February 18, 2013

How To Create A "Tough Times" Cover Letter

During tough times it's important to write a solid, information-packed, professional cover letter that will grab the hiring manager's attention. That means including details that will show him or her what you've done, what you can do, and what you will do if you are hired for the position advertised.

Focus on Experience and Skills

It's not enough to mention your degree in engineering or accounting or sales and marketing, important as it may be. An employer will want to see your job-related leadership strengths and communication skills as well as experience in a particular field. In other words, can you get along with co-workers, take action in an emergency, settle a dispute if one arises, offer creative ideas during a planning meeting?

Make sure your cover letter shows, not merely tells. For example, don't say I'm good at bringing peace to a difficult situation or I offered some new ideas on how to run the accounting department. These are too general. Provide a list of specific accomplishments you're proud of. Example:

• Resolved an argument between two employees when one threatened to walk off the job

• Suggested a new method of accounting (name the program, if applicable) that management embraced

• Demonstrated a piece of software (state what it is, if applicable) that cut support staff hours by one-third

State What You Can Do For the Company

Once the hiring manager knows what you've done previously, he or she will be eager to find out what you can do for his or her company in the future. In other words, how will your previous experience lend itself to the new position? Here is your chance to be specific once again.

Suppose you are applying for a job as an administrative assistant for a university. Address the requirements you read in the advertisement for the job opening. Then show how you can fill them.

Example: You can count on me to:

• Ensure that all computer labs are up and running following the purchase of software for particular courses, and classes assigned to correct computer labs.

• Maintain computer labs and classrooms with computer equipment.

• Train and supervise employees, write a grant, and ensure reports are submitted in a timely manner

• Balance department budgets, and follow protocol regarding purchasing supplies

• Schedule board meetings and make travel arrangements

• Assist students, faculty and staff and community members with computer tutoring and troubleshooting, etc.

Regardless of the economy and the sometimes bleak outlook when it comes to searching and finding a job, people are hired everyday all over the country. You can be one of them if you make sure your cover letter meets the professional standard, communicates clearly who you are, what you can do, and basically shows what you know—without pretending or patronizing.

Be your honest self, tell the truth, write in a positive and optimistic tone, and trust that the job you are best suited for is out there waiting for you.
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