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September 23, 2013

Hot Cover Letter Tip: Less is MORE!

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Hot Cover Letter Tip: Less is MORE!

By Jimmy Sweeney, President of CareerJimmy and Author of the Amazing Cover Letter Creator

You've probably heard the catchy phrase, "less is more." Less meat, more heart health. Less stress, more peace of mind. Less work, more play.

But you may not have heard that less is more in a job search cover letter. In fact, just the opposite might make sense. Wouldn't the job hunter want to tell the hiring manager as much as possible so there won't be any room for doubt that he or she is the right person for the job? It would seem that the more information the employer has the easier it would be to determine the best man or woman for the job.

Avoid Overkill!

At first glance that might seem like the way to go--but actually there is real wisdom in delivering the wheat and leaving out the chaff. In other words, why clutter a cover letter with information the employer does not need or want?

Generally there is an avalanche of mail on a hiring manager's desk each morning. Imagine how daunting it is to go through all the cover letters the first time and then perhaps a second or even third round in order to choose the most promising candidates for the jobs that need filling.

Some job hunters make the mistake of writing three- and four-page letters and also include family photos. Grandma or Aunt Martha might enjoy such hearty content but the busy hiring manager does not.

Rather, give just the right amount of detail in order to motivate him or her to invite you in for an interview where you can talk in person. At that point the employer might actually want to hear about your family and your pastimes. But you're not there yet.

Make a List--and Check it Twice

Spend a little time before you write your cover letter thinking about what you really want to communicate. You might make a list so you don't leave anything out. Jot down the things about yourself that apply to the job you're targeting. These should include your character traits and work-related strengths so the hiring manager can see at a glance if you have the elements he or she is looking for in a job candidate.

Here are some of the items to consider and include in your initial cover letter:

1. Your name and contact information.
Make it easy for the employer to get a hold of you by phone or email.

2. Your interest in the job you're competing for.
Show your passion for the work, your excitement about sales or management or whatever.

3. Your qualifications and experience.
Mention your talents and skills and provide an example of a way you resolved a conflict or averted a disaster or increased the bottom line.

4. Your knowledge of the company.
Mention the company mission and your desire to help carry it out.

5. Your availability for starting the job.
Can you begin immediately or within a certain number of weeks?

6. Your request for an in-person interview.
Be sure to ask to meet with the hiring manager so you can speak in more detail about his or her expectations and your willingness to match them.

Here are the items to leave out of your cover letter:

1. Your hobbies.
2. Your family details.
3. Your history.
4. Your vacation plans.
5. ...and any other personal information that does not apply to the job.

If you land an interview you may then have an opportunity to talk informally so you and the employer can get to know one another, but keep in mind that it's not appropriate at the cover letter stage of the relationship.

At this first stage--less is more! You can count on that.

Jimmy Sweeney is the president of CareerJimmy and author of the brand new, "Amazing Cover Letter Creator." Jimmy is also the author of several career related books and writes a monthly article titled, "Job Search Secrets."

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