- Feb 12, 2009
- Catherine Adenle
- 2 comments
- 21272 Views
Cover Letter ♦
Write an effective cover letter when you’re applying for a job. As a job seeker, it’s important for you to know that your cover letter is as critical as your CV and a companion to your CV.
By Catherine Adenle
Write an effective cover letter as a job seeker. Although it is written entirely separate from your CV or Resume, the purpose of a cover letter is to introduce you briefly as a candidate, indicating your career goals and objectives.
Essentially, your cover letter is a slightly longer version of the profile section of your CV if you have one, but it should not be overly wordy, ideally remaining under 100 words.
To write an effective cover letter, the recommendation by experts is that your cover letter should be as easy as a PIE (P = Passion, I = Interest, E = Excellence) to read.
As a job seeker, a brilliantly written effective cover letter could be the key to opening the door to a new job for you. If you are looking to stand out and not to follow the pack of 90% of job seekers who get the same results, be sure to write an effective cover letter. Write a cover letter with the PIE method in mind when you compose it.
Passion: Write your cover 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. To write an effective cover letter, 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 organisation.
You must determine, in advance of writing the letter, what information will spark their interest in you. Investigate research and 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 a means to meet them.
Excellence: Any potential employer is interested in knowing your level of commitment to excellence. Today, the job market is a shrinking, global village where only the ones that are ready to commit to excellence will survive. Most companies are looking 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, you must be able to package yourself for that first dynamic introduction so you will automatically be perceived as a potentially good hire.
While you write your cover letter, do not forget to communicate your level of integrity, competence, confidence, and trustworthiness that most employers seek. Remember that a powerful cover letter should embody a compelling message, depict a professional commitment to excellence in one’s chosen career, and must be communicated with passion. Write an effective letter that will answer the following questions:
- What is the company or the hiring department looking for? What do they need?
- What qualifications and experience do I have that are valuable to the company or the hiring department?
- What can I offer? What specific contributions have I made in the past that will excite the potential employer?
- How can I capture this concisely in my letter?
- What type of personality do I have?
- Why do I want to apply for this job and why this company/department?
- Finally, what separates me from the rest?
If you can answer or address these points, then, you are on your way to constructing a winning cover letter. However, you must always edit and polish your cover letter, get two other people (your mentor, manager, or any other hiring manager that you know) to read through for you.
It is recommended that an effective cover letter should include the following information:
- The exact position for which you are applying.
- How you came to apply for the position, as this can be useful to the organisation in terms of assessment of recruitment procedures.
- Long and short-term job objectives, with a brief reference to information contained in the CV.
- Behavioural and other strengths that especially equip you to do the job well.
See your job search as a marketing campaign. You are the product and your cover letter is the salesperson.
In the attempt to fit this information in such a small space, you may adopt the following policies concerning 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.
- Avoid using exaggerated adjectives
- Use carefully selected strong verbs like ‘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! (Professional, Pertinent, Punchy)
Besides, there are several layout considerations to be carefully thought about when you write an effective cover 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 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 faithfully or 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 apply.
- Detail enclosed documents.
- Use a standard, clean typeface or font – highly stylised 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.
See this video on Cover Letter and other job search tips
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As you’ve now explored how to write an effective cover letter, do you have any other tips to add? Let’s hear from you, add your comments below.