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By: Sylvie Fortin

Cover letters are a critical ingredient commonly missing in most telecommuters' applications. Creating a great telecommuting cover letter is immensely important to your potential for getting the job! It is the very first thing a prospective employer sees when you send in your resume and, without a great cover letter, you may as well not bother applying for any job.

However, you can't just write any old cover letter like you would for an onsite job. You need to include very pertinent information when you are applying for an offsite job. Beyond the basics of every good cover letter, let's look at some of the specifics that are involved in writing the perfect telecommuter's cover letter.

  • To Cover or Not to Cover? Always include a cover letter. Even if the posting didn't ask for a cover letter, it is best practice to always include one. Many employers have been known to use this small thing as a test that weeds out the unprofessional applicants. All professionals automatically know that a cover letter is critically important and worth the extra time invested.
  • “To Whom It May Concern” Is a No-No. When addressing the recipient of your telecommuting cover letter never write “To Whom It May Concern.” For the most part, jobs you find online (as opposed to jobs you find in your local newspaper), will include the name of the person you are supposed to send your application to. If this information is not included, it's time to do some research.

    Find out who is in charge of human resources and address it to that person. You will most likely find the name of their HR Manager listed on the company website. When you are inserting a name like this, make sure you address your cover letter to “Dear Mr. Doe or Mr. Doe's assistant.” This way, you cover your bases if the person reviewing the application is different from the Mr. Doe you located on their website. If you don't find a name, only then use Dear Recruiter, Dear Hiring Manager, or Dear Sir/Madam.

  • Where Did You Hear About Us? In the first paragraph of your letter be sure to let your reader know where you heard about the position to which you are applying. Many times a company will be advertising in numerous places for numerous telecommuting jobs; by including this information right up front you will help direct your letter to the right place should there be any confusion.
  • Drop Names! As an independent contractor, you will definitely grow your business much faster if your own customers are willing to vouch for you and make recommendations about their business associates that may be hiring. When you have satisfied customers, don't be afraid to ask them if they can think of any of their business associates that may need your services. If they say “yes,” then make sure you get the name of the person they have in mind and send a cover letter to their associate, mentioning the name of your customer.
  • Sell, Sell, Sell… Yourself! Before you begin writing your cover letter, you need to take a few moments to research the company and what it does, think about how you will be able to fit in to their company, and point to specific experience you have that pertain to this particular job description. This is your only chance to make a fabulous impression!

    Remember, you aren't trying to see if you want to work for the company. You have already decided this when you decided to apply for the position. You are trying to prove that the company will find you indispensable! So, make sure you really go above and beyond the norm to impress this employer in this paragraph.

  • Close in Style. The close of your letter is as important as the opening. It's important that you close confidently and with style. Be sure to let your reader know what your desired outcome of your application is (e.g., an interview, a meeting, a chance to talk to decision makers). The closing is your chance to leave a positive parting impression, so be sure to thank the reader for his or her time and to sign off graciously.

If you take the fundamentals of quality cover letter writing and add in these telecommuting tips and tricks, you'll quickly find that your applications are getting noticed and the jobs are rolling in more and more abundantly. Writing the perfect telecommuter cover letter takes practice, but — in time — you'll master the art and have more business than you ever imagined possible.