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The Perfect Cover Letter

Is there any such a thing as the perfect resume cover letter?  If yes, what does it contain?

First, let’s discuss what a good cover letter contains.  It is addressed to someone in the firm which you would like to join; it identifies a position in which you are interested; it includes your qualifications for the position; and it finishes with a specific action statement such as, “I will ring your office to schedule an interview.”  If your submitted cover letter does not contain these key elements, it will most likely fail.

Okay, let us discuss the first challenge… to whom should the letter be sent?  Well, if you are writing the “perfect” cover letter, it should not be addressed, “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager”.  It should be written to a specific appropriate person in the firm.  In the ideal case, this will be the manager making the hiring decision, the manager to whom the hired individual will report.  Your second option is a key manager in the department or an acquaintance that will likely forward your resume on receipt to the right person.  Lastly, you can send your resume and cover letter to a manager in the HR department.  This should at least ensure your resume cover letter a simple review before it gets passed on or placed into the resume management system used by the firm.

If you have a friend that works at the firm, see if you can’t get him to pass on your resume.  Or, get a email address of the right individual from them and ask if you can use their name in the email… “I got your contact information from Sally Travers, your Director of Customer Services.”  An introduction this personal will usually get your cover letter read and forwarded to the right manager.  Don’t immediately presume that you know no one at the company.  Check out social networking sites like or which allow you to search by company.  These sites will indicate current employees and if someone has previously worked at a company.  You may have a colleague that left the firm on good terms that can give you a name and allow you to use them as a reference.

Without knowing someone at the firm, how do you find the contact information for a person in the firm?  This is easily accomplished these days with the wealth of information available on the internet.  You can spend time on the firm’s website and a search engine like Google.  You can usually get this information on the “about us”, “management team”, “contact us”, or “press” pages of the company’s website.  Most companies have a unique pattern to the their email addresses (something like or  Once you have the pattern for email addresses and the name of your contact you can construct their probable email address with ease.  You may have a little challenge with nicknames; sometimes “Timothy” will go by “tim” in his email address.  If this is a senior level person or it is a small company, often the mail server will be set to send mail addressed to either address through.  If you send an email and it is returned undeliverable, simply try again with a different address.

Following these tips should get your cover letter and resume in the door.  In later articles we’ll talk about what else to include in your cover letter so that your resume gets read.

My Executive Compass is an employment portal helping candidates get their resume read and get hired in today’s tough economy. A winning cover letter is essential to getting your resume read and increasing your opportunity to be called for an interview.

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