Resume Help/Cover Letter help

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Question
How do I write a cover letter when I have litte experience?

Thank You.

Answer
Hi Edward,

Good question.  i think if I describe for you the purpose of a cover letter, you will understand how to craft one that is professional and persuasive even though your experience level is limited.

First, read the job announcement thoroughly and highlight or underline all of the qualifications or skills that the employer requires.  THOSE are the points you want to make in your letter.  In other words, if the employer wants applicants who can do XYZ, part of your cover letter will describe how you are qualified to do XYZ and briefly mention how you have acquired that particular skill.  You do that with each of the skills and qualifications described in the job announcement.  If there are some you have no experience whatever with or cannot do, you will not mention them in the letter.  The point of the letter is to describe what you can do, not describe what you cannot do.  

In your case, if you have had job experience doing XYZ, you certainly mention that.  If you have not had job experience that you can relate, what skills did you learn in college (or in your job training) that are pertinent to the skills needed for the position?  If you have limited job experience, your resume and letter will focus more on your strengths and skills rather than on your experience.  Have you had any internships?  Did you participate in any projects while you were in school that would be pertinent to the employers needs?  If so, you certainly mention those.  Think back on not only where you have worked but also what you have acquired in your training or education that you can point to that demonstrates your readiness for the position.

It is always a challenge for a person with limited work experience to settle into an ideal job.  Make sure that you are applying for positions for which you are fully qualified and then describe for the employer the specific skills you have that make you qualified.  Stay away from boilerplate kinds of phrases like "team player" or "self-starter" or "multi-tasker" or any such broad descriptions.  These are meaningless and all employers simply ignore them.  Everyone claims these things so they do nothing to set you apart from your competitors.  Describe your fitness for the position with precise language that accurately describe your suitability for the job and be sure you use the phrases that are used by the employer in the job announcement.  The employers go to a lot of trouble to accurately and precisely describe what they want.  Your job is to use those same phrases and demonstrate how you meet their needs.

I am going to make a suggestion to you here which you are free to take advantage of or not, as you choose.  If you'd like to write a cover letter draft and send it to me at the email address below (as an attachment), I'll be happy to give you a free appraisal.  If you want to send your resume as well, attach that separately.

Best wishes; I look forward to seeing your documents.

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Ralph D. Converse, Ph.D.

Expertise

I can answer questions about general job searches, resume construction, crafting an effective cover letter, and how to prepare for, and conduct, a winning interview. My speciality is the field of education, but I also have extensive background in business and administration. I know what works and what doesn't work and I can make your application package stand out from the rest ... because that is what you have to do.

Experience

I have interviewed for, and held, dozens of jobs in a career going back more than 42 years. I have taught at all educational levels including middle school, high school, community college, and university. In more than 42 years of experience on both sides of the job-search process, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants and have reviewed literally tens of thousands of job application packages. I am the author of 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them! I conduct workshops for job seekers in a variety of locations every year.

Publications
Music Educator's Journal, Teaching Music, Music and American Culture (forthcoming, 2013), Last Teacher Standing: The Job is Yours Now! and 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them!

Education/Credentials
B.A. New Mexico State University; M.Mus. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D. University of California and University of North Texas

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Thousands of individuals

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