How to Catch a Hiring Manager’s Attention with Your Cover Letter

 

A cover letter in a job application is not simply a way of showing your intent to apply for a vacant position. It is a bridge between you and the hiring manager’s decision to read your résumé or curriculum vitae (CV). The absence of a cover letter indirectly tells employers that you are not really as interested as you portray. If you cannot be bothered to write one, then they cannot be bothered to read your CV as well.

Employers also look for “personality” when they screen applications. A cover letter is a representation of yourself; therefore, it must project the kind of person that you are. Leave the details of your experiences in your CV; make your cover letter a connection between the employer and you. Below are some tips that will help you make a stand-out cover letter.

1.Know what you really want to do

Have a clear knowledge of the type of job that will give you fulfillment, both personally and professionally. Go beyond salary and other job-related perks and privileges. These are intrinsic factors why we seek employment. Career advancement, great work environment, opportunity to learn and improve, and flexible working hours are some factors that can arouse excitement on your part. These are important because when you write your cover letter, you will be able to convey your own personality and why the job is important to you.

2.Apply to jobs that appeal most to you

One common mistake of job-seekers is to send as many applications as possible with the thinking that the more CVs sent, the better the chance of getting at least a chance to be interviewed. At times, this thinking borders on desperation. This also leads to creating generic cover letters that lack personality.

Setting your sights on vacant positions that elicits excitement on your part propels that drive that will make you say “I want this job”. It will motivate you to put your best effort to prove that you’re the right person for the position and that attitude will reflect in your cover letter. Instead of conveying despair, you will be able to write a letter showing enthusiasm about the prospect of being hired.

3.Do your homework

Know the company that you are planning to apply to. Understand their mission and vision, what they want they do and what they want to achieve. Learn about the specifics of the position you are applying for. Gone are days when cover letters talk mostly about the applicants. Hiring managers today look for prospects that will fit in immediately. Knowledge of the company will help you craft your cover letter specifically for the company’s need.

One other way of showing due diligence in applying for the job post is to know the name of the hiring manager. At times, this information is included in the job ads; if it is not, use every means possible to obtain that name. Addressing your cover letter to the person who is actually going to read it creates an impression that you really are serious about having a conversation, as compared to the generic “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Ma’am”.

4.Start your letter with a strong, attention-grabbing statement

“I’m writing you because…” (and versions of it) is no longer effective. It is a sure way of getting your application straight to the trash bin. Instead, open your letter with bold statements like “Two years of creative experience is what I can bring to the table!” Then talk about the company and how your knowledge and skills fit in to the general mold. Likewise, don’t try to be funny or ridiculous.

5.Be specific

Do away with phrases like “I’m the best person for the job”, “I’m a team player”, and the likes. Employers have read those a thousand times, even from the most unqualified applicants. Refer to your previous experiences and use them to explain why you are the “best”. Cite specific examples of how you are a team player and relate these examples to the requirement of the job. Better still, mention your previous accomplishments that brought you success in your previous job.

6.Keep your letter short, but information-laden

Employers prefer to read cover letters that are short, but meaningful. Always keep in mind that hiring managers read hundreds of them. If you can capture your essence in just a few words, do so. The rule of the thumb is not to exceed one page. Let your CV talk about the details of your previous experiences; just highlight a few points in your cover letter that will encourage the reader to look at your CV.

7.Tailor-fit your cover letter to the company you are applying to

This means that if you have several prospects, don’t create a “one-cover-letter-fits-all” application. You may use the same format mentioned above, but make sure that each one is written specifically for each company. Never ever recycle cover letters. The employer may see multiple similar standard template letters. This will put him off

8.Proofread and edit

This is a very important facet of any written communication, especially when an opportunity is on the line. Employers do not require in their job ads that you write a grammatically-correct and spelling-error-free letter, but they will surely notice if you commit such mistakes. A well-written letter free of grammar and spelling mistakes is also not a guarantee that you will receive an invitation for an interview, but that is riddled with errors is a guarantee that you’ll never even get a chance. Always have someone read and edit your cover letter.

9.Include all the information asked for in Job Description

Include all the information and answers to questions that have been asked for in the Job Description. E.g., if the employer has asked for 2 references, do not include 10. If he has asked for Visa details to verify work authorization, do include it. If the employer has asked for a total cost of a project in the case of freelancers, when you respond with hourly rate do also include how many hours you would require to complete a particular tasks, this will give the employer an idea of total cost involved. 

Writing a cover letter is your way of building a connection with a prospective employer. It will create that “first impression” that will urge the hiring manager to read your CV and possibly schedule an interview with you. Make each sentence in your cover letter excite your future employer about you; make them want you to join their company.

 

(Article Written by Rico Enginco)

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