Before we dive into the tips for writing a cover letter, you will recall that in the olden days, all that was required of you to get a job was your CV. I mean it was sufficient to convincing your employers of your capacities as a candidate.
And thanks to our textbooks in High Schools, they gave many people formats of Resumes, and they could find jobs with little struggle. Many only copied and pasted what was at their disposal editing a few things and that was it.
But today resumes are no longer sufficient by themselves. In today’s job market, a resume doubles as a stop sign that signifies, “I need a job…like so many others…thousands of others.” It has been found that although you resume gives statistics about you, it only reveals 20% of the information on which hiring decisions are made.
For instance, it says nothing about your personality, creativity or work style. It definitely has nothing on your emotional intelligence, which of course, has become vital in hiring decisions. It rarely describes any unusual traits you possess that might make you a sterling candidate or interesting interview material. A letter, on the other hand, can reveal all of this—and more.
Based on the above facts, let’s look into some fundamentals in coming up with a cover letter that’ll get you that job. Sandra Podesta and Andrea Paxton in their book, 201 Cover Letters outline the following tips for writing a cover letter:
Dress (you letters) for success: do sent professional letters vs form letters
Do make your letters clean and professional looking. Even so much as an ink blot is clearly an insult to the reader. It implies that the reader is not worth the time it would take to retype the letter.
Worse, it suggests that you are a sloppy person who doesn’t value order, personally or in the workplace. Recruiters spend a good deal of time advising job hunters how to dress for an interview because employers demand clean, orderly staff members with professional demeanors. Your letter should reflect these characteristics.
Do not allow any letter to appear as if it were a form letter. The handwritten salutation at the start of letter suggests that the writer prints many copies of this letter and simply adds the recipient’s name before mailing it. Your reader should not feel as though you are sending the same letter to hundreds of employers— even if you are!
Instead, create the impression that you are sending a letter to a specific person for a specific reason: because you believe that there is an ideal match between you and your prospective employer.
Standard lines such as “I want to work for your company” are meaningless to an employer, particularly if you haven’t mentioned the name of the company. If you really want to work for a specific firm, you must have a reason. State it.
Zoom, don’t resume: Don’t make your letter different from your resume
If your resume is strong, it will provide all the information your interviewer will need. So don’t just regurgitate your resume in letter form. “Zoom in” on the most salient points of your resume.
Even better, consolidate facts in your resume into an overview statement. Summarize a benefit— such as “solid employment record,” “extensive industry experience,” or “proven track record.”
Guide your reader in forming an appropriate impression of you even before you meet. Best of all, turn this summary statement into one that suggests an advantage your next employer may gain by hiring you instead of someone else.
Describe any special qualities that may set you apart from other candidates. Use language that creates a feeling of what kind of person you are. If you have a sense of humor, don’t be afraid to show it in a professional way.