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Consider Your Cover Letter

 Integrity Staffing & Solutions

Do you include a cover letter with your resume?  Cover Letters are now more important than ever before.  Why?  Because most resumes are submitted online.  Due to the unique format of each resume, the resume is often scrambled in electronic communication.  Your nicely formatted resume can have a cluttered look when it appears on the reader’s computer screen.  A cluttered format makes any resume more difficult to read.  The reader can easily miss seeing key information when viewing a jumbled format.  Worse yet, the reader may give up and not even try to read your resume.

A well written cover letter will help to bridge the reader’s knowledge about you in an easy to read format.  Following are guidelines intended to help you compose an impacting cover letter.

Cover Letter Guidelines

1.  It is best if you can research the person’s name to use in the greeting.  When this is not possible, forego the greeting.  Rather than typing “To Whom It May Concern”, simply start the first paragraph of your letter.

2. Your cover letter format should contain a clear introduction, body and closing paragraph.

3. The first paragraph of the letter should identify the position you are applying for and indicate where you learned about the job opening.  Next, make a statement about why you are interested in this particular position.

4. The body of your letter (1-2) paragraphs needs to show that you understand the essence of the position by explaining how your qualifications relate to what they state they are looking for in the ad or the position description.  Be sure to include specific examples of the experience, skills and personal qualities that you believe make you a particularly good fit for the position.  It should not be a reiteration of your work resume.

5. Your closing paragraph should suggest what you would like the reader to do next, or the plan of action you will take to make contact with them.  This can be a request for an interview and/or a statement that you will follow up soon with a phone call.

6. Limit your letter to one page and avoid overusing the word “I”.  A rule of thumb is to try not to use “I” more than twice in a paragraph.  Use the word “you” whenever you can.

7. Use action verbs to describe yourself and your qualifications. This will add energy and interest to your letter.

8. Proofread your letter carefully to avoid any mistakes in spelling or grammar.

9. For more information on cover letters see: Cover Letter Resources for Job Seekers

Follow Up

Follow up after sending your resume and cover letter is important.  Sometimes this is easier said than done.  Preferably, you will have the name of the contact person, but when you do not, call the human resources department and ask to speak with the person handling the job opening for which you applied.  Calling first thing in the morning or near the end of the day are good times to call.  If you reach the person, confirm that they received your information and express your strong interest in the position.  Indicate you would welcome an interview, and ask if they have any questions.

Should you reach an answering machine, leave your name and a message that states you are following up on your application and the title of the position, that you would appreciate a return phone call, and how and when you can be reached.  If a week goes by without any word, try again.  Polite persistence will pay off.