Nothing is as time-consuming and exhausting as education. Starting from elementary school and all the way up to university – this journey can take up to 20 years. But after graduation, a new quest begins, and that is – finding a job. The number of graduates churned from colleges is usually higher than the available job slots, hence the chances of securing a job immediately after college are slim, especially in highly competitive fields.
Nevertheless, not everyone suffers this fate as some secure jobs even before they can graduate while others spend years looking for a place where they can apply their skills. Some young men may underestimate the importance of having a good cover letter, forgetting that it can significantly boost their chances when applying for a position. Here below are some professional cover letter tips which you can utilize to improve your cover in just 60 minutes.
Use personal salutations
Everyone knows that when writing a letter, you should start with salutes. We’ve all been taught how to write letters, though some of these tips can and should be ignored when your future job is at stake. Try to avoid using general phrases like ‘dear sir/madam’ or ‘to whom it may concern.’ Being polite is great, of course, though an impersonal greeting can be perceived as your failure to find out what the company you want to work at is actually about.
Remember that if you like the position, there are dozens of other guys that will also find it attractive. Think of HR managers as of girls you want to impress. The numbers of applications they get count in hundreds, but it is you who has to get the position. And to achieve that you have to try really hard.
By addressing your letter to a real person rather than an abstract ‘sir or madam’ you will show your interest in the job. Don’t shy away from conducting a little research on the job you want to get. You haven’t forgotten how to do this, haven’t you?
For instance, you can visit the company’s website or read its catalog to know who is the person you are writing to. Alternatively, you can call the company’s help desk to inquire about this.
Express your interest in the job
When applying for an advertised position, say where or how you’ve found the ad. That is where and when it was posted.
Then you should write why you think you are the right candidate for the job. For instance:
‘The purpose of this letter is to express my interest in the position of the financial advisor advertised on the Nation’s daily post on the 4th of October 2018…”
Another thing that you may want to express is your awareness of the company’s projects and objectives. You can get some information from the official website, business articles, company magazines, and press releases.
Also, try to understand the expectations for that job and demonstrate that you are the one who can and will handle the job if given a chance. As you do this, remember the company is trying to see if you have done your homework well.
Replace your objectives with achievements
When applying for a job, the only way an employer can get a glimpse of the applicant is through the cover letter and resume, and thus both should be made in a way that they will give a positive impression about you. Young men love to exaggerate facts about them, which is a good thing to do in a certain way. However, do not abuse the approach, as the last thing you’d want is to seem a liar.
Be honest and highlight your competencies that will be useful in the position you apply for. Even when making a blind application, specify the job you are looking for as failure to do this depicts lack of seriousness on your part.
Stating that you are hardworking, pro-active, self-supervised adds no value as employers assume every applicant possesses these attributes otherwise they would not have applied for the job. Focus more on what makes you different from others, things that can make people want to hire you. For instance, you can put it this way:
“According to the advertised job post, you are looking for web designer to boost online sales. I believe I can help your company achieve this objective as I helped Y- sports attire company to design its website which eventually led the company realizing 25% increase in sales within the 1st year.”
State experiences & skills
Show that you understand the nature of the job you are applying for. Your writing skills must be beyond reproach as employers want to see if you are good at it as most jobs involve writing reports.
Any other skills and researches that might add value to the job applied for should be highlighted as it might be what will set you apart from other candidates.
Instead of stating the obvious responsibilities the job entails, focus on your past experiences and achievements and how they benefited the organization you were working for, and relate how the same can help benefit the company you are applying to now.
Think of a challenging situation where you were required to use effective communication and exercised your problem-solving skills.
Customize applications for different jobs
Some people don’t update their cover pages but recycle the same letter to apply for different jobs forgetting that each job has its own merits. Focus on perfecting your letter each time you need to write one, and you will be surprised by how good you actually are. Remember that your main goal is to impress the employer, and every one of them is different.
Length of the letter
Ensure the letter is neither too long nor too short. At least a one-page letter with about 3-4 paragraphs is enough as anything longer than this could be boring to readers considering they have several applications to review.
- Be brief but direct to the point.
- To maximize your space, skip putting company’s contact details as this practice is slowly becoming outdated. Just indicate advert details and the recipient’s name.
Structuring your cover letter
To ensure your page is properly structured, review several professional applications and come up with a standard template which you can be using every time you apply for a job.
Even though you may find samples matching the vacancy you are applying for, don’t be tempted to use them as they may contain plagiarized content. Instead, personalize it to suit your case. Your cover letter should reflect no-one else except you.
Proofreading & formatting
Well-designed and written cover letters are fascinating. One may be highly qualified but if the letter is poorly done and has glaring syntax mistakes, the application is deemed to reflect your character, and since that is the only picture they have about you, you may be rejected on that basis. Always proofread your work before submitting.
To avoid this problem, check the following:
- Format – ensure your formatting is appropriate and consistent.
- The page is well-spaced to make it readable.
- Font type and size: use an easy to read font type and size with the basic size being 12 and the common types being Calibri and Arial.
- Use bullets to highlight key points.
- Web-links – if you include websites, social profiles such as LinkedIn and blogs, use hyperlinks for easier accessibility.
- Grammar – statistics show about 76% of executives do not shortlist applications with glaring typing errors, punctuation errors and uses wrong tenses.
Since you may not see your own mistakes, ask someone to do it for you rather than relying on computer’s spell checker.
Request for an interview opportunity
Although the decision to invite one for an interview or not remains with the company, you can take a more pro-active approach by asking for an interview thus showing your decisiveness and desire to work.
You can state something like this:
“I will be grateful if you accord me an interview to discuss how my previous job experience and background can help your company realize its objectives.”
This shows confidence in the job, and most likely you will be given a chance to appear before the interviewing panel.
Even if you don’t get an invitation to the interview, but only a regret letter, appreciate it as some companies don’t even bother to send those. A negative answer is still an answer. But maybe, the company that rejected you is not the right one.
Recently, print media has seen a decrease in popularity. People are now expected to apply online, which is more convenient, and you’d be lying if you didn’t agree. But, of course, even though the mode of application has changed, job hunting techniques have remained the same. Whether you hand-deliver application or do it via email, if your cover letter is unimpressive, you won’t even get a chance to meet the recruiters in person. Therefore, when writing a cover letter, pay keen interest to little details as this might be the only opportunity you have to clarify what you’ve mentioned in your application form or resume.
If you are sending hard copies, put your documents in an A4 envelope and seal it. And if you are sending them online, ensure you have attached your documents and that you have sent them to the correct email address, as you want to get that job offer, right?