Job search? Explore why your cover letter is your self-marketing document. A poorly written cover letter can ruin the impact of a great resume or CV. This article is dedicated to the principles of writing an effective cover letter.

Your Cover Letter is Your Self-Marketing Document

 

Written by Catherine Adenle

As a job seeker, preparing a cover letter to accompany your CV when you contact a potential employer is an important aspect of your job search campaign. In order to create a great first impression on paper, you must ensure that your cover letter is well crafted. Even a well-targeted and crafted CV on its own is not enough.  The covering letter has to be equally effective to market you and further introduce you as a potential employee.

A poorly written covering letter can ruin the impact of a great CV. This post is dedicated to the principles of writing an effective cover letter.

The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce you briefly as a candidate, indicate your career goals and objectives. Essentially, it is a slightly longer version of the profile section of your CV if you have one, but your cover letter should not be overly wordy, ideally remaining under 100 words.

The recommendation by a lot of experts is that your covering letter should be as easy as a PIE (P = Passion, I = Interest, E = Excellence).

If you are looking to stand out and not to follow the pack of 90% of job seekers who get the same results, see your cover letter as your self-marketing document and compose with the PIE method in mind.

Passion

Write the letter with energy, enthusiasm and passion. Draw the connections between the company’s needs and what you, the candidate can offer. You build a rapport with the reader when you write with enthusiasm. Passion helps to overcome obstacles and liabilities. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, a lifeless letter reflects a lifeless person.

Interest

Using passionate words but having little to say is a waste of passion. Obviously, you must have something of interest to say that would result in a prospective employer developing a strong interest in you as a potential contributor to their organization.

You must determine, in advance of writing the letter, what information will spark their interest in you. Uncover the critical messages that you feel must be conveyed to generate immediate interest in you. Address the company’s needs as you understand them and draw the connections between those needs and your skills as means to meet them.

Excellence

Any potential employer is interested in knowing your level of commitment to excellence. Today, the job market has shrunk, only the ones that are ready to commit to excellence will survive. Most companies look for a few good people to hire and retain. Though, it may seem difficult to find a good position, hiring managers are probably of the opinion that it is just as difficult to find good candidates. So, it is imperative that you are able to package yourself for that first dynamic introduction so you will automatically be perceived as a potential good hire.

Remember to communicate your level of integrity, competence, confidence, and trustworthiness that most employers seek. Make your cover letter a powerful cover letter that will embody a compelling message. Let it depict a professional commitment to excellence in your chosen career, and it must be communicated with passion.

Let your cover letter answer the following 10 questions:

  1. What is the company or the hiring manager really looking for?
  2. What do they need?
  3. What qualifications and experience do I have that are valuable to the company or the hiring manager?
  4. What can I offer them?
  5. What specific contributions have I made in the past that will excite the potential employer?
  6. How can I capture this concisely in my letter?
  7. What type of personality do I have?
  8. Why do I want to apply for this job and why this company/department?How can I showcase my experience, knowledge and skill in a succinct manner?
    Finally, what separates me from the rest?

If you can answer or address these 10 points, you are on your way to constructing a winning cover letter. However, you must always edit and polish your letter, get two other people (your mentor, knowledgeable colleague, or any other hiring manager that you know) to read through the cover letter for you. It is recommended that a good cover letter should include the following information:

  • The exact position and the job number (if there’s one) for which you are applying.
  • How you came to apply for the position, as this can be useful to the organization in terms of assessment of recruitment procedures.
  • Long and short-term job objectives, with brief reference to information contained in the CV.
  • Behavioural and other strengths that especially equip you to do the job well.

In the attempt to fit this information in such a small space, you may adopt the following policies with regard to the writing style of your cover letter:

  • Impress your suitability for the role upon the reader by describing your character and experience in a way that matches those characteristics described in the job advertisement.
  • Vary your vocabulary carefully to avoid repetitions and overuse of any one word or phrase used by them.
  • Avoid using over-exaggerated adjectives
  • Use carefully selected strong verbs like ‘improved’, ‘managed’, ‘developed’, ‘achieved’, ‘initiated’ and ‘directed’
  • Always write in complete and grammatically correct sentences e.g., ‘ I look forward to hearing from you’.
  • Keep your style simple and your tone businesslike and friendly, just as you would if you were speaking to the reader of the letter
  • The interviewer is looking to employ you in the future, not your past, so orient everything you write with a bias to the future
  • Always end the letter on a positive note
  • Finally, remember the Three P’s! Keep it Professional, Pertinent and Punchy.

In addition, there are a number of layout considerations to be aware of when writing your covering letter:

  • Use a standard business letter layout for your covering letter
  • Ensure that your letter is perfect in every way i.e. spelling, grammar, and consistency of information with the details contained in your CV
  • Margins must be appropriate in order to frame your letter attractively
  • Only single line spacing should be used and correct line spaces must be left after addresses, between paragraphs and before and after ‘Yours sincerely’
  • Typically, a block or justified paragraph format is used rather than the outdated indented paragraph format.
  • Do not forget to sign or type sign your letter if sending it electronically. It is surprising how easy it is to commit this error in haste to submit application.
  • Detail your enclosed documents.
  • Use a standard, clean typeface or font – highly stylized text is distracting to the reader and indicates an unprofessional approach.
  • Career changers seeking a new direction must highlight those transferable skills as well as explaining the rationale behind their application and passion to succeed in their new sector.


You can achieve a professional, business-like approach with every cover letter you write if you follow the recommendations above.

Are there any further recommendations that you can add? Please add your comments below.

Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping you to explore your career at any stage.

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