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Cover Letter Magic: Trade Secrets of Professional Resume Writers
by Wendy S. Enelow and Louise Kursmark
JIST Works (3rd Edition), 414 pages, $11.86

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Some may believe the advent of e-mail has made cover letters less relevant, but even in electronic form they give potential employers their first impression of you. Cover Letter Magic asserts that your cover letter can make a difference and arms you with tools to make an impact on the decision makers reading it. With short attention spans shaped by a sound bite culture, cover letters must be engaging and effective. Job seekers looking for an extra edge will find it in this book full of sample cover letters and sections targeted to different fields, college graduates, and even upper level managers.

"Because cover letters are situation dependent, they have to be customized for each position you apply to," write Enelow and Kursmark. The specific situation dictates the strategy behind each letter, and Cover Letter Magic presents strategies and tactics for various opportunities. The common denominator is that no matter what the field or position, you must master how to sell yourself in your letter. The other thing that sets this book apart is how it embraces the idea that job seekers must set themselves apart. Writers are taken step by step through the process of pinpointing and communicating what makes them different from other job candidates and how to make their cover letters reflect this.

According to the authors, many professionals miss a golden opportunity in their cover letter. "Cover letters should complement your resume, not repeat it," write Enelow and Kursmark. In other words, your resume and cover letter, when properly executed, can have a synergistic effect. The book goes through the ten preferred categories of letters and gives tips for each one. They give samples and analyzes what works and what doesn't in different scenarios. More importantly, Cover Letter Magic examines why it works and gets into the mindset of what employers are really looking for.

Whether you have loads of experience or don't have much of a job history to refer to, Cover Letter Magic is a great, up-to-date resource for job seekers. It covers issues like keywords, creating scannable cover letters, and thank you letters thoroughly with ample examples. Those wondering how to communicate their own style and personality will find that Cover Letter Magic is a catalyst.

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