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Cover Letter Format

Ask yourself a question. “What is the most important document when searching for a job, your resume or your resume cover letter? Now whilst most people would acknowledge that they are both important many people would put the resume above the cover letter. I for one would challenge that point of view. You see your resume is really a chronological list of the qualifications you have achieved and the positions that you have held in any particular field and yes, this list is essential but also lifeless on its own. Now on the other hand your resume cover letter is pretty much the only tool that you have to bring your resume to life and make it jump out and grab the reader’s attention – that's why, if not more important it's at least as important as the resume itself. So how do you go about making sure you have the best cover letter available to you?

Firstly you could go to a professional writer and get them to write you a resume cover letter. Now while this will, providing you chose the correct writer, present you with a fairly instant product designed to stand out from the crowd, it can be expensive.

Next you can buy one of the many resources available to help you prepare your own cover letter and these will range from books teaching the skills of putting together a good resume cover letter, to software programmes that will prepare a customised resume letter template for you to complete. Providing you don't use the free templates that you can find on the internet (they are very basic and disjointed) both of these resources are well worth you investigating

Lastly, you can learn to hone your own writing skills and prepare your own resume and cover letter which will have the added benefit of assisting you later with things like follow up letters. So what do you need to learn in order to write your own winning cover letters?

To start let’s call up some statistics. You may think that all you have to do is knock together a quick resume attach it to a cover letter and your job is done, well think again. According to many surveys your resume cover letter will have around 15 – 20 seconds to catch the reader’s attention and make them want to read on, but that’s only part of it. That time span is the maximum your cover letter will have, if your letter starts badly you probably will not get time to recover and your resume will probably be binned in around 10 seconds, more quickly if yours happens to be the 20th resume cover letter he or she has just read!

With this in mind you must make absolutely certain that your cover letter style and design is very straightforward and straight to the point. Don't try to be clever and don't use fancy fonts or way out colours. Remember that your cover letter should start by emphasising not what you have done in the past, but exactly what you'll be able to achieve for your prospective employer tomorrow, so be as specific as you can about detail. Always remember that your resume cover letter is the only place where you can highlight “what you can do for them”. So If for example you're applying for a sales position, take some time to look at their market and tell them how you would be able to immediately target certain areas and establish sales to start covering your salary. Employers like the idea of taking on people who already have an idea of where they are going and your cover letter is the perfect vehicle to drive that point home.

Try to home in on the questions that you think they will most want answering, whether it’s increased sales, better quality control or improved customer relationships your resume cover letter is the place to let them know that you have the answers. Whatever the industry you're targeting, you want to pre sell yourself and leave them with little choice other than to at least call you in and hear what you have to say in person.

So to reiterate, whether you go to a professional resume writer, sit down and write your resume cover letter yourself or use software to produce a resume cover letter format that works, your cover letter must be spot on in order for you to rise above the crowd. Too many people make the mistake of simply presenting a CV with a quick note of introduction, this will not work. So invest some time and if necessary a little money and make sure that when a hiring manager picks up your resume, they will read it through to the end and get you in for an interview, which as we know is the first step to securing that perfect job.
The Best Resume Cover Letter Format Will Help You Fill A Need
You have no doubt heard of the sound business advice of all entrepreneurs which is "find a need and fill it". Well this exact same advice can apply when you're looking for the right resume cover letter format to present to a prospective employer. It's essential when preparing your CV that you include everything that your future boss is going to want to see and it's even more important in your cover letter that you show that you can fill the need that they have. So how do you go about doing this?

To make thing easier it's best that you split this process up into two stages. Find out what your employers needs may be Obvious really. How can you prove that you have what it takes to fill the need if you don't know what it's ? So start by writing down a list of around twenty companies that you would like to work for. Yes that's right, segregate who you would like to work for as opposed to what jobs are available. It's right at this point that most people get it wrong by simply picking up the newspaper and looking down the classifieds for any job advertisement. Think about it if you get a job with a company that you really want to work for and most importantly look forward to working for, you'll be in the correct environment to do your best work. In such an environment you'll shine and even if you start off in a job that you didn't particular want, you'll be able to progress, sideways or upwards to something within that organization that you enjoy.

The alternative is that you take a job that you do like within a company that you detest and very soon you'll be dreading going to work and will be back looking for another job in double quick time. Once you have the 20 or so companies that you have identifies as companies who you would like to work for, start doing a little research on what their need may be or what opportunities these companies may have. If you have a network of personal or professional contacts within the areas that these companies operate you can start by tapping into them. If not, use a professional service such as Linkdin.com or try Myspace.com and Zoominfo.com, these websites are great resources and what's more they are free. Another great free resource for this type of research is Google Alerts who will notify you by email any time your target company is in the news (Google.com/alerts). The next phase is also essential

Demonstrate how your skills or experience can fill a need that they have
To do this you must first sit down and really study your own background and what you have achieved to date. It always surprises me that so many people who are searching for or indeed applying for jobs haven't taken the time to actually get to know themselves. So start by selecting three specific skills or areas of skill that you have, these don't need to be connected although sometimes it helps if two of them are. Let me explain.

Let's say that you have identified three core skills that you have, in this instance we will take marketing, customer service and writing. Having done this, next try and quantify these skills into something that your employer will see as something that can help them

Ok, let's say you take your skill of customer service and you want to quantify this into some kind of value for your employer. Think back on your working history and pinpoint a success story related to that skill. Example: your company screwed up big style with a major customer who was threatening to take their business to a competitor; you were able to calm them down, help solve the problem and retained them as a client. Now if that customer was spending $300,000 a year and you managed to keep that customer, then it's obvious that in this instance your customer service skills were worth at least $300,000. The value of your skill maybe less or even more than this but the only way you'll find out is by digging deep, if you look hard you'll find something even though it may be hidden or disguised.

Can you see how this is starting to take some shape? You've identified the companies that you would like to work for, you've dug deep, found a success story and attached some dollars to it. Now you need to match your skills to a prospective employers needs, that's where your previous research or information from Google alerts comes in to play.

Let's say that you have discovered that one of your target companies - for our purposes we will call them ABC Inc - has announced that it wants to open up some new markets and increase their annual revenue. Your next job is to let ABC know that you have the skills to indeed help them with what they are trying to achieve, or put another way show them that you can fill their need. you'll under normal circumstances only get two opportunities to do this and that's with your resume cover letter and a job interview and guess what, you won't get the interview unless you have grabbed their interest with your cover letter.

This is why the correct resume cover letter format is essential. The pertinent part of what you want to get over to your potential employers may go along these lines "Having read recently that you're looking to expand ABC Inc by opening up new markets, I also noticed that one of the countries you're looking to break into is Spain. I have recently created new sales of $880,000 working for XYZ Inc who you'll be aware operate in the same market place as yourself and I believe that this experience coupled with my knowledge of the Spanish language would make me an ideal candidate to help you achieve your goals

This approach will greatly increase your chances of getting an interview, because you have done your homework and told the employer that you care enough to make an effort. Yes there's that word again, effort, all of this will take a little work on your part but it'll pay dividends in the long run.

You must make the effort to find out what the specific skills your target employer is looking for, then dig deep and find a success story that aligns with those needs. Attach some dollar return to that success story and incorporate all of this into a great resume cover letter format and you'll be fired up ready to blast any competition away.
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