Cover Letters Make a Great First Impression
By: Sacha DeVoretz
You're planning to work in the United States. You've got a great
American-style resume, and you feel you are the perfect candidate for a job that has just been advertised. But how do you advertise yourself? American employers demand a Cover Letter.
What exactly IS a cover letter? If you can think of your job search resume as the "dinner" of the job search meal, then your Cover Letter is your resume's "appetizer." A cover letter's primary purpose is to act as an employer's introduction to your resume. Put simply, it is a brief outline of your career objectives, a summary of your previous work experience, and a list of some notable career highlights. This letter is all about who you are and what you do. The idea is to make this introductory topsheet interesting and so well written that, after reading it, the employer's interest will be piqued enough to go on to read your resume.
The first step to your dream job in the USA is to have the best possible
cover letter and resume - first impressions, to an American employer, count the most. Having a perfect cover letter with your resume can mean the difference between being asked for an interview and your document being thrown in the trash. Here are some helpful Do's to keep in mind when you are crafting your great new cover letter:
· DO - keep your cover letter to one page. Any longer, and it may end up inspiring the employer to stop reading and even to skip reading the attached resume all together.
· DO - include career successes. Examples make your experience stand out.
· DO - address the cover letter to the Human Resources Manager by name if possible. The more the letter seems "personalized" and less like a mass mail-out, the better chance it will have to be read by the right person.
· DO - include the company's name and address in the cover letter if possible. If you are doing a "mass mail-out" (sending the same copy of cover letter and resume to many employers), then you can exclude the name and address of the companies being applied to. Remember, if applying for a specific job with one company, try to include the company name and address in the letter and try to include the name of the hiring person. Remember first impressions count!
· DO - try to imagine what the employer would like to hear about how you can contribute to the company right away and help the company realize its goals.
· DO - provide a sampling of your greatest workplace accomplishments. Try to include statistics and measurable results to document your successes.
· DO - If you are in a technical industry, list a few of the technical programs that you specialize in. This helps the employer understand your strengths as a potential employee.
And now, some Don'ts. Avoid making these costly mistakes in your cover
letter and resume:
· DO NOT include any personal information such as photographs, your health status, marital status, religion or your birth date. This is not necessary in America, and in some US States such information opens your potential employer to possible discrimination lawsuits.
· DO NOT state that you would like to immigrate, come to the USA on a work permit (if this is applicable), or that you are a new immigrant. This is personal information that will NOT secure you a job. You want your resume and cover letter to be judged on your employment merits only.
· DO NOT state salary expectations or your previous salaries. This delicate issue can and will be discussed at a job interview later on.
· DO NOT state what you expect from the company and the position. You are first trying to impress the employer with your skill set and gain their interest. Your "demands" can be addressed in formed "questions" to the employer later in the job interview process.
· DO NOT use the same information in your cover letter as your resume. This is tricky, but worth the effort. This will ensure that you keep the reader's interest. No one wants to read the same information twice. Try to re-phrase or sum up the work experiences you have had using different terms or descriptions.
· DO NOT include personality profiles or overviews. The employer will learn about your personal traits during the interview.
One of the most important details of a cover letter is that it use correct
American English and is free of mistakes. Nothing says, "I'm not good
enough for the job" like grammatical and spelling errors. If English is a
second language for you, it is a good idea to ask someone who is very
practiced at reading and writing American English to review your cover
letter and resume. They can edit the cover letter and resume and make sure that the spelling and grammar are perfect. If you're writing on your own, you should also use a US-style "spell check" program in your word processor or computer.
Remember, if the employers don't find your cover letter to be in a very
professional format or if it is marred by spelling errors or is just not
compelling enough, they may not bother to go on to read the rest of your resume. The American job will always go to a person with a great cover letter and resume. Always.
This article © 2004 Sacha DeVoretz and Americajobnet.com. All Worldwide Rights Reserved.