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Suggestions on Writing a Cover Letter
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The cover letter is my least favorite part of a resume to write.  Don't want to sound desperate, don't want to sound like a ‘know-it-all' or a fake.  A few weeks back we ran an ad for a Customer Service Representative with Manufacturing experience.  Here are a couple of examples of cover letters I received for this opportunity and some thoughts on each of them.

Example #1: Please accept my resume for consideration on the position with your company that I am applying for.  I believe that I have the knowledge and experiences that would make me become an asset to your organization in the position.  I look forward to hearing from you so that I can discuss this position in further detail. Thank you.

Any thoughts on this example?  It is too generalized.  I may have 10 positions available within my company, there is nothing in this specifying what this person does for a living or what job they are responding to.  Most people sound alike in their cover letters and resumes.  The goal is to make the HR rep/recruiter remember what you said....in a positive way.  Why does the employer need you....keep those specific skills and characteristics in mind.

Example #2:  Dear Sir or Madam:
As a buyer, I appreciated the value of seasoned customer service representatives who knew me, my company and my product applications.

In different capacities throughout my career, I have worked with customers to meet their product needs. As a staff manufacturing engineer in the computer monitor division at XYZ Co, I visited and coordinated start-ups of monitors for Sun Systems, Data Point, Burroughs, and others. At EFG Co., I visited and interacted with EFG management to establish focused factories to allow them to shift production between their different facilities, and I took over production of transformers for Fender Guitar when it was dissatisfied with our performance. As plant manager at LMN Co, I regularly interacted with customers as the product application expert. At ABC Co, I mentored customer service representatives to understand the complexity of the different product lines of the three divisions and had to answer direct customer questions on
applications.
I have both gathered and developed costs for customer quotes and have a thorough understanding of material, labor, transportation and overhead costs. In addition at each employer, I have identified improper costing of products that put sales at a competitive disadvantage. I have extensive experience creating and maintaining bills of material working with design engineers, production supervision, material personnel and purchasing as well as customers and vendors.
I understand the importance of filling every line to the specified quantity on a
customer's order just as our vendors should understand the importance of filling every line to the specified quantities on our purchase orders. If the vendor fails, we fail, and the customer fails. Failure is not an option.
I have worked for large, highly structured corporations and moderately sized, loosely organized companies. In either case, I was uncompromisingly dedicated to the pursuit of the company's and its customers' betterment.
As a customer service representative for your client, I will know the product line, I
will know the company, and I will know the customers and their applications. I will
succeed.
Sincerely

Ok, there is such a thing as over kill.  This example has some good points but I can honestly tell you it was way too much.  HR/Recruiters receive large numbers of responses to their job postings.  The length of this cover letter makes it unappealing to read and because of a bad cover letter many hiring managers may never see the resume.  If you do read this it is entirely about the author...they are SuperPerson.  It is a hard sell...a bit pushy.  They talk a lot about what "I" did but not so much about the results of the actions, skills, characteristics.

Example #3:  My goal is for a fresh start with new opportunities.  My ideal company will consist of people who care about doing a great job, people whom I can learn from and grown with.  I am most interested in the areas of Customer Service and Office and or Accounting Assistance.  These are areas in which I am quite familiar with.  My most recent position consisted mostly of processing new orders and creating certificates of compliance for our products.  I also have a great deal of experience in dealing with customers concerning discrepancies in paperwork and account balances.  I enjoyed my most recent position very much however, was recently laid off due to lack of work.  I have no official management experience at this time but have been left in charge of small groups of coworkers on more than one occasion.  I am very quick to pick up on procedures and given the chance will make a valuable asset to any organization.

This cover letter shares a little too much.  It is good to make the hiring people have a little intrigue.  That being said the individual appears to be sincere.  However, never talk negatively about yourself, your experience or former employer.  No need to point out any weaknesses...don't worry the interviewer will ask about these once you get to the interview. There was no conclusion to the cover letter.  The statements are not strong and commanding but rather casual comments.  There is not much structure or organization to this cover letter.  And again, this is not specific to my company...maybe my job but this candidate is going to be a ‘valuable asset to any organization'. 

Example #4:

Dear Human Resource Manager:

I am writing in response to your advertisement for a Customer Service Representative.  As you can see by my enclosed resume, I have several years of experience I can bring to your company.

I am a very hard worker and have had many enjoyable years working in the Customer Service/Manufacturing field.  My goal at this time is to seek a position within a company in which I can build a lasting career.  I am also hoping to work with a company that focuses on teamwork as being a strong component and to provide customers with the services they deserve and expect.

I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to discuss this position.  You may contact me at xxx-xx-xxxx any time to schedule an interview.  I know I can be a great asset to you not only from my desire to learn more about your company but also by bringing 30 years of experience to you.  I am excited at the prospect of being able to join your team of professionals.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Wow, as an employer it sounds like I am going to get something with this employee.  What I like about this cover letter is it is stating 1) candidate has experience 2) has integrity and expects her employer too as well 3) knows what they are applying for 4) is open to learning 5) teamwork is important.  It was a very well put together cover letter.  This candidate touched on 2 items that could be considered skills/characteristics that are found in a CSR role:  Integrity and teamwork.  I will tell you that I phoned this candidate on a Thursday or Friday.  Conducted a phone interview and schedule for them to come in on Monday for a face-to-face interview and testing.  I received an email over the weekend from this candidate stating they had received a job offer and had accepted. 

There is a lot of information on-line about how to format a resume.  If you are interested, FurstStaffing, also has a Resume Guide that I can email you if you leave me your name and email address.  I hope it helped to see these examples and assists in planning your Cover Letter.  Furst is here to help if you have any questions.   heretohelp@furststaff.com

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