How to Sell Yourself with a Winning Cover Letter
You need to attach a cover letter to every resume you send out, whether you mail, e-mail, fax or personally deliver it. However, your best not to send out the same cover letter to every employer. Customize each one to the company you’re applying to and the job you’re applying for. Yes, this means a little more work on your part, but think of it this way: The cover letter gives you a chance to point out exactly why you are perfect for this particular job.
Cover letters usually have three parts.
Opening – states your interest in the company and the job. Tells how you found out about the job opening or the company and why you are interested.
Middle – tells the employer what you have to offer the company by highlighting one or two qualifications you think would be of greatest interest. Points out special training or experience you have. Demonstrates that you know something about the company and/or industry.
Closing – expresses your appreciation for the employer’s time and asks him/her to contact you or states that you will follow- up with them.
68 Pine St.
Cooksville, ON P7A 5X3
September 5, 2013
Ms. Holly Peters, Manager
Cool Threads Clothing Store
25 Main St.
Cooksville, ON A1B 2C3
Re: Application for sales clerk position
Dear Ms. Peters:
Your ad in the August 10th edition of The Cooksville News for a sales clerk greatly interested me, as this position is very much in line with my immediate career objective – fashion design and/or retail.
I really enjoy working with people and have developed excellent communication skills as an assistant coach of a junior soccer team. This, combined with the fact that I am a highly motivated and conscientious worker makes a customer service position at Cool Threads a perfect fit for me. A resume detailing my skills and work experience is attached for your review.
I would appreciate an opportunity to meet with you to further discuss my qualifications. In the meantime, many thanks for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
(sign your name)
Cover Letter Checklist
- Does your letter address the exact name and title of the contact person?
- Did you use a natural writing style – professional but friendly?
- Does your letter show that you know something about the company?
- Does your letter demonstrate energy and enthusiasm?
- Did you expand on your resume rather than repeat its content?
- Did you sign your letter and give a phone number and/or e-mail address where you can be reached?
- Did you have others check your letter for spelling and grammatical errors?
When an interviewer asks this question, what they are really asking is what relevant skills and characteristics that you posses that can be applied to the position. How you answer this question can set the tone for the rest of the interview.
Points to Emphasize
Depending upon your skill set and the position that you are applying for, there are a number of ways that you can formulate this answer. However, there are some general points that you can emphasize.
- Highlight the skills that you possess that are relevant to the position.
- Focus on your top skills and those that encompass others.
- Even if you have not utilized them in a previous job function, mention any relevant capabilities that you have that are relevant to the job.
- If you lack experience in any of the major job functions, speak highly of your abilities or characteristics that would help you to succeed at the task.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
This is not a time to brag on yourself, but rather an opportunity to highlight how you can contribute to the company that you are applying to. Make sure that you avoid the following possible mistakes.
- Be careful of giving a generic answer; tailor your answer to the specific position you are applying for.
- Do not mention any negative characteristics or areas that you are “progressing” in.
- Steer clear of listing off your accomplishments.
- Do not try to breeze over the question; this critical to the interview process.
Remember, though you are describing yourself, you are doing so to express how you can be of benefit to the business in the position you are applying for.
A good answer for describing yourself could be along the lines of:
I am a people person, which is why I have extensive experience in customer service. I am a great listener and am able to pinpoint people’s issues and possible solutions. I attribute that to my success in sales and my strong problem solving abilities in completing managerial duties.
This is often one of the first questions that are asked in an interview, so you want to be sure to make a positive impression. Be sure to highlight your strongest and most relevant skills.