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Secrets to a Winning Cover Letter
Friday, March 09, 2012

Job seekers today are playing a new game with new rules. A job search is exactly that, a game, and a competitive one at that. You're goal is to beat out the competition and to win First Place.

In order to do that you have to not only know the rules, but master them in all the ins and outs of the playing field.

1) Address the Letter to a Specific Person
First and foremost, send your letter via U.S. Certified Mail. It should be addressed to the exact person who is affected by this open position. He she is the one who has the most concern for getting it filled. Do some research on the company either through the corporate website or on LinkedIn. Find out who you should be talking to you about which employment opportunities.

2) Extra! Extra!
Think about when you're reading a newspaper or magazine and what determines the articles that you're going to read. It's the headline that catches your attention, right? The same idea can be effective when used in cover letter as well. The headline should be a selling point that sparks and draws the person's interest. Be creative and give it some style to get the headline to stand out. If you want, include a prop that plays on the words you use in it. For example, if you're telling someone that you can cure their headache from trying to get the spot filled, include a packet of aspirin or pain reliever. Things like that don't go unnoticed or forgotten.

3) Bullet Points Aren't Just for Resumes
Bullet points are a great way to lay out the pertinent information without the blocks of text. They're direct and to the point. If there are certain things that you want the person to remember, bullet points are the way to go. Bullet points are clear and easy on the eyes.

4) Provoke Some Excitement
You know that feeling you get when you think you've just discovered something wonderful that you've been missing? Get the reader to have the same feeling from your letter. Emphasize all you have to offer them and what they can look forward to by having you aboard the team. You want that person to think, "Where have you been all my life?" Get them to see the benefits that hiring you will bring them.

5) Keep the Ball in Your Court
In today's highly competitive job market, you have to be more proactive if you want to be the star. You can't just send things out and wait for people to you. You have to play the game from start to finish otherwise you'll lose halfway in. You should say in your letter that you'll not only be following up but indicating when also. Be specific so they'll know exactly when to expect to hear from you and stick to your word. Never forget to get back to them. One wrong move in this game and you'll find yourself back at START before you even take the next step.

6) Name Names
The person you're addressing should be high enough in the company to have an assistant or someone that helps them manage this type of business. Find out who that person is. Adding that  additional personal touch of mentioning that person's role in your cover letter is sure to impress the hiring manager. Let the hiring manager know that you're making yourself available for that person to reach you if he or she can't. Having informed yourself about the company's personel already will show that you are professionally keen and resourceful.

7) Don't Leave Out LinkedIn
Your signature block should include every convenient means of contacting you. LinkedIn is common use in the professional field and it shows that you are engaged in online networking. Even if you don't get the job, they can still keep in touch with you in case any other positions open up in the future. LinkedIn is a powerful tool, don't let it go to waste.

8) And One Last Thing...
Include a P.S. in your letter. You want capture the reader's eye and keep it there. In case your headline isn't enough, they'll be sure to take a look down at your P.S. and want to know what information led up to it. The P.S. should be the clincher to really get them to bite, give them something irresistable to chew on. The P.S. needs to be a WOW factor that says that you know your stuff, or someone that may have spokenly highly of you, or an incredible accomplishment you did. Your P.S. should translate to "checkmate."

With time comes change so we have to learn how to roll with it. The rules and conventions that we're used to following in the job search don't entirely apply to the way things are done now. In time, the changes being implemented now will subjected to new rules. Survival of the fittest all comes down to one thing: the ability to adapt. People who can handle new transitions, and handle them well, will have no problem hanging on to the top spot.