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Cover Letters Are A Critical Part Of Getting The Job You Want
by Toni Seger
TheSyndicatedNews columnist

Co-owner of a media/communications firm called ProseWorks(tm) Associates since 1992, Toni Seger has been a professional writer for four decades and since 2004, has produced a public affairs television show for the largest chamber in Maine.

Promoting oneself is often difficult for people, but you can’t get a job, any job without being able to sell a prospective employer on your personal strengths. Before you go to an interview, take the time to evaluate those strengths and get yourself ready to show how you’d be a good fit for the particular job you’re interviewing for. Make a list of the qualifications you possess that closely match the job being offered and be prepared to show how your skills and your personality make you the best person for the position you desire. Enthusiasm is critical. Every employer wants to feel the person they are interviewing really wants to work for them and isn’t just looking for a way to pay the bills.

Because most jobs are going to require you to send out a resume with a cover letter before you’re considered for an interview, these materials are extremely important to your eventual success. Basically, you need to be able to persuade other people you’ve never met that you’re qualified by using the written word. Frequently, your cover letter is the first thing a prospective employer will see from you and you don’t want it to be the last. A bad cover letter could give the wrong impression and discourage an employer from even looking at what might otherwise be a fully qualified resume. Don’t miss the opportunity to put forth your best arguments in the most effective manner.

If writing is a struggle for you, go back to that list you made of all the reasons why this is a good job for you and don’t stop until you’ve exhausted your thoughts on the subject. Don’t try and determine the comparative value of individual points at this stage. Only when you can’t think of anything more to add should you even look at your list and begin to place the items into some sort of coherent order.

As you analyze your points, order them by starting with lesser important subjects and ending with the most important. This will help you build your final communication towards a conclusion which all of your premises support. Some purely personal reasons may drop out at this point, but, at the same time, you might also discover new ways to promote yourself.

As you develop your case, you’re also going to find holes in your argument. When this happens, look for ways you can answer any anticipated concerns. The more you do this, the better prepared you will be for your eventual interview. Explore ways you can link points so that your letter has a consistent flow to it and you haven’t left unconnected thoughts dangling. Each time you have a change of heart about elements in your letter, explore the reason for it. Chances are you’ve learned something valuable in the writing process that has improved your final result.

Unlike spoken words, written words allow you the luxury of making changes. Take advantage of that by using the time to make the best case for yourself. As soon as you find yourself getting stale on this exercise, stop and do something else. When you come back, you’ll find yourself much more able to look at what you’ve done with fresh eyes.

Don’t expect to like all the ideas you come up with or even most of them. Some of the things you’ve thought of will not be appropriate, so don’t get discouraged if you find you don’t like everything you’ve written. Nothing creates a writing block faster than lack of confidence, so you never want to do anything that will make this process harder. Getting a job is all about displaying confidence in your ability to perform a particular task and you want to keep your confidence high at all times.

Always make it a rule that you’ll never send out any cover letter as soon as you think it’s done. If you put it aside, even for a little while, you’ll find it much easier to view with objectivity and be better able to judge whether or not it’s working for you. When you’re finished, be sure to congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Published: Aug 28,2008 15:11
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