This is who I yam. Wen can I interview?

Laugh if you'd like, but the credibility of many a job applicant is damaged by poorly conceived, hastily written cover letters. What message do you send an employer when you submit a document that is rife with mistakes - especially when those errors are easily corrected with a "spell-check" program?

cover letter artConsider the concerns employers may have with a potential employee who is overly and inappropriately familiar in their initial correspondence. In this competitive world of business, is it likely that they would risk such a person's ill-advised interaction with a client?

On the other hand, a well constructed cover letter can speak volumes about your ability to organize, prioritize, and concisely communicate. If you are able to engage the employer's consideration or imagination, so much the better.

Your cover letter should reflect a reasonable knowledge of the company and the position for which you are applying, but never make the mistake of presuming an understanding of needs and function on par with that of the employer. You should, however, be clear about how the position in question meets your current career objective. Always remember that the cover letter is your first opportunity to clearly define yourself as the perfect match for the position's requirements.

Although cover letters can be as different as the people writing them, there are a few rules to keep in mind:

Be certain that your name, address, telephone and e-mail are at the top of the letter. Indicate the date.

When at all possible, try not to send your letter and resume to the "Personnel Department" but rather, find out who will receive and review the letter and address it to that person. Web Stes and Print MaterialsBe sure to spell the name correctly, and be certain of the title.

Keep your letter short. Typically, three or four paragraphs are enough for a proper introduction.

Begin by naming the position for which you are applying. Employers will often appreciate knowing how you came to know of the opening, as the effectiveness of advertising is difficult to gauge. This first paragraph is also your best opportunity to "grab" the reader. Consider your career success to date or your clear qualification for the position and describe it in a compelling, memorable (but professional) way. This is a good place to quote a satisfied employer or supportive teacher.

The next one or two paragraphs should communicate your knowledge of the company and the position while making relevant points about your qualifications. (Avoid the temptation to summarize your resume.) Use language that's specific to the job description. If answering an ad, use terminology from the posted requirements. Highlight the quoted job description in bold or italic type.

The last paragraph describes the next move. Either you will contact the employer or they should contact you for an interview. Be sure to close with a "thank you," then "Sincerely yours," and your name - signed and typed. Note the enclosure of your resume.


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Writing a Cover Letter