The average recruiter spends about 7 seconds looking at a resume. With such a time constraint, you might be tempted to leave out the cover letter altogether when applying for jobs. But before you do that, know that your cover letter is what helps recruiters see you as an actual person. And not just another faceless name in a pile of generic applications.
That being said, writing cover letters can be daunting for even the best of us. So, to get you started, here are a few tips to help you write an engaging cover letter that draws in recruiters and gets you the coveted first interview:
1. Know Who You’re Writing To
Cover letters that read like conversational letters are more likely to appeal to recruiters and hiring managers on a personal level. So make sure to directly address the person on the job ad in your cover letter.
If a name isn’t mentioned, search for the HR or relevant department personnel’s profiles on LinkedIn or Twitter, and address the letter to them. HR Departments in some companies can even tell you about the right person if you call in. However, when in doubt, writing ‘Dear HR Manager’ is always a safe option.
2. Be Original from The Start
Avoid starting with something as generic, obvious and space-wasting as: ‘I am writing this letter in response to your ABC advertisement for XYZ position’. Instead, summarize who you are (and no, that doesn’t include mentioning your name) and why you would be the best fit for the position in the first 2 lines. For instance, it can start something like this: “As a fashion enthusiast graduating with a high CGPA in the field, I was excited to see your advertisement for Junior Designer”.
3. Use Keywords as Clues
Job advertisements are quite descriptive and can be used to your advantage when writing the follow-up to your stellar introduction. Use the keywords in the job description to write a personalized and relevant description of your skills and experience. This helps the HR manager see that you’re a good fit, and also makes the main body easier to write and organize.
4. Be Precise, Simple, and Consistent
Avoid going past the one-page limit. While it may seem too short, this will help freshen and streamline your cover letter, and keep it from becoming a repetition of your resume. Also, while it’s good to insert a few field-related terms, avoid peppering the letter with technical jargon. This will only confuse the HR personnel who reads it, hence leaving a bad impression.
5. Be Skill Savvy
As a fresh graduate, you may not have enough work experience to base an entire cover letter around it. Instead, select 2-4 of your skills that are most relevant to the position. Then explain each in 2-3 sentences with an example from school, your previous internship, or volunteer work. This will keep your cover letter fresh, and distinctly different from your resume.
6. What Can YOU Do for The Company?
Companies. don’t want to know how much you admire them. What they do want to know is how your particular skills can contribute towards their organization. Devote a major part of your letter to explaining how you can improve their current processes, and what challenges you can help them overcome. This is where your research skills will come in handy.
Use the organization’s online presence to your advantage by exploring the company’s website, along with looking up journals, articles, and websites relevant to the company. This will help you understand what the company, particularly your intended department, needs and any potential problems you might be able to solve.
7. Be Confident
A cover letter’s main purpose is to convince recruiters that you are a good fit for the company and department. This means replacing words like ‘feel’ and ‘believe’ with more assertive terms to communicate your confidence in your skills and experience.
8. Have A CTA
Conclude your cover letter on a positive note by thanking the reader, and politely encouraging them to contact you for an interview. Exhibit your enthusiasm and keenness on getting to meet and discuss with them in person. If it’s a speculative application, consider adding a follow-up statement to let them know when you’ll call back to confirm receipt of your application.
Writing cover letters gets easier with practice. Use the above tips, your personal experience, and judgment to write an engaging cover letter that is sure to catch the recruiters’ eyes.
BIO: Amanda Jerelyn is a recruitment specialist and an authority on hiring management who is currently working as an Academic Advisor at King Essay. She is also a fashion enthusiast who spends her spare time designing leather products for her website premiumjackets.com.