Most job seekers seem to take for granted the impact of a well-written cover letter, thinking they are better off copying templates from websites. But the fact of the matter remains that a cover letter is not a mere “blanket” document, and a well-crafted one makes a great deal of difference to the outcome of your job search.
The cover letter’s main purpose is to catch an employer’s interest and entice him to read through your resume and call you for an interview. In fact, some employers even decide to hire a person only because they liked the cover letter. Here are tried and tested tips on how you could write the perfect cover letter for any job:
1) Make the opening line memorable
The problem with most job seekers is that their opening sentences are cliché. Statements like– “Please accept my application to the job you posted” or “This is a reply to the position you advertised” are just common. They won’t catch the employer’s attention. The point is, your cover letter must stand out. It is your sales pitch sans the pushy or needy tone.
Take this for example: “With 6 years of goal-oriented experience in providing quality nursing care in a medical-surgical ward setting, I am offering…” The thing about this opening line is that it already addresses the need of the employer. It goes straight to the point and goes clear with its purpose: you are applying for the position.
2) Don’t make the letter a narrative of your resume
If you do, it would just become your resume in the form of prose. Since the information is already redundant, the employer would skip reading your letter and proceed with the resume, since it presents your credentials more clearly. A very long cover letter would be harder to read and time-wasting. What you should include in the letter is information that could provide additional insight on your application.
3) Express genuine interest
Aside from giving the employer an idea of who you are and the skills that you possess, the cover letter must also express your genuine interest in their business and the particular role you’re trying to take. Expressing your interest also helps in making you stand out among other candidates, thus you must have a clear understanding of the operations of the business of your employer, and how you could contribute to it. However, you should also not overdo how you express your interest. Avoid flowery phrases and too much superlatives; some employers get turned off by them.
4) State the skills that you have for the position
Although it’s not necessary to mention all of your credentials, you have to put forward the skills that make you the perfect fit for the job. State how your capabilities could meet the company’s needs and expectations. It would also help if you could describe how the skills made a difference to the previous companies you have worked with.
Here’s an example: “As current media buyer in this advertising agency, I was responsible for communicating with TV and radio networks in all 31 designated market areas and purchasing primetime TV and radio advertising inventory for our clients. Due to my expert handling of media buys, I was able to…” This example not only provides detail on how the applicant utilizes specific skills for the job, but it also shows the result of her tasks. Letting the employer know about some details of your previous job will give him enough insight and will interest him to look at your application more thoroughly.
5) Don’t use bullet points when you state your credentials
Bullets can shorten your resume, but a paragraph can help your employer gain insight on how you understand the job. Take a look at this nursing job application:
“Here are the skills that make me a perfect match to your job:
- Excellent and comprehensive assessment of client needs
- Setting SMART goals and objectives
- Evidence-based implementation of nursing care
- Evaluation of goal-based outcomes”
Instead of bulleting them, it could be expressed in a way that the skills are interconnected to a process:
“My key strength for the job is my expert application of the nursing process through excellent and comprehensive assessment of various needs of my clients. The data gathered allows me to formulate specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound goal outcomes and implement the nursing care plan through evidence-based practice. The set goal outcomes also serve as a basis for me to evaluate the care I rendered.”
6) State something positive about the company you’re applying to
You can express why you want to be part of their prestigious organization. You can state the company’s management philosophy, reputation, sales record, size, product, or any other factors that make the company impressive. This will let them know that you have high regard for them. A little flattery can work for you.
7) Keep it short and concise
A short cover letter works beautifully as long as the necessary elements are there. As previously mentioned, don’t make your letter a narrative of your resume. Keep in mind that the cover letter is not intended to explain everything about you; it just needs to attract the employer and let him take a close look at your application.
8) Close your letter in a professional manner
Although you express your interest in applying for the job, you don’t want the employer to get the impression that you’re desperate for the job. A great opening is required, but the right closing is equally important. In some cases, it’s the bad closing that defeats the applicant:
“Thank you very much for considering my application. I promise that you will only have the best from me once I get accepted for the job.”
“Thank you very much for considering me for the job. This application is very important to me, and it will definitely contribute to my personal development.”
Here’s an example of a good closing:
“I have attached my resume for your review. Thank you very much and I hope this merits your favorable response.”
9) Make your letter readable
Make sure you use readable fonts (fancy fonts such as freestyle won’t do you any good). Use clean, white, A4 sized paper. Leave adequate space around the edges of the page and between each section and paragraph. Don’t submit photocopied or marked letters– always keep it neat. Remember– even the physical appearance of the letter speaks for you.
While there’s no single template that can give a perfect cover letter, practicing would definitely help you in creating a cover letter that works perfectly for you. Make rough drafts first, so that you can have your thoughts organized. Have another person read your letter, and take note of comments. Finally, keep copies of all the cover letters you sent; they can be used as basis for improving your next cover letter.
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About the Author
Felix Tarcomnicu is a regular contributor on ResumeOK.com. He has recently published the popular article: 49 Job interview questions with answers. You can follow more of his writing on Twitter @resumeOK