Friday, Jun 23rd

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Cover Letters

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Not many of us are in the habit of using cover letters. Not having a cover letter may not hamper your candidateship for a job, but attaching it along with your resume (or should I say attaching your resume with the cover letter) will surely enhance the chances. Employers look for individualized and thoughtfully written cover letters as one of the methods of filtering out the sufficiently interested candidates from the not so interested ones or those who lack necessary basic skills.

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So what is a cover letter? 

A cover letter (also called a covering letter) is a letter of introduction accompanying another document such as your  resume or curriculum vitae. It gives a brief of what the attached document (with this cover letter) is, why it is there and a little information on who the sender is. 

If you have used naukri or monster to search for jobs, you must have seen the mails you get when a job consultancy asks for your CV. The mail in itself is a cover letter introducing the company asking for employment applications and describing the job.

Now that we have a fair idea of what cover letters are, let’s see how you can write one effectively and if there are any rules you should follow.

Basic Format

Cover letters should never exceed one page. There should be 2 sections apart from the address at the top – title and body.

  • Title. Cover letters use standard business letter style complete with sender’s and recipient’s addresses. The title contains a one-liner describing the cover letter, for example, “Internship Opportunity at Global Corporation". This should then be followed by the body beginning with a salutation (e.g., "Dear Hiring Managers"). Refer to the Sample Cover letter at the end.
  • Body. This is where you talk to the recruiter. The body explains why you are interested in the job and how your skills could be of value to the employer. Also, matters discussed typically include skills, qualifications, and past. If there are any special things to note such as availability date, they may be included as well. There should be 3 parts to it
FIRST PARAGRAPH
 Identify the position for which you are applying.
 State how you learned of the position and why you are interested in the position or organization.

SECOND PARAGRAPH 
Summarize why you are a strong candidate for the position.
 Target the job description and specifically discuss how your skills relate to the job requirements.
 Highlight one or two of your accomplishments or abilities that show you are an excellent candidate for the position.
Detail positive characteristics and past experiences that illustrate how your qualifications will benefit the organization.

CLOSING PARAGRAPH 
Indicate that you would like the opportunity to interview for a position or to talk with the employer to learn more about their opportunities.
Thank the person for considering your résumé and offer to provide additional information.
Include your phone number and when you can be reached. 

After the closing is a valediction ("Sincerely"), and then a signature line. Optionally, the abbreviation "ENCL" may be used to indicate that there are enclosures.

Find a Sample Cover Letter here.

Some closing tips

Convince the reader to look at your resume.
The cover letter will be seen first. Therefore, it must be very well written, without any spelling mistakes or typos, and should impress the recruiter right from the word go. For some recruiters, a single typo would have the cover letter taste the garbage bin. Use a word processor to correct your resume’s typos.

Call attention to elements of your background — your education, experience relevant to the position should be very well highlighted.

Avoid fancy fonts. Always avoid any fancy fonts. Mostly use a business font such as Arial. No colors. Black on white reproduces easily. Use a plain white paper. No deckled finishes or colors either. Print your cover letter and resume on a laser printer. DeskJet printer ink smudges.

Keep it short. Your cover letter should be one page in length and perfectly justified. Don’t fold the cover letter or the resume. Place them in an envelope large enough to accommodate them unfolded.

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