Letter to success

Whether you get that interview call or not often depends on your cover letter. Manasi Shah tells you what to keep in mind while writing it

  • Published 9.01.18
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Right after she graduated, Charu Sharma applied for a job in a reputed company. She had a strong academic record - with well-earned medals and awards - and along with her well-made CV, she was confident that she had a fighting chance of getting the job. It was only when she didn't receive even an interview call that she realised she had done something wrong. The missing element was a cover letter.

A cover letter enables applicants to connect with a recruiter and persuade him or her to consider their resume. It plays up the uniqueness of your candidature, what you are willing to contribute to the position and how enthusiastic you are.

"Cover letters are signi-ficant when it comes to pursuing interview requests," says Sashi Kumar, MD of the job site, Indeed India.

Getting the job of your dreams requires you to have the right education, experience and recommendations. The first step to fulfilling that dream is to have a neatly presented CV that gives a quick understanding of your potential. However, there will be many candidates with education, experience and CV similar to yours, or maybe even better. So what do you do to stand out? The cover letter is your best bet. Cover letters should be crisp and only elaborate on why you are a good fit for the company. Do not sell yourself; let your resume do the talking.

To many employers, a well-written cover letter is more important than an impressive resume because it reveals your work ethic and attention to detail. It provides a glimpse into your personality that a list of achievements can't. There lies the difference between a resume and the cover letter.

"A cover letter should be a reflection of your strengths, experience and skills. The most important factor while applying for a job is to cover correct salutations and the job applied for. This is where we see people missing out on," says Ajay Shah, vice-president - recruitment services, TeamLease Services. "Take time to make sure you're submitting for the correct job. Please note a lot of times the cover letter works as your first impression," he adds.

A well-written cover letter is an opportunity to highlight your key attributes and demonstrate your experience in relation to the job description. One must always tailor the cover letter as per the job description and exhibit a keenness to join the team and contribute in a positive spirit.

Often, people do not know how to showcase their abilities when there is no face-to-face interaction. Vaishali Jain, entrepreneur and founder of getmyresumes.in, started her website for that reason. "People fail to showcase the capabilities to handle the next level in the growth path, they always focus on what they have done, contributed and achieved so far in the career, and to bridge this gap, I started getmyresumes.in."

"People are now understanding the importance of cover letter as a document to complement the resume and they are willing to invest time and effort in it and also get them professionally written," says Jain.

Recruiters receive many applications for each job posting and cover letters enable them to take a decision on the candidature. It helps them know what a person is bringing to the table and how he or she can contribute to the job. If they like what they see, it will take the time to take a closer look at your CV and even shortlist you for an interview.

One of the commonest mistakes made by students is that they don't proof-read cover letters, so grammatical errors and other typos creep in. In order to make things look pretty, they also use fancy fonts and colours but recruiters do not appreciate that at all.

A cover letter should be brief, no longer than 3-4 lines per section; people have short attention spans. Complete your research on the company and position before you put pen to paper.

There is no such thing as a generic cover letter - repeat - there is no such thing as a generic cover letter. You must create a new one for every position you apply. The next time you apply for a job, do include a cover letter. In case you need some inspiration, the Internet has a lot to offer!

COVER DRIVE

• A cover letter should not be longer than a page.
• The heading of your resume and cover letter should be identical. Heading should include your name and contact information so your cover letter and resume can be reunited if they get separated.
• Use simple language and the same font and style as your resume.
• Customise your cover letter to the recipient.
• A cover letter is a business letter, so write it that way.
• The cover letter should have three paragraphs:
• The first one should state the post you are applying for, why you are interested and how you are a good fit. Read up on the company for these points. 
• The second should have your qualifications, experience and interests, especially those that match the employer’s needs, briefly. It should say why the reader should be interested in you. 
• The closing could be used to highlight a career achievement or two of particular relevance to the job. Bring the letter to a polite close, stating that you are looking forward to meeting him or her. 

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