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Cover Letters Ė Why do I need one?

Ashling McWilliam for local2 sault ste. marie
September 12th, 2011 at 12:57pm

This article is a column or editorial.
The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of LOCAL2.

COVER LETTERA resume isnít enough? We are often asked this question at the Sault Community Career Centre. Unfortunately a resume does not suffice in the job market of today. Iím sure you have all flipped through a magazine and had one particular advertisement catch your eye. It was glossy and symmetrical, easy on the eyes, or maybe it was wild and colourful with bolded lettering. Whatever the case, that advertisement was created with one goal in mind: TO GET YOUR ATTENTION. A marketing team somewhere devoted endless hours to a one page advertisement about that new vacuum! Remember the Zoomba? They didnít list every detail about the machine, but instead highlighted a few of the major components, briefly describing why this cordless auto functioning vacuum was indeed superior to competitors. A good cover letter should work in the same way as a high-quality advertisement. This letter should indicate why you are the preferred fit for their company. The letter should act as a flag attached to your resume, moving it to the top of the applicant pile. If the employer calls you, then the extra time you spent on your resume and letter of intent are well worth it, right?

First of all remember, the employer is your customer. Just as a marketing team in a company such as Lulu Lemon does their market research, so must we when creating a cover letter.

1. Know your audience

Do the research! When marketing, IKEA always does their consumer research. When writing a cover letter we must also do our research. Find out the companyís motto, mission statement or vision and attempt to incorporate your common values in the letter. Perhaps you are impressed with a particular service the organization offers and could use the introductory paragraph to mention your admiration. Whatever the case, going the extra mile and researching the company before writing your letter always helps.

2. Keywords

Go through the job posting and highlight everything the employer is looking for. Highlight the specific skills and capabilities listed in the posting. Use the posting to guide you in your writing. You should always try to address all of the employerís requirements. Now decide how your skill sets match those required. Perhaps you developed strong computer skills in your last position at a call centre. If the employer is looking for someone with computer skills then youíre well on your way! If the job posting listed excellent customer service skills as an asset, you can explain why you believe your experience assisting clients over the phone is transferable to the position posted.

3. Why

Always tell the employer why you are writing to them. Some organizations may have more than one open position. By specifying which posting you are interested in, you are making their job easier. Most employers and Human Resource representatives donít want to play guessing games.

In your last paragraph refer to the enclosed resume and let the employer know you would appreciate the opportunity to meet with them to further discuss your qualifications. I like to include my phone number again somewhere in the last paragraph, making it as easy as possible for the employer to locate.

To sum it all up, the extra 30 minutes you spend creating the perfect cover letter will really make the difference! When Employment Advisors here at our centre look through applications the first thing they notice is a well written cover letter, explaining how their skills directly relate to the posting. Our team of employment advisors work directly with employers to help them find the staff that they seek and accomplish this by listening carefully to their needs, before putting this information into a job posting. Again, postings are a great source of information in terms of content for your cover letter. Here at the Sault Community Career Centre, our Resource and Information team are happy to provide general feedback on your cover letter or resume as well as some tips for strengthening your presentation. Also, for those individuals who are seeking more comprehensive support, we can connect you with one of our Employment Counsellors who can guide you through job search and provide feedback and direction one on one, should you wish it. As soon as you walk through our doors you are in the right place.


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