In last week’s Business English segment, we explored effective tips for writing impressive resumes. Your resume is the primary piece of information in a job application as it includes all necessary background information in an organized and easy to read manner. However, there is another integral element to the job application process, the cover letter. Unlike a resume, a cover letter is written in a- you guessed it- letter format. It should be formal and professional and include more in-depth explanation than your resume. Here are some helpful hints to remember when writing your cover letter:
1) Always Tailor it: When applying to several jobs it’s easy to create one cover letter to send to all your potential employers, this is a rookie mistake. Generalized cover letters are often viewed as impersonal and moreover, that you aren’t serious about the job. It is okay to create a cover letter template, but you should personalize each one to include information about the company, organization and job for which you are applying.
2) Nix Fancy Formatting: While it’s important not to submit a general cover letter, it is ironically, imperative that you ensure the structure and format of your cover letter is standardized. It should be black ink on white paper, 12 point font in Ariel or Times New Roman. Similarly, it should follow a set structure like this:
- Top: Include your name, contact information and the date
- Beginning: Keep it formal. Always address your potential employer by their name and job title
- Body: Cover all the basics. Address what position you are applying to and why you’re interested, your relevant job experience, education, qualifications and what you can bring to the position
- Conclusion: End the letter by thanking the employer for their time and re-instate your interest in the position and having an interview. Make sure to end it with something sincere like “I hope we can both agree on the potential success of this opportunity” or “Thank you for your time and consideration,” etc.
3) Content cut-backs: Much like with a resume, an employer is busy and often doesn’t have time to read about your entire life experiences. While you want to include important information and expand on the details of your resume, you should still remain relevant and succinct. It is best to include only your most recent experience and qualifications.
4) Don’t re-write your resume: You already have a resume, so use the cover letter as an opportunity to explain, in detail, about experiences, qualifications and accomplishments you’ve achieved in previous positions. Build upon what you have stated in a bullet point on your resume but don’t merely repeat all the same information.
5) Always Proofread: I don’t think this can be stressed enough; proofreading is essential to success. After you’ve reviewed your letter extensively, have others read it to give a second opinion. Ensure your cover letter does not extend one page.
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