Six ways to make your next cover letter shine

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Many job seekers spend time (and in some cases, money) to craft an amazing resume. They use all of the right keywords and make it an amazingly appealing, eye-catching document.

And then those same job seekers send it off without a cover letter – which in some cases means they may as well have never sent it at all.

Cover letters are still important. They may not be needed for every expression of interest, but it’s still part of the package in most cases. Here are six musts for your next cover letter.

Cover the basics.
Your letter should be brief, easy to read, and always include your full name, address and phone number in case your cover letter becomes separated from your resume. Don’t forget to proofread to avoid spelling errors and typos. Make sure the job title and employer name are correct, too.

Target it.
Avoid using “Dear Hiring Manager” and find out the name of the company’s human resources contact or recruiter. You can find this information by logging on to the company’s Web site or calling the main phone number and asking a receptionist for the name and title of their corporate recruiter. Once you have a contact name, experts recommend using the person’s formal title such as “Mr.,” “Ms.” or “Mrs.”

Be detailed.
State which job you are applying for in the very first paragraph and make sure to include other specific details such as a job ID number (if one was provided) and where you heard about the opening. The reason for this detail is simple: Many recruiters are responsible for multiple openings within their companies and must be able to determine which job your application is targeting. And if you were referred to the company by an employee, be sure to mention this in your letter as many companies have employee referral programs.

Have personality.
One of the objectives of a good cover letter is to make a personal connection with the reader. Gone are the days when you could simply change the name of the company in your salutation, attach it to your resume and fire it off to the employer. Recruiters see right through these types of letters and recognize them for what they are – a lazy person’s attempt to find a job.

Do some legwork.
A winning cover letter will require some research into the company’s history and recent accomplishments. It should show the reader that you have some knowledge of their company and that you made an informed decision when you decided to apply for a job at their company.

Show your worth.
When writing your letter, keep the requirements of the job in mind and address them specifically.  Remember, it’s not what the company can do for you; it’s what you can do for the company that counts.

Get the interview.
Go ahead and tell the hiring manager you want that interview. Express that your cover letter and resume are just the tip of the iceberg and you look forward to a face-to-face conversation.

  1. When posting a resume, is it acceptable to omit dates? I am almost 67 years old but I plan to continue working many more years. I am in good health and still think of myself as being young. As a matter of fact, most people I work around think I’m 45-50 years old. The job I’m currently in will probably be over in April due to layoffs. When I put my resume out with the date of graduation and dates with previous employers, I either don’t get a response or else I will get an e-mail, stating they have an applicant with better qualifications. I know that isn’t true because I have worked 45 years in my field of expertise and have every certification needed in my occupation. I have an excellent work history and have excelled in every job I’ve held. I am very proactive in keeping current in every aspect of my profession. If I could just get called for an interview, I have no doubt I would be hired. I think the person that reviews the resumes for a particular job sees the date I graduated, and automatically rules me out as being too old. I know they aren’t supposed to discriminate due to age, but it happens every day.

  2. After an interview that went well, is it recommended to e-mail or fax or mail a “thank you for the interview” letter or note? How soon should you send one? SHOULD you send one? Do you have any examples?

    • LeRoy Baxter I learned a simple trick from one blog couple of months back…a “thank u note” is not just about thanking the interviewer for given u a chance, it is also a chance for you to address any concerns they had during the interview about your ability to perform the task in question. U may ask that how will u knw their concern. 99% of interviewer will ask u at the end if you have any question. I always try to ask atleast 5 questions depending on hw detail the interviewer might have/not answer some of my prepared question in the course of the interview… matter what, there is one recurring question I always ask which gives me the foundation of my “Thank you letter”….. “Regarding what you have learned about me today, do u have any issue you think might impede me from performing this job as required?” Addressing their concern in a thank you letter also tells them that you were listening and paying attention to the issues. I try to send it within 3days after the interview. I write it the same day after the interview and get up the next day and read over it, add some more points if necessary and ultimately correct grammar and spelling.

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