When you apply to a position, short of being able to present your candidacy in person, you do so through a cover letter. Hence, the importance for your cover letter to convey a compelling message. Following are 5 key considerations to pay close attention to as you write your cover letter.
1) Address Your Cover Letter to the Right Person
If possible, find out who will make the hiring decision and address your cover letter to that person. The simple fact of addressing your cover letter to him or her will help you stand out. Most other candidates will not go to this length, but will limit themselves to a generic greeting.
Recruiters are not always rational when deciding who to invite for an interview. It sometimes just boils down to giving a candidate a chance.
2) Your Cover Letter Complements Your Resume
As you write your cover letter, remember that the person reading it will take a look at your resume next. Hence, no need to duplicate the information and risk sounding redundant. Instead of repeating the same information, you should use your cover letter to add a personal touch. Let your resume relate the hard facts about your background and work experience. Use your cover letter as an opportunity to introduce yourself and draw the reader’s attention to key aspects of your candidacy.
See these cover letter samples for inspiration. We all have our own writing style. See what others do, but stay true to yourself.
3) Basic Questions to Address
As the recruiter reads your cover letter, he or she will inevitably have questions. The typical questions include why you are interested in the position and why you qualify for the position. However, beyond these, your personal circumstances may raise some questions as well. Anticipate those and address them succinctly. For instance, if you apply to a job in another city or country, address the issue of relocation. Or, if you are looking to change industry, explain why.
Explain the situation, but don’t justify yourself. You don’t want to sound defensive or negative.
4) What You Say and How You Say It
Use clear and professional language. Make sure that your cover letter is targeted and stays on point. Tailor your cover letter to the specific position you’re applying to and don’t include irrelevant information. A quick rule of thumb to know if something is relevant or not is to ask yourself whether it will help advance your candidacy. If not, leave it out.
Make sure your cover letter is compelling. Put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter and read your cover letter out loud. So, what’s your impression?
5) Limit Yourself to One Page
Your cover letter should be no longer than one page. Beyond one page, you will lose the reader’s attention. Keep your cover letter short and sweet.
John Sylo is a regular contributor to WorkBloom, a website with a single focus, to help job seekers find work and build a better future for themselves.