If you have made the decision that now is the time to embark on a job hunt, chances are you are also thinking about preparing, updating, or creating for the first time, your very own cover letter and resume. Like most people, you probably have questions about how you can maximize your cover letter and resume potential. Read on for the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
Question: Do I need a cover letter to go along with my resume?
Answer: Is the sky blue? Yes! Every resume you send out should be accompanied by a cover letter. Some job listing will not specifically ask for one, but it is always expected. Every savvy job seeker knows to send a cover letter, even if it does add to your list of things to do.
Question: Can I just make one version and send it out to a bunch of companies?
Answer: In theory, this sounds like an efficient way to save on time and get more cover letters and resumes out the door. In reality, when you do not customize each letter, it appears that you're lazy. Address every cover letter to a specific person. If you don't know who the hiring manager is, call and ask the receptionist. Always avoid addressing your letter “To Whom it May Concern.” It takes minimal effort to find a direct contact, but it will make a maximum good impression. You also need to address the specific company and job posting. In the opening paragraph of your cover letter, try including something you know about the company. For example, mention that you read that the company has increased profits this year or that it was recently been named one of the top 10 places in the city to work. Employers will be impressed that you have done your research.
Question: How long should my cover letter be?
Answer: It should never be more than one page. Employers give each cover letter approximately 20 seconds, so long length is not an option. When possible, avoid using the full page. It is best to keep paragraphs brief, never using more than three sentences per paragraph. Remember to leave something to talk about in your interview! The rules vary slightly for cover letters that you plan to send by e-mail. In this case you'll want to shorten it even further so that the entire letter is no longer than what can be captured on a computer screen.
Question: How can I make mine stand out among the hundreds employers receive for every vacancy?
Answer: Be as specific as you possibly can. Address the letter to a specific person, mention the specific job you are applying for and mention specific skills you have that make you the right candidate for the job. The purpose of a cover letter is to answer the employer's question of “What's in it for me?”
Question: I'm not a good speller and I hate to write. How bad is it if I spell something wrong?
Answer: It could cost you the job. If you have errors in your cover letter or resume, the employer will think that there is a distinct possibility that you will make the same kinds of mistakes on the job. You do not want misspelled words and poorly structured sentences to be the first and possibly only impression you leave on a potential employer. Have several sets of eyes review and edit each cover letter you send.
Question: Who can help me write my cover letter and resume?
Answer: There are professional resume writing services that can help you write these documents. It's best to get both documents taken care of at the same time by the same company. Most reputable companies will give you a disk so that you can make updates and changes based on the job for which you are applying.
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