In an age where online applications are the norm, some think that the cover letter is obsolete. However, the cover letter is as important as ever in both email and paper applications. You still have to maintain a certain standard of business communication, no matter what medium you use. Being too informal in your communications for any kind of job search will end badly even if you are the perfect candidate.
So how do you write a killer cover letter? Here are some tips to help you out:
Customize the letter for each application
Instead of writing a generic letter for all job applications, take the time to personalize it for each job opening. Look up the company on the internet and research the HR department to find out who you have to address the letter to. If you do not have any leads, you could even call up the company and ask who to send a job application to. If, for some reason, you do not get a name, you can use the title of the person in charge too.
Do not stop at just the salutation of your cover letter. Research the company and find out the mission, values, and core competencies of the company, CrossroadsConsulting.com is a great resource for this. Align your own resume and work history with these areas to make yourself seem like a better fit for the position. Recruiters will be able to better judge how well you will fit into their company and how viable you would be as a team member. It may be hard to write specialized cover letters for each specific job, but the trained recruiters at CrossroadsConsulting.com are a good resource to discuss what to write about.
Focus on your achievements
You can make your cover letter more effective by highlighting key achievements in your career that are relevant to the job opening and overall corporate identity of the company. You do not need to go into the details; that is what your resume is for. Instead, highlight only the important concepts. Emphasize these accomplishments in your resume too, so that recruiters will clearly understand and remember that these are your strong points. Emphasizing accomplishments on your resume also helps you grab the attention of hiring managers who did not read your cover letter. Not everyone bothers with it, but you can never say how a recruiter or hiring manager screens cover letters and resumes.
Follow the appropriate email etiquette
If you plan on sending a job application via email, spend some time customizing your cover letter for it. Make sure that your subject line is appropriate for email, since it is the first thing that recruiters will notice when they open their inbox. Stick to the bare basics and add your name in the subject to facilitate name recognition. For instance, “John Hancock- Sales Executive Application” is an example of an appropriate subject line for an email application. You can use the body of your paper cover letter as the text for your email, attach your resume, and send it.
Get the basics right
Do not forget the basics of spelling, format, and business grammar while customizing your cover letter. You can use formatting to add a unique spin to your letter, but do not make it too flashy. Overly distinctive fonts, personal photos, and colored or textured paper are never welcome in a cover letter.
Review and proofread your cover letter at least five times and make sure that it aligns well with the job opening you are applying for. Make sure that the letter is not only accurate, but contains all the information that the employer requested and has no grammar or spelling mistakes.