By Karen Silins
Nowadays, so many companies are recruiting online that you’ll probably be asked to submit a cover letter online at some point. The employer might ask you to paste your text into a textbox or to e-mail your resume. (Typically, this means you need to include a text copy in the body of an e-mail rather than send an attachment.) If this is the case, you will need to follow the instructions below:
1. Copy and paste your cover letter into a blank page of a new Word document.
2. Select FileÂ»Save As, and save the file as a text document. (If the old page name was Jane Doe Cover Letter, then save as Jane Doe Cover Letter – eVersion). Select Text Only or Plain Text as the type of file.
3. Close the newly saved document. (You might see a message that your new document has items that aren’t compatible – click Yes.)
4. Reopen the document. It should now appear as plain text in the Courier New font. (If the document doesn’t appear in plain text, please begin again, carefully following steps 1-3.)
5. Delete all unnecessary information, including page numbers and contact information sections (common if you’re converting both a cover letter and a resume at the same time).
6. Close the document, saving any changes.
7. Go to the Start Menu, and select My Documents (where all of your plain text documents should be saved for ease of locating). Find the new document, which should now appear with a Microsoft Notepad symbol next to it, instead of the Microsoft Word symbol. The Notepad symbol looks like this: . The Word symbol looks like this: .
8. Open the document.
9. Any paragraphs in the document will now be in one long line across the page, and will no longer be held to specific margins. Check for any sentences or phrases that may have been split up during the process â€“ they might be on different lines. Make appropriate corrections (backspacing to bring sentences and phrases together or deleting blank lines). Don’t worry about the lack of formatting, this ensures that the document will mold itself into the form or e-mail to which you copy and paste the document.
10. Close the document, saving any changes.
11. You don’t need to test the document for use in forms; however, you might want to do a test run for a plain text cover letter pasted into the body of an e-mail. To test the document, change the font to Courier New, font size 10 (because your e-mail has a default font), copy it from Notepad, and paste it into a blank e-mail.
Be sure to check the formatting for unusual breaks between sentences or paragraphs. Send it to yourself. If the e-mail maintains the formatting, you have correctly prepared the document. If the document doesn’t hold correct formatting, go back to the Notepad version and look for missed line breaks, or repeat the process.
12. Make certain your contact information is clearly visible.
If the employer prefers to receive an attachment, make sure you title your document something professional: Choose something like “JSmithletter” rather than “fileforlameofficejob” or whatever else you may have named your file in frustration or boredom.
Ensure that the document appears clean and that there are no redline changes, spelling errors, or grammatical mistakes visible. If you see red squiggly lines under certain words, check the spelling. Then turn off auto spell-check so the employer doesn’t think you’re sloppy or bad at spelling.
If the employer requests a Microsoft Word attachment (again, follow the employer’s instructions), make certain your document is clean and not infected by any viruses.
Karen Silins has been a professional resume and cover letter writer for 16 years and is the acting president and executive board member of the Association of Online Resume & Career Professionals
For more information about writing a cover letter that will grab the employerâ€™s attention, please visit: http://www.breakthough-cover-letters.com