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Just like a resume, a cover letter is a weapon to “sell yourself” to the hiring managers. What differs between the two are the format and content. Resume is a brief description of your cover letter. In cover letter, you should write in detail about personal information and professional quality in order to attract recruiters to shortlist your job application.

Tim Windhof, an executive resume writer at Windhof Career Services in Columbus, Ohio, advices that your cover letter should address the following: how you learn about the opportunity, how your qualifications match the job requirements, your possible availability in the area and how you can be contacted. In brief, your cover letter must describe “why it should be you and not others”.

Take a look at the following tips on how to write an appealing cover letter for successful job search:

01 Choose wording that mirror the ad language  

Before writing a cover letter, you should review the job ads carefully and underline the main points. If your cover letter will be read by hiring managers, they are more likely to skim brief at first to see whether you are a good fit or not. You can increase your chance of getting shortlisted when your cover letter matches most requirements listed in the job ads.

Don’t embellish your qualifications if you don’t really meet the requirements. Only write down real information and present yourself in the best manner by describing as many qualities as you can. You never know which qualifications employers value most.

02 Pay attention to readability

This is important as a cover letter written in readable format will likely to win employer’s heart. In a cover letter, you should only use business letter format. This will make the recruiter to only focus on your content rather than on the writing style. Business letter format usually comes along with 1” – 1.5” margins, 12-point font, professional font, uniform alignment (justify).

03 Address it to specific person

Do your homework and find out who will be responsible to receive and check your job application. Calling or sending email to the contact person provided in the job ads can be an effective way to get such information. You can also ask questions or confirm certain information related to the job opportunity to the right source instead of wondering around.

If you are sending the cover letter via post mail, make sure to write both the employer’s and your address. It usually contains first and last name, street address, city, state zip, and postal code, phone and email for applicant.

Example:

Your Name

Address

City, State, ZIP code

Your phone number

Your email address

 

Date

 

Name of Hiring Manager

Name of Company or Organization

Street Address

City, State, Zip Code

On the other hand, if you send the cover letter via email, you can simply start by writing the hiring manager’s name. This is much better than writing with to whom it may concern. Yet, in a situation where you can’t find the name of the hiring manager or head of HRD, you can address your letter to “Dear Hiring Manager.” It’s a better choice than starting with Dear Sir/Madam.

04 Brief introduction

In this part, you should start with when and where you find the job opening. Make sure to specify job position that you want to apply, especially when the company post multiple job positions. Make it into a paragraph that contains two to four sentences.

05 Compelling content

To grab the hiring manager’s attention, you should start by writing your educational background, followed by your achievements such as related training or internships you have completed and work experiences. However, if you are a fresh graduate with no job or internship experience, you can emphasise other skills such as organisational, leadership, or even time management skill, etc.

You can write it in two to three paragraphs for the content. However, you should not be wordy or  spill too much information. Sometimes, giving too much information can hinder you from getting the job offer.

06 A-Okay closing

Always finish your cover letter by asking for an interview and reiterating how much you want to proceed to the next step of hiring process. Also, do not forget to always provide your phone number so the recruiter can contact you with ease.

07 Signature

Always give signature to either written or email cover letter. Use complimentary closing sentence such as best regards, regards, sincerely, yours respectfully, etc. In a written letter, just simply write your full name. Meanwhile in an email, always type your name followed by contact information.

Example:

Sincerely,

(your signature)

Your full name

Mobile: (66) 987-98787

Email: andie@andiejone.com

08 Proofread, proofread, and proofread

Lastly, you should give the right amount of time to proofread your work – in this case, your cover letter, maybe two or three times proofreading. Find out spelling or grammar errors that might lessen your chance from getting shortlisted. Again and again, cut out the flowery words as too much description or information will make your cover letter look unprofessional. As best as possible, keep your cover letter only in one page.

Read also: Passion versus Skill: What Comes First in a Job Search?

If there’s anything stronger than your resume to secure an interview call, it is your cover letter that creates an impression on the minds of the employer. A brilliant resume might showcase to your future employer, that you possess the required educational background and promising potential. However the truth is a resume in itself is not enough.

Among other equally qualified and talented candidates, why should the company choose you instead? What could make them believe that you are the best fit for the job role? Relax! A well-written cover letter is the answer to these questions.

If the process of job searching can be pictured literally to draw comparisons with ‘hunting’ experience, then you do need resilient weapons to bring the game home. If a resume can be said to be an arrow, then cover letter is the bow that will help the arrow to hit the target right.

This creative example applies in job seeking too, wherein a cover letter is meant to complement the resume. But can’t you just rely on a resume? Not all of it. It’s important to remember that, the arrow released from the bow will work more effectively than those arrows that are thrown away with empty hands.

Going by the parable, we can say that cover letter is a complementary tool to confirm and empower what’s being stated in the resume. It is an efficient way to demonstrate your skills and experiences. Therefore, the writing process of a cover letter should not be taken lightly.

In just a few paragraphs, you should be able to explain your qualifications and experiences in the right professional tone and retain the hiring manager’s attention to be thereafter called for an interview. No wonder, writing a perfect cover letter requires extra efforts and commitment.

Then the real question is, how should you write a compelling and meaningful cover letter, instead of a cliché one? To help you stay off the damaging cover letter pitfalls, here are 9 things you should never state:

  1.       Wrong or false information

Well, this might be obvious. But actually, to find candidates telling lies in their resume is not something uncommon. Don’t risk your reputation by putting wrong or false information in the cover letter as well. Always pay attention to minute details, usage of words and phrases, and double check if you have written the name, address, job title, and other information correctly.

  1.       Spelling or grammatical errors

Your friend might just shrug his shoulder when you make typos during a friendly chat. However, if such typo errors are found in your cover letter, it will impact your chances of getting called for an interview, not sure if hired later either. Therefore, after penning down your cover letter, check for  grammatical and spelling mistakes or punctuation errors. To avoid making silly mistakes, you can perhaps ask your friend to proofread the cover letter as well.

  1.       Cliché language

There are hundreds of resumes and cover letters piling up on employer’s desk everyday for a certain job role. If you bore them in your cover letter using cliché and generic language, then you fail to position yourself differently and unique than anyone else. This could make the recruiter to simply lose interest in your candidature. Therefore, showcase your efforts by crafting the cover letter carefully to eliminate usage of cliché phrases, and by replacing them with unique expressions that reflect your true personality.

  1.       Revealing your weaknesses

A cover letter is all about telling what you can offer, if selected for the position. So, do not mention any skills and qualifications that you do not possess at this point in time, because it will only reveal your weaknesses instead. Focus on how you can make most of this opportunity to retain the hiring manager’s attention, impress the potential employer with your skills and knowledge to be shortlisted and called for interview rounds.

  1.       Negative remarks

Maybe you left your last job in awkward situations and not really amicable terms with your past employer. However, this does not mean that you can talk negatively about them, criticise or badmouth the former organisation. Such attitude is not only unethical, but your potential employer could also perceive it as a sign of attitude or performance issues.

  1.       Personal information

Cover letter is about you on what you can offer to the company and how. Therefore, it is crucial to always appear professional in a cover letter. You should not mention any personal information that has nothing to do with the job or the company. If you want to talk about your personal issues or challenges, you can wait until you get selected for a personal round of interview.

  1.       Overselling yourself

Yes, it is important to emphasise your pluses rather than minuses. But there’s a thin line of difference to be followed as your sell your skills to the future employer – do not sound conceited, egoistic, closed minded or over proud of your achievements. While you need to highlight your accomplishments positively, make sure to not make it sound exaggerated.

  1.       Excessive flattery

Do not sugar-coat your cover letter with excessive praise and flattery, just for the sake of gaining attention. People can easily tell the difference between genuine remarks and the empty sweet talks.

  1.       Talking about salary

While we all know that every hiring process will come down to the money-talk. There is always a time right for discussing salary and compensations later, but not to state the same far ahead of time on your cover letter. This is one big mistake. Unless you are asked to mention and clearly state your salary expectations in the cover letter, you should rather keep such discussions until you are called for a personal interview.

Cover letter can help you unlock doors to the best job opportunity and get your candidature shortlisted for the interview. Going beyond traditional resume, a cover letter allows you the opportunity to highlight your strengths and key selling points. Therefore, craft it right in a good, professional tone to empower your resume, and make the interview feel it’s worth the time and energy invested to meet you in person for an interview.

Have you always been passionate in making real impact and being the agent of change? If the answer is an absolute yes, then working for a startup should be your next call. Startups are looking for talented and ardent individuals who demonstrate a strong entrepreneurial zest and great teamwork skill.

In a small office with small team members, it becomes but obvious that everyone is expected to give their best and participate actively in achieving the business goals and objectives. Do you have what it takes to secure a startup job?

One of the biggest attraction for people to work at a startup is the unconventional perks offered. If you are tired of a corporate life which is tedious mundane routine, then working for a startup could bring colours to your life with fun challenges. If you are bored of wearing formal attire, then startup will give you a total authority of deciding the casual or semi-casual look to don today.

What makes it even better is, in a startup environment you get chance to do the real work and get recognised by the team. Owing to small team size, even the slightest achievement will be highly regarded and rewarded.

On the flip side of it, you should bear in mind that not everyone is suited for a startup life. Working for startup can be best described as riding a roller-coaster. There will be ‘down times’ where you have to sacrifice your sleep for completing a tough project. However, there will be ‘up times’ as well, where you can take a break and play ping-pong with your co-workers.

While we know that startup has different working vibes as in comparison to a corporate job, it turns out that landing a job at a startup requires much alike strategies commonly used for winning any other types of job. However, there are significant differences that you should note even before shooting out to your CV to growing startups, that you aspire to work for.

Here are 7 useful tips to grab the best deal and tread career growing on fast track from fast-growing start-up:

  1.       Be passionate about the company’s vision

Every startup is established on a solid ground of passionate vision. And that explains why entrepreneurs care so much about finding individuals who share the same passion to grow the business. That being said, it becomes crucial to demonstrate the reasons why you’re passionate and interested in joining the team.

  1.       Try the products or services

You should know what the startup actually does for a living. If it is possible, you can try their products or use their services and gain valuable information about them. Not only giving you authentic experience of being real user, this strategy will help you nail the interview.

  1.       Learn about the company culture

First of all, you should bear in mind that startups adopt much different culture from big corporates. Being part of the team means that you have to adapt yourself to fit into their fast-paced working environment that undergoes a continuous change. Be prepared for surprises (both good and bad ones) and so you will be ready to join the unicorn team.

  1.       Show genuine interests

You can tell if someone is genuinely interested or not, only through their cover letter or gesture during the interview. If you want to draw employer’s attention, it is imperative that you must show you’re genuinely interested with the job and the company. Only then, can they trust you to be the new hire.

  1.       Know the industry

The truth is, most startups fail in their first year. Owing to their competitive nature of workings, you need to know what kind of battle you will face ahead. Therefore, before coming to an interview, you should learn about the industry, the startup’s position in it, as well the competitors.

Do your research well, and this will showcase you’re serious about joining (and eventually growing) the team.

  1.       Demonstrate a reliable personality

Reliability is one of the most sought-after characteristics of a startup employee. With limited resources and plentiful tasks, everyone is expected to take ownership for their work and be fully responsible for their job.

  1.       Be true to yourself

Nobody wants to hire a phoney individual. So do not pretend to be someone you’re not, just for the sake of getting hired. Be true to yourself first and this does reflect in your workings, behaviour, passion and zest for excellence to deliver great business results.