Now that you have started reading this article, it’s sure that you are either an experienced professional looking for a job change or a first time job seeker. Chances are also there that you are a student looking for an internship soon. No matter at what stage of career you are into, writing a powerful cover letter or covering letter is of paramount importance while applying for a job.
The essence of a cover letter and why you need it
A cover letter is your first interaction with the job provider or recruiter. Imagine sending a cover letter is like an online meeting with the recruiter where you try to do the cold calling through text. It can be in a simple document format or a written piece in the email body while sending your resume a curriculum-vitae(CV) to the recruiter. It’s also one-on-one communication by which you build a relationship with the recruiter.
In many job openings, recruiters specifically ask for a cover letter along with your CV where as in some cases they don’t. However, it’s always better to write or send a cover letter while approaching for any job as it depicts your seriousness. Some job portals’ or companies’ websites also ask job seekers to upload a cover letter along with their CVs.
Basic Points to Consider
There are two ways for sharing the cover letter: 1) In the e-mail, 2) To upload in particular job sites or company websites. In case you apply for a job through e-mail, never share it through the attachment. It should appear in the e-mail body. For the later one, always use the PDF file for uploading.
Remember, the very purpose of writing a cover letter is to raise curiosity in the minds of recruiters to know more about you. Recruiters looking at hundreds of job applications may not download each CV unless they get some hook in the e-mail communication. Leave aside looking at each CV thoroughly.
Most recruiters take 30 seconds at max to read your email. This means you have to precisely sell yourself in a short span of time.
While writing a cover letter, the golden communication rule ‘AIDA’, as used in advertisements, can be helpful. As per AIDA, a sellable communication should consist of 4 steps such as attention, interest, desire and action. An ideal cover letter should be of 4 paragraphs maximum along with satisfying these points in the respective sequence.
Here are a few tips that will help you write a cover letter that engages the reader(recruiter) and leaves an impression that works in favour of you.
Make it personalised
Always do a bit of research to find the name of the recruiting manager or authority. The best approach is to address him/her as ‘Hi/Dear (Person’s surname prefixed with Mr or Ms)’. In case you don’t find the name, you should mention something like, “Dear Recruiting Manager/Dear Human Resources Professional”. Avoid generic ways like ‘To Whom May It Concern’.
Create a good narrative arc
More than why you are the fittest candidate for the position, you need to convey that you put an effort to know about the company and pay more attention to the profile than an average person.
A strong opening or introductory statement is very important. The opening statement should include the name of the position you are applying for and how you got the information about it. This should then be followed by a one-line description of your profile, similar to a profile synopsis. This profile synopsis should sound hooking enough to generate interest in your profile
After the introductory statement, briefly mention your experience and achievements. The best way to do this is to mention some specific points backed by specific occasions and figures.
Further, connect your experience with the job requirements and restate your excitement for the opportunity. Don’t write about what you are, instead you should write about what you can do for them. The narration should end with a call-to-action statement.
Don’t tell your whole life story
An ideal job applicant must value the time of the recruiters. Your cover letter shouldn’t sound like your response to a ‘Tell-me-about-yourself, question. Keep it brief. Show genuine interest and excitement for the position.
And if possible, do share your LinkedIn profile link somewhere towards the end.
Be careful about the style and formatting
The writing style should be formal yet friendly. At the same time, making it too friendly is counterproductive.
Try to use active forms and avoid passive forms. Take out key words from the job description and use those keywords to demonstrate your suitability mentioning exactly the same keywords.
Be cautious about the font type as well. A simple font type like Times New Roman or Arial works better. Avoid font types like Comic Sans, Cursive etc.
End with a ‘Call to action’ appeal
The main aim of a cover letter is to persuade the recruiting authority to further know about you and consider your candidature for the interview.
Hence, the “call to action” appeal in the cover letter should consist of something like, “Looking forward to hearing from you soon,” or “ I am available for a direct interaction on the same as per your convenience”. Avoid using statements like “I would be a great resource for your organisation if selected for the position” as that comes only after the interview round(s).
Last but not the least, do express your gratitude once you finish the cover letter with something like “Thank you very much for your time and patient reading” followed by ‘Warm regards’ or ‘Best regards.’
Write and read then write again and read
Once you complete writing the cover letter, you need to read it to cross check the flow, tonality, spellings and punctuation marks in the writing. Write it again and then read to check it further.
Now a perfect cover letter to strike the right chord is ready.