Sunday, October 18, 2009

5 Tips in Writing a Cover Letter

In my previous blog, I was asked to write something about how to write cover letters. Although I promised to come up with one within one to two days, due to some unforeseen, I was unable to write one circumstances (sorry Anonymous, whoever you are). Finally, I have the time to write one (hope it’s not too late). Same as my last post, I have to add a caveat here. I am by no means an expert on writing cover letters. I have written even less cover letters than resume in my 12+ years of experience in accounting / auditing. So I do not profess to be an expert. That said; I do have experience in looking through cover letters so the tips I’m going to provide below are more on the side of the interviewer / hirer rather than the interviewee / new hire.


The first thing to remember is that the cover letter is your sales letter. And what are you selling? Yourself, of course. Your cover letter will basically tell your potential employer whether it will be worth his / her time to read through your resume and to call you for an interview. So, when you write that cover letter, make sure that you are writing the best cover letter (that you can write) on your side of the Earth. Okay, an exaggeration, I know. But if you’re a new graduate in need of a job in a good company where you will have lots of competition, your cover letter should put you on a class above everybody else. Unless you graduated with honors and at the top of your class and the companies are all after you to hire you, then you won’t need that cover letter. But for the rest of us, mere mortals, a good, no, great! cover letter is the way to go. Enough of the intro, let me just go through some basic tips:


Keep it simple. Use simple words. Write short sentences (don’t make your whole paragraph a one-sentence thing). No fancy words please. No slang words either. A cover letter that is worded in a simple manner connotes professionalism, something that you will need if you’re going to apply in a professional firm (like the Big 4).


Go straight to the point. The advice is to limit your cover letter to one page ONLY. This is so you will be able to capture quickly and retain the attention of the one reading your cover letter. State your objectives in a forthright and concise manner. Include brief (but thorough) descriptions of your accomplishments. Not beating around the bush may be cliché, but this really applies when you’re writing that cover letter.


Keep a positive, upbeat tone. This will ensure that you will give a positive impression to your potential customer. Use active, instead of passive voice, as the former will make your cover letter look more dynamic and interesting.


Customize it. In your quest for a job, you may have applied in a lot of companies and writing a single, uniform cover letter may be a little bit too tempting (saves you the hassle of thinking about writing various cover letters). But this is not recommended, not even for applying for jobs that are (more or less) similar to each other. Always customize your cover letter to make the contents more appropriate for the job you are applying for. Even if you know the jobs are similar in nature, take the time to tweak your cover letter every time you submit it.


Write to impress. When writing and submitting your cover letter, keep in mind that you need to impress your potential employer with that one-page letter. What does this mean exactly? One, no matter how short the cover letter is; do not forget to include (even highlight) your accomplishments that you think your prospective employer is looking for in an applicant. Two, if you know something positive about the firm, state so in your cover letter so that you will be able to show that you are really interested in working in the firm. Three, do not forget to stress any quality that you have which you think is unique and is of interest to your potential employer. These three, among all the other tips, will make your cover letter stand out among the rest.


So there you have it, 5 tips (I won’t say they are simple) in writing a cover letter. Before I end this post, I just want to make two more points. Do not forget to PROOFREAD your work. Check for errors in both grammar and spelling. Failure to do so will make your letter look sloppy; which may also be a reflection of your personality and professionally capacity. Lastly, do some research before writing that killer cover letter. The Internet is positively booming with all sources related to cover letters, as well as samples of cover letter. I’m sure you will find one that suits your needs. Just don’t forget to customize your letter. No matter how great the source is, you will still need to customize it and add your personal touch to that letter. Good luck in your job application.

22 comments:

  1. The site has moved away from what made it so great....telling how it is and some insights on maybe what is the negative aspect of the career, where its heading to the future and how it affects your career on a personal level. It was also nice to have the original format where it offered people a chance to see the other side of the "CA...Nothing Less" mumbo jumbo that can and is deceiving so much of the time.

    Resumes, cover letters, how to do well is fine, but just have a look at the earlier posts and see whats happened. At this rate it will turn into another generic blog.

    Don't wanna sound too negative, but I'm just saying this because the original format was so unique and could not be found anywhere else.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Anonymous. I really appreciate your comment. I guess being new to this blog, I'm still feeling my way around what the readers want or do not want. Your comment helps me see a different (albeit welcome) perspective and I shall take this into account for my next posts. Do come back and check once in a while and leave your comment. They will always be much appreciated. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I got hired with a two page cover letter, but it was awesome - I wouldn't make that claim unless it worked... getting the recruiter to say, "your cover letter wasn't like anyone else's", in a good way is key. :)

    I wouldn't recommend that anyone pull that stunt unless they know what they're doing though.

    --

    Budding into the sidebar, this is recruiting season - tons of applicants need to know how to apply. Those who got laid off need to know how to re-apply, so the posts are relevant, but arguably getting less timely for CA students as the season is almost over for some, and of course pretty much completely over for in Canada.

    Having said that, my most recent post at krupo.ca has abandoned that topic and I'm backing to talking AuditLife. Lots of variety out there keeps things interesting. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Krupo, you must be a very good writer to catch the attention of your recruiter. Congratulations on getting that job!

    And thanks for the comment on the sidebar. I'll try to keep in mind about the posts being not so relevant.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous high fidelity. I really appreciate your comment. I guess this new blog, I still feel like me, what readers want or not want. Your comments help us to see different (though welcome) point of view, and should take this into account in my next post. Go back and check from time to time and leave a comment. , Is always appreciated. Thanks again... :)

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  9. I got hired with a two page cover letter, but it was awesome - I wouldn't make that claim unless it worked... getting the recruiter to say, "your cover letter wasn't like anyone else's", in a good way is key. :) I wouldn't recommend that anyone pull that stunt unless they know what they're doing though.

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