The 3 Rules of Addressing Your Cover Letter
Sitting down to write a cover letter can be one of the most difficult activities in your life. A host of questions can arise —
Whom do I address this letter to, the boss? Or the hiring manager?
Do I write in the third or first person?
Do I include team achievements, or do I specifically mention my solo projects?
What if ……….
And suddenly, you end up with absolutely nothing but a blank page that you stare for hours in frustration. Not to worry, this is completely normal for every individual when trying to produce something creative. Our brain tends to overthink and ends up shutting down in the process.
Your best bet is to forget writing the letter, make a hot cup of cappuccino and take a nice long nap. Once you are back, you can take a few pointers from this page and write yourself a stunning cover letter and you will be able to better understand the guidelines for creating one.
THE IMPORTANCE OF COVER LETTER FORMAT AND WHY IT CAN HELP YOU LAND THE JOB
The cover letter represents a piece of you that is converted into words. However, while most candidates are highly talented in their endeavors, they can be poor writers. Unfortunately, a poorly written cover letter can demonstrate your talents as average to the hiring manager. Avoid writing just about everything in your cover letter and come up with dissected sections.
Take a piece of paper and list the most important information that is required by the hiring firm. Skillsets, accomplishments, statistic-backed data, a portfolio, a personal website, etc. Now place the less important information such as your goals and hobbies further down the cover letter.
Ensure you place information starting with the most important and ending with the least relevant. This is one golden rule that can immediately make your cover letter stand out compared to your peers.
You don’t necessarily need to possess exceptional writing skills to put down things about you on paper. When in doubt, always maintain a simple style of writing without the use of fancy jargon to complicate your cover letter.
While using fancy words can be immensely tempting, it can also demonstrate your ignorance when you use a word you don’t fully understand.
Another thing to keep in mind is to always update yourself with samples of the latest cover letters. The cover letter format that worked 5-years ago may have had several modifications and employers tend to take notice of little things such as this.
Ensure you read up on the best cover letters listed by career experts on the internet and promote yourself in an efficient manner.
To showcase a genuine interest in the company it’s necessary to refer to the hiring company by name in your cover letter. It’s important to also direct your attention towards the company you are applying to and make fine points on why you would make a great employee.
To get a more detailed walkthrough on how to write a splendid cover letter, continue reading on.
THE NECESSARY INFORMATION FOR AN IDEAL COVER LETTER FORMAT
The following information is mandatory when writing a cover letter, always maintain the same flow of information without omitting these critical sections.
Subject Line (If sending by e-mail)
If you are sending the cover letter by email, it’s necessary to add a subject line involving your application and the job you’ve applied to. To keep things simple, you should always put your “Full Name” and “Job Description” as your subject line.
If you’ve been provided with an appointment number, it’s necessary to quote the number in your subject and ensure the verification process is smoothly conducted. Never give a reason to complicate a simple procedure because you used the subject line to type out a sentence or phrase.
Your personal information — how else is the employer going to contact you if you made the cut? It’s vital to list e-mail, contact address, mail, phone number, website, etc. the more information you showcase, the more confidence the employer has in you.
Ensure your contact information is updated with your current residential address. Never goof up on your pin code, it’s the best way the post master can ensure the location of your area is right. Provide an alternate phone number for the company to contact you, in case you’ve got a bad reception, or your battery runs out on your primary number.
Body of Cover Letter
The body of your cover letter is where the magic happens, this is the portion that is read by employers over any other section. Hence, this is where you need to place the most emphasis while putting your professional achievements down.
Give yourself a good idea on the type of professional story you want to go with. Remember, this is an extremely crucial section. Employers usually skim every other detail to get to this part, hence, make it your best. The first paragraph must have extremely engaging content to grab their attention.
The ability to separate your sections into clear and concise paragraphs allows the reader to absorb information conveniently. If your cover letter were just giant blocks of texts, the employer may just stop reading midway and proceed to the next applicant. Don’t post irrelevant information that doesn’t concern your role in the company.
Any other information can be discussed during the face-to-face interview phrase. Strictly, maintain a short and concise cover letter explaining your role, your accomplishments, special projects, and what you can offer to the company.
If you must include details about yourself that aren’t relevant but play an important role in you getting selected, place it at the bottom of your cover letter.
If you’ve recently attended a workshop conducted by the employer of the company or if you’ve received a reference from a friend working in the company — present these details at the end as they play a very little role in your selection process.
Offer gratitude to your employer for taking time to read your cover letter and sign off with a professional tone.
Signature & Date
Every professional must attest his signature to the bottom of the cover letter to show ownership. Include the date to ensure your cover letter stays relevant. Optionally, you can also create a 2-line disclaimer stating the cover letter has been written by you and is true to the best of your knowledge.
The disclaimer isn’t required but sometimes it can show the extra effort without being too obvious.
This phenomenal video by Aimee Bateman covers all the required information that you need to include in your cover letter to stand out among your peers.
3 RULES TO ADHERE TO WHILE ADDRESSING YOUR COVER LETTER
1. Ensure Content is free from Grammatical and Spelling Errors
There’s nothing more bother some for an employer to go through than a cover letter that’s put together by a 5-year old. If you have the necessary talent, then you need to showcase your skills through a perfect and error-free cover letter. Ensure you proofread your cover letter 4-5 times before you submit it to dig out any unnecessary vocabulary that might have slipped through while creating your first draft.
Ensure your paragraphs are simple and clutter-free. For a quick reading test, create your cover letter and hand it over to a friend and have him read it out to you. You can quickly find the hidden errors just by having an outside source read it out loud. Written words may seem fine on paper, it’s only when you read them that you begin to identify that something’s not right.
Never relist the same point frequently, this will make you sound desperate for the job. No hiring manager will tolerate a candidate that continues to talk about himself rather than explain how he can offer his expertise for the company.
Always write in a tone that matches the company’s profile. For example, if you are enlisting into a fashion company, it’s important to maintain a trendy tone to showcase your expertise in that field. Similarly, if you were to apply for a fitness job, then you need to bring your “A” game and present your ideologies on nutrition.
2. Strictly Professional! Never Change Tone in-between
Treat your cover letter like your first interview except it isn’t a face-to-face interview. Your cover letter is like a part of you that communicates to your employer that you are interested in the job and you present your qualifications in fine writing.
It’s necessary to maintain a professional tone throughout and never switch to a personal tone unless requested so by the hiring manager.
Your cover letter should be phenomenal enough to capture your hiring manager’s attention. Start your cover letter with an enticing first sentence that immediately grabs their attention. Spend the first two lines introducing yourself and don’t try to overdress your cover letter with show words claiming to be a superhuman when clearly the hiring manager isn’t interested.
Present facts instead of bold claims, provide statistics over courageous statements, and grab you manager’s attention with your natural abilities instead of sounding arrogant and out of place. Don’t mess your cover letter with a list of skills, if two skills sound similar such as — great communication skills and motivational speaker. Choose one.
3. When in doubt, Research!
There are many well-written sample cover letters available on the internet if you ever require assistance. Go through as many cover letters as you can and pick out the top 5 cover letters that interests you. Next sort through the relevant sections and sub-sections that make the cover letter a success and implement it into your cover letter format.
By mixing and matching different cover letters, you will ultimately create your very own cover letter and you can add your own description to it. It’s important to get a second pair of eyes to offer judgment on whether the cover letter makes the cut or if it needs more modifying. Although it’s important to be the judge of your own creation, it’s never a bad idea to call upon a friend or family member to oversee your progress.
Provide suitable reasons for the employer to hire you and if you don’t know your strong points, it’s a good idea to surf the internet based on your job description. A quick search online with your job description will match you with results of career experts demonstrating the strongest abilities of your career. You can then choose to include these terms into your resume.
As a final rule, ensure you cover letter is fine tuned and tailored to meet your company’s standards. Don’t leak out information that isn’t required. If you feel you should include details that aren’t relevant to the topic, don’t write about it. Wait for the interview phase to discuss such matters.
Utilize Statistics and Numbers to back up your claims
It’s been proven that employers like to see some sort of figures to get a detailed understanding on the type of jobs you’ve completed. Statistics that can be proven can increase your job success rate. For example, if you’ve led a social media campaign, list the number of followers you’ve raised — such as 2 million followers.
Proven results are generally favored by employers looking to hire new talent over tall claims. A good idea is to strip down all your projects on a white piece of paper and build them back using numbers and statistics. Don’t use vague terms such as — a lot of, many, several, etc. You wouldn’t be satisfied if the employer were to give you a vague term when discussing your CTC now, would you?
Also demonstrate your strong qualities in replicating the same success to them. Once the hiring manager has confidence in your abilities and has seen your past performances, the choice is easy. You get the job!
Here’s a video walkthrough by ZipJob that compiles a set of tips to help job seekers land their dream job.
FORMATTING GUIDELINES TO FOLLOW
While writing a cover letter, maintain the following guidelines to ensure your reader is interested in your cover letter. By including these formatting rules, you can ensure that your employer will absorb the information even if he were to glance over your interview letter or spend about 10 seconds on it.
The right spacing can add aesthetic points to your cover letter. Ensure only a certain number of sentences make it to a single paragraph and they have a cut off limit. For example, it’s considered good standards to include about 4-5 sentences in a single paragraph before breaking into a new one.
Always write the cover letter as if your employer were giving you only 10 seconds to explain yourself. In those 10 seconds, what is it that you want your employer to know about you and your abilities? Write it down in a piece of paper and ensure you maintain adequate space while creating your very first paragraph.
Every cover letter you send out should be checked more than thrice to ensure you manually spell check. If you use the “Word” document to create your cover letter, turn the automatic spellchecker mode on to fish out the poor grammar.
There are plenty of other tools available on the internet that can assist you in identifying grammatical errors and other irregular terms. Stick to simple English and keep a clean cover letter free of jargons and idioms.
In the modern cover letter where every candidate looks to stand out from the other applicants, the humble font can add a pleasant makeover. Fonts can do wonders when cleverly modified to ensure your employer has a pleasant reading time.
By experimenting with different fonts, ensure the different viewing angles are tested. Use the font that is crispy clear even if you were to read it from a distance. Fonts that distinguish between alphabets are highly recommended. You don’t want your employer to re-read a specific sentence over again because the font isn’t expressing the letters in a meaningful manner.
Remember a cover letter represents your abilities and talents and is an important feature to landing your job interview. In fact, the cover letter is more critical than the face-to-face interview as it lists all your abilities in written form and you don’t have face any nervousness while writing a letter. Always come up with a detailed format and include all the guidelines mentioned in the above sections.
It’s alright to experiment as much as you want during your creative phase but when you reach your execution stage it’s important to keep a short yet informative cover letter that tells a story about you. Maintain a professional tone throughout your interview letter and you will certainly hope to impress your hiring manager.
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