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Cover Letters - What to Say and What Not To Say

Jan 30, 2008
Intro To The Cover Letter

The cover letter makes a first impression to potential employers and adds a personal touch as well. There are basically three types of cover letters. One is in response to a job opening, known as the application letter. The other is to inquire about possible job openings and is known as the prospecting letter. And then there is the networking letter, which is used to ask for information and help in a job search.

What To Say

This should be the first paragraph of the cover letter and it should include the purpose of writing the letter and for what position you are applying, or interested in when doing a job search. Make an effort to include the name of a specific person who is a mutual contact and who referred you to the employer. If you heard of the position through a flyer, advertisement, a family friend etc., remember to mention the source. Then, if it is a prospecting letter include the job objective and if it is a networking cover letter make it clear as to what information you are asking for.

Why Read The Cover

The cover letter is the reason that would make you a candidate that the company would like to hire. If not that, then at least your resume will be looked at - the rest is dependent on your skills and the personal interview. The best way to make the cover letter interesting is to take a few points from your resume that the potential employer would be interested in and give them a brief idea of your capabilities. It is best to sugar coat the language used in this paragraph, because this is what attracts the employers. Then you should try and highlight your achievements as well.

What To Say Later

This is the last paragraph of the cover letter, and it should always be left open ended. Give the reason for interest in the job, and include your contact details from telephone number to email id and also let them know when they can call you. If you have experience on your side, take the initiative of suggesting a time and day for a follow up conversation by phone. This is basically done when the job interview is for a high-level position - but always be punctual about making the follow up call. However, some employers prohibit any form of contact from job seekers; still, you could call to check if they received your material and ask if the application is complete.

The cover letter is an introduction to your resume, so it should be written to fit in a single page. It should include about three to four paragraphs and every sentence should make the objective clear as to why you have applied for the job.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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