How to Sell Yourself with a Winning Cover Letter
You need to attach a cover letter to every resume you send out, whether you mail, e-mail, fax or personally deliver it. However, your best not to send out the same cover letter to every employer. Customize each one to the company you’re applying to and the job you’re applying for. Yes, this means a little more work on your part, but think of it this way: The cover letter gives you a chance to point out exactly why you are perfect for this particular job.
Cover letters usually have three parts.
Opening – states your interest in the company and the job. Tells how you found out about the job opening or the company and why you are interested.
Middle – tells the employer what you have to offer the company by highlighting one or two qualifications you think would be of greatest interest. Points out special training or experience you have. Demonstrates that you know something about the company and/or industry.
Closing – expresses your appreciation for the employer’s time and asks him/her to contact you or states that you will follow- up with them.
68 Pine St.
Cooksville, ON P7A 5X3
September 5, 2013
Ms. Holly Peters, Manager
Cool Threads Clothing Store
25 Main St.
Cooksville, ON A1B 2C3
Re: Application for sales clerk position
Dear Ms. Peters:
Your ad in the August 10th edition of The Cooksville News for a sales clerk greatly interested me, as this position is very much in line with my immediate career objective – fashion design and/or retail.
I really enjoy working with people and have developed excellent communication skills as an assistant coach of a junior soccer team. This, combined with the fact that I am a highly motivated and conscientious worker makes a customer service position at Cool Threads a perfect fit for me. A resume detailing my skills and work experience is attached for your review.
I would appreciate an opportunity to meet with you to further discuss my qualifications. In the meantime, many thanks for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
(sign your name)
Cover Letter Checklist
- Does your letter address the exact name and title of the contact person?
- Did you use a natural writing style – professional but friendly?
- Does your letter show that you know something about the company?
- Does your letter demonstrate energy and enthusiasm?
- Did you expand on your resume rather than repeat its content?
- Did you sign your letter and give a phone number and/or e-mail address where you can be reached?
- Did you have others check your letter for spelling and grammatical errors?
Congratulations on landing an interview with a company you think would be a great fit. Now it's time to show and tell the interviewer all you have to offer. While you may find tooting your own horn awkward, there are plenty of tactful ways to promote yourself during an interview. Here are a few ideas:
Fill in the Pauses
Remember, interviewers are merely looking for a reason to hire you, so learn to fill those occasional pauses with little plugs about your skills and abilities. Just be sure you relate these skills to the interviewer's previous question or your most recent topic of conversation.
Bring Your 'Hall of Fame' with You
Is there an accomplishment you're extremely proud of? If so, stick it in a file and bring it with you. For example, your folder could contain that extremely difficult report you pulled together for your manager at the 11th hour and any accolades you received for your work on the project. Let's say the interviewer asks, "How do you handle tight deadlines?" This is your opportunity to say you rise to the occasion, and pull out your file. Make sure you have a copy you can leave with the interviewer.
Remember and Rehearse
Once you leave the interview, spend 20 minutes or so going over how things went in your mind. Did you stumble over some interview questions? Write them down and decide how you could have answered them better. Write down those interview answers and practice them until you get them right.
Identify Missed Opportunities
Despite all the preparation, you still might forget to tell the interviewer something important. But it's never too late to shine a light on yourself. Try including a brief sentence or two in your post-interview thank-you letter. You could say something as simple as, "My past managers commended me on pitching in with my coworkers to help them out," or "I was the resident computer expert who coworkers always turned to, knowing they could get help."
'Do You Have Any Questions About the Job?'
While you always use this classic question to get detailed information about the job and the company, you can also use it to promote your skills. Try including references to your skills in your questions about the job. You'll leave the impression that you are a growth-oriented person who would be an asset to the company.