1. Do I always need to include a cover letter with my resume? Yes. Many employers do not bother to read them, but to other employers, they are evidence that you are thorough and serious about opportunities with their company and serious about your job search.
2. What format should I use? The letter should be in standard business letter format with your information at the top in the identical format as it appears on your resume.
3. How long should it be? It should be no more than one page. Hiring personnel have limited time and will not read more than several paragraphs. The cover letter simply highlights what is to come on the following resume.
4. Should I include salary information? It depends. Generally, you should never include salary information or requirements in a cover letter; however, if the job advertisement states that it is required, then you need to include it. As a rule though, salary discussion should not come into play until after a first interview unless the employer brings it up.
5. Can I use the same one for every job for which I apply? Absolutely not. Every cover letter should be targeted to each specific job and company to which you apply. Otherwise, your letter may appear irrelevant to some jobs or not highlight the most relevant qualities you would bring to the job. In those cases, the employer may also get the impression that you are too lazy to bother to use a tailored cover letter. A smart suggestion is have one general cover letter saved on your computer that you alter a bit for each company or each job for which you apply.
6. What if I don’t know the name of the addressee? Do research. Do not address the letter to Human Resources and write “Dear Sir or Madam”. Find out the name of the person who will be reviewing resumes to determine which candidates to interview. This demonstrates to the resume reviewer that you took the time to the seek information and personalizes the letter. A variety of company information is often available online, through local Chambers of Commerce, or by calling the company directly. Unless you havecompletely exhausted all means and cannot find out to whom you should address the letter, there should be a name on the letter.
7. Should I mention why I am in the job market? If your former company closed or you were laid off, there is no harm in saying so. If you were fired, say nothing. If you are returning to the workforce after a break of a year or more, explain why in a positive manner, mentioning any volunteer work in which you were involved or additional training you completed during that time.
8. What content should I include? The first paragraph should include how you heard about the job opening and/or why you are seeking opportunities with the company. Discuss how your professional attributes, accomplishments, and experience meet the employer’s needs and are a match to the available position. Just include highlights and do not simply repeat word-for-word what is on your resume. Your closing paragraph should request a time to meet to discuss employment opportunities and thank the person for their time and consideration. You may also briefly re-state why you are the best candidate for the job.
9. How can I make it stand out in a dynamic way? Make your statements employer-focused and value-based. They are not interested in what you are looking for in an ideal company. They want to know what value you bring to the table. Why should they hire you? Also, use powerful verbs and industry keywords in describing your qualities, including keywords from the job description. Subtly inject your personality and add sizzle with distinctive impact statements about your abilities (no arrogance though) to keep the letter from being boring.
Krista Mitchell is a Certified Professional Resume Writer crafting resumes designed to showcase your qualities with maximum impact. My job is to provide you with your custom sales tool to generate job interviews. FREE comprehensive resume reviews offered as well as full resume and cover letter writing services. http://www.composureresumes.com