If you spend hours creating what you believe to be the perfect résumé and then put a slap-dash cover letter together before hitting the “send” button, you should rethink this strategy because

Cover letters work.

Here’s why: A targeted cover letter (to the specific job to which you’re applying) acts as a laser-focused advertisement for you. In addition, too many job seekers don’t bother sending one along with their résumé (or they send a form cover letter), so creating a cover letter for each and every job to which you apply will help you stand out.

Here are some mistakes people make when it comes to cover letters.

1) Not sending one (see above).

2) Sending a form cover letter to every job applied for. A cover letter written specifically for the position for which you’re applying, one that states in just a few sentences how your unique background, skills and abilities fit the job at hand goes a long way to helping a hiring manager differentiate you from the dozens of other applicants. It also shows the hiring manager that you took the time to craft a personal-to-the-position cover letter. This shows you’ve done some research on the hiring manager’s company. That you cared enough about the job to do a little extra work — always a very, very good thing.

3) You focus too much on your needs/wants/goals and forget that your cover letter is all about the hiring manager’s needs — and how you meet or exceed them. Focus your cover letter on how hiring you benefits the company. Give short but specific examples of problems you solved for other previous employers (you brought in X number of new clients in three months; you created a new website from scratch; you worked on client retention strategies, resulting in X percentage of client retention improvement over the previous year; etc.).

3) You come across as desperate. Yes, you very well may be desperate — too many good people have been out of work too long in the recent economic downturn. But never let them see you sweat. No matter how critical a new job is to your future, you always should write a cover letter that’s nothing but professional. No pleading. No “I need a job or else my family will lose our home.” Remember, you do offer value. You are worthy. Be sure your cover letter presents you as such.

If you’re looking for a new position at this start of 2011, contact Winston Resources. We have  relationships with many of New York City’s finest employers and we can help you find work with them. Contact us today!

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