Job Seekers Only Have One Chance to Make a Good First Impression

By: Abigayle Voss

There's little doubt that, if you want to get a great job, you need a great resume. You need to be able, in the matter of a page or two, show prospective employers that you've got what it takes to fill a position: the experience, the education, the talent and the drive.

As a result, many recent college graduates, many who are looking for a better position or who are looking to change careers, seek out resume help. For some, this means sitting down at the computer and searching for resume help online. For others, it means reading books. For others still, resume help involves going to a local career center or sitting down with someone who writes resumes for a living.

In a competitive job market, a great resume is essential. Your resume, after all, is the thing that will get you in the door for an interview; your resume will be the thing that makes an employer look and say, "You know, we ought to talk this person."

Your resume gets prospective employers to look at you.

But, What Gets Employers To Look At Your Resume?

No matter how much work you put into creating a great resume, no matter how much resume help you receive, without a great resume cover letter, your resume may not be noticed. Your resume cover letter is your chance to make a great first impression with a prospective employer.

Within your resume cover letter, you will be able to introduce yourself. You'll be able to use your cover letter to show your enthusiasm for the position. With your resume cover letter, you will be able to put a spark in the reader's mind; you will be able to draw his or her interest and encourage him or her to take a closer look at your resume.

Packaging Yourself Effectively

In effect, you will use the first paragraph of your resume cover letter to catch the attention of the reader; you might want to think about your resume cover letter's opening paragraph like a movie promo poster that makes it to the cover of the DVD packaging. That first paragraph will be the thing that draws the employer's attention.

Once you've started to reel in the person who is reading your resume cover, you'll want to give them a bit more information. To continue the DVD packaging metaphor, the body of your resume cover letter should be similar to the plot highlights that you would find on the back of the DVD.

While you won't want to go over the top and suggest that you're the hero who will save the world from imminent disaster - or the worker who will save the company from going belly up - you will want to use the body of your resume cover letter to highlight your accomplishments, your achievements and your qualifications for the position.

Just as the back cover of a DVD package is meant to get the person reading it excited and eager to see the film, your cover letter is a chance to get the prospective employer interested in reading your resume and learning more about you.

Intrigue Your Reader And Deliver Results

With your resume cover letter, your goal is to get the person reading it intrigued. The goal of your resume cover letter is to entice the person who is reading it to look at your resume and to want to talk with you. Therefore, it essential to market yourself with your cover letter; by marketing yourself effectively, you'll be able to motivate a prospective employer to glance over your resume and ask you to come in for an interview.

Again using the DVD metaphor - your introductory paragraph is like the front photo, the body of your cover letter is like the teaser copy on the back of the DVD case - the conclusion of your resume cover letter and your resume is like the intro sequence of the film. The way that you capture an interviewer's interest involves creating an interest with the cover letter, drawing him or her into your resume, and then following through and living up to his or her expectations in the interview.

If, as you'll read on many resume help sites, your resume is your doorway to the interview, it is important to keep in mind that your resume cover letter is your chance to knock on that door. A human resources manager might have a stack of resumes on his or her desk, and may only be willing to interview a few candidates: to get your resume read, it must stand out. Your resume cover letter is what will get you noticed.

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Abigayle Voss helps people get their resumes noticed. Often, the difference between the person who got the job and the 100's of others who did not get an interview was the resumes' presentation to the employer. For advice and tips on writing effective resumes and resume help, visit the Cover Letter Information Center. Also subscribe to their Career Newsletter.

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