|Cover Letters That Work
Choices Career Expo 2003
The Cover Letter that accompanies your resume is really your self-promotion on the page. Your cover letter sets the stage for your resume, and depending on how it looks and what it says, an employer will read it and call you in for an interview. If that first impression does not sell you in the best possible light, that's it - no interview, no job.
What to put in
If you are responding to an advertisement, make sure to read the advertisement carefully. As you read, highlight the items that seem to be particularly important. Try to identify the skills, abilities and training that are essential to the employer and that you, the applicant, possess. The cover letter should draw from your resume to respond directly to points raised in the advertisement.
So for example, if the advertisement is for a Customer Service Representative, and you have identified five years experience, computer skills and accounts as the essentials, in the cover letter you should state the number of year's experience you have, your computer training/proficiency and accounting experience.
Statements about your experience and long-term career objectives belong in your cover letter.
Get to the point
Do not put too much information into your cover letter, your readers have limited time and will not wade through several pages. Keep it brief and the tone businesslike.
Use Good Jamaican English
In Jamaica, people are admired for their ability to use the "Queen's English". Good grammar is never out of style and will give the reader a favourable impression of you. Your sentence structure, spelling, the adjectives you use to describe yourself, are all vital in the creation of a good cover letter. The language you use gives insight into your personality and your professional profile. Make a habit of reading widely, new words will come into your vocabulary, and these will serve
you well in your professional life.
Take the time to get the name and the title of the addressee. All names must be spelt accurately, misspellings cast you in a poor light. If communication skills are a major component in the job you are applying for, a cover letter that has grammatical errors or clumsy phrasing closes the door for you.
As we become fully computerized, handwritten documents will become unacceptable in the work place. Currently, poor handwriting does not cut it. If your handwriting has been compared with 'crab toe', make sure to have your cover letter and envelope typed or printed. If the employer has difficulty reading what you have written, your correspondence will be dumped. Poor typing is another no-no.
The paper your cover letter is done on is important. The standard 8 ½" x 11" white or cream coloured sheet is appropriate. Do not use ruled sheets, this is formal correspondence. Also, use one side only. Use the correct size envelope and make sure it arrives as clean as possible.