How to Cover Yourself With Glory
By Colin P McDonald

The importance of targeting your resume to a specific employer cannot be overstated. In addition there is another tool in your armory that you can use to 'hook in' the recipient of your resume - the cover letter. It must also be targeted at a specific employer.

The cover letter will be read first by the potential employer so it must immediately get their attention and then encourage them to take further action in opening your attached resume. If the cover letter is not attention- grabbing then your carefully prepared resume may never be opened and read by the target reader. In effect, the cover letter is an instance of a sales letter designed to sell you and your resume to the reader.

There are three main types of cover letter -the broadcast letter, the letter of inquiry and the job application cover letter. Keep any cover letter to one page in length. Check the spelling and formatting carefully. Remember that it is the first impression of you that the reader will get. Don't be afraid to personalise your writing style within reason. A stream of consciousness outpouring will not go down well! Now we'll examine each type of letter in turn.

Broadcast Letter

A broadcast letter should accompany any resume sent to a recruitment agency or job board. The first sentence should explain why you are writing. In this particular instance, the letter cannot be targeted at a specific reader as the letter will be broadcast to a wider audience that cannot be predicted. Instead you must target the broadcast letter to a specific role or industry sector. It is important to include your key skills and to highlight your strengths and experience relevant to the role or sector.

Letter of Enquiry

A letter of enquiry should accompany any resume sent as a speculative enquiry to an employer. The first sentence should explain why you are writing. It should go on to highlight your strengths and focus on your key skills and achievements. Keep in mind the employment sector you are aiming at and list those skills and achievements particularly relevant to that sector. Write simply and clearly using no technical language that could confuse a non-technical reader.

Job Application Cover Letter

A cover letter should accompany any resume sent as a job application to an employer. Remember to include the company name in the address heading. The first sentence should contain the job title and the reference of the vacancy you are applying for. It should go on to highlight your strengths and focus on your skills and achievements relevant to the post applied for. Do not make any mention of the salary required or of any other company benefits. Your goal is to present to the employer what it is you can do for them - not what they can do for you. Bear in mind that non-technical HR staff may process job applications so remember to present your skills and experience in layman's terms.

In summary, keep your cover letters short, simple and to the point. Sell yourself to the reader. Highlight your suitability for the post. If you can pique the reader's interest then your resume will be read in a more positive light. Always finish the letter with an appropriate call to action e.g. request a face-to face meeting with an employer. Now go and write that killer cover letter!

See my Website: for more job hunting tips and how to create great cover letters.

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