O'Reilly logo

Brilliant Cover Letters by James Innes

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

CHAPTER 1
Laying the
foundations:
getting the
basics right
M01_INNE4636_01_SE_C01.QXP:M00_INNE4636_01_SE_C00 27/7/09 11:14 Page 1
M01_INNE4636_01_SE_C01.QXP:M00_INNE4636_01_SE_C00 27/7/09 11:14 Page 2
First things first: who are you writing to?
Obvious as it might seem, before you embark on writing your cover letter
you first need to ascertain to whom exactly you are writing.
Getting through to the right person
The best person to address your cover letter to is clearly the person who is
going to be making the decision as to whether or not to interview you. Too
many letters are simply addressed generically to the HR Manager and start,
‘Dear Sir/Madam’.You want to try to get right through to the decision maker.
This is an elementary sales tactic but, unless you work within sales your-
self, you’re unlikely to be aware of just how important it is to reach the
person who actually has the power to make the decision you want them
to make. It can make all the difference.
Not only do letters addressed to a specific person achieve better results (it
quite simply gets their attention and creates a better impression), but
letters that actually land on the decision maker’s desk have an even higher
chance of making the grade.
It may take some effort
If you’re lucky you may have a job advert that clearly details to whom you
should be writing. But not always . . . And it may take some effort on your
part to track down the details you need especially if you’re working on
a speculative application.
You may have to actually telephone the organisation to obtain the name
of an appropriate contact. Trust me; it’s worth it. A receptionist or
M01_INNE4636_01_SE_C01.QXP:M00_INNE4636_01_SE_C00 27/7/09 11:14 Page 3
4 brilliant Cover L etters
switchboard operator will normally be pleased to help you out, but don’t
be afraid of asking to be put through to the department in question so that
you can ask yourself.
Hiring decisions are often made either by the person to whom you would
be reporting or by the person to whom they report sometimes both.
However, sometimes it is the HR department that makes the final
decisions.
It’s also worth looking on an organisation’s website. Many organisations
list their key personnel on their websites. (You should in any case be
looking carefully at an organisation’s website before you apply to them.
Too many candidates know little or nothing about the organisation they
are applying to.)
If all else fails
If all else fails and you are unable to obtain a precise contact name
then letters can be addressed to either the Recruitment Manager or the
HR (Human Resources) Manager. There’s no reason why this shouldn’t
still elicit a response. But you might like to be a little more creative and
take a guess at the appropriate job title of the decision maker. For
example, if you are looking for work as a sales manager then the Sales
Director might be a good choice. Even if there is no Sales Director,
your letter should be passed on to the person who best fulfils that
description.
Sending more than one copy
There’s nothing, of course, to stop you sending in your letter both to the
HR department and to the individual you believe to be in charge of your
particular department (assuming you’re not looking for work in the HR
department!).
brilliant
tip
Hedge your bets by sending in more than one copy of your letter and you
stand even more chance of getting yourself noticed.
M01_INNE4636_01_SE_C01.QXP:M00_INNE4636_01_SE_C00 27/7/09 11:14 Page 4

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required