Career Management

Cover Letter 101 – Tips for Writing a Job Winning Cover Letter


Writing an engaging cover letter that captures the reader’s attention is sometimes a challenging task. However a well crafted cover letter can help you differentiate yourself and provide the hiring manager an overview of your value proposition.

Cover letters compel hiring managers to read your resume. Its main purpose is to capture an employer’s attention, entice them to read through your resume and call you for an interview. Before you start working on your cover letter, you should do a thorough research of the organization and the skills required for the job. Do not create one cover letter for all your applications. Customize the letter based on the job description and the organization.

Look at the company’s website, its executives’ Twitter feeds, and employee profiles on LinkedIn. Do some research beyond reading the job description. Find out what challenges the company is facing and how your role would help address those. Knowing the company better also helps you decide on the right tone to use in your cover letter. Think about the culture of the organization you’re applying to. - HBR

There are 3 main components to a cover letter – 1) Hook 2) Match/Link and Promise 3) Ask

1) Hook – The opening of your cover letter should be strong. Start with a strong opening sentence or perhaps a punch line that catches their attention. A unique introduction is critical to put a hook right at the beginning, so the recruiter can separate your resume from the others in his stack.

The problem with most job seekers is that their opening sentences are cliché. Statements like– “Please accept my application to the job you posted” or “This is a reply to the position you advertised” are just common. They won’t catch the employer’s attention. It is your sales pitch sans the pushy or needy tone. Take this for example: “With 6 years of goal-oriented experience in providing quality nursing care in a medical-surgical ward setting, I am offering…” The thing about this opening line is that it already addresses the need of the employer. It goes straight to the point and goes clear with its purpose: you are applying for the position.

2) Match/Link and Promise – Always remember to address the fit between the audience, job criteria and your personal brand. Define the audience and speak their language. You should pick up some key words from the job description and use them while talking about your skill sets, thus making a connection with the reader.

Display an intense knowledge of the company/industry and organize the content to link that with your skills to show how you can help the organization. Do not overstate or explain too much. Have 1‐2 brief pieces of specific, results‐oriented evidence for each promise you are making: short powerful evidence statements. Remember to limit the length of your cover letter to 3/4th of a page on Microsoft Word. Do not repeat your resume; only highlight certain aspects from it. You words should display genuine passion for the job.

3) Ask – The last part of your resume should be your suggestion of next steps to the reader which in most cases is asking for an opportunity to interview with the company.

It is appropriate to send a follow-up email in a week after submitting your application as a reminder of your continued interest and willingness to submit additional information if needed. A cover letter that is well crafted and proof-read is sure to push your candidacy up several notches to get you an opportunity for an interview.

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