The first step in writing your cover letter is to determine your unique differentiators.
These are the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that you possess and are your strongest assets.
Some definitions follow:
Skills � what you have learned to do.
- 揝oft� skills � leadership, teamwork, communication, risk taking, consulting, customer service, managing vendors, etc.
- 揌ard� skills � technical skills like cost accounting, analysis, engineering, html, process improvement, project management, foreign languages, negotiation, etc.
Knowledge � information you hold, this is often industry-specific or things you know about but do not actually do.
- Examples � familiar with the aerospace industry, understand database design (although you may not actually do this), understand calculus, etc.
Abilities � these underlie both your knowledge and skills. Without an innate ability you would neither gain knowledge nor learn how to do things.
- For example, not all people can reason in three dimensional space. Those people would never be able to learn to do an isometric drawing, fly an airplane, or operate a fork lift.
- Even if you do have the underlying ability, it is not useful (or marketable) until you have built skills- or knowledge-based upon it.
The focus of your sell in the cover letter will be on Skills and Knowledge, in that order.
Assignment: Now, an activity for you. Using your resume�
- Highlight your skill sets in one color.
- Highlight your knowledge sets in another color.
Here is a sample of a resume that has been reviewed for knowledge and skills. Skills are listed in green, knowledge sets are listed in gold. A summary is listed at right.
The list you have just created is a list of skills and knowledge you have to offer employers.
Is it complete?
If not, then add text to your resume to demonstrate any missing skills or knowledge.
Keep the list you just created on hand � you will need it later.