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Write a Great Online Cover Letter

Hiring managers agree: Good cover letters are very influential. Many people forget about cover letters when applying online, but taking time to craft a good one is a wise job-hunting strategy to employ. What makes up a great letter? Use what I call the “Power Impact Technique” to write a strong opening paragraph highlighting the experience and accomplishments you bring to the job.

A CEO I know reiterates the importance of opening strongly. “A poor opening paragraph is why many job hunters fail,” he says. “It is usually a common, general sentence. You need to immediately establish something unique about yourself. I like to see the particular reason-background or experience-that tells me why I should hire the person at the start of the letter.”

Next, analyze the position and the skills needed to accomplish the job. “Applicants who do not address the qualifications or other information requested in the advertisement make a huge mistake,” warns Kelly Bachman, Finance Manager for a large agricultural company. “Address each specific qualification and state the experience and skills you bring to perform that task or function. The bottom line is you must show HOW you are qualified, and if you truly are not, save your time and effort and don’t apply.”

You can jump ahead of the pack by demonstrating your superior communication skills and write a cover letter to use, edit and reuse whenever you apply online at NWjobs.

Create your online cover letter: from the left menu bar on the jobs homepage click on “My jobs profile.” This stores your online resumes and cover letters and is where you will edit and control your account. Click on “Cover Letters.” Click on “Add Cover Letter.” Enter a name for your cover letter. (The name identifies each cover letter for your own use, but the name will not be sent to the employer.)

Write your cover letter in a word processing program: Begin with a strong opening such as: 10 years of proven experience�€� Next, highlight all the needed criteria and your important accomplishments. Edit, SPELLCHECK, PROOFREAD. Eliminate any italic, bold or fancy fonts as the online system won’t accept them. If you know HTML, you can use bullets, and I recommend that you do, to illustrate key points. If not, you can highlight your key points with text icons such as an asterisk or dash. Save your cover letter as a text file, then select all, copy and paste the letter online into the cover letter box. Click anywhere inside the text box and you can eliminate gaps and fix the format for easier reading. SAVE. You have now completed a cover letter you can send with your resume when applying online.

I recommend that you create more than one cover letter. It’s best to customize every letter and label it by the title of the job for which you are applying. A bit more trouble, but targeting each employer’s specific needs will result in a stronger application and yield more job interviews.


Robin Ryan has appeared on Oprah, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, CNN, CNBC and is considered America’s top career coach. She is the best-selling author of: 60 Seconds & You’re Hired!; Winning Resumes; Winning Cover Letters, and What to Do with the Rest of Your Life. She’s the creator of the highly acclaimed audio training program Interview Advantage and The DreamMaker. Robin’s passion is helping people find better jobs which she successfully does through her career counseling practice where she offers individual career coaching and resume writing services. A popular national speaker, Robin has spoken to over a thousand audiences on improving their lives and obtaining greater success. To purchase products or contact Robin visit her Web site at www.robinryan.com

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