Basics of a Dynamic Cover Letter

Nancy Anderson
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A cover letter serves as a targeted email that accompanies your resume to a potential employer. This correspondence introduces you to the hiring manager and brings out your personality to the person who makes hiring decisions for the company. The goal of the letter is to leave HR wanting to hear more. As such, you should mention several items in the four-paragraph letter to get noticed.

Highlight Your Experience

A great cover letter highlights your experiences as they pertain to the job at hand. Whereas a resume describes your relevant experiences, accomplishments and skills, an introductory letter talks about your top one or two attributes that the employer seeks to find in a selected candidate. Know which part of your experience is the most pertinent to the position, and mention it in your letter.

A Way of Explanation

The best cover letter explains why you want the job, how you came across the posting and the main way you can take your employer to the next level. The letter can also explain an employment gap, replace the "objective" section on a resume and tell your story about why you're the perfect fit. A resume lists hard numbers, but a cover letter brings out your personality for the employer to see. This correspondence breaks down into a few basic types depending on your situation.

Three Types of Letters

A cover letter has three main types based on how you found out about the position. Business networking comes into play in 80 percent of the job openings that companies have to offer. That means most of the positions are filled without a posting going to public view on job boards. When your business networking skills come through, you have a referral letter. Somewhere in the first paragraph of this type of letter, mention the person who referred you for this position.

Much like a cold call in sales, an uninvited prospecting letter occurs when there is no job available. This type of letter lets you expound on why the prospective employer needs your talents. Make sure you address this correspondence to the person responsible for hiring, otherwise a generic letter may find the trash can. A memorable message can resonate with HR when a position does come available, which gives you an advantage if the position never makes it to public view on a job board.

Around 20 percent of jobs appear for public view on job boards, HR departments or industry websites. This is when you send an invited letter, which means an HR department invited you to respond to the ad. This lets you cater your writing to the job description posted on the board.

Your dynamic cover letter is a sales pitch with you as the product. The overall goal is to motivate the employer to give you a call asking for more details ahead of closing the sale in an interview, which means you must give HR an intriguing reason to seek more information.


Photo courtesy of orangefred at Flickr.com

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