You think writing a resume is difficult? Try stringing together a cover letter, where in the space of a 150 odd words, you need to convince your potential employer why you are the right person for the job.
Those embroiled in the tedious job hunt often fall prey to the misconception that the CV requires more attention than the cover letter. In fact, according to some professionals it is the cover letter which holds more value than the former, considering it is like a short demo to the same.
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A report by the Financial Times stated, “Even more than CVs, covering letters are crucial to get right. You have to show the correct amount of enthusiasm (nothing impresses like enthusiasm), the right amount of bespoke preparation (a generic version will go faster to the delete folder than anything else I know) and yet make it quick and easy to read, because in this world of email people are more time-poor than ever.” A cover letter is, thus, your gateway to an interview.
On that note, here are a few tips to writing the perfect cover letter:
Make it a 10-second read
According to Vicki Salemi, a career expert and author of Big Career in the Big City, a three-paragraph cover-letter is ideal. Through this, you need to segment the three into an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Recruiters go through hundreds of applications on a daily basis, and in most cases, they only move on to the resume if the cover letter catches their attention. So you need to convey the most relevant and important information about yourself within a paragraph that can be read within 10 seconds.
Highlight your relevant skills (depending on the job description)
You may have worked in a series of projects or companies before applying to this particular job and so boast of a world of experience and skills that could help you with the same. But keeping in tune with the point above, you need to ensure that you don’t go off on a ramble. In a short-structured manner, list out only the relevant skills that you cultivated from the most relevant work experience you have that you believe will make you an asset for the position being applied to.
Back up your claim with numbers
It’s always an added value to back up your claim with numbers. For instance, you could say that you managed to increase the sales of your last company by X percent within one year. If you are applying for a post in, say, a digital media company, you could put down the social media following you managed to procure for the organisation you were working for before this. According to Dan Schawbel, author of bestselling book Promote Yourself, “The goal is to present yourself as a proven results-getter and show that you can replicate your past successes at a new company.” (As stated by Business Insider)
Tweak the tone as per company
It is fairly obvious that the cover letter you frame for a position at, say, The Financial Times, will not be worded in the same way in which you would apply to BuzzFeed India. You need to check the tone of your cover letter and tweak it as per the reputation and known work culture that the company in question exhibits. In this particular example, a BuzzFeed cover letter would require a more humorous and casual tone of writing, while The Financial Times would prefer a more formal letter.
Proofread and then proofread some more
There are few things that look as bad as a mistake on your cover letter. It could be a misspelled word, an incorrect fact, or the wrong name of the company you are applying to in cases where you have copy-pasted from your other applications. Since the person viewing your application does not know you personally and does not owe you any favours, there isn’t any reason for which he or she would be willing to give you a second chance. To this end, make sure you proofread your cover letter a dozen good times before you send it across for review. Better to be persistently safe than sorry.
While it is your resume which finally acts as the deciding factor to your application, it takes a good cover letter for the former to even be reviewed. So make sure you give it your best shot!