Based upon several questions from Job Posting 101, the following essay was born. For those readers feeling lost, check out the original essay and if three minutes flat, you will be driving steady.

How long should a cover letter typically be?

According to the National Resume Writers Association and the Professional Resume Writers Association, a cover letter should be in the four to five paragraph range.

The opening paragraph should be an introduction, including what you are applying for and a brief summary as to why you are a good candidate.

Second and third paragraph must support your claim to be the right candidate—in other words, explain by giving detailed accomplishments which can be directly tied to the posting. Without any doubt, now is the time to personalize the cover letter by paralleling your skills and contributions to the company. This means a little research on your part but well worth the effort.

Finally, the last paragraph is the call to action. Summarize why you are the right candidate and encourage the next move, an interview. In total, your cover letter should not be over a page and will typically take ¾ of the page.

I never include a cover letter as I don’t feel I am a strong writer, and fear that it would hurt me rather than help me.

Cover letters must be included. Though you may not feel as you are a strong writer, nothing shows the reader interest like a cover letter which utilizes key words from the job posting and company research. Definitely have another proof your work; don’t rely on the spell checker. According to career management associations, over 35% of hiring managers will NOT review applications without an accompanying cover letter. The key is to highlight the value you bring as well as a positive attitude (yes, attitude is portrayed in cover letters by choice of words).

Think about the reader for a moment when writing your cover letter and resume. If you were looking for a qualified applicant, what would you look for? Once you have that, all you have to do is fill in the puzzle.

I am currently looking for a job and have been since November. My resume includes jobs that I have had for the past 10 years (about 5 to 6 jobs). I think they are all pertinent and keep them there because I want employers to ask me questions about them so that I can explain strong points and such.

You picked a difficult time to seek employment but nowadays, there are no easy times to be unemployed. Though many find a job within months or even weeks, the average time between jobs is roughly nine months. In other words, do not become discouraged with the delay. I know it is easy to lose confidence but I have a feeling the right position is just around the corner.

According the associations, dates of employment need not go beyond ten years (unless directly related to the position and is not open to age discrimination—in other words, do not go back to the 1960’s). There are formats one can use to highlight your knowledge, skills, and abilities without fear of age discrimination. A popular format, semi-functional, may be worth checking into. If you are not familiar with this format or need guidance, please let me know and will do my best to get you where you need to be.

Going through 5 or 6 jobs in a decade is not as bad as it used to be. In today’s volatile employment market, it is not uncommon. There are ways to incorporate accomplishments without highlighting each position. Let me know and we’ll learn a few techniques. Anyway, do not feel intimidated by having several positions over these years. Without knowing your specific situation, I am unable to offer a clear way to turn this into a positive… and there are ways.  

One of these jobs is a Disney job. I recently was told that I should remove it because it’s not only the oldest listing, but employers have been known not to hire people because they work at Disney. Have you heard this?

Disney is on the blacklist? Geepers, this is the first I heard of this. Then again, if you were the Tigger character who was accused of fondling patrons, you may want to omit such information. Then again, working at Disney can be a great experience too. Think about the customers going through the gates each day. Even without trying your client and problem resolution skills will have improved. All employers want employees who know how to handle client disputes, who know how to engage in corporate branding, and know how to remain positive even under the most extreme situations. In other words, work the Disney deal by highlighting the many core and transferable skills developed. As for Tigger, he total cool so I would hire him (or her?) on the spot… so if you know him personally and if he is looking for a writing gig, let me know.

I hope the response helped. I do encourage you to ask a few specific questions and will be glad to expand on a topic or format.

With this, I will call it a day and wish you the very best in your journey.

Dhuffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Author, publisher
Education Career Services, LLC

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About D. Huffman

Education Career Services is an experienced career management publisher partnering with Career Service Departments, private industry, and progressive career candidates across the globe. We develop and publish cost-effective full course career textbooks and workbooks geared to attain your career your success; visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of affordable products and services. Our team of professional certified resume writers, employment interview professionals, and career coaches fuse best practices from the Global Thought Leaders Group, the National Resume Writers Association, and the Professional Resume Writers Association while merging best practice applications into a life-long resource. Joining our family means partnering with top career associations as well as a collaboration of over 35 contributing career directors from across the United States. Our mission is straightforward: Empower YOU through our partnerships, publishing personalized career strategies and branded material capturing the uniqueness of YOUR knowledge, skills, abilities, and career goals. Follow us on Twitter: dannyatecs.

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