If one look is worth a thousand words, then one…
In the job search process, your cover letter is as important as your resume as it tells the recruiter a lot about your personality and professional qualities. Given a standard cover letter should be no more than a page long, you’ve got a relatively limited space to convince the hiring person to call you up for an interview. That’s why you must do it effectively.
In about 500 words, you must grab the recruiter’s attention, tell them why you want the job and convince them you’re the best candidate out of all the others. Seems like a fairly tough task! But, when written good, your cover letter can become your instant ticket to your dream job. Here’s some useful advice that will get you a perfectly written cover letter.
How to write a perfect cover letter?
First things first
Start with identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Do something like the SWOT analysis of yourself, only for the purpose of your cover letter you won’t need the ‘opportunities’ and ‘threats’ part. In your cover letter, you should highlight your strengths and carefully work with your weaknesses. Of course, you might not possess all the skills your dream position requires but don’t worry. You can always express your eagerness to learn this or that skill. You can emphasize how quick a learner you are or try and offer an alternative skill you have that the company might benefit from.
When it comes to your strengths, the general rule is: Don’t boast but never underestimate yourself.
Also, it goes without saying that you should always make a thorough research about the position and the company. In a nutshell, your cover letter should sound like this particular job is the only job you want. Nothing makes a worse impression than a cover letter screaming out indifference.
You’ll need to start with an obligatory salutation. “Dear sir or madam” if you don’t know their names, “Dear Mr. Woods / Dear Ms. Woods” if you do but you’re applying for a job that requires a traditional way of addressing the reader, or “Hi Peter / Hi Molly”, if you feel like it’s appropriate to get more casual.
The introduction is your chance to grab the reader’s attention and make them read on. Only really catchy and creative first two or three sentences will make the recruiter think: “I want to know more about this person!”, or “I want this guy on my team!”
You wonder how to do that? Show love and passion. Love for the brand/company and passion for the job position. A little flattery won’t do any harm, either. If it’s a large, famous company, tell them you’ve always wanted to work for them. If it’s a smaller, less known one, let them know you want the job because they’re awesome at what they’re doing and you want to contribute to their future success.
Each introduction needs a little story as a kickoff but our advice for the main body of text is: Get straight to the point. Don’t bore the reader to death by descriptions of your personality. Don’t get too lyrical, either. You’re not writing a novel.
Surely you’ve already figured out what knowledge and skills make you special. Now’s the time to bring them out! Once again, you should carefully review the job description and decide on which of the skills they require you’re excellent at. These should come first. However, you might find out you lack a certain skill or experience crucial for the position. Don’t panic! The key is to highlight your transferable skills. These are the skills that you didn’t obtain via previous work experience, but having them makes you competent for the job, like organizational, analytical or communication skills. Remember that sometimes experience is not everything. If you believe you can do it, you can surely convince the recruiter as well!
Regarding your writing style, keep in mind the three letters: SEO. No, we don’t mean the search engine optimization. The cover letter SEO stands for Statement, Evidence, Outcome. In short, each of your statements about your skills should be followed by a piece of evidence, together with an outcome for the company you’re addressing.
It simply won’t do if you say “My rhetorical skills are great.” Can you prove it? You should rather say something like: “I am a fairly good public speaker. I expanded my rhetorical skills during my internship at XYZ, where I pitched my ideas in front of my colleagues on a regular basis.” And, even if your rhetorical skills truly are great and you gave evidence to prove it, you should always add what sort of benefit it brings the company in question. So, you can round the original statement off by something like: “I believe my confidence in speaking and presenting ideas would make me a perfect sales representative in your company.”
By the end of your cover letter, you should give off the impression of a naturally self-confident and a good-to-go type of person. You don’t have to be perfect. Emphasize that you’re eager to learn new things and that you think you’ll be a great contribution to the team.
It’s good to finish your cover letter off with statements indicating hope for your future cooperation. For instance: “I’m looking forward to meeting you in person”, or “I hope I’ll get the chance to show you more of my abilities once I join your team.” Or you can even be bolder (if you see fit) and say something like: “I believe I’m the missing link of your team.”
Of course, these are just general guidelines. You should try and go for something more off-the-wall. After all, you want to stand out from all the other candidates!
Finally, always keep in mind these two golden rules of writing a cover letter: Be honest (don’t lie) and proofread your cover letter several times before sending it!