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Writing a cover letter(part1)

Introducing yourself

Every CV you send, fax, or e- mail needs its own cover letter. Sending a CV without a cover letter is like starting an interview without shaking hands. The best cover letters spark the employer’s interest and create an impression of competence.

Cover letters are an opportunity to convey your focus and energy. If you don’t have a lot of experience, use the cover letter to show you have enthusiasm. Writing a strong cover letter and then calling to follow up shows the employer you have drive and interest.

What to include

Cover letters should be written in standard business format with your and the reviewer’s addresses at the top and your signature above your typed name at the bottom. (E- mailed cover letters do not include mailing addresses.) All letters should be single spaced, flush left, with each paragraph followed by a blank line. Use professional, polite words. Revealing your personality is fine, as long as your style conforms to business protocol.

Most cover letters are two or three paragraphs long. Every cover letter should fit on one page and contain the following four parts:

Salutation

Whenever possible, send your letter to a specific person rather than to an office. Consider how differently you respond to a letter addressed to you, as opposed to one addressed to “Occupant.” If you do not know whom to write, call the company and ask who is hiring for the position. Check that the name you use is spelled correctly and the title is accurate. Pay close attention to the Mr. or Ms. before gender- neutral names. Finally, use a colon after the name, not a comma.

Opening

The first few sentences of your cover letter should tell the reviewer which job you are applying for and the connection you have to the company. If someone the reviewer knows suggested you apply, mention that recommendation. If you are responding to an advertisement, refer to it and the source that published it.

Your knowledge of the company might give you another opportunity to connect yourself to the job. You could briefly describe your experience with its products, cite a recent company success, or refer to an article written about the company. But don’t go overboard; save specifics for the interview.

Body

The next portion of your cover letter is a brief explanation of your qualifications. Don’t simply repeat your CV; summarize your most relevant qualifications or provide additional details about a noteworthy accomplishment. Address the employer’s requirements directly, and don’t be afraid to use special formatting to your advantage.

You can also use the body of your cover letter to address gaps in your work history or other problems evident on your CV. But do not volunteer negative information unless you must. Always maintain a positive, confident tone.

Closing

In your final paragraph, thank the reviewer, request an interview, and repeat your home phone number. The closing is your chance to show commitment to the job. Do not leave the ball in the employer's court. Indicate what reaction you expect from your letter and how you will follow up. For example, don't end with "I look forward to hearing from you soon." If you tell the reviewer you plan to call, make sure you do it.

>>Part 2

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