Securing a job is getting harder by the minute, and employers thousands of applications daily. To stand out, it is expedient that one has a good application letter. One of the most important parts of an application is the cover letter.
A cover letter is a one-page document you submit in your job application with a resume or a CV. It contains an overview of your work experience most relevant to the job posting. Its purpose is to introduce yourself in a personal, compelling way so that the hiring manager wants to review your resume or CV.
A great cover letter will impress potential employers, set you apart from other applicants, and get you more interviews. A poorly written cover letter will hurt your chances of landing any work at all. Writing a good cover letter is straightforward; follow these steps.
Begin your introduction by stating what job you are applying for. Explain where you heard about the job, particularly if you heard about it from a contact associated with the company. Briefly mention how your skills and experience match the company and/or position; this will give the employer a preview of the rest of your letter. Your goal in the introduction is to get the reader’s attention.
2. Find out who to address it to
Try not to address your letter ‘To whom it may concern’. Find out the name of the person who will read your application. This might take a little effort, but it’s worth it. If you found the job in an advertisement, it will probably name a person to send the application to.
You can also call the employer or advertiser and ask who to send the application to. Telephone is best, but email them if you can’t find a contact phone number. If you find out the person’s name, don’t use their first name. Use either ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’ and their last name instead.
3. Tell your story
When looking for the right stories to tell, always look to the requirements for the position in the job description. It is also helpful to research the company further online to get a sense for the company’s culture. Before drafting your cover letter, compare your skills with the requirements for the position.
It can be helpful to use Venn diagrams to brainstorm and find what competencies you want to highlight and what specific experiences you want to share. After you create this diagram and identify what falls into both circles, overlapping subjects will direct and inspire the content of your cover letter.
4. A list of your relevant skills
It may also have a list of ‘desirable’ skills and experience. Your cover letter needs to respond to all of the items on the ‘essential’ list. You should also respond to as many items as you can on the ‘desirable’ list.
5. Don’t sound like everyone else
Hiring managers are going to read the same basic cover letter repeatedly, and you don’t want to be the last template email the hiring manager discounts before lunch. Adding a little word variation helps you stand out.
Instead of describing yourself as creative, try imaginative. You’re inventive, not innovative. You’re not determined, you’re tenacious. These word variations at least show that you can think beyond what the average applicant is willing to do.
6. End with a call to action
End your letter with a reason for them to contact you. Instead, let the call to action be polite and open ended, suggesting that you are excited to offer more information and that you’re looking forward to talking with them.