You have an impressive resume, you know how to present yourself well in an interview, you know what kind of position you are best suited for. . .now all you need is a chance to get your foot in the right door. Just what can you do to make that happen?
Make sure you write a knockout cover letter, advise career planning specialists. "A cover letter is your chance to explain to an employer why he or she should consider you for the job," says Jennie Z. Rothschild, Ph.D., executive director of Jewish Vocational Service on Reisterstown Road in Pikesville. "The best cover letters are specific and give examples that directly relate to the job you are trying to get.""Your cover letter is a targeted sales tool which should be tailored to the specific position you are seeking," adds Ann Harrell of the Johns Hopkins University Career and Life Planning Center on Alexander Bell Drive in Columbia.
The cover letter is also a good opportunity to show potential employers your
writing skills, says Jennie Rothschild, and for
those job-seekers whose native language is not
English, a chance to show that you are comfortable
with the language. Whatever your writing and language
skills are, though, make sure that your letter
has no mistakes. "Proofread! Proofread! Proofread!"
emphasizes Ann Harrell. A cover letter, like most
business correspondence, says Ms. Rothschild,
has three basic parts: *Paragraph 1, in which
you state: who you are; how you heard of the position
or the company; why you are writing. "Your goal
in this paragraph," says Ann Harrell, "is to convince
the reader why you are the only candidate to interview."
*Paragraph 2, in which you discuss: why you are
interested in the position and/or company; how
your qualifications fit the specific skills needed
for the job; some specific examples of how your
past experience has prepared you to do the job
for which you are applying; any other relevant
skills, qualities, achievements, and experiences
that make you the best candidate for the job.
"The second paragraph is your chance to shine,"
says Ms. Harrell. "Discuss your experiences and
skills that match the criteria for the position.
If you met your contact through networking, refer
to your meeting notes. Use the company information
you found if this is a cover letter for a direct
mailing." *Paragraph 3, in which you: repeat that
you are hoping to be considered for the job; give
specific information about your plans to follow
up; thank the employer for his or her consideration.
"And then be sure to follow through," says Ms.
Harrell. When closing, "Sincerely" or "Sincerely
Yours" with your typed name and signature will
Jennie Rothschild suggests these additional DOs and DON'Ts: