Tips for a cover letter that gets you the job

Are you confused on how to write a cover letter that is sure to grab the hiring manager's attention? Make your cover letter stand out using these valuable tips. Use this guide to know what to include and what to exclude from your cover letter.

First-time job-seekers find themselves under tremendous pressure, to find employment. There can be nothing more frustrating than not being able to find work, even when you are a candidate with the right qualification. You send out your application, along with a resume that highlights your incredible credentials and yet you receive not a single positive response. Have you considered reviewing what you might be doing wrong?

Most entry-level job-seekers make the erroneous blunder of ignoring the cover letter. They bank solely on the content of their resume. A good resume is no doubt appealing, but, here is the thing – employers probably receive a large number of applications from potential employees belonging to your age group - with educational backgrounds similar to yours. That means that all resumes are generally alike. Your application needs to stand out, and you can do that by enclosing a 'killer' cover letter.

Companies on their part have an almost Herculean job of sifting through resumes that practically look identical. There is a good chance that your resume might not come up for consideration since the whole process of scrutinising the data can be burdensome. So, naturally most companies rely on cover-letters to assess the potential of prospective candidates.

You can grab the attention of hiring managers, through your cover letter. Ensure that your cover letter has all the components that a company wishes in a candidate. Make your cover letter appealing – it should be drafted such that whoever reads it ends up showing an interest in you. Get your cover letter right, by avoiding slip-ups that can be fatal. Recognize the errors that you have been making in your cover letter and set them right.

Here are some errors that entry-level candidates must avoid:

Tip 1- Keep it short and direct

Your cover letter should appeal to the hiring manager with its brevity and personality. Give yourself a target of 250 words. Then try to talk only about the job in question, why you think you are suitable for the job and how you are going to do the job. Include a little of your personality into it.

The cover letter is not the place to describe your entire personal history and resume. Doing so will only serve to annoy the hiring manager and send your application into the rejection list.

Tip 2 -Write like you speak

One of the biggest mistakes that fresh graduates make when they are writing a cover letter for a new job is that they use wooden, formal sentences that are not enjoyable to read and even come across as insincere. A hiring manager will be looking for a person who is easy to work with and approachable, not a robot.

Use natural language. If you have a tendency to use words like "advantageous" and "subsequently" in your letters, learn to replace them with words like "helpful" and "after". Writing informally does not mean using slang. But use clear language and it will make your letter appear more genuine.

Tip -3 Personalize the Cover Letter

This means, making the hiring manager feel that you have genuinely done your research on the company and the job, and have specific ideas on how you can contribute if you are hired. Do not let you cover letter be a generic one that can be sent along with a number of applications.

If you do not know where to start, take a look at the department that you are applying for. Look for elements of the job that appeal to you. Then talk about those particular points in your letter to show that you are honestly interested.

Tip - 4 Do not disparage yourself

Humility has its place, but not in the cover letter. Do not say things like, I may not be the best candidate for the job…Instead talk about your strengths, even if you think you are not qualified for the job.

On the flip side, do not oversell and brag with superlative words and phrases like I am the best for the job. Be balanced in your approach and you will convince the hiring manager you are suitable a lot more easily.

Tip - 5 Keep your letter to-the-point

In other words, do not add sentences that work as mere fillers. When applying for a position in an NGO for instance, I take initiative and get things done does not sound too convincing. Instead say something like this:

"During my three years in college I was a member of the volunteer club where we worked in the areas of health, education and income. In my second year, I spoke to club leaders and proposed new locations where we could volunteer. Five new locations were chosen and soon the number of members doubled from 30 to 60 as more people became interested in creating a bigger impact."

In other words, only bring in information that is relevant to the job. Also, be as specific about claims and statements as possible.

Tip – 6 It is not about you

You do not need to stress how you stand to gain from the company, if you land the job. Do not lay it down, because it is not about you.

What this means is that your cover letter should have no mention of how working for the company will hold you in good stead. The recruiting team would be aware of that. What you need to tell them is how they are going to benefit with their association with you. Let them know what you would bring to the table.

Basic features of a good cover letter in a nutshell

Your cover letter must be short and to-the-point. Bear in mind that you present yourself through that A4 sheet of paper, so it is imperative that you deliver the right message through what you put down on that piece of paper. Remember, the cover letter is your selling pitch. Whoever reads it must get convinced that you would prove to be an asset to the company.
  • Salutation - The cover letter must be addressed to the right person – ensure that the name, gender and designation are correct
  • Opening – Start with an amiable, opening passage that accentuates how your skills and knowledge that will complement the position you are applying for
  • Grab attention – Emphasise your accomplishments thus far, especially the ones that are ideal for the job – reference a relevant internship or summer job, for instance
  • Skills – Mention applicable skills that can be useful for the position, such as knowledge of a foreign language or advanced computer skills
  • Summarize – Make a short summary of your assets and fortes
  • Conclude – End the letter by stating that you are excited about applying for the vacancy and are hopeful that you will be considered for an interview
  • Contact details – Include your contact details – home address, mobile phone, landline and email address

You might also want to go through tips on how to get a job as a fresher.

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Guest Author: Vandana17 Feb 2017

I have a query with reference to cover letters when applying for a job. Would the format of a cover letter which is being sent by email be in any way different than one which is attached to a resume directly when handing it over during an interview or being despatched by postal mail? Specifically, if sending via email is it advisable to send a shorter cover letter than is the norm? I have read about how HR personnel may just skim through an email and not really be interested in reading lengthy text.

Author: Anauj17 Jun 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 6

A cover letter, irrespective of how it is delivered, must be short and to-the-point. It is imperative that a cover letter is concise and so drafted that it captures the interest of the reader.

However, submitting an application through email is not recommended, unless you have had a conversation with the concerned individual/office and are mailing your application based on the discussion. Many a time the applications reach the SPAM box. Not all executives read all the emails they receive.

Coming to the length and format of the application, as mentioned the application must be able to grab attention. The documents that you attach to the email will only be opened if the letter is meaty. So, it is important to mention key points, as you would in other forms of application. Some companies support only online applications, but they have a format. They specify the length of the covering letter. In any case, a covering letter must be contained in an A4 sheet. However, technically, you don't use the complete page, because a lot of the space is taken away by proper spacing and the ‘to' and ‘from' and ‘salutation' etc.

Make your covering letter crisp, to the point, while highlighting your abilities.

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