By guest blogger Sailee Sarangdhar, Head of Content Marketing at Taskworld.
Most of us have a detailed resume or curriculum vitae saved somewhere on our computers. It’s a document that professionals should make an effort to keep up to date, even if you do have steady employment. If you’re not doing this, it’s probably time to make that long-awaited update.
With the job market being what it is at the moment, just a resume is no longer enough to land you the job. It is just one part of what can now be called the ‘job application email’ that also usually includes a cover letter, a portfolio, and sometimes even a letter of recommendation. Nailing all of these is the first step to making a confident start to the application process.
What’s the point of a Cover Letter?
Your cover letter essentially explains to prospective employers why they should choose you for this job. It gives you a chance to explain yourself and tell your story. This aspect of storytelling is what you need to master in order to really make the most of what many consider a useless document.
The cover letter is a tricky one and here’s why:
It is the only part of your application that needs to be tailored-made to fit the job you are applying for. But that doesn’t mean that every part of it needs to be re-written from scratch every time. Your story stays the same. Your skills stay the same. You just need to explain to the reader how your story and your skill set are perfect for the job.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Create a Timeline
Even though your resume will tell the hiring manager what you did when, think of your timeline as the plotline of your career. For example, if you were one of those people who did internships throughout your education, this is your chance to explain to a hiring manager why you did that and what you learned from it. It shows them that you are someone dedicated to exploring your career options and that you have good multi-tasking and time management skills, which is something everyone looks for in a prospective hire.
2. Nail the Tone of Voice
Do some research on the company you are applying to. Write in a way that acknowledges the company’s personality. For example, if you are applying to a very corporate or large organization, make sure you keep the language professional and to the point. However, if the company has a smaller, cool startup vibe, or you are applying for a creative position, you can go for the jugular and be more upbeat and use your sense of humor.
3. No Humble Pie Here
No one likes to toot his or her own horn. This is part of what makes writing cover letters so uncomfortable. Telling a faceless person what makes you the perfect candidate can be daunting, but you have to do it to get employment. Don’t be shy about your achievements, highlight them and explain what you learned from them.
4. Say Why You Want It
Not only do you have to demonstrate to the hiring manager why you are right for the job, but you also have explain why you want it. Make sure that the person reading your cover letter knows what you are planning on getting out of this position you are applying to. Explain your motivation so they understand your expectations. Your ability to walk the fine line between desperation and commitment will be tested here.
5. End It On a Happy Note
While the Cover Letter may start feeling like an essay as you start to write it, it is essentially, a letter. So make sure that you apply the standard letter format while writing it, starting with a Dear Sir/Madame and ending it with a Kind Regards or a Sincerely. Make sure you add in a line about hoping to hear back from them before your closing remarks to show them that you expect the best result because you are a deserving candidate.
* This blog first appeared at http://blog.taskworld.com.