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Cover letters important factor in landing the job

8 December 2013 By Jay Greene, Staff Writer No Comments

Cover letters are almost always part of the application process and are an important factor in getting the job, or at least getting you to an interview.

A cover letter accompanies your résumé when you apply for a job and it serves as a personal introduction to a prospective employer outlining your interest in the position.

Lorie Logan-Bennett, director of the Towson University Career Center, said a cover letter serves as the first step in the self-marketing process.

“It’s the first opportunity to present yourself in a focused approach,” she said.

Gina Zuk, director of client services for Abel Communications in Baltimore said that applicants should start by making a connection to the business for which they are applying.

“Why do you want to work here?” Zuk said. “We need to understand this especially if your college major or job experience is in a completely different field than the job you are applying for.”

Research the company so you have some knowledge to back it up, Logan-Bennett said. It’s a good idea to include how you heard about the company too.

Lisa Foreman, marketing manager for Straighterline, said the last sentence of the first paragraph should be an assertive statement about your role.

Logan-Bennett describes the next paragraph as the “Why hire me?” paragraph. It’s where the applicant should match his or herself up to the job announcement, she said.

Zuk said it’s the place to list your top attributes and highlight your strengths.

“[It] shows the employer how you would add value to the company,” Zuk said.

Find ways to make those experiences count, Foreman said.

“If your experiences are limited, find ways to make that babysitting or serving job relevant,” she said.

The final paragraph should be closing remarks and might include some sort of action, Logan-Bennett said.

“You might say, ‘I’ll call you next week to cover any questions you may have,’” Logan-Bennett said. “If the job release says ‘no calls,’ do not make a call.”

Students should be creative with their cover letters, Zuk said.

“If you have expertise in video editing, send a video cover letter…we are always looking for someone that stands out from the crowd and thinks creatively,” she said. “When we get links for personal websites and videos, these submissions always shoot to the top of the list.”

Customizing your cover letter shows that you have taken time to craft the letter to the company, Zuk said. And it shows that you care—using templates might not be the best idea.

“Cut and paste cover letters can sometimes turn you off a company more than no cover letter at all,” she said.

Proofreading is crucial in writing cover letters and it’s best to go over them multiple times with multiple sets of eyes, Zuk said. Have friends and family proofread your letter before send it out.

The Towson University Career Center website offers students formatting and content examples that can help, as well.

Students are encouraged to stop by the Career Center for assistance. An advisor can edit students’ cover letters and resumes to discuss format and content during the Career Center’s express hours on Monday through Thursday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., without an appointment. Express hours appointments are given on a first come, first serve basis. Students can make appointments at the career center between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Time is crucial in this whole process, Foreman said.

“Don’t let the cover letter slow down your application process,” she said. “The sooner you apply for a position to the posting date, the better your chances.”

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