Winning Cover Letters

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"Robin Ryan is the hottest career expert in America today."
—Susan Cowden, TV anchor, NW Cable News


With the expert advice of Robin Ryan, one of America's top career coaches, thousands of job hunters have beaten the competition and landed their ideal jobs. Her innovative and simple step-by-step plan incorporates the results of an extensive, nationwide survey of hiring managers and human ...

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"Robin Ryan is the hottest career expert in America today."
—Susan Cowden, TV anchor, NW Cable News


With the expert advice of Robin Ryan, one of America's top career coaches, thousands of job hunters have beaten the competition and landed their ideal jobs. Her innovative and simple step-by-step plan incorporates the results of an extensive, nationwide survey of hiring managers and human resources personnel to offer proven, world-class job hunting techniques and strategies.

You'll create powerful, attention-grabbing letters, avoid costly mistakes, and learn to sell yourself and your skills to the employers you want to work for. With Ryan's popular and highly effective Power Impact Technique(TM), you'll have employers hunting you. This newly updated Second Edition features even more Winning Cover Letters, examples of what not to do, and new chapters on using the Internet, marketing yourself, and much more:
* Fatal mistakes to avoid as viewed by human resources professionals who've seen it all
* World-class cover letters that landed interviews and jobs
* Exercises to help you assess your skills and accomplishments
* The writing technique selected by 96% of hiring managers as their preferred style
* A new, special section for top executives-including CEOs, presidents, and vice presidents
* New advice for those in the creative arts, new graduates, volunteers, and career changers
* Tips on writing target letters to catch the eye of the employers you want to work for

"This book is a major breakthrough,teaching you how to easily write effective cover letters that employers will respond to."
-Mark Tranter, founder, America4Hire

"By far, this is the best book ever written on writing cover letters."
-Sandy Dehan, HR Manager, Fortune 500 company

"My dream job called after I mailed my first cover letter. I landed the job and owe it all to Robin Ryan's effective techniques."
-Marianne Jones, client

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471263647
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 10/25/2002
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 674,993
  • Product dimensions: 6.99 (w) x 10.04 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

ROBIN RYAN is the bestselling author of 60 Seconds & You re Hired!, Winning Resumes, and What to Do with the Rest of Your Life. She has appeared on 700 TV and radio shows, including NBC Nightly News and Oprah, as well as in most major magazines and newspapers, including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Money, and BusinessWeek. She has also been a Seattle Times career columnist for nearly six years.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 11


The Importance of Cover Letters 16

Our Hiring Managers’ Survey Results 17

Why Use The Power Impact Technique™? 18

Acknowledged Difficulties in Getting Employers’ Attention 19

A Guarantee 20

What’s Ahead 20


Mistakes You Should Not Make 25

1. Don’t Start Your Letter with: “I’m Applying for the Job I Saw in Sunday’s Newspaper” 25

2. General Letters Are Worthless 26

3. Do Not Ignore the Stated Criteria 27

4. Don’t Let Careless Errors Torpedo You 28

5. Clueless About My Company 29

6. Paying Little Attention to Format or Style 30

7. Sloppiness 31

8. Poor Salutations Start You Off on the Wrong Foot 32

9. Negatives Are a Major Turnoff 33

10. Just Wanting It Is Not Enough 34

11. Don’t Specify the Salary or Benefits Desired 35

12. Phone Etiquette Doesn’t Exist 36

13. The Meat’s In the Resumé 37

14. They Could Do My Job 37

15. Can’t Do the Job 38

16. Can’t Work the Hours Requested 39

17. Long Letters Are Losers 41

18. Unsubstantiated Bragging Backfires 41

19. Not Showing a True Interest 42

20. Don’t Expect the Employer to Find a Need for You to Fill 42

21. Using Buzz Words Can Backfire 43

22. Don’t Include the Employer’s Want Ad 43

23. Gimmicks Rarely Work 44

Bad Cover Letter Example 44

Summary 48


Success Stories 52

Summary 80


Proven Cover Letter Examples 82

High-Level Executive Cover Letters 95

Terrific Job Search Resources and Advice 106

Internal Promotions 107

Targeting Your Skills to Different Types of Organizations 109

Referral 113

Insider Information 117

Volunteer Experience/Reentry 119

New Graduates 122

Bachelor’s Degree 122

The MBA Challenge 124

Career Changing 129

Special Notice for Those in the Creative Arts 133

More Examples of The Power Impact Technique at Work 135

Salary History Requests 142

Summary 144


The Writing Technique 146

Paper, Printing, and Envelope Recommendations 155

Creating Your Marketing Package 156


Prospect Letters 160

Highly Competitive Fields 166

Informational Interview Request 173


Prospect Letters 179

When You Have a Referral 183

Informational Interview Letters 186


Faxing 196

Netiquette 199


The Strategic Note 205

The In-Depth Letter 207



Hot Leads 222

High-Impact Words and Phrases 222

Notable Abilities 224

Guidelines to Follow When You Have a Full-Time Job 225

Guidelines to Follow When You’re Not Working 226

Chapter 12 BE A SUCCESS STORY 227


Index 233

About Robin Ryan, Author, National Speaker, and Career Coach 239

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First Chapter

Winning Cover Letters
Robin Ryan
ISBN: 0-471-19063-2


"I got the job! I can't believe itùI got the job! I only sent out this one resume and cover letterùand I got it!" Mary was ecstatic as she called to tell me her dream had come true. "Four hundred and five people applied and they picked meù m e !" Her elation over landing a great new job was passionate. Cindy, another client, called to say: "They hired me. This is a dream jobùmore money, better hours. It's perfect. I knew I needed to write a good resume and cover letter. All it took was one. I never sent another. From just that first one, I got the call. I start in two weeks. I would never have believed it could be this easy. This will change my whole life. After 20 years, I'm finally moving on to the perfect job for me. Hard to believe, but it's true."
Phone calls, letters, notesùthey all say the same thing: "I got the job!" "Thank you for your help, that cover letter did the trick. I've got the interview." No one was more thrilled than Sam. He sent me an expensive bouquet of flowers with a letter that said: "No one had even looked at me before I worked with you. Taking three years off from my career was proving to be the professional suicide my friends warned me it would be; but you helped me put together a strategy, reworked my resume, and improved my cover letters. You had me focus on what I had accomplishedùto really market my strengths and talents. I've just landed a senior management position my colleagues will be envious of."
These clients, like all the others in this book, had great success using The Power Impact Technique to write their cover letters. That is the technique you'll learn in the upcoming pages to ensure you put your absolute best on paper. These letters made the difference.
Extensive research was conducted to offer you the most effective job hunting techniques available. An exclusive hiring managers' survey was conducted so you can learn exactly what employers want when they hire. Successful cover letters that real people used to land their dream jobs are included; and most important, you'll learn The Power Impact Technique to write the best cover letter possible.

The Importance of Cover Letters
The cover letter is the very first thing the employer sees when you apply for a job. In the course of conducting research to write this book, I confirmed one very important factùhiring managers and personnel people all stressed the need to write a great cover letter that is targeted to their needs. The candidates who stood out to employers used short but powerful evidence as they wrote sentence after sentence on their past achievements and the talents and contributions they'd bring to the new employer. Your letters must concisely outline your talents and abilities to meet the employer's specific job needs. You'll be able to do that with ease once you start using The Power Impact Technique.
To learn exactly what employers wanted, I developed a survey about cover letters that was sent to 600 hiring managers. The results, coupled with other research based on years of working with career counseling clients, plus my own extensive hiring background, is what formulated the recommendations you'll learn using this book. A significant distinction from other books is that I conducted a hiring survey exclusively for this book. The pages are laced with the results.
Hiring managers will be advising you on what impresses them in a cover letter and what makes them dismiss a candidate in less than 10 seconds.
Human resources manager Barbara Baker tells us: "In my experience I've hired over 1,200 people. I've seen so many mistakesùtoo long, too short, general, nonspecific content, some even state the reasons they were fired. It boils down to thisùa simple, direct letter that mentions how their skills relate to performing the position applied for."
Sounds simple, doesn't it? Yet as we received our hiring surveys back from employers all over the country, we kept hearing the same message: Most people write a terrible cover letter, so they never get an interview and they never land the job.

Our Hiring Managers' Survey Results
Little research has been done on cover letters. One study confirmed that indeed cover letters are important. I felt it was warranted to create a survey to get more specifics about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) from a job candidate's cover letter. I wanted to learn what hiring managers considered the biggest mistakes people make and also what were the best ways to impress them and get the employer's attention.
Therefore, we sent our hiring survey to a random sampling of 600 human resource managers, CEOs, vice presidents, senior executives, and recruiters to determine their preferences. Of these, 38% were in human resources and the other 62% were hiring managers. Everyone in the study had done extensive and recent hiring. Almost all of the HR managers had hired over 200 people, some as many as 1,000. They worked in all different fields: manufacturing, nonprofits, state and federal governments, education, retail, healthcare, service and high tech, to cite a few. Our managers held positions as program directors, vice presidents, senior management, presidents, and CEOs. They had, on average, hired 80 people each. Most senior executives and those at large organizations typically had hired over 100 managers and professionals for their organization. The survey targeted professional, executive, and managerial positions, with a few questions targeted toward staff jobs. These hiring managers (the person who decides if you get the job) worked for the Fortune 500ùsome of the best and most prominent companies and organizations in the United States. Others were employed with medium- sized or smaller companies. We covered a wide range of fields and every state in the union to get the real facts on what it takes to get hired today.
The conclusions from this hiring survey will be revealed as you use this book to land your perfect job: *Cover letters are important and necessary.
*A good cover can sail to the top of the stack and get an interview. Likewise, a terrific candidate with a general letter will go unnoticed in a stack of hundreds of others vying for the opportunity.
*Cover letters serve as a sample of your communication skills.
*Succinct points that clearly outline the abilities to perform the needed tasks of the job get noticed.
*Of the employers surveyed, 96% selected The Power Impact Technique as their preferred way to write a letter.

In addition to this survey, let me summarize my background. I've been a career counselor for over 15 years. Helping people find good jobs is my passionùthe mission that drives my life. I've personally hired over 300 people and teach seminars on hiring to employers. I'm constantly working with job hunters, having seen tens of thousands of participants in my job search seminars. In addition, I conduct hundreds of career counseling sessions with individual clients every year. The reason I wrote this book is for one reason and one reason only: The Power Impact Technique enables job hunters to write more effective cover letters that employers notice and respond to. My clients have proved this over and over again, day after day.
We asked our hiring managers in the survey what was the best way to write a cover letterù96% selected The Power Impact Technique. That's the best reason I can give you to use this bookùit works! Every cover letter in this book is that of a client I've coached with who got the interview and, in most cases, went on to land a terrific job.
Why Use The Power Impact Technique ¬ ?
Employers told us:
"Clearly tell me how you can do the job." ùCEO
"Show me how you used your skills." ùDepartment Manager
"What contributions did you make before." ùVice President
"Tell me what you can offer my company that makes you special." ùPresident
"Tell me why should I select you for an interview." ùHuman resource manager
"Be specific." ùPersonnel director
"Give clear examples of past success." ùExecutive Director
"Relate your background to the job's needs and articulate how you'll meet them." ùSenior Vice President

All these employers are stating exactly how to impress them and get their attention.
I developed The Power Impact Technique over a dozen years ago to help myself get a job. The job market was so competitive, and starting out each letter saying "I'm applying for the job I saw in Sunday's paper" was getting me nowhere. So I created a new writing style. My letter opened with a powerful first sentence that quickly demonstrated to the employer the background and skills I'd bring to the job. My letters began to sail to the top: While hundreds of others missed out, I got the employer's all-important phone call to come in for an interview.
It worked so well for me I started sharing this technique with friends. In 1986, I started leading job search seminars and began teaching this technique to job hunters. I received tremendous positive feedback that this technique was an easy-to-use formula that saved people hours and hours of time spent writing ineffective letters employers never noticed. Just as I've taught others over the years, now I'll show you how to analyze a job, target a special company, and portray your top strengths using this technique. You'll read employers' comments and insights that will aid you in getting hired faster as you look for a new and better job.
You'll find that The Power Impact Technique is both easy-to-use and highly effective to write cover letters employers notice.
You won't find tricks, gimmicks, or shenanigans that don't work. You'll find only letters with a proven success record that you'll get from my years of research on hiring, plus specific employer insights that will enable you to succeed in no time.
Acknowledged Difficulties in Getting Employer's Attention

If you've been in the job market for more than five minutes lately, you'll be the first one to admit it's a challenging time. The competition for each job can draw hundreds of probable candidates ...hundreds. Employers told us the cover letter gets only a few seconds' glance unless, as HR manager Tim Smith said, "I see the skills jumping off the page. It's really hard to read boring letter after boring letter. Or those bragging ones claiming they can do the job. It's rare to break out of the monotony and find a per- son who took some extra time and crafted a letter that clearly addressed the job's needs as they outlined their abilities and skills. Those rare lettersùI notice. Usually those are the ones I hire." Tim works for one of the For- tune 500 companies where they get over 500 letters every week. As he said, "I've seen it all."
You have only seconds to capture the employer's attention and keep him or her reading. Good jobs (those that are interesting and pay well) are hard to find. You must put together the best possible package to advertise your skills. The bottom line is that the cover letter is the first thing an employer sees. It must be great! No ifs, ands, or buts. You need to be better than the competitionùyou must outsmart them. And you will when you start writing The Power Impact Technique letters.

A Guarantee
This book will improve your ability to write better cover letters. You'll gain insight into what employers are really looking for. Certainly a cover letter alone doesn't get you hired. Rather, it's the letter-writing process you'll learn that means the difference between landing the job or just getting left in the stack. This process includes the job analysis, the insights from the hiring manager's perspective, developing succinct sound bites on your skills, and summarizing the results and contributions you make. This is what you'll be learning and carrying through on your resume and throughout your interview.
You will read dozens of proven, market-tested letters and success stories that clearly illustrate how to apply The Power Impact Technique yourself. You'll save time and effort while you zero in on a great job you are qualified for with succinct evidence and statements that cause employers to start calling you!

What's Ahead
You'll learn a huge amount of information and insight once you've read through the 42 mistakes employers pointed out that you must avoid to get hired!
You'll see examples of people just like youùothers who faced the challenge, the fears, and the rejections. The result: They are now enjoying terrific jobs. You'll benefit from reading their stories and seeing exactly how we wrote their cover letters. These cover letters are the exact ones they usedùonly their names have been changed to ensure their confidentiality. Most books just give samples, but samples only encourage you to copy and not apply the writing skill. That's the difference Winning Cover Letters makes. You'll learn The Power Impact Technique. It's an easy writing formula that you'll be able to apply and use to improve your cover letters and your success. Let's get started. A better job is out there, just waiting for you to find it.

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  • Posted July 11, 2011

    Great Book

    Truly helps you identify how to write a cover letter

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