Cover Letter

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a document to introduce you to an employer. Although that sounds very simple, it really is not quite that simple…there is a bit more to the process and this e-book is intended to introduce you to that process and break it down into easier steps to assist you. The more complicated definition is that a cover letter is an introduction to an employer that is expressive and markets you in the best way possible.
Cover letters are typically divided into three categories:
·    The application letter or invited cover letter which responds to a known job opening
·    The prospecting letter or uninvited cover letter which inquires about possible positions
·    The networking letter which requests information and assistance in the sender’s job search

Cover letters are generally one page at most in length, divided into a header, introduction, body, and closing.

What is the purpose of a cover letter?
The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce you to an employer in a slightly less formal way than the resume. It is important to show just a small amount of personality in your cover letter that can’t be shown in a resume. It is a time for the employer to get to know you and begin to think about how you will fit in with the team already in existence. Employers are consistently receiving hundreds of applications for each position they want to fill. If you are among the hundreds of applicants, what can you do to ensure your application does not get discarded?
An effective cover letter should be engaging, employer or position specific and well-written. It should describe why you are interested in the position and what qualifications or experience makes you a good fit. It should outline your relevant experience or education and also reflect your enthusiasm and willingness to learn.

Expanding and wording…

Many people come to me when they are having a very difficult time writing the cover letter because they can’t seem to change the wording from the resume to the cover letter. It is true that you don’t want to “repeat” the wording from your resume but you want to enhance and expand on the information. You want to give the reader an “Aha” moment where they see the bullets on the resume and correlate it to the more detailed information in the cover letter. It is sort of the “getting to know you” moment I said earlier.
For instance let’s use a statement from a resume that says:

  •    Consistently recognized by colleagues and supervisors for providing quality customer service

The above statement is a perfectly acceptable resume bullet statement but in my cover letter I might want them to know more about how I have gotten noticed. What did I do that was special or different that caused others to comment on my skill.
In my cover letter I might write…

Coworkers, supervisors, and customers have consistently complimented me for working hard to ensure that each customer receives the best service possible.
Now I have been complimented for giving and making sure the customer receives great service. Yes I am saying the same thing, but I am making it a little more personal. Notice it is not a bulleted statement in a cover letter.

Who needs a cover letter?

Pretty much everyone will need a cover letter at some point when applying for employment because you are introducing yourself and no matter how great your resume is…it won’t always be enough.

Let’s take me for a specific example:

Recently I applied for a job that I am certainly qualified for in the majority of ways, but there is a medical background aspect that I haven’t done in an employment setting…but I needed them to know that I have been an advocate for people struggling with critical illnesses in my personal life and I could certainly take that knowledge and ability and put it to use to learn all I need to know about community medical advocacy. I had no bullets for my resume for personal items so I needed to put it in my cover letter and I did. I honestly thought that I would come back qualified but in the 70-80% grouping. Imagine my surprise and joy when I came back listed in the top group of 90-100% qualified for the position and I was placed in the eligibility pool. I am sure that I would not have ranked so high if I would not have told them that I have been a health advocate for people in my family with critical illnesses because I would not have come close enough to meeting the medical background that the position requires.

Formatting and Personal Branding

A cover letter follows all acceptable business letter correspondence rules such as basic block format but there is one key difference – “Personal Branding”. Yes there is such a thing as an individual having a “personal brand” or “Letterhead” so as you are preparing to begin your job search you want to make sure that you are setting everything up as professionally as possible.
Paragraph 1 is your introduction

Paragraph 2 is about you and why you are such a great fit

Paragraph 3 will be one of two things…it will be an extension of paragraph 2 in which you do a little bit more personal explanation of why you are the best candidate or it will be your closing paragraph

Paragraph 4 will be the last paragraph no matter what because if you have read any of my other informational products you already know that an employer doesn’t give you much time the first time they look over what you send them.

You can  contact me directly through my website for assistance on writing your cover letter (fees may vary)

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“Loretta is a highly experienced and productive professional in the field of Workforce Development, Job Readiness, Career Counseling, Workshop Facilitation, and Job Search Preparation. I have worked with her closely for over six years, and she has consistently been a valuable, key resource in the employment community. For three of those years, she was at Napa Valley College as a resource specialist in their career center... 
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