Cover Letters

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008 - cover letter

Mohamed Asks: What are the most important 3 things that you need to cover in a cover letter? which ones you should absolutely avoid?

In Answer:
Write your cover letter as if you are responding to employer’s questions – make it as easy as possible for them to read and to invite you in for an interview by:
1. Stating where you found position listing, and what position is of interest (they want to know how advertising is working)
2. Briefly framing your understanding of position (employers often have multiple position requisitions open at a time) and how you fit the job (how your skills fit within the context of the position)
3. State why you are interested in the company/position/industry in a way that adds value. Employers want a high yield rate of interviews to offers–showing that position is aligned with your goals and interests, and that you are familiar with the company can only help. (It’s true that not all employers read cover letters, but do you want to take that risk?)

Things You Should “Absolutely Avoid”
1. Restating your resume (especially since you’ll be including it, anyway). The cover letter should highlight your fit for the position, not serve as a second summary of all your skills and interests. (Again, the key is to make it easy for your employer to read.)
2. Using language that you wouldn’t use in everyday speech. I’m skeptical, for example, of using words such as “liase” or “ameliorate”
3. Saying the position is a perfect fit for you–wait until you learn more about the company and the nature of the position within the organization
4. Raise ANY red flags (relocation/salary/benefits requirements or demands/Why you left other job/Personal life issues -relations,housing, income, health/Religious, political, race, gender, sexual, financial, lifestyle beliefs, etc, etc, etc!!!)
5. Forget to include a call to action – ask for the interview.

A basic style should include:

Paragraph 1: State why you’re writing the letter. (position you’re applying for, and an overview of the contents of the rest of your letter)

Paragraph 2: Describe why you’re qualified. (Give an overview of the highlights from your resume, and explain how these have prepared you for the job you’re applying for.)

Paragraph 3: Provide supplemental information. (Make it interesting. Examples of topics- why you want the job, why you chose this career, your philosophy relating to that profession, how you would go about doing a certain aspect of the job, etc.)

Paragraph 4: Sum it all up. (Conclude, express your interest in an interview, thank them for their time and consideration.)

Job searching is a process of mutual selection – what appears great on paper may not be perfect in person. The interview will be a chance for you and the employer to assess a potential match; the goal of the cover letter and resume is to land you the interview.

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