Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Template for a Cover Letter - Alternative Format

Below is a template showing how to write a cover letter in 8 steps.  This format shows an alternative to the traditional paragraph style for a cover letter.  It uses a 2-column style of presenting qualifications in Step 5.  

This alternative style cover letter is preferred by some recruiters and human resource professionals because it makes their job easier!  It makes is very easy to see the candidate's qualifications in relation to the key requirements of the job.  It is also a neat and orderly presentation of information which may be preferred by some audiences.  As with any written communication or material, attention to detail is important.  Misspellings, incorrect grammar, and poor sentence structure reflect poorly on a candidate and have ended some candidates' chances for an opportunity.

The template illustrates the 8 Steps that are described in my article:  "How to Write a Cover Letter - 8 Steps to Writing an Effective Letter that Moves the Action Forward."**
Just follow the steps and format to produce a cover letter sells you as a qualified candidate!
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Step 1:  Brand it
Full name (as it appears on business card)                                          e-mail address
Profession -  use generic title                                                                   Phone
Physical address:  optional                                                                       Linked In Address
Website address: optional
Note:  This is your Brand; use the same header as it appears on your resume.

Step 2:  List date of writing, and name and content of the recipient
Date         (generally space a blank line space between the date and name)
Name (first, middle initial if known, last (check and double check spelling)
Company name (check and double check spelling)
Address                                                                                           (Misspellings have cost jobs!)
City, State, Zip

Recipient's e-mail address and phone - optional

Step 3:  Include a salutation
Dear Mr. Jones, or Dear Ms. Smith:  (This is the salutation.)              (No “To Whom it May Concern”)

Step 4:  Paragraph 1.  Introduce yourself
State your purpose in writing.  (A) If you are writing to apply for an advertised position, state the title of the position, the date you heard of it, and the source. (B) If you are contacting a company with no known open position that you have targeted because it is of interest to you, say why the firm is of interest to you.  If you were referred to someone in the firm by one of your network contacts, name their colleague in the first sentence and then state your reason for writing.

Step 5:  1-2 Sentence paragraph 
followed by a list of the job's requirements,
and examples of your work showing you meeting the requirements, 
i.e.  a task performed and outcome or results (accomplishment).
Type 1:  In an alternative format cover letter for an advertised position, use a "T" style or 2-column list to show your qualifications.  On the left side of the T, or the left column, list the job's requirements.  On the right side of the T, or the right column, directly across from the requirement, list an accomplishment that meets the requirement.  Be specific.  Provide a short 1-2 sentence introduction to your "T" or 2-column list, as shown below:

My experience and competencies meet the requirements of your advertised position for a District Sales Manager as illustrated below.

 Job Requirements                                                  Example: Task performed + Result(s)
      ●    Requirement                                                     ●    Your work example
      ●    Requirement                                  I                  ●    Your work example
      ●    Requirement                                                     ●    Your work example
      ●    Requirement                                                     ●    Your work example
      ●    Requirement                                                     ●    Your work example 

Type 2:  In an alternative format cover letter sent to a firm of interest to you but with no known open position, state the work the firm does, and how your skills and experience could fit in and provide benefit.  Caution:  Do your homework.  Your research should be accurate about the nature of the firm’s work and needs.  The danger of misstating a type of work being done can damage your credibility and lessen, or eliminate entirely, your chances of getting a meeting or interview.  Then, show that you meet requirements by writing in paragraph form, or bullet points as shown above.

Step 6:  Paragraph 4:  Close the sale.  The sale you are closing is to get an interview
Conclude that as you provided benefit to future employers, you would appreciate the opportunity to do the same for them.  Request the next step; ask for a meeting, interview, or opportunity to meet and discuss how your competencies could benefit their firm.
Option:  Include your contact information: phone number and e-mail address.*

 Step 7:  Sign off formally
Sincerely yours,  Sincerely, or Best regards

written signature

Full name typed
 Option:  Include your contact information: phone number and e-mail address underneath your typed name.*

 Step 8:  Sign off formally
Enclosure:  Resume, Reference List
ENC:  Resume, Bio, Work sample 

Option:  Use this option in either Step 7 or Step 8-- not both.  

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
  Refer to articles:

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