Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tips to write an effective cover letter
A cover letter is the first impression for a recruiter and must encourage him to read your resume further. Read on to find out why you need a cover letter and how to go about writing it.

Your cover letter must specifically talk about the position you are applying for. It is important for you to tailor-make your cover letter for each job you apply to. A resume cannot be targeted to each job, but a cover letter can and must necessarily be so. Also remember a cover letter should complement and not duplicate your resume.

The purpose of the cover letter is:
  •  To tell the employer the type of position you are seeking, and how exactly you are qualified for that position. This information also tells the hiring manager how well you know the organization and position.
  • You need to also tell the hiring manager what caused you to apply: whether an advertisement, the recommendation of a friend who works there, or your own interest in the company.
  • Further your cover letter can explain things that your resume can't. If you have large gaps in your employment history or are re-entering the job market after break, a cover letter is the best way to explain these circumstances and project things in a positive way. (Also read: Explaining work gaps and job hops)
  • Again, if you are changing the focus of your career, or planning to relocate and so are conducting a long-distance job-search, the cover letter can explain your outlook on your new career path and the kind of employment you are seeking and why.

Introductory Paragraph:  This states why you are writing to the recruiter/employee. Some basic options are:
  •  “Please find enclosed my CV, which I am forwarding to you as an application for the position of...”
  • “In reference to your advertisement in... dated... attached is my resume.” 

 It may also include a synopsis of why you are a top candidate for the position. Some examples:
  • “Your position advertised on jobportals is an excellent fit with my qualifications, as the enclosed resume will attest."
  • "My background includes... years of successfully managing... I offer particular expertise in..., with in-depth knowledge of …”
  • “My extensive experience in... and my commitment to achieving the highest quality aligns extremely well with the ... position that you are currently advertising.”
  • “My extensive top-level background in ...makes me exactly the kind of value-added executive you need ... as advertised by you in ..."

Main body of the letter: The main body of the letter should be two to maximum three paragraphs. Here you must summarize key experience and skills. You also need to highlight your area of specialization, number of years in the industry etc. You should also highlight any unique points that you might have and include a brief description of your personal skills.

Further you need to demonstrate how your credentials, motivation and track record would benefit the company’s operation. You can begin by "Highlights of my credentials include:" or "Key strengths I offer include…”

Closing Paragraph: The closing paragraph should ask for action from the recipient. It should also thank the recipient for giving you the opportunity to apply. You can add things like:
  • "Should you require further information..."
  •  “Look forward to a face to face discussion”.
  • "Thank you for your kind consideration.”

Use the above tips to get started. Remember you need to tailor-make each cover letter for the organization you are applying to. (Also read: 10 Tips to improve and manage your resume better)

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