Searching for a New Job?
About Jobs: Creating a Strong Cover Letter Can Help After an Absence for Kids
If you’ve taken some time off to raise a family and now find yourself going through a divorce and in need of a job, a well-written resume is probably your most powerful job search tool. The cover letter that typically accompanies it should properly introduce you as a viable job applicant, capture the reader’s attention, and showcase your qualifications all in a few short paragraphs. This objective might sound simply, but in reality, it’s not.
Visually, a cover letter should compliment your resume. Thus, it should be typed and printed (never hand-written) using the same type of paper, and same easy-to-read font and ink color as your resume, in order to demonstrate continuity. In terms of length, keep it short and to the point, never more than a few paragraphs that fit on a single side of one 8.5-inch by 11-inch page.
HAVE A CLEAR PURPOSE
According to Resume Resources, a free online resource that offers resume and cover letter creation tips, the cover letter is the formal introduction that provides a brief explanation of your job field, experience, areas of expertise and relevant knowledge in relationship to the job being applied for. The cover letter should highlight key points in the resume and specifically should address all items within the summary of your resume.
Your resume also serves as a writing sample for the perspective employer. It should be able to demonstrate your ability to communicate well in writing, which is a valuable skill in the business world. Thus, this document should be proofread carefully before it’s sent, so it contains absolutely no spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors. Misused words are also a resume and cover letter no-no. For example, using the word witch when you meant which. If the reader (your potential employer or the human resources professional) catches even a simple error, which is something they’re typically on the lookout for, it could take you out of the running for the job you’ve applied for. Keep in mind, the employer has probably received dozens of resume and cover letter packages from other equally qualified candidates that contained no errors. Resume Resources reports that your cover letter is all about taking the best of your qualifications and characteristics, and making them exciting and enticing to the prospective employer. It’s a carefully crafted letter that leads the employer to the resume to see why you are the best candidate for the job.
ELEMENTS OF A COVER LETTER
Your cover letter should be written is a traditional, business letter style and contain the following elements:
1. Your personal contact information at the very top of the page. The first thing the reader should see is your full name displayed, followed on the next few lines by your address, phone number, cell phone number and e-mail address. The home and cell phone number(s) listed should have voice mail capabilities, so the employer will have no trouble getting in touch with you.
2. Below your contact information, after skipping two lines, add the date.
3. Moving down the page two more lines, also left-justified, include the recipient’s name, job title, and full address. Confirm with the employer the spelling of the recipient’s name, their gender, and their exact job title. For example, “Pat Smith” could be a Mr., Mrs., Ms. or Dr., for example. Never guess or make assumptions about the spelling of the recipient’s name or their gender.
4. Skip two additional lines moving down the page. The letter’s salutation should follow – i.e. Dear Mr. [Insert Recipient’s Last Name:]
5. In opening paragraph (also left-justified on the page and down two lines) introduce yourself. Describe exactly what job you’re applying for, how you learned about the job opening, and provide one quick tidbit about yourself that will capture the reader’s attention.
6. The next two paragraphs should contain support information about you and why you’re qualified for the job. Keep each paragraph down to four or five well-written and attention-getting sentences. Skip one line in between each paragraph.
7. The final paragraph should have a request for action. Ask the reader to review your resume and invite you in for a job interview at their earliest convenience. You could also state how excited you are about the job opportunity.
8. Skip two more lines and conclude the letter with a formal closing, such as Sincerely, or Respectfully.
9. Skip an addition two lines (leaving room for your signature), and then type out your full name.
While your cover letter should contain details about your professional life, it’s best to refrain from disclosing too much detail about your personal life, such as your recent divorce. If there’s a significant time gap in your resume, within your cover letter, you could add a phrase, such as, “Prior to taking time off to raise my children, I held the position of [insert job title] at [insert company name].” You can then go into greater detail during your job interview.