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Cover Letter Strategies

Use six strategies recommended by a career expert to improve the effectiveness of your resume cover letters.

Cover Letter Strategies

by Kevin Donlin

In a nutshell, your cover letter should say, "I'm the right person for the job. I have unique skills and experience that will help your company right away. I hope you're as excited about this as I am." The accompanying resume should then prove your case.

Put another way, the cover letter is the advertisement for your resume.

To get your resume read, and to get that job interview, your cover letter must do the following six things.

  1. Focus on the needs of employers and how you would solve their problems. Employers have problems. That's why they're hiring! Your cover letter should say (although not in so many words): "I'm the answer to your problems."
  2. Display knowledge of the company. With the glut of information available on the Internet and most public libraries, you should be able to drop one or two facts/names into your cover letter to show you've done your homework on the company and its products, needs, challenges, etc. If you offer well-researched suggestions that will work right away for a company, they WILL call you.
  3. Briefly state your best qualifications AND achievements. Don't spend a lot of time rehashing your resume. But do include enough tidbits to generate interest in the mind of the reader.
  4. Show your enthusiasm about the job. Avoid sounding like 90% of applicants, who say (not in so many words): "Give me a job where I can advance and make more money." Instead, convey this: "I'm excited about the possibility of bringing my skills to work for you."
  5. State that you will follow up to schedule an interview. If you politely inform the reader that you'll be calling within a few days to answer any questions and schedule an in-person interview, you set yourself apart from the crowd with your determination and confidence.
  6. Keep your letter short and focused. Most letters ramble on in excruciating detail for one or even two full pages. Show respect for the limited time your reader has and limit yourself to four, five or six paragraphs at most.

Best of luck to you!

Kevin Donlin owns and operates Guaranteed Resumes. Since 1995, he has provided resumes, cover letters and online job-search assistance to clients. This article and hundreds like it on topics ranging from networking to resume writing to finding internships also appear in The Last Job Search Guide You'll Ever Need, a self-help job guide.