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Creating and Submitting Your Resume Package: From Cover Letters to Thank-You Notes (page 3)

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Updated on Nov 30, 2010

The Support Paragraph

What about the employer specifically piqued your interest? Answering this question should be the purpose of one of your cover letter's support paragraphs. Here's an opportunity to compliment the employer, demonstrate you've done some research about its organization and industry, and show that you have a strong knowledge regarding what the company is all about.

Be sure to emphasize your experience and accomplishments. Avoid personal topics such as your age, race, religion, health, physical/ mental disabilities, hobbies, social security number, or references to your physical appearance.

When it comes to compensation (salary, benefits, etc.), avoid this topic in your cover letter. If your salary history is specifically requested, provide a range, not specific numbers.

As you create drafts for each cover letter, keep in mind that this too, like your resume, is a marketing tool. Include as many action words as possible. An extensive list of these words and phrases is provided in Appendix A.

A Request for Action

Typically, after responding to an ad or job opening announcement, the next step is to request a formal job interview.

This section of your cover letter should contain a request for the reader to take action and invite you for an interview. Remember, the person to whom you are writing is probably busy, so follow up with a telephone call and mention you will do so in your letter. Don't simply send out your resume package and then sit by the telephone waiting for a response.

This paragraph of your cover letter might be worded like one of the following:

I plan on being in the (city, state) area on (insert date) and would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you in person. I'll call you next week to schedule an interview.

I'm looking forward to speaking with you in greater detail about this job opportunity. I will give you a call later this week to schedule a convenient time for an interview. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to give me a call at ###-###-####.

Upon reviewing my resume, I hope you will find time in your busy schedule to meet with me in person regarding the (insert job title) openings at your company. I'll give you a call later this week to schedule a convenient time for a meeting.

The opportunity to meet with you in person would be a privilege. To this end, I will contact you later in the week to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to give me a call at ###-###-####.

Closing

Your cover letter should conclude with a formal closing and your signature. Be sure to thank the reader for his or her interest, time, and consideration. A few ways to end the letter are:

      Sincerely yours,
      (Signature)
      (Typed name)
      Regards,
      (Signature)
      (Typed name)
      Best regards,
      (Signature)
      (Typed name)
      Yours truly,
      (Signature)
      (Typed name)
      Respectfully,
      (Signature)
      (Typed name)

    The wording of the final paragraph could be as follows:

    Thank you, in advance, for reviewing my resume and considering me for the (job title) position you have available. I look forward to meeting with you in person for an interview soon.

      Sincerely,
      (Signature)
      (Typed name)

Gathering the Facts Needed for a Cover Letter

Here's a short questionnaire to help you gather the information you will need when actually writing your cover letter. The answers you provide will help you write a well-organized letter that conveys the necessary key points.

Gathering the Facts Needed for a Cover Letter

Formatting Your Cover Letter on Paper

Traditional business correspondence can follow several basic formats, any of which are acceptable for a cover letter. With the possible exception of the thank-you note, all correspondence should be typed or created on a computer, as opposed to being handwritten. Exhibit 6–1 shows one example, and Exhibit 6–2 lists useful tips and guidelines for creating professional-looking cover letters.

Formatting Your Cover Letter on Paper

The body of your cover letter can be left justified or fully justified, and it should be single spaced, printed using the same 12-point font as your resume, and use 1.25-inch left and right margins plus 1-inch top and bottom margins.

Formatting Your Cover Letter on Paper

Create a Personalized Business Card to Accompany Your Package

To complement your resume and distinguish you from other applicants, have personal business cards printed with your contact information. These personal business cards should be included whenever you send a resume package and also with your thank-you notes.

For under $30, basic business cards can be printed that provide your contact information, including:

  • Your full name
  • Home phone number
  • Cellular phone number
  • Pager phone number
  • Home and/or school address
  • E-mail address

You can either have cards printed for you at a print shop, or you can buy special perforated stock either from an office-supply store and layout and print the cards on your PC. Again, it's best to use a laser printer.

It's important that the style of your personal business cards matches your resume in terms of paper color, font/typestyle, and ink color. The following is a sample layout for a personal business card that can be used as part of an overall resume package.

CREATE A PERSONALIZED BUSINESS CARD TO ACCOMPANY YOUR PACKAGE

References and Letters of Recommendation

Another valuable piece of your overall resume package, which will be submitted to an employer during a job interview or upon request after submitting your resume and cover letter, is your list of personal and professional references. Most companies will simply ask you to fill in this information on the company's standard job application, or the hiring manager or someone in the HR department may contact you (usually after an interview) and ask you to provide this over the phone or via e-mail. However, if you are asked to submit a list of references on paper, here are some guidelines.

From a visual standpoint, this document should be printed on the same type of paper as your resume and cover letter, and use the same font, typestyle, and ink color. In terms of content, your references should list the full name, address, and phone number of each person, plus a brief description of that person's relationship to you (i.e., friend, former coworker, former employer, college professor, etc.).

References should be separated into two categories—personal and professional. Personal references can include friends (but not relatives), past college professors (or high school teachers), and personal acquaintances who are well known or whose name will carry clout (such as the CEO of a well-known company, a politician, or a celebrity who knows you).

Professional references can include past coworkers, supervisors, or employers; leaders of charity organizations for whom you've done work; and so on. These people can vouch for your professionalism, work experience, and skills.

Instead of providing employers with a list of your references, you may be asked for letters of recommendation written on your behalf. Letters of recommendation should, of course, be written by the person recommending you and printed on his or her personal or company letterhead. These documents should not be printed on the same paper as your resume and cover letters.

Remember to say Thank You!

Immediately after every job interview, send the interviewer (or the person/people you met with) a personalized thank-you note to show your appreciation for taking the time to see you. Even if an employer wants to hire you, it's common for interviewers to hold out on making a job offer to see if an applicant sends a thank-you note in a timely manner.

Great Idea!

"Thank-you letters are a must! Get a business card from everyone you interview with so that you can get the names and titles correct on your thank-you letters, which should include a little tidbit of information from the interview so that they know you were paying attention. Don't copy the same letter over with the sentence order changed for different people within the same company. People don't usually compare thank-you letters, but you never know. In fact, a lot of folks just throw them out; but they do notice when they don't get one at all."

—ROZ, ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

No matter how busy and stressed you are about the job-search process, and even if you're 100% convinced that after participating in an interview that you're not getting hired, take a few minutes to write and send a personalized thank-you note within 24 hours after your interview. Sending a thank-you note is just one way you can set yourself apart from the competition, while demonstrating that you have strong follow-up skills and are a true professional.

A thank-you note can either be typed, using a formal business letter format, and then printed on the same paper you used for your resume and cover letter, or you could handwrite your personalized message on a note card. If you handwrite the note, use a black or blue pen, and write extremely neatly. You can also send an e-mail.

When writing a thank-you note, follow these general guidelines:

  • Remind the interviewer who you are and when you met.
  • Thank the interviewer for his or her time and consideration.
  • Once again, state the exact position for which you're applying.
  • Briefly mention something specific from your interview (to jog the interviewer's memory regarding you).
  • In one sentence, describe why you're the best applicant for the job.
  • State how much you want the job and ask to be hired.
  • If you have personal business cards printed containing your name, home phone number, and address, feel free to insert a card in the envelope with your note. This will help the interviewer remember exactly who you are.
Interviewers aren't the only people who should receive thankyou notes. Anyone who provided you career guidance or assistance should also be shown gratitude. Thanking people for their support will encourage them to assist you again in the future.

Creating a resume package, as you've probably surmised, is a time-consuming task. Once this aspect of your job-search process is completed and you've selected how you want your overall resume package to look, the next step involves finding the best job openings and then actually applying for those jobs.

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