Archive for the 'Cover Letters' Category

Questions to Consider for Your Cover Letter

Once you have a great resume, writing a terrific cover letter is the next important step. It’s not a good idea to skip the cover letter, as many employers think of it as the equivalent of an introductory handshake. If you wouldn’t skip the handshake, don’t skip the cover letter!

I’ve written all about cover letters…Follow THIS link to read my suggestions for how to compose yours.

I recently read a post by my colleague, J.T. O’Donnell that I thought offered some terrific, thought provoking questions for job seekers to consider when writing a cover letter. She suggests that they answer questions such as:

—Looking at your past professional success, what makes you good at what you do?

—How has your work inspired you?

—What value does it provide?

—If asked to describe yourself in an honest, humble, funny yet confident sort of way, what would you say?

The key thing is to connect what you have to offer with what will appeal to the employer. I think these questions are a great way to start thinking!

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Cover Letter Follow-Up

To conclude this week’s posts about cover letters, a few points about following up…

What About Follow Up?
Follow up of your letters is essential! The success of your job search will be directly related to how well you do this. Employers simply do not have enough time to respond to every letter they receive. Consider preparing a script to help you make your calls. Try to make your calls between Tuesday and Thursday and either first thing in the morning (8:30-9:00) or at the end of the day (4:30-5:00). These are times you will catch more people at their desks.

Try to avoid leaving a message on an answering machine if possible. If you do not leave a message, you have the option of calling a few more times and thereby keeping the “ball” in your court. However, if you call at various times and never reach a person, leave a message with your name, that you are following up on correspondence, request a return call, and leave contact information. If you do not hear from them within a week, try again. Your persistence should pay off.

If you do not have any luck reaching someone via the telephone, it is not a bad idea to touch base via email. Explain that you are following up regarding applying for a position and that you will continue to try to reach them by phone.

Be persistent without harassing the recipient and you will make an impact.

Keppie Careers is here to guide you in your job hunt:

Photo by Mark Witton

Mo’ Cover Letter Tips

Since I’m on a roll this week with cover letter tips, I thought I’d continue the series with some obvious, but still overlooked things to consider!

Personalize each letter. You should make every attempt to be able to address each letter to a specific individual. This may require that you contact the organization to get the name and title of the appropriate person.

Use non-sexist language. If you are answering a blind ad with no way of obtaining a specific person to whom you can direct your letter, do not use “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam.” “To whom it may concern” is appropriate, but only do this when it is impossible to get a specific name.

Limit your letter to one page. Clear concise writing will ensure that you say everything you need to say in as few words as possible. Cover letters should never be more than one page and usually not more than 3-4 paragraphs.

Avoid overusing the word “I”. For example, instead of saying, “I have enclosed a copy of my resume” you can restructure sentences to use “you” more often. The result would be “Enclosed you will find a copy of my resume.” A rule of thumb is to try not to use “I” more than twice per paragraph.

Vary your writing. Variety makes your letters more interesting and easier to read. Try to offset long sentences with short ones. Use transitional words and phrases to help your ideas flow together more easily.

Use attention-getting action verbs and adjectives. When describing yourself and your qualifications, use adjectives and action verbs to add flavor and arouse interest. Check out the “Skills List” on for examples.

Proofread, proofread, proofread. Check and check again for spelling errors. Don’t rely on your spell check alone. Read your letter backward to catch your spelling errors and typos. Check for grammatical errors by reading your letter out loud carefully from beginning to end. Have other people check for errors as well. Nothing shatters a good first impression faster than work that appears carelessly done.

Sincerely” is a good way to close your letter. Never forget to sign it if you are mailing it.

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Keppie Careers – we’ll write your resume, compose your cover letters and walk you through every step of your job hunt:

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Cover Letter Inspiration…So Be It!

Are you suffering writer’s block when it comes to your cover letters?

Your first inspiration should come directly from the job description. This is your best source of information about what the employer is seeking. In addition, be sure to visit their website and take advantage of any information that helps connect you to the organization. Finally, if you have been networking well, you may have personal information directly from employees of the targeted company. USE IT to help you draw the lines between what you offer and what they want.

How Can You Describe Your Qualifications and Strengths?

Resources that might be helpful include:

  1. Phrases from prior performance appraisals, letters of commendation and letters of recommendation.
  2. Current and past job descriptions and standards of performance that clearly express job expectations and responsibilities.
  3. Desirable characteristics and requested skills for similar advertised jobs.
  4. Newspaper editorials and business sections to help write paragraphs about your industry, occupation or the economy.

More Tips to Make My Cover Letters Effective

  • Keep a copy of every letter you send as part of your job search file. Besides providing you with a record of your search, you can use portions of these letters in future ones.
  • To be efficient, develop two or three basic paragraphs and modify them slightly to personalize each letter.

Read more about cover letters from Keppie Careers:

Don’t Skip the Cover Letter
Cover Letter Tips

Don’t want to write a cover letter? We’ll do it for you!

Photo by Eva the Weaver

Cover Letter Tips

Now that we’ve established that many organizations still seek and expect to receive a cover letter, it seemed a good time to add some cover letter tips to Keppie Careers’ blog!

What Is A Cover Letter? What’s the Point?
Like all job search correspondence, a cover letter is a sales pitch. It’s an introduction to your resume and should be interesting enough that the reader will want to read more about you!
Create a new, targeted cover letter for each position.

Often this letter is the first contact you have with a prospective employer. A neat, concise, well-written letter can entice the employer to read your resume with greater interest and improve your chances of getting an interview.

How Should Cover Letters Be Organized?
A lot of cover letter advice mentions breaking the letter into three parts: Introduction, Body, and Closing. I adapt this advice for cover letters and use the following format:

1. Opening Pitch. Why are you right for the job? Sell yourself here. Be sure to take your cues from the job description, which is (more often than not) highly detailed and involved. Take advantage of all the information available to you to craft a spot-on first sentence that will appeal to your readers. Your first paragraph should focus on what you have to offer relative to the employer’s needs. A good opening may be something along these lines: As a leader and manager, I develop, build and maintain strong relationships.

In the past, coaches encouraged job seekers to start their letters, “I saw your ad in X publication and am writing to apply for the position of ________.” You do need to state the position in which you have an interest, but this should not lead your letter. Of course you are applying for the job – so is everyone else! What makes you special or unique? THAT is how to lead your letter.

2. Highlights of Qualifications. The second section should hone in on the reasons you are perfect for this job. Research the organization beyond the job description to find links between their needs and your skills. If an organization makes a big deal about their values, feel free to use that information to inform your letter. Use bullet points to group your qualifications. I suggest choosing three headers and selecting no more than 3 bullet points for each header. You can use parts of your resume, but do not simply repeat your resume. You want to use the letter as a hook to interest the reader in learning more by reading your resume. For example: My work ethic and standards fit perfectly with X Company’s values of “Honesty, Integrity and Respect for People.” Some highlights: (List highlights as bullets under these headers.)

3. Call to action. Make a point to let the reader know what you want – an interview:

I hope you agree that my extensive experience in project management and well developed written communication skills are solid matches for X Company. I look forward to putting my ideas, enthusiasm and energy to work for your team and will contact you the week of ____________ to discuss the many links between your needs and my skills.

You must follow-up as indicated. Mark your calendar appropriately.

Read more about cover letters from Keppie Careers:

Don’t Skip the Cover Letter
Cover Letter Inspiration
Mo’ Cover Letter Tips

Need a great cover letter? Don’t take a chance on sending out something that doesn’t represent you well. Keppie Careers is here for you!

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