"If Your Résumé is the Cake, Your Cover Letter is the Icing."
By: Heather Eagar
Cover letter writing is almost as important a skill for a job
seeker to learn as resume writing. The cover letter accompanies the resume
at all times as the primary support document. Whether you use traditional
mail, email, faxing, or another type of electronic submission, this should
always be sent with the resume. There are, of course, other tools you'll
use when job seeking. Your cover letter and resume come first of course,
followed by follow-up letters, thank-you letters for after the interview,
reference sheets, salary histories, and job acceptance letters. If you
have good cover letter writing skills, and good resume writing skills, the
other written tools should be a snap to compose.
Your goal in this is to get the attention of the hiring manager, just as it
is with resume writing. The method and format are a little different
however. Your resume will cover all, or most of your professional career,
and will be from one to two pages. Your cover letter will be a very brief
page serving as an introduction to the resume. Cover letter writing style
must be direct, to the point, and able to grab the attention of the reader
quickly, with a goal of making the reader want to read the attached resume.
Many people, when engaged in this type of writing, have a tendency to say
too much. Good cover letter writing is short and punchy, and will take two
or three key points from the resume and emphasize them. The old adage
"tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them
what you told them" holds true in both resume writing and cover letter writing.
As an example, let's assume that you are a materials handling manager for a
defense contractor, seeking another position. In your line of work the
buzz words are MRP, lean manufacturing, ISO 9000, and cost savings. Your
writing efforts should reflect these buzz words to show your value to your
current employer and any future employers. Your resume will go into more
detail about how you accomplished these goals. The cover letter will
simply point out to the hiring manager that you accomplished them. An
example of this would be two bulleted paragraphs in the body of the letter
* Experienced in quality assurance and quality control, MRP, ISO 9000, QS
9000, and Lean Manufacturing.
* Demonstrated results in saving significant money for employers through
cost savings, inventory level reductions, and on-time supplier delivery.
The hiring manager, according to many surveys, devotes only about fifteen
seconds to each resume and cover letter he or she reviews. With that in
mind your writing skills need to be top notch to get this person to look at
your resume. Your resume writing skills need to be just as good to get the
reader to want to grant you an interview. In turn, your interviewing
skills need to be excellent to get the hiring manager to offer you the
position. This long, and hopefully positive chain of events begins with
good cover letter writing skills and ends with job satisfaction and a nice
© 2006 Heather Eager
Are you guilty of sabotaging your own job search along with the opportunity to earn more money? Heather Eagar, a former professional resume writer and creator of ResumeLines.com, provides reviews of the top resume writing services that put you
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