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Cover Letter Writing Tips          Resume Writing Tips

There are very few things that can go wrong in a cover letter - the surprise is how often they do! In fact even the very purpose of a cover letter is often not fully understood. Some easy tips: a cover letter is always required when you send your resume by post; a cover letter should not be attached when emailing your resume - a brief intro within the body of the email will suffice; a cover letter is not necessary during a direct interview. Now find answers to all your questions about cover letter writing right here.


1. First things first - what is a cover letter?

A cover or covering letter is basically a letter that accompanies your resume, introducing you and stating the reasons for your resume to be sent to the particular prospective employer.

A few basic tips to start with: a covering letter should accompany ALL non-electronic resume postings.

When emailing a resume, a cover letter should NOT be attached; a short introduction in the body of the email is the best recourse.

2. What is the purpose of the cover letter?

Apart from the primary purpose of being a polite, short and informative introduction to your profile, the cover letter can serve some very important functions.

A good cover letter actually allows you to address an actual decision maker within your company of choice and establish a personal rapport with him or her; that obviously presupposes that you have made the effort to find the person's name and designation.

An effective covering letter also allows you to bring a specific focus to your candidature in relation to the job and the company in question, especially as the letter can be less formal in structure and language than a resume.

Even a simple cover letter differentiates you from the many others who have not bothered with one - everything else being equal you will stand a better chance!

3. How long should a cover letter be?

An ideal cover letter does not exceed one page. Since the resume itself will (should) not exceed two pages (see resume tips), an introduction longer than the main document might be a little comic, in addition to being irritating. Always bear in mind that your goal is to convey your message as concisely and clearly as possible - respect for the employer (and his or her limited time) will go a long way in getting you short-listed by the right companies.

4. What are the common mistakes made in writing cover letters?

Whenever you personally are not present to introduce your resume, a cover letter works as an essential introduction. However, a mistake committed by a majority of candidates is to send in a resume without any covering letter at all! Perhaps it is because you feel that the resume is self explanatory. Actually, in addition to being impolite, this also loses you an unrivalled opportunity to touch base with the employer very early in the game.

The second most common mistake is that most cover letters are addressed to - nobody in particular! Since finding the name and designation of the personnel responsible for your application is just a matter of some application and resourcefulness. Don't miss this opportunity!

Another common error is to negate the value of the covering letter by posting a mass-mail letter that fails to display your specific value to that specific employer. Of course it will require some research, but using information about the company in your letter and showing a logical link between your past and the company's future is a tremendously effective communication tool.

These errors can be further compounded by simply not specifying the particular job designation or (at least) the functional and hierarchical position you are seeking. Analyzing your fit with the company and specifying your most useful position is your job at least at this introductory stage.

5. How do I customize my cover letter when I know next to nothing about the company?

Well, why don't you know anything about the company you want to work for?!

If you hope to work for a company, expect to be paid by them and plan to spend most of your waking hours with them, why would you not know about the company.

For the purpose of the covering letter you might first want to know the name of the name and designation of the person you are addressing your resume to. A simple phone call can accomplish this. Further information about the company's history, track record, policies and plans can be researched on the internet.

If you are a serious job seeker you will take the extra effort to glean information from the company's staff or perhaps even from employees of its main competitors. This information will prove useful in customizing your cover letter and proposing exactly what benefits you can offer your future employer.

Please read our ethics and services pages as well, before contacting us. If you identify with our perspectives, and are happy to pay a premium for a premium service, then maybe we should partner to sculpt a resume and cover letter for you that you will be proud of. - Prince Peter


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