Drafting a Cover Letter

You’ve prepared resumes for several interesting job openings but you don’t send them out because you are stuck – stuck on how to phrase the cover letter.

The cover letter can make or break your chance at a great job. Anywhere from 100-1000 resumes are received for each advertised position on average. So what can you do to make sure yours is read?

Getting Started

Don’t worry too much about writer’s block. If you’re stuck, draft an outline to get started. Begin by listing the requirements and desired attributes for the position. Under each attribute, list what you have done that meets those needs. This can be anything from work experience, school projects, volunteer activities or specialized skills. If the job requires someone who is organized, prove to the employer that you have that quality. Where have you used your organizational skills to solve a problem? Were you able to restructure a project to make it more efficient?

Drafting the Letter

Now that you have some filler information, begin by drafting a proper business letter. Use Microsoft Word templates if you need assistance or visit http://jobsearchtech.about.com/library/bl-block-letter-parts.htm for a quick example. If you have a contact name, make sure to address the letter appropriately. Include a reference line (RE:) stating the job you are
applying for.

Make a Statement

Begin with a bold statement that grabs the attention from the reader. Don’t say, “I would like to be considered for a job as a sound technician.” Instead, wow the employer. Tell them who you are by your years of relevant experience. Let them know that you are the right candidate for the position. Go ahead and say, “With more than five years of experience pulling wire, designing new systems and exceeding customer service goals by 150%, I will meet your need for a top-notch sound technician.”

Using your outline, include information that shows how you have the skills needed for the job and examples of your success in previous positions. Avoid summarizing your resume. Instead, focus on a more detailed description of one or two achievements.

Finishing Up

Finish the cover letter by emphasizing once again that you are the right candidate for the position, remembering to thank the employer for time and consideration. If at all possible, it is best to state specifically how you will follow up. If you have contact information, say you will call to follow up or answer any questions within a week. You may also include your phone number in case they’d like to contact you in the meantime.

The main thing to note is that you should draft a new cover letter for each position so you can be sure you target the key points of the job. If you create a letter template, be sure to customize it for each employer and double check that all contact information and position titles are correct before sending out the packet.

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