry. This will not only help you in writing a relevant cover letter but it will also be useful if you get an interview. Some key items you should become familiar with:
* What is the employer's mission? What do they promote as setting themselves apart from competitors? * What kind of customer base does the employer cater to? What kinds of people are in their target market? * What are the company or organization's values? Innovation? Service? Diversity? Sustainability? * What is the history of the employer? Who was the founder? How has the business or organization evolved?
3. Analyze the job. Read the job description carefully. Check for the noted and assumed needs and determine the most important skills, qualifications and experience the employer is looking for. Write them down, and put a check mark next to the ones you have.
4. Find the name of the manager in charge of the department you want to work in. Use your network. Do you know someone who is in the company or industry? Can they help you? If not, call the HR department.
2- Cover Letter Advice: How to Format and Write the Cover Letter
A. Format the heading elements correctly. Line spacing and address conventions mainly apply for a paper cover letter. For an online version that is not likely to be printed out, the date alone may be sufficient, or not even required. Then:
* Include your address at the top (in the right hand corner - approximately 1 inch down from the top of the page).
* Skip down 4 lines and enter the date.
* Skip down 4 more lines and enter the Contact Person, then the name and address of the company. Write to a specific person, not "To whom it may concern", or "Dear Sir/Madam", whenever possible.
B. Write the body of your letter with three or four paragraphs.
* In the first paragraph, tell the employer why you're writing to them in two or three sentences. State the position you are applying for. Avoid the standard openings like "I wish to apply for the position of ___ advertised in ___". Design your opening to get the reader to sit up and pay attention to what you can do. It's unnecessary to specify how you became aware of the position unless it's through a mutual contact or recruiting program. If you're writing a letter of interest (also known as a prospecting or inquiry letter), in which you're asking about positions that might be available, specify why you are interested in working for the employer.
* In the next one or two paragraphs, outline your qualifications and match them to the requirements of the position. Show enthusiasm and a desire to help the company reach its goals. Show the employer what you can contribute to their bottom line, not what you want to get out of the deal. Use what you've researched about the employer's background and history. Try to make two or three solid points, backed up by specific examples. Relate some relevant details about the company so the employer knows you did some research ahead of time.
* In the final paragraph, include a positive statement or question that will cause the employer to want to take action. Make this closing paragraph between 2-4 sentences. Direct the employer to the enclosed resume, make your availability known for an interview, and if you want to be assertive, state when you will contact them to set up a meeting time to discuss the opportunity in further detail. Provide your own contact information (phone number, e-mail address) and welcome them to get in touch. It's very important to finish off by thanking the employer for their time and consideration.
C. Conclude with "Yours sincerely," (if you have addressed the letter to a named person), "Yours faithfully," (if you have used a "Dear Sir" approach) or "Regards," and leave four blank lines to sign your name in blue ink. If you use black ink, they may think it is a copy. If this is online, leave only one or two blank lines.
D. Proofread. This is essential. Some things to look out for are:
* Be sure you have spelled everything correctly.
* Own what you've accomplished, grammatically speaking (e.g. avoid "this experience gave me the opportunity to..." or worse, "these goals were met by me."). You don't want to sound like everything happened to you or was done by some other entity. Make yourself the active subject of every sentence (e.g. In this experience, I developed/reinforced/learned/etc."). But that doesn't mean every single sentence should start with "I..." so vary your syntax accordingly.
* Break down any contractions (e.g. "I've" to "I have").
* Avoid colloquial (informal) writing. You want to sound professional, objective, and educated.
* Check the punctuation use carefully./
* Keep the letter to one page -- the purpose of the cover letter is to get the hiring manager to read your resume! If the letter is spilling onto a second page, it's time to tighten your points and edit the fluff.
* Your tone should be upbeat, professional and informative. The employer wants to know what you can do for them, so sell yourself and your skills in a positive way. Keep that in mind as you write and proofread each paragraph.
Check out this humorous video of how to write a coverletter:
3- Cover Letter Sample: Cover Letter Exercise
Answer the following questions, then use each answer in the corresponding spot of the sample cover letter:
1. Name of person you are addressing the contact letter to.
2. Your role or current job.
* "graduate student in environmental science"
* "customer service professional"
3. A general description of your accomplishments/experiences in the field to which you are applying.
* "fifteen years of customer service"
* "an outstanding background in scientific research and discovery"
* "a solid history of dependability in the automotive industry"
4. A positive description of the employer.
* "what many consider to be the most progressive medical institution in the state of Rhode Island"
* "a well-established company with a long history of gourmet creativity"
5. Assets you can offer to the company. List one to three.
* "extensive experience with start-ups"
* "demonstrated ability to solve problems"
* "refined ability to manage teams"
6. Key skill/experience/accomplishment, and how it can help the company achieve its mission. List two to three of these. Be specific.
As a (2) with (3), I am eager to contribute my abilities and experience to (4). Given my (5), I believe I can help (employer name) achieve its mission and goals as a (position).
I would like to continue contributing my abilities and experiences to (employer name) and would be happy to discuss in further detail how I accomplish this. My resume is enclosed for your convenience. Feel free to contact me at (phone number and/or e-mail address). I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time and consideration.
(Your name signed)
(Your name printed)
4- Resume Tips: Claims versus evidence- THE style of writing for the best resume:
As the candidate, you must be able to demonstrate examples of your performance as solid evidence in the body of your resume. In other words, you can talk about the success that you may have had in your previous role, but it has a much higher perceived value when it becomes a statement on your resume.
Nearly every task in every job affects revenue, systems or people. This is the evidentiary and supporting data that is vital to understanding the effect you have had in your previous role. Your resume should not look like a job description. It must contain quantifiable results, especially if you were in a sales role.
You need to be able to address the value that you bring to the company. Be prepared to share your skills and accomplishments and discuss how they benefit the company. Articulate these accomplishments in a problem-action-results sequence.
Problem - This will reflect the specific problem, challenge, or situation that you are faced with. The way you would describe this is in the form of an overview or summary.
Action - This represents the steps that you took to address the problem, challenge, or situation. Describe the methodology that you followed to drive results and deliverables.
Results - This is where you define the success or accomplishment of your action. Use this as an opportunity to share how you evaluate the end result.
The single biggest mistake people make when it comes to sharing their accomplishments is providing results without context. Saying that you grew revenue by 15 percent without noting the market conditions or goals doesn't say much.
In other words, you haven't answered the question, "So what?"
Converting your accomplishments into the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Resolve) format will solve this problem.
What was the Situation?
What was the situation? ?This is where you explain what the real problem (or opportunity) was, why it was a problem, how long it had been a problem and what might have happened had the problem not been addressed. How and when did it become apparent that there was an issue?
What was your specific role or Task?
What was your specific role or task? ?Describe your role. How did you find yourself in a position to address the issue? Were you selected? Appointed? Elected? If you were selected or appointed, what was the title of the person who appointed you? Did you volunteer? Did you take on the project on your own initiative?
What Action did you take?
What action did you take? ?How did you address the problem? What specific steps did you take?
What were the Results?
What were the results? ?This part is relatively straightforward, since it requires quantifiable evidence of your effectiveness. The biggest mistake people make in this area is limiting their thinking to dollars saved or earned. Money is just one quantifier. Challenge yourself to incorporate the other five:
Here is an example of the STAR way to write a resume:
Situation/Challenge: To address the waste and expense associated with the disposal of 30 55-gallon drums of waste coolant from machine operations per month. Disposal expense: $4,500/month ($150 x 30)
Task: Selected by Operations Manager to streamline operations and reduce waste coolant expenditures.
Action: Researched opportunities to recycle coolant and recommended a $10,000, one-time investment in coolant recycling equipment.
Total annual savings: $162,000. Recycling process eliminated:
$54,000/year in disposal costs
$108,000/year in coolant purchases.
ROI on $10,000 investment: Less than one month.
Keep this in mind as we continue through the coming resume steps. This style of writing is going to be very important for establishing your credentials and presenting you as the preferred candidate.
5- Resume Mistake- Counting too much on one resume.
Have multiple resumes. It’s OK. Really. The more that you have a resume that speaks to the unique value you can provide for an employer the better the chance is that you are going to be put into the 'consideration folder'; which is exactly what you want. Many job seekers suffer from the 'shotgun approach' to placing job applications in that they think that more is better, when in actuality it is worse! Fine tune each application with a specifically crafted resume and coverletter so that it 'screams' to the recruiter and/employer that you did research on their company and you know that you are THE perfect fit for their company.
In the beginning, if you are not clear about the type of job/career you want to target, you may want to create a few templates, one for each of the 'types' or companies or industries at which you would consider working. Then you can narrow and refine each one as you get more clear about the specific benefits you bring to the table for each employer,