Article by Kim Isaacs, MA, CPRW, NCRW
Write your cover letter in your word processing program so you have access to features such as spell check. Because your letter will be viewed via email, the letter should be concise -- three to four brief paragraphs. Avoid beginning sentences with "I" or "my." Instead, focus on the employer's needs and demonstrate how your skills, achievements and track record would benefit the recipient's organization. A great strategy is to review job ads for your intended goal. Look for credentials that employers find desirable and incorporate your related qualifications into the letter.
After you have written and proofread your letter, log in to your My Career account, select "Letters" from the navigational bar and then select "Create a New Letter." Give the letter a title to help you distinguish between other letters you might store. Copy and paste your cover letter into the "Letter Content" box and select "Save Letter."
You may store up to five cover letters, which is ideal if you have more than one career objective or are targeting different types of hiring managers such as employers and recruiters. You may also store follow-up letters (such as interview thank-you notes) and use the "Send Letter" feature to email your letter to hiring managers.
When you search for jobs on MSN Careers, it's easiest to have two windows open -- one for searching jobs and the other for your letters.
When you find a position that interests you, go to "Letters" and "Duplicate" the most appropriate letter. This will allow you to customize your letter while saving the original.
If a contact person's name is given, address that person in your salutation. Carefully read the job posting to uncover clues about the ideal candidate. If the ad calls for a certain skill set or experience that you possess, tailor your letter to emphasize your matching qualifications.
If you know the company name, go the extra mile and research the company. An easy way to do this is to visit the company's Web site and read the "About Us" page, as well as any recent press releases they may have posted. Are they expanding into new territories or launching a new business venture? Are you excited by the company's direction and would love to be part of such a winning team? If so, say so in the letter.
With the majority of applicants failing to personalize their cover letters, your enthusiasm for the position will help you stand out from the crowd. After you have finished customizing and proofreading your letter, save it and return to the job posting.
Scroll to "Apply Online," which is listed at the end of the job listing. Highlight the appropriate letter and resume combination and click on "Apply for this position now!" Your customized letter and resume will be instantly delivered to the hiring manager.