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Cover Letter
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Job Search

After a layoff

If you have been laid off from one job, don’t take a long vacation.  Future employers will want to see that you used the time between jobs wisely and productively.

Attend Job Fairs

Attend job fairs in your area on a regular basis.  This is a great way to meet employers in person.  Employers attend career fairs specifically to find and hire qualified candidates.

Check e-mail often

When you’re applying for jobs, check your email at least once a day.  Many recruiters prefer to contact candidates electronically, particularly for high-tech jobs.  Respond promptly. 

Don’t wait to apply

See an employment ad that interests you?  Don’t wait until tomorrow to apply.  Send in your resume and cover letter write away. Companies don’t wait long to start granting interviews, and you don’t want to be left behind.

Focus on the employer’s needs

The primary reason why most job seeks fail in their job search is that they are too focused on themselves (job title, responsibilities, compensation, location, growth opportunity, and status).  The job seekers who achieve success in their job search are focused on the needs of the organization.

Know your industry

Looking to move ahead in field? Familiarize yourself with the trends in your industry.  What sectors are experiencing growth?  Where are the jobs available?  Knowing your career field will help you navigate to success.

Looking while working

Are you employed but searching for a different job?  Don’t take off too much time from your current job to look for another.  Schedule interviews for after work or during lunch. Never search online job sites while at work.  Many employers monitor the Internet, so your job search might not remain secret for long.


Talking with professionals in your desired field is a good way to get your foot in the door.  You may even find out about vacancies that are not advertised.

Notify your references

Choose your reference wisely.  Select people who can confirm your good work habits.  Speak with your references in advance so that you know they are available and have time to prepare a letter that speaks highly of you.

Return calls promptly

When job hunting, check your voice mail regularly and return all calls within 24 hours or by the next business day. 

Sound professional

If necessary, change your voicemail message and email address to be business appropriate.  This may be the second impression they have of you.  The first being your resume.

Telephone etiquette

After you send out your resume, be prepared for employers to call you.  Keep a calendar, a pad of paper and a pen by the  phone so you can jot down notes and schedule an interview.  Even if you don’t talk long, you will leave an impression.  Do your best to sound confident and professional.  Before you send out  your resume, make sure you have a simple and polite message on the answering machine.

When not to call

While recruiters appreciate applicants with initiative, phone calls are not always a good idea.  If the job listing specifically says no calls, don’t call. Companies don’t want people who can’t follow basic instructions.

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Cover Letter

Cover Letter Closer

The last paragraph of your cover letter is the easiest to write. Thank the employer for considering your application and write that you will call to check on your status in a week. Calling them shows that you have initiative and it keeps busy employers aware of you.

Cover Letter Headers

Your address and phone number should appear at the top of the cover letter. Next, write the employer’s name and company address. If you don’t know who to address the letter to, call the company and find out.

Don’t be Repetitive

Your cover letter should not repeat the same information written on your resume. Instead, describe a few accomplishments or projects you worked on and relate how that has prepared you to work for this new company.

First Things First

Mention the job you are applying for in first paragraph of your cover letter. Employers also like to know where you heard about the position- a job fair, online job bank or classified ad.

Salary Requirements

Some companies will ask applicants to send salary requirements with their resume and cover letter.          Don’t. Wait until the company has expressed serious interest in you before discussing pay. If you state salary figures earlier, you are likely to sell yourself short or grossly overestimate your worth.

Show Some Style

The cover letter is your chance to stand out among the crowd. Write a creative letter if the job requires ingenuity. Applicants in high-tech fields should write a logical, concise letter explaining their skills. The letter gives the company a better sense of who you are. But be careful; employers might find gimmicky letters annoying.

Stay Short and Brief

As with resumes, your cover letter should only be one page. Talk about the achievements you are most proud of, not every detail of your previous job. You want to hold the attention of the employer and make him or her want to learn more about you.

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The purpose of a resume is to disclose your accomplishments and qualifications to the admissions committee.  Think of your resume as a promotional brochure about you.  You need to show the committee what you have accomplished and where your experiences lie.  Your strategy should be to emphasize the experience and skills that a particular school is looking for.  Your resume is also an example of your communication and organizational skills.

Action Words

Liven up your resume with action words describing your experience.  Begin sentences with verbs and write phrases such as “Developed accounting software or “Organized ad campaigns for national corporations.

Beware of attachments

When e-mailing your resume and cover letter to recruiters, beware of attachments.  You can never be sure the recipient will have the required software program.  Even if they do, they often find opening files to be a time-consuming hassle.  Instead, include your cover letter and resume as text in the body of an email.

Short and Concise

Be proud of your accomplishments, but when writing a resume keep them on one page.  Describe previous jobs with one or two sentences.  Your resume should spark the interest of the employer; you can give them more details later in the interview.


Some employers now accept resume by e-mail.  When writing to an employer this way, make sure the accompanying message is a formal cover letter.  Only send a resume written in a widely available word processing programs to ensure the employer can open it. If your email program attaches a signature at the bottom of each e-mail, make sure it is appropriate for potential employers to read.  Be sure to include to include your email address so employers can get in touch with you.

Give references

You don’t have to list your references on your resume, but have the names and phone numbers of your references with you at the interview in case the employer asks for them.  One work-related reference and one character reference should suffice.

Highlight your skills

Many employers today are looking for applicants with computer and Internet skills, even if the job is not in one of those fields.  You can stand out from the crowd by listing your high tech skills, such as software programs you use and computer languages you understand. 

Organize your resume

When writing your resume, decide whether your education or experience is more impressive and put that at the top.  Recent college graduates might not have much experience and should highlight their degree and relevant coursework.  Professionals will want to highlight their years of accomplishments in the working world.

Resume design

The format of your resume is important.  It must be easy to read with a simple font and no graphics.  Make sure the margins are aligned and the “Experience, “Education” and “Skills” categories are easy to find.

Resume paper

Printing your resume on color paper will draw attention to it. Ivory and gray are good, professional choices. 

Triple check

While weeding through hundreds of resumes, employers will immediately discard any with spelling and grammatical errors.  Double check your resume for mistakes and have a trusted friend proofread it, too.

Update your resume

If you’ve learned a new skill or are assigned a new task add it to your resume.

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Arrive on time

One good way to make a bad first impression is to show up late for an interview.  Appear professional by arriving on time, not early or late.  It’s better to leave early and sit in your car or wait in a coffee shop for an hour than to arrive 10 minutes late.

Avoid controversy

During job interviews, focus on you, your qualifications and the company.  Do not discuss topics such as politics or religions, as you never know whom you might offend, even with the most innocent comments.

Be Yourself

While it important to appear professional and well-trained during job interviews, remember that the best thing you can be is yourself.  If you act yourself – relaxed and poised --  you will go a long way toward making a good impression.

Come prepared

Arrive at your interview with extra resume just in case yours has been misplaced.  If appropriate, applicants should also bring a portfolio of their work to display to the interviewer.

Do your homework

Before you interview, research the company.  Many businesses have web sites with useful about their history, mission, and clients.  Knowing the information in advance allows you to ask intelligent questions during the interview.

Dress to impress

Come to the interview looking as if you’re ready t go to work.  That means be well groomed and wear professional clothes.  Don’t wear jeans, t-shirts or shorts.  College students should leave the backpack at home and bring briefcase or should bag instead.

Give specific examples

Before going to an interview, think of specific projects, awards and other accomplishments of which you are most proud.  This will allow you to respond with confidence and transparency when asked general questions about professional and educational background.

Know the process

Ask the secretary or human resource representatives such questions as:  How many people will be interviewing me?  What are their positions?  Will they speak with me individually or as a panel?  How much time is allotted?  Knowing this information will keep you from feeling nervous when you walk in on the day of the interview.

Know your strengths and weaknesses

One question many interviewers ask is, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”  Prepare your answers in advance.  Talk about strengths that would help you perform the job well.  When you talk about your weaknesses, mention ways that you try to overcome them..

Think ahead

Think about what questions the interviewer will ask, such as “What was your greatest achievement at your previous job?” or “What would you do if you were in this situation?” Interviewers will inquire about your knowledge and experience, so think of specific questions that apply to your profession. If you have prepared answers, you will not be nervous during the interview.

Twenty Questions

Show your interest in the job by having prepared a list of questions for the end of the interview. Inquire about the duties of the position, the future plans of company and what the interviewer likes about working there. Save questions about salary and benefits until they make an offer.

Working with people

“Do you work well with people? Or do you prefer to work by yourself?” This is one question common to many job interviews. Prepare your answer in advance. Be honest with yourself and your abilities. It will help the employer place you within the company.

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Follow Up

Don’t Despair

If you can’t find a job in your field of choice, consider taking a part-time job elsewhere. Then spend a few days a week volunteering or interning at a job that interest you. The added experience will pad your resume and you will learn more about that profession.

Get it in Writing

It’s a good idea to get a job offer, including the salary, in writing, especially if you’re not going to start work immediately. This will protect you if there is a sudden economic downturn or other unforeseen developments.

Keep in Touch

If you haven’t heard from the company for a week after your interview, give them a call. Some employers are busy with other projects and won’t make quick hiring decisions. Touching base reminds them who you are and shows your continuing interest in the position.


Even if you don’t get a desired position, you can still salvage something from the situation. Ask the interviewer why you were passed over. Maybe you need more experience or better interviewing habits. If you know your mistakes, you can rectify them before continuing your job search.

Sleep on It

Never accept a job offer the day you receive it. Show enthusiasm and excitement, but wait until the next day - or sleep on it for a couple of days - before responding. A job is a big part of your life, and you want to be sure you’re making the right decision and not rushing into the situation. You also will have more wiggle room for salary negotiations if you wait a day or two.

Thank  you cards

Before you leave the interview, ask for the employer’s card. This will inform you where to send a thank you note the next day. These short letters will leave a favorable impression in the interviewer’s mind; some employers even expect one.

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