Tel 855-650-3088

How To Create A Winning Cover Letter

0
0
Why You Need A Strong Cover Letter

Alan Klein is Home Office Careers Chief Marketing Officer and he has been helping people fulfill their potential and achieve success throughout his own long career.

Work from home jobseekers often ask us if a cover letter is necessary when submitting applications to job. There are three answers:

  • Yes, definitely if the employer requests a cover letter as part of the application
  • Yes, hopefully, if the employer provides the means to include it in the application, even if the cover letter is not requested
  • No, but only when there is no request or way to include it with the application

The reason to include a carefully crafted cover letter whenever you can is that it can be the single best way for you, the applicant to:  (1) Express your deep interest in the offer; (2) Quickly hit the high points of your qualifications; and (3) Serve up a sense of your unique personality and qualities. Let’s tackle each of these, and then I’ll show you how to write an effective one-page cover letter.

Before getting into the specifics, though, let’s first understand the difference between a cover letter and a resume. The cover letter should not be a duplicate of the resume; instead, it should provide brief highlights and bring out how you are, as a person. As you may read in my recent blog “Your Resume Is An Advertisement For You” the resume is a one-two page summary of your job objective, your experience, your accomplishments and education, with some personal detail as appropriate. But the cover letter is different: It lets “you be you” to the employer, and get a few words in that show your interest, commitment and qualifications. The trick is to do all that on a single page. Let me show you how:

 

Top Of Page Contact Info & Addressee

At the top of the letter, place your name and contact information, and if you have the name of the employer, insert “Dear (name).” If no name is available, enter Recruitment Manager, and on the next line enter the name of the company, to show you are customizing the letter. Insert the date, ideally on the right side.

 

1st Paragraph: Introduce Yourself And Express Interest In The Offer

The first sentence of the first paragraph of the cover letter should make clear your interest in the position you are applying to. Why? Because it instantly establishes you as focused on the specific job, and says you are not one of many applicants who use a “shotgun” approach and apply to jobs without real interest or qualification. So if your first sentence is on target, the reader will continue through the rest of the paragraph and be able to better know you.

This means you may need to customize the open paragraph of each letter to make it relevant to the offer – don’t worry; the remainder of the cover letter can be the same in most cases. Here’s an example. Imagine you are applying for a work-from-home job in Customer Support. Your opening sentence could be like this: “I am applying for the position of Customer Support Representative at (organization name), a position I am qualified for and highly motivated to manage.”

Now follow in this 1st paragraph with some quick confirmation of what you have just said. Keep it to one or two sentences. For example, “My experience in customer support has produced considerable improvement in customer loyalty and a reduction in refunds and returns. I enjoy working with and helping people, which makes my work with customers satisfying.” If possible, cite specific qualifications that are mentioned in the job offer, so you can apply them to your own experience. For example, “My experience in Customer Support at (company) involved persuading customers to not return merchandise, which correlates with the requirements of this position I am applying for.”

 

2nd Paragraph: Quickly Hit The High Points Of Your Experience And Qualifications

Here is where you should provide substantiation of what was said in the 1st paragraph – by mentioning where you worked and what you accomplished. But remember, this is not the resume, so don’t go into detail, keep it brief. For example, “I worked in Customer Support at (company name) for five years, during which time I handled an average of 20 customer cases per day, and was cited for having reduced returns by 40% and cut the refunds by 38%. Previously, at (company name) I managed a team of six telephone operators who processed a total of 120 customer issues daily.”

 

3rd Paragraph: Serve Up A Sense Of Your Unique Personality

Tell the employer who you are, as a person, but keep it business-like. The reader of your cover letter may appreciate that you first started helping people at college (name) where you were part of an environmental group or that you are active today in community service. You can insert a statement of why you prefer to work from your home, and why this job fits your desire to balance work and family life. If you can, say a little about what makes you tick – for example, if you had taken time off to raise a family, or serve in the military, or are involved in public service activities.

Your cover letter should close with a short “Thank you” for the employer’s consideration.

 

Templates To Copy & Customize

I’ve constructed two model cover letters that you can use as templates.  I suggest that you copy and paste one of these letters into Word, then customize it with your own personal information and save it to your computer desktop or job search folder. By filing it in a convenient folder, you will be able to easily locate it to attach to job applications. You should observe in these examples that the cover letter is short and to the point; it’s important to resist the temptation to provide more information – Just as we advise for creating a resume, less is better. While these examples are for Customer Support and Sales, you may adapt them to any career category, from Administration, Analyst and Data-Entry to Healthcare, Human Resources, Transcriptionist and Writing.

 

Example 1: Customer Support

Your Name

Address

Telephone & Email

Date

Dear Mr./Ms. (name, or if not available, enter “Recruitment Manager”)

Name of company

 

I am applying for the position of Customer Support Manager at (company) to build on my record of success working with customers in both large and small companies. I am credited with producing considerable improvement in customer loyalty, as well as reductions in refunds and returns. I believe my satisfaction when working with and helping people has contributed to the effective of my work.
I worked in Customer Support at (company name) for five years, during which time I handled an average of 20 customer cases per day, and was cited for having reduced returns by 40% and cut the refunds by 38%. Previously, at (company name) I managed a team of six telephone operators who processed a total of 120 customer issues daily. My early career experience included fund raising, which helped me become effective as a home-based worker using telephone and email outreach to motivate people.

 

My supervisors have cited me as being a reliable, punctual employee who gets the job done. My earlier experiences as a volunteer in environmental causes, and more recent community service activities have helped broaden my perspective about working with and motivating people. I prefer to be a home-based worker so I can effectively balance career and family interests.
In thanking you for your consideration, best regards,
Your Name

 

­­­­­­­­­­­­­ Example 2: Sales

Your Name

Address

Telephone & Email

Date

Dear Mr./Ms. (name, or if not available, enter “Recruitment Manager”)

Name of company

 

I am applying for the position of Sales Associate at (company). I am excited about this opportunity and believe I can meet or exceed expectations, based on my experience in sales to customers in several different business categories during the past eight years.
I was responsible for sales at (company name) and exceeded my sales quotas by an average of 20% each year, culminating in a 35% increase in 2015. I am able to work independently from a home-office, but have also been able to work in coordination with other salespersons in team efforts.

 

My supervisors and associates credit me with being a motivated, thorough sales representative with strong follow-up actions to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction. I am active in fund raising for our community’s annual food drive, and use this activity to network and develop new relationships.
Thank you for your consideration; I look forward to hearing from you.
Your Name

 

Be Prepared: Create The Cover Letter Now

Be sure to have your cover letter drafted and ready to attach to job applications, but remember to customize each one, with the name of the company you are applying to, the title of the job you are applying for, and any another edits that can make the letter appear to be targeted to the posted job. Spend a few extra minutes to get it right and it will pay off for you in the long run.

Here’s a simple test to verify that your cover letter is going to be effective for you. Ask your self these three questions:

  1. “If the employer does not read my resume, does the cover letter alone present me as a strong candidate for the specific position?”
  2. “Is the cover letter brief enough that the employer can skim through it in a few seconds?”
  3. “Have I double-checked the letter for typos and grammatical errors, and verified that my contact information (telephone number and email address) is correct?”

 

Do you have questions about how you are going about conducting your search for home-base employment, or suggestions about cover letters you would like to share with the members of Home Office Careers? We’d like to hear from you, so add your comments below.

4 Responses to “How To Create A Winning Cover Letter”

  1. looking for work at home jobs

    • Alan Klein says:

      Hi Mearl – if you are looking to work from home, you have come to the right place! Please visit Home Office Careers at http://www.homeofficecareers.com and become a free Basic member and see all of the over 1,000 job offers that we post for our members. Use Resume Builder to create a good resume and visit our Career Resources for lots of good information.
      Wishing you success!

  2. autumn102085@yahoo.com' Debbie Dickinson says:

    Are there reliable companies that I could hire to re-write my resume? Is that something you do? I could send my very plain Jane resume to you and you charge me to re-write it professionally? Thank you.

    • Alan Klein says:

      Hi Debbie – I have two recommendations for you:

      1. If you are already a member of Home Office Careers (and if not, sign-up today – it’s free!) use our Resume Builder service to download a template and customize it with your personal info. Follow the instructions and the template format and you will create a first rate resume.

      2. Or, you may go to our Career Resources where we have blogs that can help you with your resume – I just wrote one called “Your Resume Is An Advertisement For You.’ It’s also available as a Podcast. You will also find a blog or two that will direct you to professional resume services.

      Best of success!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *