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The final commandment in Cover Letters

The most important fact you need to know about cover letters is that they have to be written. There really is no debate on the issue. Each resume you send out should have a personal cover letter attached to it. The key word here is 'personal'. There is no point in sending out a standard cover letter attached to something as personal as your resume. A cover letter is another tool in your marketing arsenal and you are selling yourself. Most employers will not even read your resume if it has a covering letter that does not even address the reader by name. It shows the potential employer that you couldn't be bothered to find out about the company. Creating the first impression is vital to your job search success and you'll only have one chance to do it right!

If you follow these rules when writing a cover letter you'll be able to impress your potential employers and ensure that your resume is read:

  • Make sure that you have the correct personal details on the letter. The basics are your full name, your address and your telephone number. Make sure you have the name of person that will be reading the resume, as well as the full name of the company and the correct title of the job.
  • Personalize your letter. It is not good enough to use the cliché 'To whom it may concern'. This is outdated and shows a basic lack of courtesy. If the job description does not provide you with the name, then make a quick call to the company concerned and get his or her name. Always use a title (Mr./Mrs./Ms.), so check that out when you call the company.
  • Do your research. If your potential employer can see that you have made an effort to research their organization they will be more likely to grant you an interview. You can refer to one aspect of the organization that appeals to you and highlight it in the letter.
  • The devil's in the details. Always place the title of the job that you are applying for in the first sentence and include all of the details that you have. Sometimes the human resources department can receive applications for many different jobs and they need to know which one you are applying for immediately. If you are applying on the strength of a network, contact then be sure to mention the specific contact. Referrals are great resources in any job search.
  • Get to the point. Always highlight the requirements of the job and how your specific skills fulfill them. An interviewer wants to know that you have the basic skills or education needed to fill the position. Don't embellish at this point, just get them interested enough to read your resume and call you for an interview. Always remember they are looking for the value that you will bring to their organization. Not the other way round.
  • Keep it simple. That also means that you should keep your cover letter as short as possible without omitting any of the details. Don't bore the reader by giving them your life history; just impress them enough to keep on reading.
  • End on a high note. You have nothing to lose by writing a fantastic ending that leaves the door open for them to invite you for an interview. Express how much you would like the chance to meet them in a one on one setting.
Give your cover letter the same consideration as you would your resume and you'll soon find you're at the top of the list for job interviews.