Creating and Submitting Your Resume Package: From Cover Letters to Thank-You Notes (page 2)
YOUR RESUME IS just one of the tools you will use to ultimately land a new job. This article deals with assembling the perfect resume package, which consists of:
- Your resume
- Your cover letter
- A personalized business card
- Samples of your work (if applicable)
- Thank-you notes
The key to creating a professional resume package is synergy when it comes to appearance and content: All the parts of the package should work together to create a greater overall effect. You should use the same paper, fonts, and typestyles when creating these documents.
Later in this chapter, methods of actually getting your resume into the right hands are explored. These methods include responding to an ad, networking, and taking advantage of career-related websites.
Writing a Cover Letter
One of the most common misconceptions among job seekers is that the resume is their primary marketing tool when looking for a job, and the cover letter is nothing more than an ancillary formality. In reality, your cover letter is as important as your resume when it comes to capturing the attention of a potential employer and selling yourself as a viable candidate for a job opening.
Because e-mail, faxes, and other written correspondence have become the primary methods of communication in today's business world, many employers rely on the cover letter to evaluate a candidate's ability to communicate in writing. Virtually all employers put great value on an applicant with strong written and oral communication skills. After all, a resume is typically a series of bulleted lists and short sentences, but a cover letter represents an actual writing sample.
Unless you first impress an employer with your cover letter, many HR professionals won't bother to read your resume. Thus, there's a chance your cover letter will be your only opportunity to convince a potential employer that you are a viable job candidate. Both the wording and the overall appearance of your cover letter should complement your resume.
Your cover letter should not duplicate too much information that's already in your resume. Use your one-page cover letter as a marketing tool designed to:
- Introduce yourself
- State the specific job for which you're applying
- Seize the reader's attention
- Pique the reader's interest
- Convey information about yourself that's not in your resume
- Briefly demonstrate your skills and accomplishments
- Convince the reader to read your resume
- Ask the reader for an action to be taken
Every cover letter should highlight things about you that are of direct interest to the recipient. Before sending a resume and cover letter to an employer, you must first develop an overall message and package to market yourself. This package should be synergistic.
As previously mentioned, the envelope, stationery, ink color, typestyle, and font should all match, and each piece in your resume package should work together to promote you—the applicant. Every aspect of your overall package can affect the decision to invite you in for an interview or not.
Creating Your Resume Package
A resume package consists of your resume, cover letter, envelope, and any additional documents you eventually supply to a potential employer, such as a list of references or a thank-you note, in hopes of landing an interview. This chapter emphasizes that using matching papers, envelopes, ink colors, typestyles, and fonts for each document in your resume package is essential for many reasons.
Your resume package will most likely arrive on a potential employer's desk along with many other pieces of mail, and possibly dozens of other resumes from people applying for the same position. Someone will sort that mail, and your resume package will, hopefully, reach its intended destination—the HR person or executive within a company who is expecting to receive it.
If you want your resume package to stand out, it needs to look professional, as if you've put considerable thought and attention into the appearance of the package. First impressions, in this case, are important. The first impression your resume package makes is based on its appearance.
Sending an unsolicited resume to an executive within a company is like sending a piece of junk mail. Only a small percentage of unsolicited resumes a top-level executive receives actually get read. Most executives will simply forward your resume to the company's HR department, though some may just toss your resume in the trash. Writing Personal or Confidential on a resume sent blindly to an executive is almost guaranteed to get it tossed without ever being opened.
Your Resume Package's Appearence
Although the content of your resume, cover letter, and all other documents supplied to a potential employer is important, the initial objective of your package is to capture the attention of the reader by making your resume package look spectacular, yet highly professional. Of course, having some graphic design experience helps, but it's certainly not necessary as long as you follow basic design rules.
To accompany your resume, it's important to include a well-written cover letter that will introduce yourself to a potential employer and hopefully convince the reader to review your resume.
Introducing Yourself with a Cover Letter
Your cover letter is used to introduce yourself to a potential employer, state the job for which you're applying, explain some of the reasons why your resume is worth reading, and then request some sort of action to be taken by the reader.
Although the reader of your cover letter will, of course, look at the letter's content and meaning, the reader will also be evaluating your writing style, spelling, punctuation, and the format of your document. What you say in your cover letter is important, but you should also think carefully about how you want to say it, and make sure that your overall presentation is professional and visually appealing.
Typically, cover letters should be written in a business letter format and customized to the job for which you're applying. Also, these letters need to be personalized, using the name and title of the recipient.
Anytime you submit a resume to a potential employer, it should be accompanied by a cover letter. The main exception to this rule is if you attend a career or job fair and you distribute resumes to a handful of employers while attending the event. Otherwise, always use a cover letter when:
- Sending a resume in response to a help-wanted ad or job opening announcement
- Following up on a job lead given to you by an acquaintance
- Sending an unsolicited resume to a company
Before sending your resume package to anyone, make sure you know the full name and title of the person you are addressing. Using the correct spelling of the recipient's name along with the company's name is important. It's also critical to confirm the recipient's gender, so you can address the envelope and cover letter to Mr., Ms., Mrs., (insert last name). Accidentally spelling someone's name incorrectly is insulting to the recipient and totally unprofessional. The slightest spelling error could result in your resume package getting thrown out, even if you're a qualified candidate.
Once your resume package is complete and you've found job opportunities to pursue, the next step is to pinpoint specifically to whom your resume package should be addressed. The cover letter and the envelope for your resume package could be addressed to any of the following people within a company, based on various circumstances:
- A friend, former business associate, or network contact who currently works for (or is associated with) the company for which you want to work. If this person isn't responsible for the company's actually hiring, your cover letter should ask him or her to forward your resume package on your behalf to the appropriate person, along with their recommendation.
- A professional headhunter or job placement specialist.
- An executive or department head at the company for which you want to work, such as the vice president of marketing if you're hoping to land a job within the company's marketing department.
- Someone in the HR department at the company for which you want to work.
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