The CV cover letter is your personal marketing tool. It should communicate why you are fit for the job and what you can offer the company. And more importantly, it should stir up the resource manager’s interest in interviewing you. Like the CV itself, the cover letter will make or break your job application. So don’t take it as only an introductory document to your CV. Prepare your cover letter in the same way you prepare your CV. The following are guidelines.
- Use a professional paper. If you are going to mail or hand-deliver your application, it is important to use a letter-size paper (8.5x13”). Choose a white, borderless paper. Keep away from those glossy, shiny kinds.
- Avoid handwriting your cover letter. Your goal is to immediately hook the resource manager into reading your cover letter. If she has to decode your handwriting, do you think she would continue reading your cover letter? No! So make sure to submit a word-processed cover letter. Even if your handwriting is beautiful and neat, it will be best to follow the standard presentation.
- Write the beginning of the letter. On the left side of the letter, write your name, your address, and the date. After a few lines, write the recipient’s name, her position, and the company. Remember to be very particular with the name and the position of the recipient. Getting them right means you made an effort to do your own research.
- Include a good salutation. Be direct with this. Write “Dear Mrs. Johnson” instead of writing “Dear Sir/Madam,” “Dear Mr./Mrs.,” or “To whom it may concern.” Remember that you have to make a connection to your recipient. You have to make her feel that you are communicating to her. Writing a generic salutation doesn’t help you achieve this.
- Develop the body of the letter. The body of the cover letter must be short, attention-grabbing and accurate. Start by explaining the purpose of the cover letter, and that is to apply for a specific position. State how you got to know the job opportunity. Then follow that with a brief explanation of why you want to assume the job and what you can contribute to the company. This is where you should subtly introduce your capabilities. Describe your skills in relation to the job requirements and the values of the company. Now, remember that a little research about the company is important here. If the resource manager finds out you’ve taken some time to get to know the company, your odds of getting the job are greater. Finally, make sure to mention your achievements in your previous jobs, which you think will be helpful in your job application.
- Write the closing of the letter. At the end of the letter, express your gratitude to the recipient for reading the cover letter. Express that you are looking forward to receiving her reply. In closing, write “Respectfully yours” or any of its variation. Put your name and affix your signature.
Remember to highlight your skills and strengths in the cover letter. You want to set yourself apart from the other applicants, so use this as your opportunity to market yourself. But don’t overdo it. Remember, there’s a very thin line between confidence and arrogance.