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Cover Letters

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Resume Cover Letters

Getting hired is a sales process. The resume is the brochure and the cover letter is the sales pitch. You will write a good cover letter if you follow commonly accepted selling principles.

Always use a cover letter, even for blind online job applications. Everyone expects a cover letter tailored to the job and when possible, to the company.

Before writing the letter and customizing your resume, research the company as thoroughly as possible. Review the company's web site, look at the latest SEC filings, and search the web for recent news and to get a sense of their history. Also, research the industry and competitors.

Address the letter to the hiring manager, not generically to anyone reading the letter. Nine times out of ten, you can uncover the name over the Internet or by calling the company and asking around. Be inventive if the company makes it difficult.

Show a connection - When you know the name of the company, network-in. Ask everyone you know or leverage LinkedIn to find someone in the company or someone who knows the hiring manager.

Your resume is almost guaranteed to get a fair reading if you open the cover letter with a statement like "Clark Kent from your company's Denver office recommended that I contact you about the Supply Chain Manager job opening." Its best if Clark Kent and the hiring manager know each other, but not necessary.

Highlight how you fit - Mirror the job requirements when describing yourself. Use the same terminology as the ad and other terminology you know to be common to the company. Your research can help with that.

Quality and credibility - Portray yourself as a high quality choice. One or two achievements in PAR or SAR format that directly addresses job requirements will also add to the sense that you are a good fit.

Demonstrate an interest in the company - Use your research to include at least one tidbit that shows that you understand the company and the industry.

Do not rely only on logic - Show personality, a passion or something that highlights you as a special opportunity.

Address obvious objections - If the ad requires a significant attribute or skill that you obviously lack, address it. This is especially important when a low skilled HR employee screens resumes. Explain how you are better or how you have compensating skills.

Do not plant objections - Do not mention non-obvious problems. If necessary, mention them in the interview, but in a positive way and accompanied by a solution.

Close powerfully - Don't just ask for the interview, ask for the schedule i.e. "When would you like to schedule an interview? Control your destiny by establishing the opportunity to contact them. Don't say "I'm looking forward to hearing from you soon". Instead say, "Let's be in touch soon. I'll give you a call within a week."

Review your letter for readability, grammar and spelling errors repeatedly and get feedback. Wait at least a day before you send it to give yourself a chance to get it right.

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