Learn the Resume Cover Letter Format Basics, Donít Copy Them

By Jimmy Sweeney Author of the brand new, "Amazing Cover Letter Creator."

Why Resume Cover Letter Format Samples Can Be Dangerous

Whenever you are venturing into threatening or new territory itís understandable to want some sort of guide, and for many people a sample resume or cover letter gives them some insight into standard resume cover letter format. This sample provides these users with a basic template to help them master the cover letter form. When used in this way, these samples can be very helpful to the job seeker.

There is a problem, however, when the job seeker doesnít use the sample as a way to learn the resume cover letter format and instead uses it as a guide to copy from directly. Though taking a resume cover letter format sample from the Internet or book and merely changing a couple of words may be appear like a quick and easy solution in the short term, in the long term itís liable to be less effective than simply writing your own cover letter.

Once youíve mastered the basic resume cover letter format, you should have no problem at all creating your very own cover letter. This is a huge advantage over using the samples that can be found online or in books for several reasons.

Whatís So Important About Resume Cover Letter Format Mastery?
In the first place, a resume cover letter that you write yourself is going to be specifically tailored to the job you are applying for and the qualifications that you bring to it. And in resume cover letters, it is this sort of specificity that speaks to hiring managers and makes them want to offer interviews.

Second, a resume cover letter that you write on your own using standard resume cover letter format will have the added benefit of being original and fresh compared to the stale and overused form cover letters that thousand of other job seekers have tried to send in.

So what is the standard resume cover letter format? There are two parts to it. The first concerns the form, and the second concerns the content.

In terms of form, itís quite simple. Be professional.

Itís Important to Look the Part
Your professional resume cover letter should be printed on white or ivory paper, without designs or fancy colors on it. The text should be in a standard font like Arial, courier or Times New Roman. The font should be a standard and professional size, like 12 points. The margins should be one inch and the all other business letter guidelines should be adhered to scrupulously. In general, the resume cover letter format that most Hiring Managers prefer is that the letter not be over one page in length, except in very special circumstances.

If the resume is being sent via email, the physical requirements are not applicable obviously. However, this only means that the content guidelines are even more important. Itís worth noting that in general emailed resume cover letters should be even shorter than a written cover letter. So you will have to get your important points in there even faster.

The general rules of a resume cover letter format are based on the underlying goal of that cover letter. The purpose of a cover letter is threefold.

First, Get Some Attention
First, the cover letter should attract in a positive way the attention of the Hiring Manager or other reader of the letter. Second, the letter should convince the reader that the writer is the perfect solution to the business problem that the manager is trying to solve with the hire. And third, the cover letter needs to spur the reader to take the action of calling the letter writer in for a face to face or phone interview.

So what does this mean for the writer? The first part, get the attention in a positive way means, for starters, that the letter would be addressed and directed to the right person, by name, with all the contact information correctly spelled.

Though this sounds so elementary, you would be surprised how many candidates believe that they can merely put "to whom it may concern" onto the letter and expect it to be convincing to the reader. If this is something that you believe, I invite you to recall how effective those letters that you receive at home addressed to "Resident" are in convincing you to buy the product that thy sell. Exactly.

Another part of getting the attention in a positive way is to start the letter strong with the sort of opening sentence that announces what the letter is offering and makes the reader want to learn more. Though each master cover letter crafter has his or her own formula for this kind of opening line, I am of the opinion that you canít go wrong with a headline in bold caps that says something like EXPERIENCED RECRUITING MANAGER AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY.

Now, Use the Attention
Once the attention had been commanded, you must use it do accomplish the second part of the winning resume cover letter format. That is to convince the Hiring Manager that you are the best solution to the most pressing business problem that he or she faces. Whether you have really thought of it in these terms or not, all jobs from janitor to CEO are created to solve a specific business problem that the business faces. Whether it is keeping a floor clean or setting a strategy that will lead to future marketplace success the person who can most convincingly demonstrate that he or she can solve that problem will be the one to get the job.

Consequently, that is the tack that your resume cover letter format should take. You need to show the reader clearly and directly that you understand the nature and specific details of the type of business problem that he or she faces. Then you need to show that you are capable of solving that problem in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible. To make this case you are free to use any of the elements of your personality and education and interests. The most convincing elements, however, are most likely to be drawn from your experience. If you can show and convince the reader that you have solved that type of problem before, either for your current employer or for a previous one, you are going to be more convincing than simply telling the hiring manager that you could solve the problem if given the chance.

Businesses are averse to risk in most areas, and hiring is one of the places that they do not like to make bets and take chances. When they need a business problem solved they do not have the luxury of wasting their time or money on someone the is incapable of solving that a problem. As a result they are most likely to give it to someone that they donít have to wonder if they are capable of the job. Proving that you have already done that job many many times is the best way to make sure that you are that someone

Itís All About the Love, Baby
Once youíve proven you can do the job and have done the job the second part of this task is to convince the reader that you love to do your job. Everyone loves to work with someone that is enthusiastic, and managers look for that factor in each and every hire they make. So itís a good idea to add a sentence or two that states how you enjoy the challenge of your job and that you find it extremely satisfying.

If you have done your job well, the manager should be thinking to themselves that this is the perfect person for the position. They should be wondering where they can contact this person and how to take the process forward another step.

Finally, Get What You Came For
That brings us to the third and final part of the resume cover letter format guide: Getting the reader to take the next step. Nine times out of ten that is to call or email the candidate and to set up a pone or in person interview. Once again, this sounds elementary, but the writer should never assume that the reader knows that this is what they are supposed to do. In all cases, the letter writer should come out and ask, clearly and directly, for the interview and give the contact information one more time.

Something like "I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm with you in person. Please give me a call at 888-877-9876 to set up a chance to talk" should do the trick.

Once youíve written the cover letter, itís time to take a step away from it for a while. Often when you spend too long on a piece of writing you get to where you arenít able to edit it anymore. So leave it one your compute for a couple of hours and come back to it with fresh eyes. When you do so, print it up and read it out loud to see if it sounds clear and simple and flowing. Many times people try to use big words and fancy sentences in hopes of impressing a reader. Nothing could be more counterproductive. If the letter doesnít sound natural, then it will lose effectiveness.

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