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Since last week, a lot has happened in San Diego. The San Diego Chargers abruptly left for Los Angeles. With them, they took 1600 jobs away from our residents. Most of those jobs were temporary or seasonal and a few were full time. Some of those staff members will move up to the Los Angeles area, the rest are here, at home wondering what their next step will be.

It is normal to feel a little depressed — actually January is known as the highest career depression month of the year. The bills of the holidays start coming in and you start questioning your current job, or lack of one and the post-holiday blues sink in. So I find it even more important to keep people positive and moving forward during this time.

We have been lining up the points of a successful job search over the last few weeks. To go along with some of first conversations — networking, getting your resume ready, minding your body language and then the job search engines we covered last week, I thought we should talk about the cover letter this week.

While we all know that a resume is important to the job search process, it is not necessarily the most important document you will need to secure an interview. Once you find that job you want to apply for on one of the web sites we discussed last week, or a few jobs for that matter, your custom cover letter should accompany your custom resume.

Your cover letter allows you to target the job and the employer in a very specific way, leaving the resume to market your skills, qualities and experience as a part of the bigger picture. It is a sales tool. A great cover letter should not just repeat your resume in a shorter form, but why you are qualified for the position.

The first paragraph tells the reader exactly what position you are applying for.  Remember they may have hundreds of jobs open.

The next paragraph is why you want to work for that employer and why you are qualified for the job.

and the final paragraph is how they can contact you very easily.  You might also slip in I will call you Tuesday at 10:00 just in case you are available.

I read your resume first, and if of interest go to the cover letter.  Many employers and recruiters read your cover letter first. Some will not even consider your resume until they are satisfied by your letter. So it is a very important document.

Do research on the employer and the job before writing the letter. Make it clear that you understand their business, along with the position you are applying for.

Use an engaging style when writing the letter. Use keywords applicable to the job, and whatever you do, use the magical words, "thank you". When you thank the perspective employer in your letter, either in the first sentence or ending of the letter, you make them feel good about their job. A sample of what to include may look something like this:

I read the job opening you posted on LinkedIn regarding your need of an experienced Executive Accountant (Job 5432). Thank you for clearly defining your expectations and tasks required for the position.

Your strategically targeted cover letter is an important weapon you need to fight this battle and to win it. Remember, the field of unemployed just increased in San Diego, so let's all take advantage of the tips provided each week, so you can say 'Job Won'.

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