Time has changed and previously what used to be the norms are no more applicable to the job fields. As a professional, we need to adapt to the changes in trend and be as smart as we can be in our pursuance of a job search.
There are thousands of articles which talk about what you should do and what shouldn’t. But very few actually mention what fundamentals you can follow to make your job searcher smarter than the crowd.
In this article, we will talk about cover letters and how you should write one to enchant the recruiter. Cover letters are very important part of even today’s Cover letters professional world. And who don’t love thank you notes? All recruiters love getting cover letters if the cover letters are properly written.
Now you may not get convinced about the significance of the cover letters. But let’s take an example and see how it comes by. Imagine along with you there’s another candidate who is being shortlisted for the face to face interview. Both are brilliant, smart, up-to-date and top performer of the previous company. Now, you have a cover letter sharply written and the other candidate who is equally competent has none. Guess what, who would get selected? You’re right! You will be the stand alone winner.
Simply because you’ve a cover letter which speaks volumes about you!
If you’re eager or little bit curious about cover letters now, let’s dive in and see what cover letters can do for you in your endeavor of cover letters job search.
Advantages of enclosing cover letters with your resumes
There are many advantages of enclosing cover letters along with your resumes. But thing is you need to know how to write a cover letter. We will come to that section letter. In this section, we will talk about few under-estimated advantages of cover letters.
A cover letter is a brief summary of your skills and expertise. Your resume speaks a lot about you. But that’s not enough. Because in your resume you couldn’t possibly mention why one recruiter should hire you. Answer that question in your cover letters. But make sure it’s brief and doesn’t blabber about everything that you do or wish to.
A sales pitch
Cover letters are a form of sales pitch. While you’re being interviewed, you need to sell yourself with your appearance, communication and expertise, but that’s not all. You need to highlight few areas which you may miss or want to emphasize again. Writing cover letters will allow you to create an excellent sales pitch for you and also helps you stand out in the crowd.
Cover letter marketing guru Seth Godin talks about this. If you go to a field and see so many cows of white and black, which cow will attract you most? You’re right! The purple cow! Yes, it’s fiction but it conveys a great message. The crowd won’t understand the value of a cover letter. While if you write a suitable cover letter covering your experience, skills and why the company should hire you, they will instantly know you that you’re the purple one among many and it would be easier for them to select you.
Every company always doesn’t have time to check your written communication. There are candidates who’re excellent in spoken communication, but you can add value to yourself and increase the weight age of your candidature by writing cover letters. A properly written cover letter will allow the recruiters to see your expertise in written communication and you also would be able to showcase your business writing skill.
Thank you note
Can you find anyone in your workplace who doesn’t like to be thanked? You will find none. Then why don’t take this opportunity to thank your potential employer in advance? Take the time to write a cover letter and along with showcasing your skills and experience, write a thank you for giving you the opportunity to be a potential candidate. Writing a cover letter like that will help you add value even before the interview begins.
A glimpse of what’s coming
How do you feel when you watch the trailer of the latest blockbuster? You feel excited and get ready to watch the film immediately after it hits the theatres. Your cover letters do the same thing. Along with your resume, your cover letters are trailers of what the recruiters can expect from you during the interview session. And it can also create a positive impact before the interview.
Showcasing your skills and expertise with facts
It’s quite obvious but not as much as you think. There are a load of poorly written cover letters which the recruiters hate to browse. So, you need to showcase your skills and expertise in such a way that attracts the interest of the recruiters. And add factual details along with your experience. This will help you stand out among the crowd.
Now after reading so many merits of enclosing properly written cover letters along with your resumes, you may have got convinced that you must write cover letters while sending the application to the company.
Yes, you must, but there’re exceptions. Many companies and recruiters don’t accept cover letters; but the numbers are very less. While talking about that let’s look at some of the disadvantages of writing cover letters.
Demerits of enclosing cover letters
Limited attention span
We all are humans and for a whole cover letters business day we process through multiple papers, blogs, articles, resumes, information, pieces, letters and emails. So, it’s impossible to read even a letter always while processing your candidature. It’s also being seen in recent studies that the average attention span of a human has reduced from 12 seconds to 8 seconds at a stretch. This is not good news. But you can still write cover letters (which we will discuss how in a minute) in a proper way, even 8 seconds are enough.
Limitations of recruiters
In this age of technology, recruiters have very limited time and they need to do so many things. They need to set aside the budget for the recruitment drive, screen the applications, process them, arrange the face to face interviews for shortlisted ones and then take the interviews and finally, take care of the post interview protocols. Doing so many things in so little time is not an easy task. Thus, finding time to read all cover letters and then selecting the ones with greatest care is difficult. But you can always do use some tactic like putting the cover letter first and then resume; or else if you send attachments, write the cover letter first and then attach the resume in the same document. It will increase the visibility of your cover letter and you may create an impression in the mind of recruiters.
But even after all these, you should always write a cover letter and enclose it. In the following section, we will show you how you can do the same. Use this how to guide and write a smart, professional cover letter and get chosen as shortlisted candidates from the crowd.
A how to guide to write a brilliant cover letter
If you browse through the internet, there are thousand advices about how to write a cover letter that sells. But our advice is difference as we understand each of you is different and has varied needs. Let’s look at the pre-requisites of a cover letter that makes it easy for you to get a shortlisting.
Anything that’s worth doing takes time. If you want to write a brilliant cover letter, you need to take time. But how much time you should set aside? You need at least 10-15 hours of time. You would say that’s too much time. If you pay heed why do you write a cover letter you would understand why so much time! While writing the cover letter, you need to do your research, write out 2-3 drafts to make it perfect, edit and proofread for any typos and you also need to align your cover letter to the goals, objectives, mission and vision of the company. You can take out that time as per your convenience. You can finish it within a week or take a whole month to articulate the same. Do whatever suits your need. But make sure that you take time to write the cover letter.
You need to do your research. Finding a company’s details has become significantly easier now-a-days. Simply go to Google and find out about the company – its challenges, its goals and mission, mistakes it has made and read all about it. Set aside 3-4 hours for doing your research. This research will help you find out the alignment point you’re searching for in the job. And also do your own research about what skill sets and experience may be suitable to serve the company. You need to briefly mention about the company and how you could help in the beginning of the letter.
Once you know that what skills and experience might be suitable for the company’s current position or future ambition, select the top 3-4 experiences you’ve and write an event for each depicting the skill. If you’re a fresher, never mind. Pull out some personal or professional (internships) projects you may have done and write about it. Thing is while reading your cover letter, the reader should get convinced about your expertise and ability to solve that particular problem.
No clichés/ errors
Do you know what greatest turn-off is for a recruiter when s/he reads a cover letter of any sort? When s/he reads something like – “to whomever it may concern” or “to hiring manager”. Before being a professional everyone is a human being. Thus, if you’re treating an individual in a less than perfect tone or phrase, it hurts. Even if the recruiter is not sensitive enough, s/he is a human first. So, delete all the clichés from your letter. Rather to add a personal tough, do your research and find out who’s going to take the interview and address him/her directly. Yes it may take some time to do your own research, but at the end you would understand that it’s totally worth it.
You also need to take care that the cover letters you write should not include any typos or grammatical mistakes. If you want to write a great cover letter, you need to write error-free English. Recruiters don’t have time for reading English that’s full of errors and that also creates negative impression about you as well. So, if you’re not good enough in written communication, learn and if needed take help from people who’re good in written skill.
Think about WIIFT
Now the title may seem gibberish but it’s not. While writing the cover letter you always need to ensure that it’s not about you, rather it’s about them (the company). So, while writing keep this question in mind – “What’s in it for them (WIIFT)?” You need to write the cover letters in such a way that it talks about how your skills and expertise can help the company grow their business, not about what you can do for them. If you can take this approach, your cover letter will become a great sales-pitch letter.
Who want proof? Everybody! Seldom anyone believes in intangibles like “self-starter”, “self-motivated”. You can write as many intangibles as you want but who will believe you without proof. So make sure that whatever you write, you have something factual to add to it. If you say that you’re a self-starter, give a one line example for the same. Without proof your cover letters will not carry any value.
Be precise and brief
Remember, cover letters are not essay writing competition. You need to say everything in only one page. The best approach is to write everything that you want to write in your cover letter. In the first draft it may be 2-3 pages long. But take time and edit, edit and edit and then you can curtail it back to only one page of brilliance. And also be precise. Don’t write anything that’s not related to the job. No-one has time to read more, so make it less and to the point.
Solid introduction and a call to action at the end
If you’ve ever given a presentation you would know that to present well, you need to start solid to fetch the interest of the audience and end with a call to action. Your cover letters are same. Write a solid introduction so that the readers feel intrigued to read more and finish the letter with a call to action. And you’re done.
Most people can write brilliant cover letters. But they don’t give enough time to write a great one. Why? They don’t think cover letters can be a great medium to get you a shortlisting. Thus they take half an hour and write a so-so letter and send it across to the recruiter. And then when they don’t get a shortlisting, they bemoan and think that they’re not a good enough candidate for the job.
But forget the past. Use this comprehensive guide to etch out a great cover letter that sells. And then what! You can start to prepare for the interview. Shortlisting is on its way!
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