Cover Letters – are they necessary?

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Should you write a cover letter?  The answer is yes.  Will everyone read it?  Probably not, but you don’t know who will and who won’t so better to write it because if someone does read it you want to impress them.

 

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This should be written like an official letter including:

  • date
  • company address
  • contact person’s name (if you know it)
  • salutations both at the beginning and the end
  • subject line – this is the first thing the hiring manager looks at so put more than the reference number, ie Experienced Programmer Analyst looking for Senior PA position, reference # 123445
  • body of the letter – the meat and bones of the letter which will help get you the interview.
  • Your contact information, including name, address, phone number and email address
  • Here is a sample of a KISS  Cover Letter

So what do you put in the body of the letter.  This is where you can show your knowledge of the company and the position.  Your resume is about you.  Your cover letter is about you and how you are perfect for this company and this position.  Yes, this means that each cover letter is individually personalized for the company and the position.  If you are going to do a blanket cover letter then don’t waste your time or the hiring manager’s.  Some things to keep in mind include:

  • Keep it simple and keep it short, maximum 200 words.
  • Hiring Managers read a lot of cover letters and resumes over the course of the day, so use your key words to catch their eye.
  • The first paragraph should be about why you are qualified for the job.  Don’t tell them you are a hard worker, tell them specifics “I have over 5 years of experience using Java/J2EE including working on …. systems”.   “My experience includes working with  – keywords from the job description”.
  • The second paragraph shows your knowledge of the company and how you will be a great addition to their team.  Again keep those keywords flowing.  Companies use “applicant tracking systems” to scan for certain keywords, once you are in their system they will scan your resume and cover letter for every position that comes up.
  • The wrap up paragraph thanks them for their time, lets them know your availability and best way to be reached.
Proofread it – get a friend to read it as well.  Don’t just spell check.  Spell check won’t catch words that are spelled correct but don’t fit the context of the sentence, ie planed and planned, Manager and Manger.
And last but not least if you put your cover letter in the email, remember to also attach it in a word and/or pdf document.  Set up a file to save your cover letters as well as the resume for each job you apply for, so when you get a call back you will be able to find your documents.

happyfacehanddrawn Good luck job hunting

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Lynne Carlson started her career off in administration, moved to Cobol Programming and for the last 14 years worked in all things recruitment.  Absolutely loves social media and excited about all the new innovations appearing every day!

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