The Basics of the Cover Letter - Part 1


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When you send people your resume, whether it's through regular mail, overnight mail, e-mail, or a fax, it's important to include a one-page cover letter. This letter must be carefully written so that it's just as convincing a document as your resume. The reason for this is that the only purpose of a cover letter is to provide information about yourself that will make people want to read your resume.

Gone are the days when a cover letter was a formality, where it sufficed to offer a few sentences explaining that you were enclosing your resume because you wanted to set up an interview. The cover letter has evolved to the point where, today, it's a key component of a job search, and in order to be effective it must include important facts about your background, most notably your accomplishments. Many people will judge your qualifications as much on this letter as they will on your resume. If properly prepared, your cover letter will play an active role in developing interviews. If poorly prepared, it can cost you interviews, with prospective employers and recruiters simply filing your letter and resume away. In other words, your cover letter can't make you, but it can easily break you.

You may need a cover letter for as many as five different situations:
(1) contacting prospective employers on an unsolicited basis,
(2) writing to a prospective employer on an unsolicited basis but with a referral from a mutual acquaintance,
(3) approaching recruiting firms,
(4) answering Internet postings and/or classified advertisements, and
(5) contacting venture capital firms.

In addition to these letters, there's another type of correspondence for generating interviews: the networking letter. This is where you write to someone not for the purpose of setting up an interview but, instead, to elicit their help in arranging interviews. Depending on how well you know the person, you may or may not include a resume with your letter.

You can seek this networking assistance under four different conditions:
(1) when you have an ongoing relationship with someone;
(2) when you have met someone, let's say, only once or twice;
(3) when you don't know the person you want to talk to but have been referred to him or her by a mutual acquaintance; and
(4) when you know of someone who is very influential (this could be a businessperson, community or religious leader, politician, physician, attorney, etc. ) who has a wide range of contacts and you need to approach the person cold, without an introduction.

Dr. J. E. Burke, President, J. E. B. Resume Service is an educator and entrepreneur involved in various business enterprises through Burke Publications. Please visit or email Subscribe to Dr. Burke’s Success News Blog at http://mannanews.

Dr. J. E. Burke is an educator, writer and entrepreneur involved in various business enterprises via Burke Publications.

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