The Cover Letter Makeover

Nancy Anderson
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Most anyone who has spent any time looking for a job knows that a great resume is needed to catch the attention of the hiring agent. Oftentimes though, the cover letter is regarded as nothing more than an introduction or opening statement leading to the pot-of-gold resume to follow, and so not as much attention is paid to the writing and formatting of the cover letter.

Since the cover letter is the first thing (and sometimes the only thing) usually viewed by the hiring agent, it is extremely important that it is well written, formatted, and contains pertinent information in order to catch their eye and lead them to read on. Also, the type of content is important to consider. Many people make the mistake of filling the cover letter with what types of needs they seek in a position, or the types of things they are seeking to do in a career; in other words, it becomes highly "you" centered in the details and terminology used. Read over your typical cover letter and see if that is the general impression it conveys.

Now, the first thing to look at is, who do you have it written to? Does it have a direct person’s name, or just a general title, like "Dear Hiring Agent" or "To Whom It May Concern" type address? Do not just have a generic cover letter that you simply copy and send with each resume or do you write a new custom letter based on each position you are applying for? Always customize your cover letter for the position and person in consideration. Track down the hiring agents name and direct it to them personally.

Now, does the letter focus more on what you do, have done and/or the skills you have accumulated in general? Is it mainly a paragraph form letter of information already contained on your resume? The cover letter should focus more on what the position/company is needing in an employee, and then showcasing how you possess what they need. This requires you to do a little homework to understand what the job is, what it requires, and what parts of your experiences best match their needs. The cover letter should be about their needs, and how you can specifically fulfill those needs. Direct the attention to the position's requirements, and focus your letter on how your experience and past accomplishments can fill those needs.

The goal here is to give a brief introduction of you and your skills, but formatted in a way that shows their direct correlation with the company's needs, and will give the hiring agent enough to stimulate them to open the actual resume to see in more detail all of your experience and skills within. So, no more with the generic covers letters. Make each cover letter is personalized and customized to fit the specific position being applied for, and this will help bring you one step closer to filling the needs and opening of the company.

What kind of experience have you had with good and bad cover letter ideas in the past? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Jeff McCormack resides in Virginia Beach, VA. where he works as a web designer by day. In his off time he is a husband, father, mail order book store manager, and musician. Aside from being a freelance writer for this Logistics Jobsite blog, he also seeks to assist in career choices and information by contributing to other Nexxt blog sites.


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