Board of Directors
Value of a Cover Letter
Awell-written cover letter is a key part of your job search campaign. It can help
you get the hiring manager's attention,
stand out from the crowd, cover gaps in
your work history and ttansition into a
Your cover letter is as important as your
resume, but it serves a different function.
Your resume is about you, your skills and
your experience; your cover letter is about
what you can do for the employer. The
cover letter should emphasize your most
relevant skills and spell out how you can
contribute to the success of the employer.
It should not rehash your resume.
Get the most from your cover letter by
addressing it to a specific person. Avoid
sending it to the human resources depart-
ment or "To Whom it May Concern."You
need the name of someone who cares about
filling this position with the best qualified
person. If you don't know who that is, use
your network to find out. Or simply call the
company's main number and ask for the
name of, for example, the marketing man-
ager, the program director - the title that
seems most relevant.
The cover letter also should be used to
generate interest, to demonstrate value and
to ask for an interview.
• Generate interest. Tell them why you are
educated audiences is my specialty. This
is one of the many reasons I would
make an excellent addition to the mar-
keting department at Company X."
If you were referred to the company
by a friend or associate, be sure to men-
tion this person in the first paragraph.
The hiring manager is more likely to
respond to you ifhe or she has a rela-
tionship with the person referring you.
• Demonstrate Value. Show what you can
do for this employer and why you are
uniquely suited for this position; be spe-
cific. "I am adept at creating master
brand strategies and translating product
information into effective cOl11l11unica-
tion. I recognize the power of integrated
marketing and perfect positioning to
leverage marketing dollars."
you bring to the
what you want to get from it. The
employer does not care that this position
will further your career, give you a chance
to move to a new location or fulfill a
lifelong dream. They want to know what
you will be doing to earn your paycheck.
• Request an interview."My background,
versatility and experience make me well-
suited for this position. I would welcome
the opportunity to talk with you about
how I could add value to your organiza-
tion. I will call your office next week to see
if a meeting can be arranged." Don't just
say, "Thank you for your consideration."
• Fill in the gaps. Your cover letter is a
great place to address the "elephant in the
room" - those unusual circun1stances
or gaps in your work history, such as lay-
offi, raising children, caring for a sick
parent. If the gap occurred long ago, don't
bring it up. Ifit was recent or extensive,
include a brief explanation. The main
thing is to keep it simple and avoid detail.
State why you were out of the work force
and that you are ready and eager to return.
Provide your complete contact informa-
tion: name, mailing address, phone number
and e-mail address at the top of the letter.
Don't include references at this early
stage. Wait until they are requested. Don't
include personal information such as marital
status, age or health. This information, fasci-
nating as it may be, also might eliminate
you from consideration.You don't know
who is screening applications or what their
personal biases may be.
Your cover letter can make the differ-
ence in the hiring decision. Use it wisely
- always come from a place of value
rather than a place ofneed.•
is the G4A
manager of Alumni Career
teleclasses. The Dec.
Letters With Clout.
Contact her at
advice and other career-related information is available
r 2 00 6
in this issue
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