Poll Of The Week #5: Do you send a cover letter with your resume? 7 Cover Letter Writing Tips!

by Rich DeMatteo on August 31, 2009 · 6 comments

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Thanks to those for voting in this weeks poll!  Here are the results:

First Place:  71% Yes
Second Place: 29%  No

Not sure how smart it is, but I’ve known hiring managers who make hiring decisions based on cover letters.  I also know hiring managers/recruiters who when tremendously busy will pass on reading the cover letter and go straight to the resume.  So, is it a waste of time?  I surely don’t think so, and neither does blogger Kim Thompson.  Click here to read Thompson’s 10 reasons to use a cover letter.  Not sure how to write one, or what needs to be included in your cover letter?

Here are COTJ’s 7 Cover Letter Writing Tips:

  1. Keep it short – Write no more than one page, using three paragraphs.
  2. Three paragraph format –  In the 1st paragraph, identify the position that you’re applying for and how you have learned about the opening.  Do some research on the company and also point out why you’re interested in working for them.  In the 2nd paragraph, discuss your qualifications and how they match up to the position.  Use this paragraph to brag about you, talking about how some of your major accomplishments are transferable to the desirable position.  In the 3rd paragraph, thank them for their consideration and include your contact information.
  3. Customize each letter – Each letter you send out should be unique, and written with a very specific reader in mind.  Make sure to change the position title, recruiter/hiring contact information, company name, company address, and/or anything else that is different from the last position you sent a letter for.  Keep in mind that although some positions you’ll apply for have similar responsibilities listed, not all will be exactly the same.  In your 2nd paragraph, you may want to tweak how your qualifications match up to the job.  If you skip the customization stage you may turn out looking like a complete idiot when Tom Jones reads a letter addressed to Wayne Newton.
  4. Be positive and confident – Your reader will be able to tell from your cover letter.  I swear.
  5. Check for typos and grammatical errors – This is a killer.  A killer I tell you.  Ask a friend to proof read specifically targeting typos and major grammatical errors.  A slew of mistakes won’t entice the reader to open up your resume, of course the point of sending a cover letter.
  6. Thank the reader – Make sure to do this in paragraph 3.  Thank them for reading the cover letter and your resume.  Assume that they are, or have already read your resume, and maybe they will.
  7. Keep your cover letters – File them in whatever way is easiest for you.  Recruiters can take a long time to get back to you, and when they do they may want the cover letter again.

Thanks for reading Corn Heads!

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