Cover letter: the worst part of putting together a job application.
This piece of writing can make or break your application; even if one’s resume is a little lacking, a good cover letter might, at least, just secure a shot getting an interview. At their worst, they might lead a perfectly qualified resume thrown into a reject pile. Imagine, your career prospects dangling on a cliff just based on a few paragraphs. Pressure, pressure.
Most people get overwhelmed by the sheer number of examples of cover letters internet has to offer. No one is born naturally gifted with art of cover writing and there is no concrete way of writing them. You can however, follow a few tricks which might just help you write a good cover letter without causing a brain haemorrhage.
- Try to address it to the name of the employer (the HR manager or head of company) or the head of whichever institution you are applying to. Scour their website if you must. It creates a more personalized impression than ‘To whomsoever it may concern’ or the standard ‘Dear Sir/Ma’am’. However if you do not have a name, those two are pretty good options to use.
- Do not, and I mean DO NOT repeat your resume. It is boring and repetitive. The employer already knows your accomplishments, with systemized bullets and everything. Cover letter is a way of expressing the presence of a person behind that resume. You can add a bit about the reason behind your interest in that institution (history, current projects, your own personal link or experience with them as an outsider). Let a little bit of your charm leak in; you can be formal, but being too formal makes you seem like a robot, and for most company workers that is a ‘no can do’ situation.
- The opening of the letter is most important, so start right off with a heavy hitter. Communicate the position you are applying for and the required skills that you possess. If they mentioned the key skills in the advertisement about the position, play them up more. It creates the first impression that you actually paid attention to the job profile and this application is not casual.
- Keep it short. Most recruiters prefer a cover letter about 3 paragraphs or half a page, and longer cover letters are not looked upon favourably. This also means you have limited space to work with, so pay attention to structure and content. Do not try to fit the world in that letter. They want to know about you as a potential candidate, not read a professional autobiography. Also, format it well; make justified alignment your new best friend.
- Do not write how happy you will be for working with them and how it will add to your career; they know they will be beneficial for your resume. Instead, tell them what YOU will be bringing to company. Showcase your core skills, a few of your relevant achievements in short. If you are inexperienced or lack one particular skill, do not be apologetic about it. Also, tone down on cliché skills like ‘team player’ and ‘people person’.
- Take help or refer to a template. Job cover letter and those for students have some subtle differences, which branch out further depending upon what subject/work you do. Being a little specific about the example you are referring to will help fine tune your own cover letter.
Often, the most important things in life are simple to do. Yet since they are so crucial, people end up believing they are more complicated than they seem, wallowing in frustration since the simplest method does not strike them. Cover letters are the same; for all the weight given to them, they can be pretty simple to write.