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Your resume needs a good cover story

(ran NP, CT, PT, HT, CI)

Many people looking for jobs spend lots of time and lots of money on their resumes. But when it comes to their cover letters, they spend little effort. Some job seekers never use one at all, unless required by the prospective employer _ and then they give a half-hearted attempt.

Don't make this mistake. It can cost you employment opportunities.

Most recruiters and hiring managers spend only a few seconds viewing a resume. You need all the tools available to grab their attention and focus it on your qualifications. A cover letter is one of the few tools you have, don't neglect it.

There are two basic types of cover letters. They are the solicited and the unsolicited letter. Both are important in complementing your resume.

There are two main purposes of a cover letter. First, it should point out your qualifications for the job of interest. Second, it should direct the reader to the parts of your resume that reinforce your qualifications.

You want to make it easy for the recruiter or hiring manager to understand what you bring to the job and to the employer. No matter how smart, talented and well suited you are for the position, if the employer does not understand this you will not receive an interview.

To accomplish your goal there are certain things you need to perform before writing the letter. Research the job requirements and list the needs the employer is looking to fill. Consider the skills and experience you possess. Is there a clear match? Do you have some of the qualifications?

Your cover letter can be used to emphasize what you to bring to the table. As your personal marketing tool it can brush over what experience or skills you lack to focus on your strengths. You are steering the reader to what you want him or her to know.

The content of a letter should be customized to meet the employer's needs. It should be concise and forceful. Most letters should range between two and four paragraphs. Don't let it become too lengthy. You do not want to lose the reader's attention.

The first paragraph should introduce you and explain right away why you are suited for the job. You want the reader to continue.

The second paragraph lists key accomplishments in your past and present positions or while in school. Examples of successes should be provided. Remember to quantify and qualify your performance. In other words don't just list skills and duties, show them you know how to get results.

The third paragraph should explain in more depth your qualifications for the job. You can elaborate on skills and abilities beyond the scope of the job but still relevant to the employer's overall mission. Explain you have added value that can be beneficial. However, be careful not to appear to be over qualified.

The last paragraph can provide why you want the job and are interested in the employer. Here you can show you took the time to research the position and are knowledgeable about the employer.

Make sure you have a strong closing sentence.

Consider the little things. Check your spelling. Use high quality paper. Make sure you address the letter to the proper party. Provide where you can be contacted, including telephone, address and e-mail address. Sign the letter.

You are competing against others much like in sports. So put forth your best effort. Show your enthusiasm. Become a winner through preparation, putting fourth your best effort, and demonstrating your skills and abilities.

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