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Job Magician Cover Letters Are a Must With Ads  

  • Never skip the cover letter when answering an ad, unless you don’t want your resume to be read.
  • Your response to internet ads should have the cover letter included in the email body, rather than as an attachment.
  • Always address your cover letter to a human being, rather than Dear Sir (most women hate having you impose a sex-change operation on them, and even Dear Sir or Madam sounds bizarre), unless the ad is blind.

The cover letter is a must when answering an internet ad.  You need to have a cover letter, and the cover letter needs to address the person who is listed in the ad, unless it is a blind ad. If you start off with Dear Sir or Madam, it’ll make it look like you are answering every ad under the sun. 

Put your cover letter in the body of the email, rather than attach it to the email.  It's significantly more likely to get read that way.  If someone is going through a lot of email responses, it's twice as much work to click on an attached cover letter and wait for it to open up than it is to read the same thing in the email body. Plus, all recruiters have learned that attached cover letters are likely to be Dear Sir or Madam form letters, so why bother opening them?

Unless it’s easy, I read the cover letter last, so don’t make me click on an attached cover letter if you want me to know that you grew up 10 miles from Madison, Wisconsin, where my position is based – put that in the first line of the email body, or I’ll never see it.

On a search for the VP/Production Operations for a pharmaceutical manufacturer, I received a resume (no cover letter) from a guy whose background was in television production operations – he had no manufacturing experience at all, which was clearly specified in the posting. 

Some people send their resume out without a cover letter, and that gets them an instant hit - with the delete key. I long ago stopped opening these.  I've found that the lack of a cover letter is a sign that the person is flinging out resumes to anything, and he or she either feels that my job is a long, long reach or one that is not that interesting.  I've never opened up resume from one of these otherwise empty emails that was from a candidate who was qualified without being so overqualified that I knew I wouldn't be able to attract the person.




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