Cover Yourself, Write a Cover Letter

By: Donalyn Spisak


A company may receive over 200 responses to a particular ad for employment. They will have assigned the task of going over those resume to someone whose sole purpose is to weed out the unqualified resumes. This person will not also read 200 cover letters unless the resume contains qualifications they're seeking.

I only read cover letters if they are attached to resumes that have the credentials one of my current clients is seeking. If your resume doesn't list what I am looking for, I won't look at your cover letter today. I will however, save them in my database for future reference.

Does that mean that a cover letter is unnecessary? NO. A cover letter is absolutely necessary. Writing a cover letter is expected. It is an important part of the process. It is required. A cover letter is the thing that sets you apart from other candidates. It is the third thing a company notices about you and what you may potentially bring to their company as a potential employee. The first thing a company may notice about you is your ability to address your literature to the correct person for consideration. If you send information via email, mail or fax which contains typographical errors you have done yourself a disservice. At this point they don't know you and do not wish to know you. The second thing they notice about you is your resume and whether it actually is geared toward the opening you are applying for. The third thing is your cover letter. If your resume shows you to hold the qualifications they are seeking they will then go to your cover letter to learn more. Remember your resume is probably being read by a clerical person first and then either forwarded or not forwarded to the first person who will be conducting interviews. If you do not state clearly what you have that they are seeking, you will probably not get an interview.

Your cover letter should show you are able to get to the point quickly and professionally. This means, keep it brief. Show strong communication skills and be focused. If you ramble on and on, you will simply bore your audience. Give them enough information to make them want to know more and then follow up.

Make certain you state the position you are applying for in your cover letter. Perhaps the company is hiring for many positions simultaneously. Simply placing the job listing in the subject of your email won't help you if the person who originally receives it forwards it on to someone else with their own subject in the subject line. Either do a subject line in your letter or state the position in your first paragraph. Perhaps "I am excited about the opportunity to be considered for your position of Sales Representative listed in the Pittsburgh e-Resource Newspaper."

Showing enthusiasm for the potential position is in order. An interviewer will always choose the enthusiastic candidate. Most people like to be surrounded by those who have a positive attitude.

State the attributes the company is searching for in this open position and then tell them why they have described you. Remember be brief. Let them know you have documented proof of success and would be happy to discuss that background in the near future.

NEVER say you don't have some quality or qualification they have asked for. These people are looking for a reason to eliminate you-you would have just provided that reason for them. If there is some quality you do not possess, speak about those qualities you do possess which are just as important or even more important.

Tell your audience what you intend to do next. Let them know you will call and on what day to follow up and make an appointment to meet in person. Make a commitment to act. When you do exactly as you said you would, you will be showing your ability to follow up and be dependable. Even if they are not available when you call, follow up and know your message will prove your sincere desire to continue and your tenacity and desire for the interview and subsequently the position.

Always be professional. Proofread and proofread again and then have someone else proofread your resume and cover letter prior to sending it out. Make certain your grammar is correct and you have used the appropriate word for the appropriate application. Be confident, be honest and be ready to interview.

If you have the impression your cover letter can talk about the credentials you have that are pertinent to the position you are applying for which are not listed specifically on your resume, you are mistaken. Like me, most clerical persons reviewing resumes or interviewers who are reading hundreds of resumes for a particular position will not read your cover letter unless your resume shows you have the credentials they seek. Do not use a generic resume meant to be all things to all people. Be original. Get their attention for the right reasons-make sense. Make certain your resume is written with regard to the position for which you are currently applying. Otherwise, save your time and your stamp.

Cover yourself and send a cover letter-it is part of the process. If you are seeking a professional to help write your winning resume or cover letters, feel free to contact us at 724-772-1149.

Donalyn Leskosek Spisak
Author "How to Write Your Professional Portfolio", "What You Need to Know About JobSearching" & "Keeping Track of your Interview"
Owner of three websites and president of Recruitshop located at http://www.recruitshop.com. Also See http://www.pharmaceuticalsalesprep.com.