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In Creating an Effective Resume, author Mariann Siegert provides step-by-step guidance on creating resumes that highlight accomplishments and specifically target a potential employer's needs. The course covers how to build a resume that encompasses action statements, keywords, styling, and effective content, while addressing common stumbling blocks such as handling employment gaps and career changes. Framing the resume as a vital component of a personalized marketing campaign, Mariann shows how to conduct employer research and utilize keyword optimization techniques to increase a resume's potential of being found by employers and recruiters on resume banks and job sites. Also included are tips on writing cover letters and thank-you notes. Exercise files accompany the course.
To whom it may concern: I am applying for your position as a Technical Trainer at XYZ Company. Attached is my resume. Sincerely, MaryEllen Lockwood. If you think that this letter has the makings of a great cover letter, think again. MaryEllen here is missing a perfect chance to introduce herself as the perfect candidate for this particular position at this particular company. Just as your resume is your advertisement, your cover letter is part of your marketing campaign. If the hiring manager doesn't like what they read in your cover letter, they may never even read your resume. Your cover letter can even be the deciding factor between you and another otherwise equally qualified candidate. As you have learned in this course, each resume should be targeted towards a particular employer. In the same way, each cover letter should also be targeted and focused on the employer's unique needs and goals. The cover letter is a great opportunity to tell the employer why are the perfect fit for the job, by highlighting your top qualifications, achievements, and accomplishments that are transferable to this particular position. At this point in the game, you should have researched the employer and found your transferable skills that match this position. If not, go back and complete these steps and then pull the most pertinent information over into your cover letter. Think like the employer. What is it that you have to offer that will benefit the company or really make a difference? What makes you stand out from the crowd? Spell these things out in your cover letter. Never include information regarding what you want. Instead, you need to tell the employer what you can do for them, and don't simply repeat information that's contained in your resume verbatim. Instead, use this for highlight your most outstanding achievements in your career that match the skills they need. As far as the formatting of your header does, put together a professional- looking package by making your resume, cover letter, references, thank-you notes, and everything else that goes along in your package, all match for the same heading style. Keep in mind that your cover letter is an essential part of your marketing campaign. You saw the first example of MaryEllen's cover letter. Next, let's see how MaryEllen could drastically improve her chances of having the hiring manager review her resume and win an interview. The header information should include her name, the address, her contact information, her cell number of course, and email, and you could even include a headline. In the main body of your resume, you want to add a date of course, and of course you want to add the full address as snail mail. Be sure to add the reference, or as some people call it, the Re: line. Next, you want to make sure that you address the person by name if at all possible, not To Whom It May Concern. Following the salutation comes the body, and you want it to be an introduction. Following the introduction, you can put information, such as your matching skills. Of course this is optional, but I just showed you how you could create a table here that points out your five best skills that match the employer skills. Next, reiterate your qualifications, and then you can repeat also your contact information, and finally, thank them for their time and consideration. Add the closing, and the last thing that you want to put on your page is add the word enclosure, if you're adding your resume in snail mailing. A lot of people treat their cover letter as an afterthought and a rather unnecessary afterthought at that. I should know; I used to be one of them. But are they really need it? Are they important to your job search? If you think your resume is what's most important, you're correct, but before they can even see your brilliantly written resume, you must sell them first with your cover letter. Recently Robert Half Technology, a highly respected recruiting company, shared with me that the cover letter is usually the first thing a hiring manager sees; therefore, it may serve as a primary reason they move on to read your resume or not. A cover letter may be instrumental in your resume leaping to the top of the pile. According to their survey, 86% of executives polled said cover letters are very valuable when evaluating job candidates, and although the job application process is mostly conducted online nowadays, in the case a cover letter is still needed. Here are some important cover letter tips straight from the recruiters. It's wise to spend as much time perfecting your cover letter as you do your resume. Don't copy and paste from cover letter examples you find on the Internet. Cookie-cutter cover letters are boring, they aren't targeted to the job, and they don't reflect you. Begin by telling the screener which position you are applying for. Make it specific to each job. Don't send the same cover letter to every employer. If it sounds like a one-size-fits-all letter, you are more unlikely to get them to read your resume, let alone get an interview. Generic cover letters say a lot about a candidate. It shows lack of interest and a little laziness and then certainly not what you're going for. So keep it brief. A good rule of thumb is two to three paragraphs for an email and one page of printed. Tell the employer why and how you would be an asset to the company, by sharing how your qualifications, strengths, and accomplishments match the job specifications. Research the employer by reading industry publications, searching online, and talking to members of your professional network. You may then demonstrate your knowledge of the firm as you explain how your skills and background are fit in the cover letter. Avoid rehashing your resume in the cover letter. Look at your letter and resume as separate-but-related documents. They should complement one another without being overly repetitive. Use slightly different wording in a more conversational style then you would typically use in your resume. Use the hiring manager's name and the address if at all possible. If you don't know who to address it to, look on the company web site for an online directory. If you can't find it there, call the company and ask. Don't forget to be polite. You may be speaking to someone that will be an asset later, or even the hiring manager. Close the cover letter with a request for an interview. Add a catchy P.S. The P.S. always gets read and sometimes is the first thing they read instead of the last. Double-check and proofread. Carefully review your cover letter for flow and proper spelling and grammar. Then ask several others to proofread and critique as well. If someone the screener knows recommended you to apply for the position, you may want to include that person's name. Just be sure there is a good connection between the two if you can. If there is not a good connection between the two, you may blow your chances for the job right then and there. On the other hand, if the connection is the screener's best friend, it certainly couldn't hurt your chances. If you're responding to an advertisement in the paper, mention the publisher source. May certain the person's name you're addressing is spelled correctly and you're using the proper title. Use a colon after the name, not a comma. Colons are used for business letters, commas for personnel. Your cover letter may very will be the first thing a potential employer will see. Make sure it's not the last by writing a cover letter that will entice them to find out more about you by reading your resume. First things first. You must have a compelling cover letter to arouse interest in your resume, and then you must have a job-winning resume to obtain the interview.
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