As you already know, a cover letter is a very important part of any job application. A cover letter, attached along with a resume, is your first introduction to a company or institution. It is your first step in wooing a potential employer. It acts on your behalf and tells your tale- not the whole tale, but what is pertinent to the job you are applying to. Nowadays, the cover letters are sent by mail rather than an actual letter. Be it either may, the format and the content, in essence, remains the same.
Normally, people have the perception that writing a cover letter is an easy task; that is until they actually sit down and attempt to write one. It is then that most people realize how hard it is to articulate your credentials in a cover letter, complementing your resume, and how a lot of consideration and researched planning is required. An important thing to note while writing a cover letter- and a common mistake many make- is that it should not be an exact replica of your resume, content wise. Rather it should compliment your resume; it should expound the attributes and facts stated in your resume.
Do Your Homework
What goes into a cover letter should, more or less, be based on the post you are applying to and the company you are applying to. If you are applying for a post, then your cover letter should contain details regarding your accomplishments in that field and not in any other field, however impressive that other accomplishments are. The content of your letter should be in sync with the needs and expectations of the company. How do you do these? Well, the simple answer is, by doing your research right.
Before you actually write a cover letter, it is very important to collect information regarding the company, its goals and aspiration, the details of the post you are applying to, the expectations of the company regarding the applicants to the post and likewise. A quick scan across the internet and you will find plenty of information regarding these; if you are referred to the post by someone inside the company, then try and glean as much as you can from that person about what the company is specifically looking for. It is always the smallest details that make the biggest of differences.
Well, a cover letter should start with the letter head. Your full name, your complete address, contact number and email address go here. Below that, after the date, comes the recipient’s address. Here, it is important to note that you must have the name of the person you are writing to. If you do not know who it is specifically that you are addressing, then write “To whom it may concern”, although this must be a last resort as it is too impersonal. You could search through the internet or call their office to find out who the HR manager is; this shows your determination and initiative.
Next is the salutation. Here, do not try to be overly friendly as the entire cover letter must be professional from top to bottom. A Mr., Mrs. Followed by the name is quite adequate.
The first paragraph contains your opening line wherein you introduce yourself and the post applying for. If there is a mutual acquaintance, the person who refers you, then it would help a great deal to mention it here. If the post you are applying for was advertised in some newspaper or so, state it with the name of the newspaper and the application number, if any.
The second paragraph is your main paragraph. This paragraph must entail your qualifications that are in correlation with the needs of the position. You must include your accomplishments in your career so far that would highlight why you would be an apt fit for the position. This paragraph is essentially about what you can offer to the company. This is where the research you have done earlier comes into play. Model this paragraph on the basis of the said research. Remember, do not try and oversell yourself here by claiming that you are the perfect candidate. Detail your accomplishments in a bullet format if needed, starting with your most impressive one; this in itself is a sound advertisement of your abilities. Stay away from the usual cliché’s like how hardworking you are, how you have great interpersonal skills and how perfect you will be for the job. If you do claim anything, back it up with an accomplishment.
The third and the last paragraph is your parting words. Reaffirm your interest to be considered. Express your interest to discuss the opportunity in person; and if you want, mention the date and time you would follow up regarding the application. Also, remember to mention about the enclosed resume.
An example of a cover letter will go something like this:
1200 East Main New York
Phone: 222-555-1459 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
June 2nd 2013
114 East 55th Street
New York, NY 10034
I am writing to inquire about the possible opening at BLAH Inc. for the post of Marketing Supervisor. Marko Mismanovich suggested that I get in touch with you regarding the same.
I have ten years of experience working as a Marketing Supervisor for SomethingSomething Company. I have extensive experience in new marketing techniques, brand handling, brand managing and more.
- Accomplishment 1
- Accomplishment 2
- Accomplishment 3
I have enclosed my resume and a list of references for your review. I am highly interested in the opening and would welcome a chance to speak with you sometime. I look forward to hearing from you.
When you are done drafting your own cover letter, get somebody to read it. It is important to understand the tone of your letter; it has to be crisp, direct and professional. Remember, no recruiter bothers to go through a cover letter or resume thoroughly if it is not interesting enough; so try and incorporate your accomplishments as well as you can. With a little extra effort in the cover letter, you could ensure that you are impossible to pass over.