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Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Career Talk

Unconvinced by proven research that networking is the most effective use of time for those in job search, many executives spend hours online, attaching and sending countless résumés with the hopes of catching the attention of a hiring manager or recruiter. Occasionally, the right résumé lands in the right hands. To increase the odds, cover letters should always be customized to showcase the skills and experience for a specific position.

"One of the most common mistakes that I see are generic letters that are obviously so, and sent to everyone with no modification," says résumé writer Michelle Dumas, owner of Distinctive Career Services LLC.

To easily customize cover letters, use the job description as a roadmap. Feature keywords from the job description in your résumé and cover letter. The hiring company is telling you exactly what they want and the skills they need. If you approach each requirement in the job description as a question, your cover letter should provide a corresponding answer.

For example, if the job description calls for "management experience in a manufacturing environment in China," the cover letter should include information you managed the Asian operations of a global manufacturing facility from the headquarters in China. The requirement, "ability to grow business unit and deliver profits" can be addressed in the cover letter with "increased departmental revenue 75 percent, which exceeded budget."

This customization method won't be as quick as the mass attach-and-send approach, but it will help a recruiter quickly ascertain whether you are a viable candidate.

Robyn Greenspan
295 Westport Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06851


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