A cover letter provides you with an opportunity to captivate your potential employer attention and pique his/her curiosity about the personality behind it. It also allows you to creatively outline your skills in a way that convinces the potential employer that your resume is worth reviewing too.
To craft a convincing and impressive cover letter, consider adopting the following steps:
- Keep it Brief – Think of your cover letter as a textual version of an elevation pitch where you have only a minute or two to sell yourself. With three or four well-crafted paragraphs, you should be able to pique your potential employer’s curiosity enough, to get him to open your resume. Whatever you write, ensure your cover letter does not exceed a page. Use action words like, “I executed 10 major projects…, I attained…, I won several accounts…, etc.”
- Individualize Your Letter – The easiest way to turn off a prospective employer is to send a cover letter that is generic and boring. Endeavour to tailor your cover letter to contain some personal details to the company. The following are ideas on how to personalize it.
- Take a look at the email address to which you are to send your email, see if you can glean the executive’s name off the address, especially when the e-mail address is personalized.
- Confirm the vacancy that is being advertised and use it as your subject line. In instances where you wish to submit an unsolicited application, ensure the position you apply for exists in their organization.
The easiest way to turn off a prospective employer is to send a cover letter that is generic and boring. Endeavour to tailor your cover letter to contain some personal details to the company.
- Show Your Suitability – Creatively outline your academic qualifications, work experience and skills to match the requirements of the job you wish to apply for. In instances where you fall short of one or two requirements for the job, use your cover letter as an opportunity to sell your alternate skills to cover the shortfall. For instance, “I have two years’ work experience as a Senior Communications Executive and another two years’ experience as a Public Relations Executive where I was in charge of articulately conveying clients’ communication messages to the media.
- Concluding Your Cover Letter – How you conclude your cover letter is just as important as what you say in the body of the letter. Finish your letter off with a bold call-to-action statement like, “I look forward to your invitation to discuss soon”.
- Best way to send your letter: Prospective employers are likely to have their inbox loaded with endless resumes, To ensure you get your foot in the door, rather than send your cover letter as an attachment, paste your cover letter as the body of the mail, so that it is the first thing the recruiter sees when s/he opens it.
- Follow Up: A week following the submission of your application, follow up with another personalized email. This should be a slightly casual and warm mail to check up on the recruitment process, reiterate your value and express your gratitude for the anticipated job. Ensure you attach your resume again, as that gives an opportunity for them to easily revisit it. This effort is effective in making a good impression in the mind of the prospective employer and it will draw them to you.
Errors to Avoid Making when Crafting a Cover Letter
Applicants often believe they don’t have restrictions on their expressions simply because a cover letter is more personalized than a resume; they are wrong. Below are some mistakes worthy of note, to avoid your application being skipped or deleted:
- Avoid highlighting your shortfalls first. Share your skills, experience and knowledge that meet their criteria and then highlight other alternate skills or experience you have that can possibly make up for your shortfalls.
- Prospective employers are firstly interested in how you will add value to their organization. Until, you have been able to convince him/her that you have skills s/he needs, you have no bargaining power or rights. Avoid making demands in your cover letter.
- Read and revise you letter before sending it. Ensure your words are fully spelt and your letter is properly punctuated. Check for grammatical and spelling errors as well. No matter how much you are a perfect fit for the job, if you are unable to craft an error-proof cover letter, you won’t be employed
Avoid highlighting your shortfalls first. Share your skills, experience and knowledge that meet their criteria and then highlight other alternate skills or experience you have that can possibly make up for your shortfalls.
Note: Cover letters provide an opportunity for you to make a first impression on your prospective employer, make it count!