DYNAMITE COVER LETTERS - BCIT

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DYNAMITE COVER LETTERSBECOME POWERFUL WITH A STRATEGICMIX OF MARKETING KNOW-HOW ANDWORD POWER WITH SPARKLING BEGINNINGSAND POLISHED ENDINGS.BRITISH COLUMBIAINSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGYSTUDENTEMPLOYMENTSERVICESbcit.ca/eJobs

TABLE OF CONTENTSDEFINITION OF A COVER LETTER.3ADVANTAGES OF A COVER LETTER.3WHAT DOES YOUR READER NEED TO KNOW?.4COVER LETTER PITFALLS.5PURPOSE OF A COVER LETTER.5TOP TEN SKILLS AND ATTRIBUTES BCEMPLOYERS ARE LOOKING FOR.6Top Attributes.6Top Skills.6COVER LETTERS THAT INCREASE SALARIESAND LAND MORE INTERVIEWS.7Powerful Content.7Exercise #1.7SAMPLE LETTER #1.8SAMPLE LETTER #2.9SAMPLE COVER LETTER. 10Response to Advertisement. 10PROSPECTING COVER LETTER SAMPLE 1. 11PROSPECTING COVER LETTER SAMPLE 2. 12EXERCISE #2.13Write a Persuasive Letter. 13POINTS TO REMEMBER IN COVER LETTERS. 14FINAL CHECK. 142 DYNAMITE COVER LETTERS BCIT 2011

DEFINITION OF A COVER LETTERA letter of application sent with a resume in response to an advertised position, a letter of introduction for no jobadvertised, or to a Headhunter.Neglect the importance of a dynamite cover letter – and other types of job search letters - and you neglect one of the mostimportant elements in a successful job search.ADVANTAGES OF A COVER LETTER Gives employers a quick summary of how your qualifications match their needs. Highlights unique, specific contributions you would bring. Makes a positive first impression. Attracts and holds interest, inspiring employers to find out more about you from your resume and in an interview. BCIT 2011Student Employment Services 3

WHAT DOES YOUR READER NEED TO KNOW?Step #1: Opening paragraph Concise, punchy sentences grab attention! Identify your target job. Where you saw the ad. If someone who knows the employer referred you, give the name of that person. Your interest in the position.Step #2: Second paragraph Highlight your strongest qualifications. Demonstrate how these qualifications will benefit the employer.Step #3: Third paragraph Demonstrate your knowledge of the company. Create interest by showing your value.Step #4: Fourth paragraph Give a detailed description of your experience. Show employers (do not tell) your qualifications.Step #5: Closing paragraph Thank the employer in advance for their consideration and that you are looking forward to meeting with soon.4 DYNAMITE COVER LETTERS BCIT 2011

PURPOSE OF A COVER LETTERCOVER LETTERPITFALLSYour cover letter should:1.2.Explain why you are sending a résumé. Do not send a résumé without a cover letter(unless you are explicitly asked to do so.) Do not make the reader guess what you areasking for or what you have to offer; be specific: Do you want a summer internshipopportunity or a permanent position at graduation? Are you inquiring about futureemployment possibilities?Tell specifically how you learned about the position or the organization (for example,through a flier posted in your department, a specific directory in the CareerDevelopment Centre, or a family friend who works at the organization). It is appropriateto mention the name of someone who suggested that you write (if you have theirpermission).3. Convince the reader to look at your résumé. The cover letter will be seen first andshould complement your résumé. Therefore, it must be very well written and targetedto the employer. Too many sentencesstart with “I” Focuses too much onhow you will benefit Too vague; expectsreaders to findeverything in resume Is dull; does notcapture the reader’sattention4. Call attention to elements of your background – education, leadership, experience –that are all relevant to the position to which you are seeking. Be as specific as possible,using examples that make you uniquely qualified.5. Reflect your attitude, personality, motivation, enthusiasm and communication skills.6. Provide or refer to any information specifically requested in a job advertisement that isnot covered in your résumé, such as your availability date or the inclusion of a requiredwriting sample.7.If possible, provide “extra value” statements which will increase your desirability. BCIT 2011Student Employment Services 5

TOP TEN SKILLS AND ATTRIBUTES BC EMPLOYERS ARE LOOKING FORAdapted from the Business Council of BC 2010 Biennial Skills and Attributes Survey Report found atbcbc.com/Documents/TEF SS 2010 CompleteReport.pdfFrom the list of Attributes, employers were asked to choose ten key Attributes they sought in all new job hires. Take theseinto consideration when you ask yourself “what is it that employers are looking” and how can I fill these rolesTOP ATTRIBUTES Positive attitude/motivation/energy/passion – 96.8% Self-motivated/able to work with little or no supervision – 93.5% Honesty/integrity – 93.5% High performance standards – 87.1% Accountability/responsibility – 83.9% Dedication/hardworking/tenacity – 80.6% Customer service oriented – 74.2% Flexibility/adaptability – 74.2% Willingness to work and learn – 71.0% Leadership/management skills – 67.7%TOP SKILLS Speaking/listening – 93.3% Judgment/decision making – 93.3% Teamwork – 90.0% Problem solving – 86.7% Writing – 83.3% Critical thinking – 80.0% Flexibility/adaptability/multi-tasking – 76.7% Planning/time management – 76.7% Computer competency – 73.3% Efficient use of technology, tools and equipment – 67.7%6 DYNAMITE COVER LETTERS BCIT 2011

COVER LETTERS THAT INCREASE SALARIES AND LAND MORE INTERVIEWSTo increase the likelihood of an employer taking the time to read your cover letter you need to use design that savesthem time. Just like your resume, your cover letter is also part of your marketing package and should also incorporate theprimary components of an excellent advertisement design and content. You can create a cover letter with excellent design,by using main headings are bolded statements that match the positions for which you are applying. Such strategies willdirect and control the employer’s eye path and sell your top skills in 4–5 seconds.POWERFUL CONTENTAfter you’ve gotten an employer’s attention, the content of your cover letter must convince an employer to interview you.I always think of cover letters being much like the opening and closing statements that lawyers give when representinga client in court. Before making such statements lawyers carefully analyze facts that prove why their clients should win.They structure and prioritize their arguments for maximum impact. You want to do the same thing with your cover letters.To build a convincing case of your qualifications it’s important that you analyze and address each employer’s needs. Mostpeople write very weak cover letters that don’t build a convincing case for their qualifications. By following the strategiesyou’re about to learn you’ll create powerful letters that put you way ahead of your competition.EXERCISE #1I’d like you to pretend that you want to apply for the position shown below. Read the ad and consider writing a cover letterfor it. In the space provided for notes, make a list of the personal traits, characteristics and abilities you think would beimportant to put in your letter in response to this ad. You’ll learn more if you do this exercise, before reading further.DRIVER/DELIVERY PERSON2 years’ experience driving and delivering high value products in the Burnaby areaCustomer Service experience dealing with corporate accountsSalary 36,000.Send resume to Ms. Perry, Personnel,XYZ Company, 1234 Harbourview Ave, Burnaby, BC V59 5B7How many personal traits and skills did you list? Which of the lists below do you think will be more likely to grab anemployer’s attention for this ad? This exercise illustrates why most people write such weak cover letters. Job seekers oftengo off on tangents that seem to relate to what the employer wants to hear, but such cover letters fall short because theydon’t address the specific skills employers are requesting.What Most People List5 Skills or Areas of Knowledge RequestedBondableKnows the Area2 Years Driving ExperienceTrustworthyLikes to Deal with PeopleDelivering high Value ProductsDependableAttention To DetailKnowledge of the Lower Mainland AreaExcellent Driving RecordAccounting SkillsCorporate AccountsSelf-MotivatedTime ManagementWith this delivery ad in mind, study the two cover letters on page 8 and 9.1.Which letter has the strongest design and content?2.Which one emphasizes the five skills or areas of knowledge requested in the ad?3. Of these letters who would you call for an interview?4. Who do you think you would be willing to pay more money to? BCIT 2011Student Employment Services 7

SAMPLE LETTER #1SAMPLE LETTER #1Gerald Johnston5556 Gilmore AvenueBurnaby, BC V90 J67604-123-0000September 20, 2xxxxMs. Stacy MoffatPersonal ManagerXYZ Delivery and Shipping1234 Harbourview AvenueBurnaby, BC 3N7 2M9Dear Ms. Moffat,Enclosed is my resume for the Driving position you recently advertised in the Sun paper.I have several years driving and delivery experience. My work history is stable and I am lookingfor a position that offers challenge and adequate compensation.I have enjoyed working with customers in the right employment setting but prefer independentwork as a driver/delivery person. My driving and customer service experience seems to qualifyme for this job.I look forward to an interview. You may contact me at 604 – 555-5555. Thank you.Sincerely,Gerald JohnstonJOB SEARCH DOCUMENTS: COVER LETTERS - page 48 DYNAMITE COVER LETTERS BCIT 2011

SAMPLE LETTER #2SAMPLE LETTER # 2Gerald JohnstonSeptember 20, 2xxxx5556 Gilmore AvenueBurnaby, BC V90 J67604-123-0000Ms. Stacy MoffatPersonal ManagerXYZ Delivery and Shipping1234 Harbourview AvenueBurnaby, BC 3N7 2M9Dear Ms. Moffat,Enclosed please find my resume for the Driving position you recently advertised in the Vancouver Sun.As you will note, my experience includes: Over 5 years driving experience within the Lower Mainland area.Making deliveries of up to 250,000 in cash and high value merchandise.Providing customer service to corporate accounts such as TELUS.Excellent driving and safety record with history of reliability and trustworthiness.A highly motivated, diplomatic, and flexible professional.My experience delivering high value merchandise within the Lower Mainland area combined with myCustomer service experience makes me well qualified for this position.I look forward to hearing from you in the near future to schedule an interview at your convenience,during which I hope to learn more about your company’s plans and goals and how I might contributeto the success of its service team. In the mean time I can be reached at 604-111-0000.Sincerely,Gerald Johnston BCIT 2011Student Employment Services 9

SAMPLE COVER LETTERRESPONSE TO ADVERTISEMENTSAMPLE COVER LETTERResponse to advertisementToday’s dateFull name of person letter is addressed toAddress of CompanyDear Mr. / Ms. Contact person for this post(always try to get a name; do not use “To Whom it may concern”I am very interested in the position you advertised in Source of Job advertisement and I believeI have the qualifications to successfully fulfill your requirements.How I have demonstrated these abilities include the following accomplishment:Fact 1Fact 2Fact 3(Match the above facts with the requirements of the job you are applying for: Employers like to seequantifiable facts and achievements)I feel confident that I could be a valuable asset to your company and look forward to an interviewto discuss how I may be able to contribute to your profitability and efficiency.Thank you for your time and consideration, I look forward to speaking with you soon.Sincerely,Your NameEnclosure: Resume10 DYNAMITE COVER LETTERS BCIT 2011

PROSPECTING COVER LETTER SAMPLE 1PROSPECTING COVER LETTER SAMPLE 1May 15, 2XXXJohn DoeEnergy Communications for Southwest BC3301 East Pender StreetVancouver, BC, V5K 5J3Dear Mr. Doe,You are receiving this letter because my research into the Vancouver GIS sector has identifiedEnergy Communications as an innovative and forward-looking firm. I am hoping that you mighthave 10 -20 minutes in the next few weeks to have a conversation with me.Clearly, I am in the process of exploring how to move forward with my career in Canada utilizing theexperience and education I have acquired in Canada and Europe in the field of GeographicInformation Systems. My purpose in seeking a meeting with you is twofold:-Enclosed is a draft of my current resume. Your comments on its usefulness in mypursuit of a new opportunity would be invaluable.-There are several questions I would like to pose to you concerning the state of theindustry, my potential at this time, and other information you might be willing to share.I fully understand and recognize that you are busy, but I hope you would be willing to share yourperspective, and experience with me. I am excited about prospects for the future, and look forward todiscussing them with you. It is my intent to make a professional contribution to your company in whichI am confident that my education and experience to date provide me with such.Thank you in advance for your consideration, if at any time you would like more information I can bereached at 604-XXX-XXXX.Sincerely,John Doe BCIT 2011Student Employment Services 11JOB SEARCH DOCUMENTS: COVER LETTERS - page 7

PROSPECTING COVER LETTER SAMPLE 2PROSPECTING COVER LETTER SAMPLE 2SCOTT A. MACDONALD6600 Cypress StreetVancouver, BCV3M 0M1June 23, 20XXMr. Tom JacksonDirector of Marketing and SalesComputer Consultants1234 BroadwayVancouver, BC XXXXXXDear Mr. Jackson:As I am just completing the requirements for my Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting atBCIT, I am exploring potential opportunities with a well-established firm that will lead to a careeras a CGA. I hope to join an organization where I can learn and grow within the accountingprofession and build a long-term relationship. With these goals in mind, I have enclosed for yourconsideration and review a resume that briefly outlines my credentials.Some of the key experiences I can bring to a junior position with your firm include:Administered Accounts Receivable and Payroll for an engineering firm that was also engagedin construction and custom manufacturing for a practicum. Prepared individual tax returns as part of a volunteer program in conjunction with BCIT.Served as Treasurer of a campus organization, Delta Beta Gamma, whichencompassed maintaining financial records and provided financial reports to theauditing CGA and to the national organization.Proficiency with basic Windows and Microsoft Office applications; as well as a keeninterest in technology and high-tech businesses.Thanks so much for your consideration. I am confident that my education and experienceto date provide me with skills that would be beneficial to your firm and its clients. I am eagerto learn more about the challenges facing your organization, and to discuss how I can makea difference. I will be in contact next week to see if we are able to schedule a meeting date foran interview. I look forward to speaking with you soon. I can be reached at (604) 555.1XXX.Sincerely,Scott MacDonaldSMenclosureJOB SEARCH DOCUMENTS: COVER LETTERS - pa12 DYNAMITE COVER LETTERS BCIT 2011

EXERCISE #2WRITE A PERSUASIVE LETTERImagine you are an Accountant in a Vancouver Firm in 1882. Yesterday evening, you read the report in the Province paperabout the new electric lighting. You think this lighting should be installed in your office building. Write a letter to thecompany president explaining why electric lighting is good for the company. Make notes on the line below. Then write yourfinal letter on a separate sheet of paper.1.The first paragraph in your cover letter should tell the president who you are, your position in the company, and thatyou read the article last night.2.Your second paragraph should summarize for the president, the advantages of electric lighting which the reportermentioned.3. Your third paragraph should list the reasons why you think the company should install electric lighting. The mostpersuasive arguments will be those that lists how the company will be more efficient or cost-effective, and will makemore money as a result. Keep in mind that installing electric lights will be very expensive, so you will have to justify tothe president why the expense is a good investment and how it will pay off in the future?4. Finally, list some of the other advantages you can think of, such as the reporters comment “those electric lights didnot give people headaches.”5. End the letter with an expression such as, “I look forward to discussing this matter with you further.6. Sign and write your name; under your name, give your job title and department.7.Now rewrite your draft notes as a formal letter on a separate sheet of paper. BCIT 2011Student Employment Services 13

POINTS TO REMEMBER IN COVER LETTERS A cover letter is a brochure, or an advertisement that informs potential contractors and employers of what you cando for them! Remember to use the technique S.A.R. (situation / action / result). Speak to the requirements of the job, especially when responding to a job advertisement. Distinguish your cover letter from those of other job-seekers by quantifying and giving examples that amplify and provethe claims you make in your letter. Try to answer the question that the employer will be asking while reading your letter: “why should I hire this person?” Try to limit your paragraphs to no more than four or five sentences and your sentences to a maximum of two lines.The first sentence in a paragraph introduces the topic to be covered in that paragraph. Ensure a neat, uncluttered and well-organized appearance. Check your first draft for the number of times you have written “I”, monotony of sentence structure, and rambling text;these defeat your goal of writing an effective letter. Edit your draft for clarity, tone, accuracy, proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar.FINAL CHECK Personalize the letter to the organization you are sending it to. Savvy employers can tell when the letter they are readinghas been mass produced. Write about what you can contribute to the company, not how the position will contribute to you. Vary the sentence structure; starting every sentence with “I” makes the letter dull and repetitive. Ensure that the spelling and grammar is picture perfect. Fresh eyes can catch errors that writers may miss – so havesomeone else check it too! Send it in a clean and crisp 9x12 envelope. Never fold or staple cover letters, resumes or application forms.Tip:14 Whenemailing your application, type your cover letter into the body of your email address. Then combine yourcover letter and resume into one document, name that document with your name (e.g. Lucy Chen.doc), andattach it to your email. When the employer opens your email, he or she reads your persuasive cover letter contentand you make a professional first impression. Then he or she can download and save your complete applicationand then delete the email. So you are sending your cover letter in two formats. DYNAMITE COVER LETTERS BCIT 2011

NOTES BCIT 2011Student Employment Services 15

BRITISH COLUMBIAINSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY3700 WILLINGDON AVENUEBURNABY, BRITISH COLUMBIACANADA, V5G 3H2bcit.ca/eJobsSCAN THIS CODE TOGO DIRECTLY TO OURWEB PAGE. 2011 British Columbia Institute of TechnologyWork Search Seminar booklet developed by Carol Penstock, 2011.Student Employment Services Work Search Seminar BookletsComplete series consist of:The Power of a Great ResuméInterviews Made EasyDynamite Cover LettersBCITIMAGING, SEPTEMBER 2011

A letter of application sent with a resume in response to an advertised position, a letter of introduction for no job advertised, or to a Headhunter. . Explain why you are sending a résumé. Do not send a résumé without a cover letter . Self-motivated/able to work with little or no supervision – 93.5% Honesty/integrity .