We suppose you know what is a cover letter. The question is why would you have a cover letter? To add a flavor and color to your CV.
In most cases, people who send in personalized cover letters always get a response. Actually, it applies to everything that we know outside of the job-hunting world. In a couple of months, it is going to be Christmas time and undoubtedly many of us will be receiving well wishes and season’s greetings from friends around the world. And we are going to feel obliged to respond to those who have taken the time to write a personalized letter to us, the generic mass emails probably not.
When do you need to write a cover letter? Read the application site, does it require a cover letter? Write one. Is it optional? Write one. Doesn’t the company ask for a cover letter? Write one. The only time not to send a cover letter is if they explicitly ask you not to. So, how to write a cover letter? Do not worry, Watson. The Papercheap team has got this covered.
Tips for Writing a Cover Letter
If you think people in HR do not read the cover letters, you are so wrong. When it comes to the sifting process, the employer will definitely look through your cover letter. So, you need to put just as much energy into your cover letter as you do your CV. Here are some tips for you.
Make It Personal
Do your research and make sure you know exactly who you are writing to and do not just put “Head of human resources”. Get that person’s name.
Write about the Company
Write why you choose their company. Do not start talking about how great you are for the position. It is like you meet a mutual friend in a bar. You get introduced to a person and he or she just talk about yourself constantly. How would you feel? You probably would want to get away as quickly as possible. Your cover letter is the same. You are building a relationship with HR manager over a piece of paper.
Make Them Feel Special
Usually, there is too much blah, blah, blah and a lot of brag, brag, brag in the cover letters. This is what turn recruiters off.
Do not write something like “you are a professional company”, it is buzzwords. Find the emotional attachment to them. Go to their website and read the news pages. Did they do “Race for life” every year? Do they get involved in some kind of charity? Did the directors of a company start as graduates and build the business from nothing? Do not just say you have been going since 1967 and you seem like a really secure business.
Once you have flattered the HR manager, now you need to give them the reasons to choose you over hundreds of candidates. Do not tell you will add value to their business, tell them how you are going to do that.
Finish the Cover Letter with Kindness
Show your kindness. You can tell something like “I know recruiting is a stressful time, so I wish you all the best”. That one line told a lot about the person.
The Structure for Writing a Cover Letter
How long does the cover letter need to be? ½ to 2/3 of a page is enough. There is a good chance the hiring manager is only going to read that far anyway.
What to include in a cover letter? Hiring managers are looking for what is not communicated in your resume. Specifically, your story, why you want a job, your reasons, why do you want that job, your examples, what can you bring to the company. Beyond the formal requirements, cover letter format involves four sections.
Your first paragraph should be short, sweet and made of these three things – why you are writing a cover letter, the position you are applying for and how you heard about the job. you have got to be sure that the first sentence hits them straight between the eyes.
It is an opportunity to grab the attention of a hiring manager straight away by starting off a short anecdote or personal experience. “During my internship managing customer relations at XXX, I realized that carefully planned policies often fail to live to their promise due to poor execution. This is why I would like to help make policy and regulations in the US more effective as a consultant at XXX”.
How to stand out? Include a good opener “after recently speaking with your head of regional sales, John Smith, I am excited about some of the things I could bring to the team at XXX Inc.”
Next, it is your chance to show knowledge of the industry and detail why you want to work for this company specifically. You should also state how your skill set will add to the company’s success. Do not write about yourself, write about the company. You need to show a personal connection with the employer that evokes an emotion.
A cover letter is not only about you. It is about the match between you, the organization and the position. You should constantly be emphasizing facts to support that match. Most job sites and HR Software work via primitive keyword matching algorithms. They are going to scan your CV, scan the job description and then tally up how many words there are. Based on how many words are matching, the system is going to give you a relevant score for that position.
So, the cover letter is about connecting the dots between the company culture, what they are known for, this specific job role and what you are able to do either through practical experience, theoretical knowledge or your passion interests.
The third paragraph is all about showing the employer why you are the right person for the role. Expand on relevant skills and experiences in your CV and provide examples to highlight why you will make a valuable addition to the team. Try copying the phrasing of the skills mentioned in the job description to really show you are a perfect fit (you remember about the algorithms, don’t you?).
How to end a cover letter? Thank the recruiter for taking the time to read your letter. Instead of writing “I look forward to hearing from you”, let them know your availability for a callback and do not forget about the gesture of kindness.
Our cover letter is an accurate representation of who we really are, what we are capable of. It conveys our passion and interests. So, make sure your cover letter is stapled to the CV, not repeat it and get ready for the interview!