Drafting a Winning Cover Letter for Your Resume

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The cover letter is as, if not more, important than the resume you will submit by mail or through a posting on a website.  While a resume can extend to two pages, a cover letter should be no longer than one page since a longer cover letter has little chances of being read.  Just as if a speaker takes an hour to say what can easily be said in fifteen minutes, a cover letter should be able to convey all that you must on one page.

Put your name address, phone number, and e-mail address on the top and then start the letter with a date. It should be addressed to a specific person.  If name is not known then address it to a title, such as: Manager Human Resources or Director of Personnel, etc. and use the salutation:  Dear Madam/Sir.  Put the name of the position you are applying for in the subject line.  Here are the important elements of a cover letter that would increase the chances of its being read and bringing a call for an interview:

 It has start, middle, and ending

 1.   The Start:

The letter must avoid starting with "I" and your first sentence is the key to getting the reader's attention.  For example write something like: "Your company being one of the leaders in research and innovation, I would very much like to be a part of your team."  Or: "Someone familiar with your company has recommended that I should explore the possibility of working for you."   

 2.   The Middle:

This part is your sales pitch as to why you are the person they are looking for.  Bring out the salient  features of your qualifications and experience listed in your resume and then relate them to the job requirements.  Be concise and imaginative without repeating your resume.  Offer convincing arguments as to why you are interested to work for them and what would you be able to contribute.  Try to customize  the letter about the position after doing extensive research about the firm. 

Mention the striking things about the organization that you found in your research and why they interest you.  Relate your personal characteristics and pull out the elements that strongly match the requirements  of the job.  Provide the information that has been specifically asked for. 

Avoid mentioning weaknesses and if there are any gaps in your resume or why you want to leave your present job.  You can explain such matters if asked on the phone or during the personal interview.   Do not give out information that is not relevant.  If asked about salary requirements just say that you are flexible based upon the opportunities that the position will provide.

3.  The ending:

Request for a personal interview and tell them how they can reach you.  Politely ask if you can follow up with a call and when.  Without sounding desperate show a genuine interest in the position you are seeking.  Offer to send them any additional information they may need. 

 If you happen to live nearby or may be visiting that area in the near future, ask if you can stop by and see   someone they would recommend.

 End your letter with a "thank you" for consideration and their time.  Before submitting the letter proofread it carefully or have someone, you trust, look at it to check it for errors and for any suggestions for improvement.

Don't be in a hurry.  Rather look at your letter at least three times to revise and improve it.

 Finally, remember it is not what the prospective employer can do for you but you can do for the employer.        

 Note:  For suggestions on how to prepare a resume look for a separate article:  Resume Outline:  The Key to Getting Hired

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