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March 31, 2009

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For those who aren't quite comfortable with the limitations of a traditional cover letter or who want a visually stunning way to communicate certain outstanding qualifications, consider a "resume letter."

Use a resume letter when you want to a non-traditional way to give the reader a quick glance of who you are and what you've accomplished. While this format can be an eye catcher, it should only be used when the company did not ask specifically for a resume and cover letter (you always want to give the employer what they want). In cold mailings, of course, the resume letter option is yours.

In essence, the resume letter replaces the middle paragraph of the cover letter, where you list your qualifications and experience, with a detailed list of specific information more common to a resume. While this information can be delivered in regular paragraph form, resume letters replace the traditional paragraph with bulleted statements similar to a summary of qualifications section in a resume.

Since the resume letter is sent without the assistance of a resume to provide a factual record, you must use even more specifics when describing your work history and skills: mention companies you?ve been associated with, projects you?ve accomplished and specific skills or programs with which you've become fluent.

The paragraph or two immediately following your bulleted statements offer a summation of your qualifications or attributes. End with a normal conclusion paragraph.

While the resume letter does offer some advantages in communicating your information, it does, however, have some important disadvantages as well. Since it replaces the resume with only a minimal amount of information, it is very difficult to know what facts might be most vital for the reader.

At their best, resume letters can inspire employers to contact you for interviews. At their worst, the limited data of your resume letter could lack the information employers need. Resume letters are chancy, but when you have little to lose, such as with cold mailings, the risk can be worth the reward.

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