This Cover Letter Guide Book is provided for COM Students
The cover letter and résumé are necessary tools in the successful implementation of a creative job search. Cover letters are introductory sales letters to potential employers, and they always accompany résumés. Your task in finding a job is to differentiate yourself from every other candidate. A good cover letter can do this by motivating the potential employer to read the attached résumé and subsequently invite you to interview for the position you are seeking.
Because employers receive hundreds of résumés a day, and they can only interview a small number of candidates, the cover letter becomes the first screening process. Only a few carefully worded letters stand a chance of gettting through an employer's screening maze. A well-written cover letter increases your chances of getting an interview.
A good cover letter introduces you to an employer and explains why you are one of the best candidates applying for a job with the organization.
Designing an effective cover letter includes the following formula:
Provocation + Job Objective + Qualifications + Achievements + Interests + Motivation + Personality + Aggressive Close = RESULTS
To a degree, the cover letter expands
upon the résumé, but it also gives you the opportunity to
add personal flavor to your approach. Although you want your letter to
reflect your personality, always keep in mind the audience and industry
to whom you are writing. If you are creative and want to try a "catchy"
first sentence - that might be appropriate for an advertising position,
but it might not be well received in corporate public relations. Try and
bounce your letter off someone in the appropriate industry to get feedback
on its effectiveness.
The Ten Basic Rules
The Ten Basic Letters
Letter of Application
This letter, commonly called the letter
of transmittal, is used when you know of a specific job opening and you
apply directly for it with your résumé enclosed. This cover
letter should serve as an introduction and can be used to highlight certain
qualifications or objectives for the job which may not be immediately
apparent in the résumé. The cover letter can also be used
to stress transferable skills and experience particularly relevant to
the job for which you are applying.
Letter of Inquiry/Direct Mail Letter
This letter is used when you have defined
the specific kind of job you want, when you have researched thoroughly
the companies or agencies for whom you want to work, and when you can
articulate how your background and experience would fit into the company
selected. This type of campaigning is helpful when you want to reach a
larger number of prospective job openings. Thoughtful preliminary research
is a prerequisite for obtaining thoughtful responses to your inquiries.
Letter of Referral
This letter is sent to a specific person
at the referral of a faculty member, friend, family member, or networking
contact. The only difference between the "Letter of Application" is the
opening line specifying who referred you for this position, or to this
Letter of Appreciation or a Thank You Letter
This letter is sent to the interviewer
after an interview and emphasizes the sustained interest you have in obtaining
the position. Your personal note will keep your name fresh in the employer's
mind. Since this basic courtesy is often overlooked, your response will
make you stand out from the other job applicants. This letter, like all
other business letters, should be typed, not hand written.
Letter of Inquiry of Application Status
This letter may be used before or after
your first interview to find out the status of your application. If you
do not hear from the company for a long period of time, it is perfectly
acceptable to inquire when the company expects to make a final decision.
A long period of time can be defined as three or four weeks or as one
week after the date set by the interviewer to be in touch with you.
Letter of Acknowledgment
This letter is a courtesy which informs
the prospective employer that you received the offer and are in the process
of deciding. Include in the letter a date by which you plan to make your
final decision. In some cases, however, the employer may have informed
you when the decision must be made, which may be immediately and will
therefore eliminate the need for this letter.
Letters Giving or Seeking Additional Information
This letter is important if you have
any questions or concerns. Do not hesitate to let the prospective employer
know. Asking for additional information will help you make a more informed
decision. Be specific and clear.
Letters Accepting or Declining Offers
This letter lets the prospective employer
know your final decision. If you accept, plans can proceed for your reporting
to work and for your first work assignment; if you decline, other candidates
must be sought, interviewed, and/or contacted. Do not accept an offer
unless you are certain it is what you want. To accept an offer and decline
later reflects badly on the College as well as on you personally and professionally.
This letter is used to obtain an invaluable
informational interview, and is a great way to tap into an existing networking
resource. Approaching someone for informational purposes, to find out
more about an industry or position, can often result in actual job leads
or the names of other potentially influential people. It would be too
threatening to ask for a "job" because if your contact is not involved
in the hiring process, or has no openings, s/he may not want to talk to
you. But few people will deny you the opportunity to hear all about themselves.
Follow up on every lead.
Letter of Inquiry and Application for Summer Positions and/or Internships
This letter is self-explanatory. All of the same rules apply as previously stated for the letter of application or the letter of inquiry.
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