Cover Letter Tips

Read on to find out what to include in a great business cover letter.

You are responding to a "Help Wanted" advertisement that requests a copy of your resume. It does not say anything about sending a cover letter. Should you write a cover letter to accompany your resume? Yes, always include a cover letter with your resume whether it is requested or not. The company might get hundreds of responses to a single ad. You need to give the person who will be interviewing you highlights of your experience at a glance. A cover letter allows you to stand out above the crowd, and emphasizes all of the positives you have to offer a new employer.

First, your cover letter should be no more than one page long. It should include all the ways that a potential employer can contact you, including not only your home address and telephone number, but your cell number, and email address. You want to make it very, very easy for the company to contact you.

If at all possible, try to avoid addressing the salutation to "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Madam or Sir." If the advertisement directs you to send your resume to the Sales Manager, call the company and try to get the Sales Manager's name. Using a name not only personalizes a cover letter, it shows initiative on your part.

Look over the advertisement carefully. If the company is looking for an administrative assistant with four years of experience and an A. A. degree, make sure that you tell them that you have five years of experience and a Bachelor's Degree, if that is what you have earned. If you only have three years of experience and a Bachelor's Degree, write that you have several years of experience and a Bachelor's Degree. A "Help Wanted" is a wish-list, not necessarily a must-have list. The purpose of a cover letter is to entice the reader to find out more about you.

Tell the reader what you can do for the company, not what you want the business to do for you. If you are applying for a sales job and you increased sales 100% over the last four years in your current position, tell them about it, and tell them that you can do the same for them. You are experienced, you have accomplishments, and they need you on their team. The old "I want to work for a company that offers opportunity for growth" does not cut it anymore. Everyone wants to work for a company that will allow them to grow. The question is not how the company is going to help you grow, but how you are going to help the business grow.

That being said, everyone likes to be flattered. Do some quick research on the company. If, for example, they are an industry leader in marketing and you are applying for a marketing position, it does not hurt to mention that you know that they are well known for their marketing expertise and you are looking forward to contributing to their continued success.

Does the advertisement ask if you are willing to relocate and what your salary requirements are? If it does, respond to the requests. If they ask if you are willing to relocate for this job, and you are not willing to do so, you should not be responding to the ad. If they are asking if you would be willing to relocate in the future and you are not tied to the area in which you are living, who knows? You may fall in love with your job, management, and the company. As far as salary goes, do you really want to waste your time""and theirs""if the highest compensation package that they are willing to offer is worth $25,000, and you need $55,000 in order to cover your bills? However, if the advertisement does not ask for this type of information, do not offer it. It will probably be addressed when they call you to set up an interview.

Businesses want to know how you express yourself. After all, everyone needs to write reports of one sort or other. Make sure to use "spell-check" on your letter and then double check the spell check. You might have accidentally spelled a word correctly, but still have written the wrong word. This is easy to do with words like accept and except, for example. The letter should be easy to read and grammatically correct. It is always a good idea to have someone else proof your cover before you send it out.

Cover letters should showcase your efforts and achievements. They should tell the reader why they really need to talk to you in person. The letters should be positive, positive, positive. You be prepared to be proactive. When you close the letter, tell them that if you have not heard from them within a week or ten days, you will call them. Then do it.

© High Speed Ventures 2011