5 vital tips for writing a great cover letter

6th Dec 2016
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While resumes communicate your qualification and experience, cover letters give you a chance to stand out from the crowd. You may have an impressive resume and good recommendations even, but it’s only a good cover letter that grabs an employer’s attention, without which your chances of consideration can be very slim. The process of applying for a job can be exhausting and disappointing as getting a response can sometimes be rarer than a miracle. The reason for silence from the employer’s end is most often an unimpressive cover letter. This is why it’s important to start paying attention to it right now. Here are a few tips to help you with that.

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Don’t make it a repeat of your resume

Employers use cover letters to complement the information provided in the resume to get a complete picture of your competency. This is why your cover letter must have elements that are different from the resume. Don’t repeat information like qualifications, companies you’ve worked for, and such. Because employers go over dozens of cover letters a day, their minds are programmed to simply glance through them. It is only when they find something interesting that they pause.

Utilise the space that a cover letter provides to unleash some creativity as there is no room for that in your resume. Since your resume is formal, keep your cover letter light. Use it to show your personality through your interests and what you can offer to the company. Both the resume and the cover letter are different platforms to impress, and it plays to your advantage to treat them as such.

Use details from the company’s work history

Confused? Let’s jump straight to an example. If you’re applying for a job at a travel company that’s recently launched in various cities, you could tell them how you found their marketing strategies interesting and how you would like to contribute to the launch in your own city. You could either lead with information such as this or include it somewhere in the body of the letter. By doing this, you show them that you understand the field you’re entering, are keenly following it, and are capable of contributing. This is only a way of saying – and a much better one at that – how perfect you are for the job. Consider it classy advertising of your skills.

Keep it short, please

Don’t ruin a good cover letter by rambling on – that would simply be unfortunate. Your cover letter is important and (hopefully) splendid too, but you are still one among the many who are applying for the same position. It’s easy to forget this and get caught up in a surge of ego and pride. While it’s important to say things in your cover letter that you can’t in your resume, it is more important to choose what to include and when to stop. Anything you say should be relevant and to the point. The former draws their interest and the latter holds it. A short intro about who you are, why you want to work with them, and why you would be a good choice – all this while keeping it light, interesting, and different – should form the content of your letter.

Eliminate the unnecessary

It is necessary to prune your cover letter as you would an overgrown plant. Avoid unnecessary details such as the post you’re applying for, the years of experience you have, the names of the previous companies you’ve worked at, and the reason for leaving them. Most of these will come up during the interview, so you’ll simply be wasting your precious word count. Avoid cliché adjectives such as ‘team player’, ‘hard-working’, ‘proactive’, ‘confident’, etc. These, firstly, don’t help you stand out. Secondly, they are empty descriptions with no valid information backing them up. Obsessively proofreading you cover letter a multiple times is also a good, and probably the best, way of pruning your cover letter. If you make the effort to keep these details from blemishing your letter, you’ll be giving the employer reasons to make the effort to consider you.

Don’t write with the intention of sending it in bulk

This is a big no no. Writing one letter for multiple companies only goes to show how unimaginative it is. A cover letter such as this will read mechanically like an automatically generated email. Because employers see many different kinds of letters, laziness in crafting one can be quite obvious to them. Moreover, you could make the mistake of writing the name of the wrong company. If you make the effort to customise your cover letter for each application, you can easily avoid blunders such as this that kill your chances of getting selected.

A good cover letter is one that has reached the middle-ground between showcasing your abilities and sugar-coating them. If your cover letter is short, casual yet professional, and creative, you will have ensured your way into the first round of selection. Preparing for an interview is the next step, and here’s how you can do that.

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