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Cover Letters That Make
Interviews Appear

Donald Levine

After the envelope containing your resume is opened, your first impression is made by a very important document - the cover letter. A well-written cover letter can spell the difference between a quick glance or a careful reading of your carefully crafted resume. Keep the cover letter concise and simple so that the hiring official will be quickly informed as to why your resume is the one they have been waiting for! And, unless you are in advertising and want to impress an agency with your witty copy, your cover letter should look as solid and perfect as an unblemished attendance record.

Think of your resume as a sign on the highway. It should be clear, concise, easy to read and to the point. So please do not send a handwritten note unless you want your road sign to look like it is pointing to a garage sale! Typeset letters are easier on the eyes and more professional looking: If you do not have a word processor you can usually get access to one at your local library. And please use a standard business letter format - your name and return address in the upper left-hand corner, the addressee's name, title, company, company address below it. Three spaces down you should write the date in the following format: Month (written out), day (numeral), year (example -"1996"). Three spaces down from the date should be your salutation, "Dear (name):

Cover letters should consist of no more that three paragraphs. The first paragraph should be an introductory one. If you are responding to an advertisement for a position be sure to reference the date that the ad ran, the paper or website where you found it, and the title of the position. The ad may have run in more than one newspaper or website and they may have run ads for other positions, so be specific. For example, here is a good first paragraph:

"I saw your advertisement for a Rottweiller Dyer in the May 1,
1996 Saber-toothed Times, and would like to apply for the position."

The second paragraph is where you will give a synopsis of your background, strengths and experience as they relate to the position and hiring company. Example:

"I am a licensed CC (Canine Colorist) and have extensive experience
dyeing rotweillers a variety of colors. During a recent ad campaign
for the Fussy Fido pet food commercials, I became especially
adept at dying them green, the color that the dogs turned after
eating the competitor's food. Before that I spent two years at
Poofy's Pet Salon as a professional colorist."

The third paragraph should be the final one. In this section you should thank them for their consideration, and tell them how excited you are about meeting with them to discuss the position further. Here is how that might look:

"Thank you for considering me for this exciting opportunity
and taking the time to read my attached resume. I look
forward to meeting with you to discuss further how I may be
of service to your outstanding organization."

Now, did you use your spell-checker? Of course you did. But then there are those embarrassing typos that a spell checker might not catch. Here are some real life examples of why you should go over your cover letter and resume with a fine toothed comb (italics added)...

"My salary expectation is at least $45K, anally."
"I considered it a pubic service..."
"I have the ability to asses problems and provide quick solutions."

You probably do not want to send a letter with typos like the ones listed above. (Your resume or cover letter might get read by a lot of people that way, but who needs that kind of publicity?) So, if at all possible, have your cover letter and resume proofread by at least one other person and have them check it for any problems you might have missed.

2000 Sharp Placement Professionals, Inc.


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