In today's competitive job market, an impressive cover letter along with a resume might make all the difference in the end. Purnima Goswami Sharma tells you about the art of writing cover letters "A well drafted cover letter is a door that leads to the resume, the resume then leads to the interview and interview to the job. Cover letters should be clear and concise, not longer than a page and must be attached even when applying online," states Swati Lodha, who is a management Guru, an author and a motivational Speaker.
The content of a cover letter should be customised (from company to company) and be specific to the position one is applying for. Avoid writing 'whomsoever it may concern'. Always address it to the specific person. Mention the job title that you are applying for in the first paragraph as the recruiter who reads your letter may be hiring for several other posts simultaneously.
Simple is good
The cover letter is an asset that will pave the way for your future job, so draft it carefully. "It should not contain too much information about you but have elements which would tempt the interviewer to see your resume. Remember that your cover letter will stand out if you add an element of creativity to it," states Ganesh Somwanshi, director, Krescendo Communications. It should have three to four brief paragraphs which include a brief summary about your challenges, achievements and accolades.
Complement your resume
"A good cover letter acts like a good starter before a meal, thereby creating an impression and generating curiosity. Be polite and conversational without losing the essence of professionalism. It should not duplicate, but complement your resume," adds Shiana Makhija, chief human resources officer, Reliance Media Works Limited. Focus on aspects that relate directly to the job opportunity. Communicate the way in which your skills and experiences can be of value to the particular employer.
Show a positive attitude
The letter should reflect your assertiveness and positive attitude. "Never give out any negative aspect of the existing job or show your frustration. It's a big put off for the company," advises Somwanshi. You could even incorporate excerpts of performance reviews to highlight your record of success. "Avoid using too many 'I' and 'Me' sentences in the letter.
Do not boast
A cover letter should show that you are confident but avoid bragging. "Most importantly, do not boast about your contacts and provide high profile references in the cover letter," suggests Dr. Anuj Saxena MD, Elder Health Care Limited. When it comes to references, updating is of paramount importance. "References should always be given from people you have interacted in the recent past. Ideally, choose people who know your academic or professional work, and who will say good things about you. Speak with your references in advance," says Saxena. Don't forget to mention your contact information as well as links to your portfolio or samples of your work.
"Use active voice when writing a cover letter. Always check the copy for spelling errors and grammatical mistakes and use a font size that is readable. Do not use bold words or grand phrases out of context," advises Saxena. The first impression on any company is based upon the overall appearance of the letter. Finally, thank the individual and mention that you are looking forward to meeting him/ her again. A cover letter is an integral part of your presence in the job market. It is the most efficient marketing tool alongwith the resume, so take pains to ensure that your cover letter stands out of the crowd.