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how to make a cover letter

When applying to various jobs, experienced job seekers know that the resume is only part of the package. The other part is the message that comes either in paper form or, more recently, in e-mail form. We're referring to the cover letter, an art form that has been neglected by far too many job hunters. Putting all of your effort into your resume and ignoring the introductory message that accompanies it is a costly mistake. If you understand the keys to crafting an outstanding cover letter, there's no need to be left in the dust in the race to find gainful employment.

The first thing you need to know is that much like a resume, a cover letter should be brief, simple, and easy to read. Hiring managers don't possess large amounts of time to read the mounting pile of messages on their desks or in their inboxes. If they bother to give you their attention at all, consider yourself lucky! Keep them in a good mood (the kind of mood that prevents them from deleting your message) by writing no more than a few paragraphs, with your total output being a page or less. It's perfectly acceptable to use bullet points; indeed, this can be a useful strategy in summing up your main qualifications for the job. Sell yourself effectively in fewer than 500 words, and you may just be the winner. Besides, a brief message accomplishes one of your primary objectives: Keep the reader in a state of wanting to learn more about you. In the job search, this means piquing the hiring manager's interest so that he or she will grant you a phone call or, better yet, an interview.

The second key is use an attention-getter or "grabber." Hiring managers see the same phrases and sentences over and over. Imagine how many times they hear somebody claiming to be a "self-starter" or a "people person." Your objective should be to stand out from the crowd and grab the hiring manager's attention within the first few sentences. An example would be: "Your company is a leader in the marketplace – but it needs a sales manager who can put this company over the top. I am that sales manager." Yes, that's a bold statement, but at least it's unique. One can imagine the hiring manager calling someone just to see if he or she can back up such an assertion. Any callback is a good callback, even if it's done out of curiosity. You might be surprised at how a bit of curiosity can turn into real interest and eventually a hire.

There's another key to cover letter magic, which is keywords. If you see certain words in the job ad, job description, or company website that stand out and represent what the company would expect from you as an employee, pay attention because those are important keywords. These words and phrases should be inserted into your cover letter in a way that's natural and not overdone. You'll also want to insert commonly used industry buzzwords that pertain to your

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line of work. The idea is not to load up on keywords, but rather to show that you're attuned to the changing needs of the industry as well as the job position itself.

If you're not the type of person to write documents from scratch, you'll want to know about next key, which is the worldwide web. Look online for sample cover letters and free cover letter templates that suit the type of job you're looking for. It's as easy as filling in the blanks if you manage to locate a cover letter generator online, and this can be accomplished in no time by entering a phrase such as "free cover letter builder" or "free cover letter template" into Bing, Google, Yahoo, or any search engine of your choosing. If you're willing to invest money into your job search, a professional letter template may be available for a reasonable fee from a writing or printing company. Yet another option is to skip the templates and instead look at a variety of free cover letter samples that you can easily find online through a search engine. The idea is to look at a number of examples and let them inspire you to compose a document that suits your particular style, situation, and purpose.

Here another key that's essential to your success: Avoid the one-size-fits-all approach. Yes, it is very easy and convenient to blast out the same copied-and-pasted message to a hundred different employers. In some ways, that might seem like a good strategy, since you'll be reaching more hiring managers. However, it's important to realize that quality is much more important that quantity when it comes to your job hunt. It's much better to impress a handful of hiring managers than to bore a hundred of them with the same old boilerplate letter; even if you're using a template, your message doesn't need to look or sound like one. For each and every cover letter you send, do your due diligence and learn as much as you can about the company and the hiring manager at that company. Address your message to that person specifically (this is always preferable to "Dear Sir or Madam"), and mention things that pertain to that company in particular. This strategy will demonstrate that you care about the company and that you're truly interested in working there.

So, to sum it all up, start with the first key, which is to compose a simple cover letter that is brief and gets directly to the point. Get the hiring manager's attention as quickly as possible by writing something interesting and bold (but not arrogant) within the first few sentences. Insert keywords in a manner that is logical and organic. Use templates and samples from the Internet to guide you, or consult a professional for assistance. Additionally, eschew a one-size-fits-all approach in favor of a highly tailored strategy that demonstrates knowledge of each individual company and hiring manager. Combine all of these keys and tips, and your search for a job might end up being much quicker and easier than you ever imagined it would be.

Category: Application letter

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