by Erin Kennedy
Your resume is a snapshot of your education and career experience. It even gives your contact information, skills, interests and awards. So why do so many employers still ask for a cover letter? Think of it as your introduction to your reader, or an invitation to speak to them directly. Your cover letter serves as notice to an employer that you are applying for a specific position.
1st paragraph—Introduction. Take advantage of this “conversation” and list the position title you are applying for and any identifying position number in the opening paragraph. You can also mention here if you heard about the position through a colleague, friend, or someone who knows that person i.e. “Jenny Stone told me the position of Project Manager was still available and that my experience would be a perfect fit.”
2nd paragraph—Experience. The resume states your experience, so use the second paragraph to explain how your experience will help the employer. Summarize some of the successes you’ve had and how you can do these for them. Try not to create a duplicate of your resume here—that is boring and repetitious—but rather a brief synopsis. The purpose of the cover letter is to introduce yourself as the right candidate, not the most boring candidate. List any requested information such as salary history or expectations here. Give a wide salary range to leave yourself some negotiation room should you land this position. You can also address why you want this position and how you stand out from any other candidates applying for it.
3rd paragraph—Summary. The third paragraph can briefly sum up important points, why you are ‘the one’ for them, and why they need to call you. State how you will be following up with the employer. If the ad you respond to tells you not to call, then don’t. Overzealous follow-up can land you on a recruiter’s black list. Be succinct in the last paragraph. You do not need to describe how you can be reached. That information is on the resume. You may want to add that you will be contacting them the following week so you will have some control over it and won’t be waiting by the phone for them to call.
Close out the letter with Sincerely and your full name. If you are sending a paper copy of your cover letter, be sure to sign it in the space between Sincerely and your typed name. You can email your cover letter as well. Copy and paste your content into the body of the cover letter and attach your resume to the email.
In this era of technology and instant information, employers still like the ‘old-fashioned’ introduction of you via cover letter as they will never go out of style.
About the Author
Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CPRW, BS/HR, is a Certified Master & Executive Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services, Inc., home to some of the best resume writers on the planet. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of 12+ best-selling career books and has written hundreds of career-related articles. She has achieved international recognition following yearly nominations of the prestigious T.O.R.I. (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award.
As a proud member of Career Directors International (CDI), National Resume Writers Association (NRWA), Professional Association of Resume Writers (PARW), and Career Thought Leaders (CTL), Erin also sits on CDI’s Credentialing Committee for certification candidates and serves as a Mentor for CDI’s Member Mentoring Committee. She also is a featured blogger on several popular career sites. Erin has written thousands of resumes for executives and professionals. http://exclusive-executive-resumes.com
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