by: Amit Pujar
Let's face it. Recruiters (or employers) are smarter than we
think. Bigger organizations pay a hefty salary to their HR department
to filter out and sieve through hundreds and thousands of resumes.
The idea is to build an organization with people of the right
mental aptitude. Most of the top organizations believe strongly
in a motto - "People are their greatest assets". Your
cover letter goes a long way in capturing and retaining the attention
of these people whose main job is to recruit people and coordinate
with the workforce.
A well-written cover letter engages the recruiter and pushes
him to spend more time reading your detailed resume. Before you
start off writing your cover letter, write down what you want
to convey on a paper. Read it once, twice, thrice and then set
off for a good start. Pack in as much power as you can, because
it is these 400 or 500 words that can make the difference.
Have these things on your mind before you start off writing:
Keep your sentences short and avoid using really long sentences
because you don't want the recruiter to read it twice to understand
what you're trying to convey. Got the point.? Keep your sentences
Keep your language simple. "I take immense pleasure in applying
for this esteemed position in this esteemed organization."
Hell.! Your employer knows more about his organization than you
do. So you can as well cut the "false" praise. Maybe
a subtle mention can do wonders. "I look forward to work
with JK Industries".
Organize the content of your cover letter into small paragraphs
or bulleted points, not exceeding three paragraphs. Typically
each paragraph can contain 3 or 4 sentences.
Do NOT use slang or spoken words like "Lookin' fo a kewl
break into yo IT world".
Make sure your cover letter (and resume) is free from spelling
or grammatical errors.
And most important: Deliver what the employer is looking for.
So, what should you put in your cover letter?
Ask yourself two questions. One, why should the employer choose
you over others? And two, what can you give to the company that
others cant? Skills, yes. Proven experience, better.
A good way to start writing is with the correct greeting phrase.
If you know the name of the person you are addressing then you
can start with 'Dear Ms. Stevenson' or 'Dear Mr. Washington'.
Do not use their first names. A bad greeting would be 'Hi Jane'
or 'Hello George'.
The first paragraph is to contain a reference. If this is a response
to an advertisement or a vacancy listing, this is where you refer
to get their attention. Alternatively you can put in a separate
line mentioning your reference. (Ref: Your advertisement on Jobsite.com
- Ref # 12345).
If you're mentioning your reference in the first paragraph, you
can continue on to include why you applied for that position.
A good way of connecting the reference to your application is
"my skills and your requirement are a good match." Put
that in your own words.
In the next paragraph, you justify your statement about why you
think that your skills and the skills required for the position
are a good match. Make a single line reference to a particular
achievement in your current (or previous) job that is along similar
lines so that the employer will know exactly what he's looking
for. A good example would be "Set up a fully operational
network of franchisees in Southern France for retailing ABC Coffee".
Avoid mentioning skills you don't have or projects you have never
worked on. Because sooner or later, you're going to face it; when
the interviewer looks into your cover letter (or resume) and says
"OK, Mr. Stephens, can you give me an instance of how you
can use XML to port data from a backend system into a Middleware
application"? And that's when you mind starts racing, "XML??
Middleware?? Port..?? Is that my resume he's got..???". God
bless you if it's not your resume.
If there are more achievements you want to include, write them
down in bulleted points. It's easier for the employer to read,
comprehend and get a good picture of your capabilities. Do not
reproduce your entire resume here. 2 or 3 such points will do
perfectly fine. Of course, do not include irrelevant achievements
like "Won a Silver Medal in 200 x 4 Men's Relay Race conducted
by Louisville Young Adults Club in 1991". Not unless you're
applying for the post of a Physical Trainer or Coach.
You have made your point here. You know why you're applying.
And recruiters like that. You know your responsibilities, the
risks involved and the tasks you'll be handling. You're just the
person they're looking for. At least, you're one of the persons
they'd like to talk to before handing over the employment contract.
An ending note can make quite an impression. Tell them your resume
is attached and that you're "looking forward to explore this
opportunity further". Include an address and telephone number
for them to contact you.
Sign off with a "Yours Truly" or "Best Regards"
and put your complete name under it.
Get into form and write out your winning cover letter.
About The Author
Amit Pujar is a copywriter/technical writer currently heading the
content department of an online publication. Amit writes on a variety
of subjects and is currently working on his first non-fiction. He
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org