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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Quick Cover Letter Advice for Recent College Graduates Who Lived Abroad

by Ann Abbott

Some quick, quick advice before I start my work for the day:

Make sure the cover letters you write for jobs are more about the specific job you are applying for than the jobs you previously had. 

Yes, that means you need to customize each cover letter. Sorry. I know how much work that is. I really do.

Yes, that means that you need to use the same words they use in the job ad. They want to know you can do those things. Other things are good, but first you have show them that you are able to do those specific things that they listed in the ad.

Yes, that still means that you should elaborate by using specific examples, very specific examples, from previous experiences. Just remember that you are really using those specific examples to talk about this new job even though they are about your old job.

Here's what I wrote to a student:
I love the rich experiences you describe in your cover letter about your time in [another country]. However, I think the cover letter can do more work for you, and here's what I would do: yes, start with your experiences in [foreign country], but keep that short, more of a "hook," and then use the cover letter "real estate" to connect the qualifications and duties of the job to your experiences. And I mean literally connect them, even using the exact same words they use in the job ad. The person who reads this letter needs to be able to envision you doing this job, their job, not jobs that you have previously done. 
I try to help my former students during their job hunts and career transitions in any way I can. But there is a limit to what I can do for them because of time constraints. I always recommend that they work with my friend and colleague Darcy Lear at DarcyLear.com. Her services are very affordable, and everyone who actually decides to work with her gets a great job.

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