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Why Most Sample Receptionist Cover Letters Wonít Get You in the Door
Many people that are looking for a sample receptionist cover letter might go online or to some book and merely pull out a letter, cut and paste it, and think that they are through. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that every job, from receptionist to CEO, requires that the individual make a strong and convincing case that he or she has the skills needed to solve the problems of that position. Ultimately, this case will be made in the interview, and the well-written cover letter is the best Ė and usually only - way to get that interview.
The problems with a sample receptionist cover letter that you find someplace are the same for any other sample cover letter pulled from the Internet or out of a book. In the first place, by their very definition sample letters are generic. The writers of these sample receptionist cover letters donít know anything about your experience, your skills, your motivation, your anything. So to expect them to be able to make the case that you, a specific person, are the best choice to solve a specific companyís specific business problem is ludicrous.
The second problem is that they are overused and overplayed. If a hiring manager works for any sized business at all itís likely that he or she sees literally thousands of sample receptionist cover letters in any given year. Chances are good that he or she has already seen the very sample cover letter that you are sending or one just like it a couple of times already. Starting off your job search with a document that basically says "Hello. I am an unoriginal, lazy person who is incapable of expressing myself individually" is hardly a smart or effective way to begin forming a relationship with the hiring manager.
Just Say No to Sample Receptionist Cover Letters
For these and other reasons, the best course of action is to pass up the sample receptionist cover letters and simply write your own. Luckily, with a minimum of guidance, this is an easy task to accomplish.
In this piece, weíll go through the elements of the well written receptionist cover letter and see an example of how that might be implemented for a hypothetical receptionist job seeker.
For any cover letter, the first thing to get right is the name of the person that you are sending it to and their contact details. Sending a letter with a misspelled name or address makes you look unprofessional before they even start reading. As for sending a letter that begins with "To Whom It May Concern" or "Sir/Madam," forget it. Think for a second about how you treat mail that comes to your house addressed to "Resident" and you will quickly guess how hiring managers treat this type of correspondence.
Once youíve got the name right, then what?
Get it Started Off Strong
Itís generally a good idea to start with a headline that lets the reader know whatís happening in a way that answers the question "whatís in this for me?" that the hiring manager invariably has when he or she sits down to go through cover letters.
"EXPERIENCED RECEPTIONIST SEEKS NEW OPPORTUNITY TO SHINE" accomplishes this nicely, and you could do a lot worse than to put it down as your opener.
Next, you want to follow this up with a paragraph explaining the business problem that the receptionist is supposed to solve. This allows you to establish your credibility, as well as implies that you are going into the job search looking for a way to do the work that a company needs, not merely to collect a paycheckÖ a subtle difference, but a very real one in many hiring managerís minds. Hereís a sample of how this might be accomplished:
"I am writing to put myself forward for the high-visibility position of receptionist for your company. I will bring a level of professionalism, conscientiousness and willingness to learn that this position of responsibility deserves. Though some might consider the position of receptionist to be relatively trivial, I believe that it fulfills several important roles for a company that require the sort of seriousness that I have brought to the job for my entire career."
"First and foremost, the duty of a receptionist is to impeccably perform the specific greeting and call-forwarding duties of the position, and I have consistently done just that for my entire job history behind the receptionist desk. I believe, however, that the duties of the receptionist go beyond simply routing calls and include many important, if intangible, jobs."
"For many visitors or callers to a business, the receptionist provides the first impression that they carry with them into their first meeting. For that reason I seek to maintain the highest levels of professionalism and efficiency on a daily basis. Within the company as well, the receptionist is alone in that he or she is the only employee that all other employees interact with on a regular and daily basis. As a result, the attitude that a receptionist brings to work, whether good or bad, can easily be spread throughout the entire office. That is why I have attempted to use my position of visibility to be a source of cheerfulness and friendliness to raise morale for the entire office."
Okay, Now Prove It to Me
Now that you have established you know what needs to be done, the question that must be answered is if you can do it. To answer this question, you need to provide proof, in the form of education, training and especially job experience. The more specific and tangible you can get, the better and more convincing your case is.
"My three years of experience make me uniquely suited to performing these duties for your organization. During my time as a receptionist, I have worked in two very different office environments which have given me a broad variety of experience to bring to your company. In my first position, I worked at a very large firm and became extremely adept at the efficient multi-tasking that a busy office requires of their receptionist. In more recent position, I worked at a smaller firm and became more experienced in the individualized services I could provide to office visitors, client and firm employees. It was in this position that I began educating myself in the details of the company and the services and duties that each member of the team provided. This allowed me to function more effectively as a source of information for callers about who they needed to talk to, as well as made me more able to assist the firm employees in the completion of their duties."
Last but not least, throw in a sentence or two that shows that you actually enjoy the work. Given a choice between two identical candidates, the smart hiring manager will choose the one that is enthusiastic and has a positive attitude about the position. This element, by the way, is one that most sample receptionist cover letters never think to add.
"I enjoy the fast pace and chance to learn about a business that being a receptionist offers."
Now ask for the interview that you want.
"I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm for this opportunity with you at your earliest convenience. Please call me at 555-345-6789 so that we can set up an appointment to meet in person."
P.S. Use the Secret Weapon
As a final kicker, stick a P.S. on the end of the letter. For some reason, peopleís eyes tend to be drawn to these like magnets so they are an easy way to ensure that at least a portion of your letter is read. Making sure the P.S. includes some sort of reference to the qualities that make you able to solve the business problem the position needs to solve turns this quick glance into a desire to read the rest of the letter.
P.S. Next week is a particularly good time for me to meet you at your office and I would hate to miss that opportunity to explain in more depth the conscientiousness I would bring to the position. If I have not heard back from you by next Wednesday, I will follow up with a quick phone call to see if you have a few minutes on your calendar to speak to me.
Before you send the letter off, be sure to give it a thorough proofreading and editing session. Donít just run spell-check and grammar check and let it go at that. Spend a little time working to make the diction and syntax natural, flowing, casual and intelligent. A good way to do this is to read it out loud. Typically, this exposes the awkward, overformal or weird sounding elements in what you have written. If you really want to be sure to send your best letter, ask someone else to read it for you or to listen to you read it out loud.
Donít be surprised, though, if they are so impressed that they want to use it for a sample receptionist cover letter for themselves!
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