How to write a good cover letter
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While you are applying for a job it is a mandate that you apply with a Curriculum Vitae or CV that will update the employer with all the details about your personal, professional and educational background.
However, the CV is generally a two to three page long document and at times it is even lengthier. Employers may not choose to read through the whole CV during the initial screening phase and thereby miss out some important point about you that you may have wanted them to know.
This is where a cover letter comes handy as it highlights all the specialties that you have and is a crisp document of a few paragraphs that will tell your whole story to your employer before they read the lengthier CV.
The first impression is obtained from the cover letter:
A cover letter ideally should get accompanied with the CV itself. The cover letter helps in creating the interest in the prospect employer that they would go ahead and read out the whole of the CV in order to find more details on the area of your expertise that they have read about in the cover letter and want to know more about it.
A cover letter also helps in creating the very first impression as that is the first document that the prospect employer gets to read about you and your skills. It also gives a fairly large idea to the employer about your communication skills as a good cover letter would reveal all your qualities in a few lines and that would show that you as a competent employee who possess good communication skills.
Different categories of cover letter:
Broadly speaking, there are three categories of cover letters. They have been categorized as:
- An invited cover letter which is sent to a company when there is a job opening and the candidate responds to that. This category of cover letter can be considered as the initial application that the candidate would send to the company.
- An uninvited cover letter which is sent to a company or a group of companies enquiring about possible job openings. This is also called a prospecting letter. This can be thought to be a sort of advertising letter from the prospect employee wherein he informs the companies about the skills that he has to offer and wants to find out if there is any suitable position according to the skills.
- The third category of cover letter would be the networking letters that typically would request for assistance and information in the sender’s search for a job.
The body of the letter:
While you write the cover letter you need to ensure that the letter’s body does not contain any unneeded information that makes the letter look clumsy. You need to remember that this cover letter would be your first interaction with your prospect employer and if they do not like the letter, this could very well be your last interaction as well. Here are the step by step methods to write a good cover letter.
- The letter should have a letter head at the top that would contain your name, contact details and your email address. The font size of the name could vary between 14 to 16 points as compared to the main body of the text which should be at 12 points.
- The date, the name and address of the recipient should find its place just below the letterhead. Font size should be limited to 12 points from here to the rest of the letter.
- Do not start with a blunt opening. It is always a good practice to address your recipient by the proper title as in Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc. If you do not know whom the letter is intended to, a general address statement that could be put to use is “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”.
- Express your intent behind writing the letter in the first paragraph. In two or three lines, you need to tell the employer why you are writing this letter. You need to mention the position that you want to apply for. How you came to know about the position need not be mentioned separately unless it is a personal recommendation.
- Mention about your skills and qualifications in the middle paragraphs. You should ensure that your skills are matched to those required by the job. In case you are writing an uninvited cover letter, try to prove how your skills will impact corporate profits and productivity.
- Leave a positive impact in the last paragraph which will compel the employer to contact you or read your attached CV with higher levels of interest. Do not forget to thank the employer for taking the time to read your letter.
- Close in a professional manner with a “Sincerely”, “Regards”, or “Respectfully”. Add your signature and name at the end of the letter.
A cover letter should always be written in professional fonts like Arial or Times New Roman which gives the required professional look to the letter. You need to be careful with your email address as a funny email address will invite negative thoughts about you in the employer’s mind. You need to ensure that are no grammar or spelling mistakes anywhere in the letter.