Blaine and Associates

Blaine and Associates

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cover Letters 101

Covering Letters – your questions answered

Should you or shouldn't you? And what the heck do you write anyway? Get to grips with all these questions and more.
Do I always need to send a letter with an application form or should it just go with a CV?

It’s polite to send a letter accompanying whatever sort of application you make. If you’ve completed a detailed application form that included a lengthy personal statement this need only be a short note. Don’t repeat information from your form but use this as an opportunity to highlight key attributes or areas of experience. You may want to include details not previously mentioned such as when you’d be available, what prompted you to apply for the job or where you saw it advertised.
When your letter is accompanying a CV it needs to be more detailed and take the place of the ‘What qualities will you bring to this job’ section of an application form.
How long should it be?

That depends on how much you’ve got to say! A few lines are enough when it accompanies an application form, you may need up to two pages if it’s the partner to a one-page CV. If possible keep it to one side, but don’t sell yourself short by worrying over whether two sides is too much. If what you have to say is interesting and relevant, employers will read it. If you’re obviously rambling, they won’t.
Should it be friendly or formal?

The best letters convey your enthusiasm for the job. If your tone is too formal this may be hard to do, but a chatty tone can be a mistake too. Your application or CV should have a formal feel to it, but your letter should allow your personality to show. Consider the nature of the job you’re applying for. If it’s in financial services, a straightforward formal style will be expected. If it’s for a travel rep with an 18-30s tour operator, they’ll be looking for something a bit more lively. Your layout should be as for a formal business letter. Unless you know the person well, do not use their first name. If you don’t know their name, ring up and ask. ‘Dear Ms Jones’ looks so much better than ‘Dear Sir/Madam.’
How should I start?

Get to the point quickly and avoid waffling. Your first paragraph should mention the job you’re applying for and explain why you are right for it. Then develop the points you have made in the opening sentences more fully in the following paragraphs.
What’s a good way to sign off

Your final sentence should be positive and confident, showing that you expect a response and giving details of how you can be contacted, or when you intend to contact them. If it’s a speculative application, a follow-up phone call is a good idea.

Office Manager for a rapidly expanding political/social branding/pr/marketing firm in downtown Los Angeles.
$60 - 75,000
We are looking for a jack-of-all-trades Office Manager to run the day-to-day operations of our company.  You will be responsible for the following areas:
  •  Screening and hiring new personnel, working with staffing agencies, running recruiting ads and assessing resumes, checking references and administering skills and personality test
  • Supervise the training of all new staff - contract, temporary, intern, and full-time staff
  • Conduct the new employee orientation 
  • Administration of employee benefits, including medical, dental, COBRA, worker's comp, 401(K) enrollments
  • Handle all vendors and suppliers, including landlord, parking garage, priniting, computers, furniture, janitorial, phones, office supplies, contractors, etc.
  • Maintain company client and administrative files, which inlcudes document storage, contracts, agreements, leases, warranties, etc.
We are looking for someone out of a similar environment (PR, Branding or Marketing), 5+ years office management expereince with hiring, training, and supervising support staff, a 4-year college degree, excellent references, and solid skills on MSW, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.  We will test on these as well as grammar, spelling and proofreading.  A background check will be conducted.  
We have some of the most intersting clients in the business.  We are growing at a nice steady pace and see 2014 - 2015 as our biggest growth years ever.  We have an excellent reputation and take great pride in the staff we do select and hire.  This is a position that will grow and learn.  
If you meet the above requirements, please submit your resume and salary history today. We would like to have this position filled in the next two weeks.

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