Cover letters have become perhaps the most important way to grab the attention of a potential employer in the midst of several similar candidates with similar CVs. Because they’re so individual, they have become a strategic way to get a feel of the personalities and capabilities of candidates for a job, no matter how similar their credentials are.
Because of the sheer volume of applications potential employers receive, it’s important for your cover letter to give you that extra push, and intrigue the recruiter enough to invite you for an interview. Here are a few tips which make all the difference and set you apart from the rest of the pack.
1. Address the recruiter specifically. This personal touch shows the employer that you’ve done your homework and made the effort to find out information about the company, which in turn shows an impressive level of seriousness.
2. Your introduction should catch the eye of the recruiter. Experts believe that the first two sentences of your cover letter are the most important, and must be catchy enough to hold the interest of the reader.
3. Demonstrate why the company should hire you. You want to link your qualifications and skills with the specific needs of the company and the requirements of the position you want. Meghan Godrov, a career development expert, recommends using a Venn diagram with a “You” circle and a “Job” circle, so that you can elucidate the values which intersect and capitalize on them within the letter. Use statistics and examples to show your previous achievements.
4. Do your research. This cannot be over-emphasized. In a sentence or two, show you have taken the time to understand the needs of the company. This shows initiative on your part. Also, use keywords of the industry to demonstrate your familiarity with the work involved.
5. Be passionate. Find the connection between you and the company and show why they resonate with you. Demonstrating an ability to take ownership of the organization’s goals will greatly appeal to the employer.
6. Formatting and presentation are key. Make sure the information you offer is easy to read and digest. It goes without saying that the grammar must be sound.
7. Be original and creative. It’s important to be honest and authentic- and this will come across in your letter. Write from the heart, instead of regurgitating clichés and buzzwords.
8. Keep it short. A cover letter should scarcely be an epistle enumerating every landmark of the applicant’s life. It is important to keep the content limited to useful and salient information relating to the job you’re applying for. One page is adequate for this, and there is no reason to go over this limit.
9. Do not duplicate your CV. Your cover letter serves to complement it, not replicate it. It is also a good avenue to discuss any gaps within your CV.
Your cover letter is one of the most important steps in your job search. Show how you will be an asset to the organization in a unique and smart manner, and you’re well on your way to the next step- scoring an interview.