Way before the job interviews and phone calls, even before your resume reaches your dream company, it is time to write the dreaded cover letter. Every time you sit down to right one, you wonder what is it's purpose, after all? Isn’t it the same as your resume? How can I write a letter in an e-mail? Why isn’t it called cover e-mail? Who is going to even read it?
Yes, yes, we’ve had the same thoughts and we can now, honestly, tell you that cover letters DO matter. Don’t worry, though, that’s not the only piece of important information we are imparting today. Here are 13 tips for writing that perfect cover letter to your dream company!
1. Don’t repeat your resume.
First things first, your resume and cover letter are two different things. Also, chances are that once the company has read your cover letter they will move on to your resume and if they are carbon copies then...well. Utilize the extra space you get through your cover letter to talk about your personality, curiosity about the field and job opening and why you are interested in it.
2. Address it to the right person.
Do your research and find out who will be reading your cover letter. The HR manager? The team lead? Try to figure out what their names are and address your cover letter directly to them. However, there might be many occasions when even after a long research you are unable to figure out whom to address it to. In that case, write their designation instead of the name so that you make it clear that your letter is meant for a certain audience. Do not use “To Whomsoever It May Concern” or something similarly impersonal, as it tends to almost never leave an impact.
3. Be prim and proper.
While you may be inspired to write long paragraphs about your passion and need for the job, you probably shouldn’t. Remember that whoever will read it will do it during office hours and no one has the time to read a long email, in fact, there are chances they might just skip it altogether! So keep it short, precise and direct. Try to not repeat the same thing twice.
4. Skip the cliches.
Instead of simply describing yourself as a “team player” or “people person” show them how you are a team player. Provide examples of previous experiences. Don’t tell them you “think outside the box”, give them an example of what you thought that was outside the box.
5. Don’t use big words when you can use smaller ones.
Really, don’t try to show off using big fancy words. They can often be seen as pretentious and vague. Use short and simple words instead which are easy to go through quickly on a busy work day and get your point across.
In our daily vocabulary, we end up using the words ‘so’ and ‘such’ in almost every sentence without even realising it but don’t do it while writing a cover letter. Don’t say “The meeting was so interesting” or “It was such a nice show” instead say “It was an extremely interesting meeting” and “The show was brilliant!”
7. Use active voice.
We often forget when to use active and passive voice correctly. The active form of the verb is direct and clear. Turning it into passive will only lead to confusion and an increase in the number of words.
8. Keep a positive tone.
Even if there is a small part of you that doubts you will get the job or not, don’t let it show. Let positivity shine through your cover letter from the beginning to the end. Introduce yourself, tell why you are interested in the job, why you will be great at it and give it a positive end with a simple statement like “Hoping for a positive response. Sincerely, XYZ”.
9. Don’t apologize for the skills you don’t have.
You don’t need to know everything about the field you are applying in. Especially if you are a fresher. Many times we end up writing “Though I have little experience in…” “Despite the fact that I haven’t worked…” Don’t. Why point out your flaws? Instead talk about all the things you have done and would like to do. Like we said, keep it positive.
10. Tell a story.
It’s important to get the reader involved. Don’t keep the tone of the letter impersonal. And one way to not do that and make it interesting is to tell them a story. About how you heard about the job? You’ve seen the ad as a child? How you got interested in this field in the first place? Give them something heartfelt and engaging in a precise and to-the-point manner!
11. Use a cover letter template.
The internet has loads of them. Take your pick from the several templates and follow one. It will make it easier for you as you will have a certain format to follow and your writing won’t go haywire.
Send it to a friend before you send it to the company. It always helps when someone other than you reads it. They see it from a different perspective and can tell you where you might need improvement.
13. Pay attention to skills more than education.
You’ve already mentioned your education qualifications in the resume. Now you don’t need to do that. Focus more on talking about your skills pertaining to that particular field. Your employer wants to know about your experience and work in that field more than how well you scored in your class 12th boards.
Go ahead, you're all set to write that awesome cover letter now!