The cover letter is a document of equal importance to the CV. The cover letter is the first impression the selector will have of the candidate and its negative or positive impact is going to influence his or her further reading of the CV.
A Cover Letter must be very professional, well written, without misspellings. The content directly explains the candidate meets the requirements for the position, emphasising and directing the attention of the selector towards the abilities, skills and knowledge the candidate has proved, with concrete examples based on previous experience or non-work experience (ie. if you have never worked or have been outside the job market for a while).
Note: Please address your cover letter as per the following: To Whom it May Concern.
Why is the cover letter useful?
- Cover letter highlights the difference with the rest of candidates.
- Cover letter has to convince the selector to invite you to an interview.
- Cover letter shows your motivation.
- Cover letter reflects your skills for written communication.
Paragraph 1: present and explain the aim of the cover letter.
Paragraph 2: why you are interested in the company that you are writing to, in this industry and in this particular position.
Paragraph 3: what you contribute (achievements, experience); abilities and capacities that you will use to carry the position’s functions.
The order of paragraphs two and three can vary based on how you want to write the cover letter.
Paragraph 4: invitation to the interview. Be creative when finishing the letter; do not use the expression "I wait for your call". Mention that you can call to arrange an appointment or meeting, not an interview.
Warm goodbye, full name and sign the letter.
Remember to make your cover letter eye-catching; you want the reader to be taken in, read on to your CV and give you an interview. You want to distinguish yourself from the rest! Bearing this in mind, think about your main strength for the position and highlight it from the beginning – don’t let your potential employer read through lots of irrelevant data and miss the good part! Your main strength will be something that isn’t in the requirements for the job – all the other candidates will have these so think outside the box, what else can you bring to the table? Maybe you have worked for a competitor and so can educate your (potential!) new company about the competition they face.
- Consider the cover letter as a business letter, a professional one.
- Never more than a page for writing a resume cover letter.
- Quality paper, white or very clear (same type and colour of paper that was used to print the resume).
- Brief explanation of what you offer and want, without forgetting that the cover letter must be in accordance with what the company needs.
- Bring (from your CV or resume) only aspects relevant to the position (abilities, capacities, achievements). Do not make a new summary of your resume. Your resume talks about you, your cover letter about the company, the target…
- Use the cover letter to convince, to persuade the reader that you are the most appropriate candidate for the position, that you can perform the functions.
- Show enthusiasm and interest in the company. Write something about the company or industry that shows you know about them.
- Check your spelling, grammar and expressions before approving the letter.
- Use short phrases, concise but with a rich lexicon writing a cover letter. No more than four or five paragraphs.
- Avoid very formal expressions and facts. The cover letter is a measure of what you want to obtain.
- Use action verbs writing a cover letter.
- Do not overuse "I", it can give an egocentric image of the candidate.
- Do not use copies of cover letters or paragraphs previously used for other selection processes. Send an original cover letter to each employer.
- Write a resume cover letter in a creative way, oriented towards the client (the company), be flexible and always willing to work in a team and learn.
- Don’t forget to make your letter stand out and mention something which makes you special; make your potential employer want to go on to read your CV or resume. If you did a special course or have a great qualification, mention it and let yourself shine!
Why write a cover letter instead of sending only the CV?
- Writing a cover letter you are sure that you do not forget important things, excludes misunderstandings and also serves as reminder.
- You can select yours words and context meanings carefully.
- Because of the one-way-communication, you are able to structure your line of reasoning, without interference, thus not only gaining time, but also influencing the other party more effectively in less time.
- People take the written words with more attention than a phone call to introduce your CV, and always not interrupting to other people in their work
Can a cover letter be personal and effective?
Everyone of us must have the experience of receiving letters that could have been written for any person; nothing shows the sender is directing him/herself to you especially. The use of standard phrases leaves the reader (in this case the Human resources manager) to think that they and the company are not important for the person who is writing the cove letter. The can be read with only limited attention.
If you start the cover letter with: “I refer to your advertisement in the ……. where you ask for a ….…..”
The manager will not be surprised and will search for the real start of the letter. You will want him to think from the moment he starts reading, that your letter is worth reading a lot more than all the others: SO, BE ORIGINAL!! Always remember that the letter you write is representing you and you want to be invited for a interview and show that you are the most suitable candidate for the position you are applying.
The letter as an image-builder …
Imaging reading a letter with the following sentences:
In reference to your advertisement of … looking for….
Please, find enclosed…
Thanking you in advance…
I hope to be invited for an interview…
Your cover letter is formal, standard, boring. The text in this kind of cover letters lack character, personality and impact. The overall image will be one of pure routine.
If you learn to be creative, you can change your way of thinking and your creative sentences can be used more than one also. Show in your cover letter something more about you than only the academic background and experience. Show your interest in that company, show the skills you have and you have developed in many professional and personal areas…
Disadvantage of writing a cover letter…
A cover letter lacks intonation, facial expression and posture (body-language). This has to by balanced by the careful selection of words, action verbs and creative writing skills. Try something like this:
Dear Ms. Smith
I am currently a nursing student at …. and will graduate at the end of December this year. I am passionate about nursing and wish to work for a progressive, private health care company such as Ramsay Health Care.
Through my studies, I have achieved a great appreciation and understanding evidence based nursing practice and am an enthusiastic student who is keen to begin a career in nursing.
Before commencing my nursing studies, I worked in the financial sector with Deutsche Bank in advisory services. During this time I consulted and liaised with customers and assisted the CEO with a number of stakeholder objectives providing me with critical and valuable customer service skills, which I believe are second to none. I am keen to transfer my excellent customer service skills to the clinical environment.
Dear Mr. Smith
I am responding to your exciting ad in …….. regarding the Pharmaceutical Representative opportunity. Please regard this letter as my formal application. Enclosed is my CV detailing my extensive education, experience, and background.
I have had over 7 years experience in the sales and marketing field, and 5 years experience as a nurse. I have maintained a number o key contacts in the health care sector and would be keen to use my strong networking skills to help expand your organisations into new market areas.
Throughout my sales and marketing career I won top sales awards, and trained other sales representatives specific sales techniques to increase their sales. I enjoy working with the public, as well, demonstrating products, and educating others in their uses. I believe I would excel in pharmaceutical sales because I truly find sales a challenging and rewarding career. Additionally, my nursing background offers me a competitive advantage in providing a strong clinical background and understanding of products.
I am available for an interview at a mutually convenient time.
Thank you for your time and consideration.