A recent human resource study shows that about 70% of applicants who submitted their resumes with a cover letter landed a job interview. This figure indicates the importance of presenting a cover letter with every resume submission. However, preparing one can become time consuming and tedious.

A cover letter is a one-page document that the candidate submits to a company in addition to their resume, to express interest in the advertised opportunity or to explore future vacancy. Writing a cover letter is an opportunity for the aspirant to present themselves as suitable candidates for the job, stating in detail relevant experience, major accomplishments, significant achievements, skills and competencies – highlighting at least 75% of what is essential for the post. The ultimate goal is for a recruiter to take a glance on the enclosed resume and eventually asked to come for an interview. This can be compared to a door that, once opened, will lead to an individual’s professional journey.

While your resume is an overview of your credentials, your cover letter is equipped to serve as a sales tool. It should establish why you are a perfect match for the position. Remember, one job posting is seen by hundreds of passive and active job seekers, making it crucial to use this to market yourself to potential employers. Demonstrate why the hiring manager should utilize your services than other candidates vying for the post. Not all companies have time to train newcomers, if you possess the technical and transferable skills needed to be successful on the job, display that on a cover letter, this will sets you apart from other candidates.

Nonetheless, it is not always enough to simply know the job and have proven your expertise in the field. Expressing specific knowledge or background about the industry and company is definitely an advantage. This displays your genuine overall giving the employer the impression that you have a clear understanding of the kind of organization you want to be part of.
In more detail, here are some basic things you have to know about and include in your cover letter:

  1. It is ideal to provide the name and designation of the hiring manager on every cover letter. However, if this information cannot be obtained, your alternative should always be: “Dear Hiring Manager:, Dear Recruiting Team:, or Dear (Company Name) Team:” Do not use “To Whom It May Concern”.
  2. Always put a colon after a name in the salutation and not a comma.
  3. Your cover letter must have the same format as your resume. The header, footer, borders, font style and size should look exactly the same.
  4. Never present your cover letter in a coloured and/or fancy sheet. Print on a standard 8 ½ x 11 short bond paper.
  5. Never exceed one page. Make it elaborate but not too long and narrative.
  6. Follow a business format in dating and addressing your cover letter.
  7. It is a business letter therefore, do not indent. Use formal block paragraphs with spaces in between.
  8. The letter in total should never exceed three paragraphs:
    –   The first one should always consist of the position that you are applying for, your interest to join the company and how you learned about the opening. When referred by a specific person, acknowledge that person with their permission. Research the company and determine why it is well-known and recognized in their line of business. Use simple but catchy terms such as: “leading retail company”, “forerunner in the cement manufacturing industry”, “undefeated telecommunications enterprise”, etc.
    Be sure to articulate your strengths in the workplace supported by your background and emphasize the value that you will add to the organization.

    –   Next, briefly outline your qualifications vis-à-vis job specifics. Accentuate on the talents and experiences that matches the needs. Your letter should sound that you are the best person for this job. Use bullet points to enumerate your assets. You can say: “Some of the key strengths that I bring to the table include but are not limited to:” The list must catch the hiring manager’s attention enough to immediately call you for an interview.
    Own your accomplishments. Instead of saying: “This exposure increased my skills in”. Make yourself the active subject in the sentence: “In this role, my technical capabilities have greatly improved”.

    –   In your closing paragraph, wrap up the ways in which you will proceed with the application. In bold statement emphasize again why you should be considered. You should be assertive too by expressing that if you don’t hear from the person within a week (put the specific date), you will take initiative to follow up. Otherwise, you can say: “Looking forward to hearing from you soon or to meeting you in person to further discuss my qualifications in more detail”. Do not forget your contact information – your email and phone number where you can be easily reached. Thank the person for taking his/her time.

  9. End your letter with: “Sincerely,” and allocate a space for your signature.
  10. Make a notation at the bottom of the letter that your resume is enclosed with this letter.
  11. Proofread your letter. Do not rely too much on the computer’s “spelling and grammar” feature. If possible, ask a friend or a family member to review, correct or comment.
  12. Sound professional and educated. Use technical terms when necessary. For example, “in-depth knowledge of targeted selection, strong ERP background, extensive supply chain management exposure, CHRP or CPA designation, etc.” Avoid all forms of slang, unnecessary abbreviations, and avoid texting lingo at all times.
  13. Refer to sample cover letters online, but never plagiarize.

To summarize, it is important to always tweak your cover letter to correspond your desired position. Make it visually appealing and well-coordinated with your resume. Sell your expertise and value to the organization, but remember it is not your autobiography and should not exceed one page. Be very specific and concrete about what you can offer and bring to the company. Do not exaggerate or use generic language.

A potential employer’s first impression of you is the cover letter you submit. By following the guidelines above you can be certain to create a cover letter that will stand out and best exhibits your potential for future employment.

 

M. Beltran | DBPC Blog