Cover Letter Tips: Preparing One

Before anyone reads your resume, they'll read your cover letter first. Make the cut with these preparing tips.

A cover letter can open doors to your dream job or slam the gates to your career shut. If you're pounding the pavement by answering ads or making cold calls, you need all the extra help you can get. Advertised job openings can pull in literally hundreds of resumes and unsolicited resumes often end up in the recycling bin. Entice and impress prospective employers with your cover letter by following this outline.

*Use the traditional business letter format. It's important that whomever reads this letter knows you're a professional. By using this format you're demonstrating""first and foremost""your business knowledge and ability. Without following proper business etiquette, your resume package is sure to get weeded out.

*Show your interest in the company. Showing that you know more about the company than the ad they ran almost always gets you recognized. It may entail a little extra research, but the results are well worth it. Also be sure to reference that ad you're answering, this information is always appreciated.

*Take a snapshot of highlights from your resume. This is your opportunity to focus on why you are the best fit for the position. Mention related experience and skills to emphasize your point. This is also a great place to add any personal information that doesn't quite belong on your resume.

*Stay positive and flexible. A good attitude goes a long way. It's very common for an employer to choose a candidate who has the aptitude to grow and learn over one who has more experience. Definitely keep words like "don't and can't" out of the mix. These words are huge red flags.

*Always be gracious. Showing personality and self-assurance is important and a very fine line. Confidence is a valuable asset, but arrogance will stop your plans short. This makes sense""you do get more flies to honey than vinegar.

*Keep it short. No one has all day to read your biography""and even if they did, they still probably wouldn't. It's also a good idea to thank whoever is reading the letter for their time and consideration. You won't get any respect without offering it and this is the perfect way to say that you understand how hard that person is working.

*Always follow-up. This is where just an ounce of persistence can get you to the finish line. A phone call or e-mail to confirm that your resume package was received and to get a timeline for filling the position. It's a polite, professional reminder that you exist and you're earnestly interested in the position.

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