Cover Letter Tips

The cover letter is usually given the least importance, job seekers not knowing that it is the first to strike a recruiter’s eye. The cover letter, like the resume, is a marketing tool and an impressive letter makes the right impression. Your resume may be perfect and should a recruiter have the time to get to it, may have a positive outcome but a shoddy cover letter gets it dumped. Get it right with a few of these tips.

  • As in resumes, customize each cover letter keeping the target company and job position in mind.
  • Keep it brief, formal, grammatically correct and concise. Do not use clichéd openings like “enclosed please find…” regardless of whether you send a printed version or email an application.
  • If the application is in response to some mutual acquaintance’s recommendation, start by mentioning the name.
  • Just summarize your past work and present job in a couple of lines leading to an explanation as to why you are applying for the present job, stating something about the company and the position and what you hope to achieve.
  • Restrict yourself to a single, most important achievement in your present or past job, devoting a paragraph of two lines or three.
  • Cover letter should be neatly laid out as regards typography, structure, paragraph formation with the use of formal fonts such as “Times New Roman” in 11 or 12 point font size, top, left and right margins.
  • Do not forget to include your name, address and contact details at the top. Make absolutely sure the cover letter does not contain any errors or mistakes.
  • Get someone to read and assess it on points as to whether it puts the message across. A neutral perspective can show you defects and help you refine your cover letter.
  • If you are sending in a printed resume, use good quality A4 white sheets. If you are sending by email, make sure formatting is not lost by converting to a universal format such as .pdf.
  • It may surprise you but some recruiters assign more importance to the way a cover letter looks and is worded, as proof of how careful and meticulous an applicant is about presentation. It is a projection of your personality so give special efforts to the cover letter.

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A resume is where it all starts, a recruiter deciding whether to shortlist you or reject you for a job opening. Write an effective resume with these tips and stand a better chance of an interview leading to a job.

  • Do not prepare one resume you will submit to all possible recruiters. Learn to tailor a resume to a specific company and job requirements. A resume is marketing where you sell yourself so customize to suit target.
  • Keep it concise, with bullet points for important qualifications and achievements on the job.
  • Structure it will, categorizing various sections so that a recruiter can jump to a particular point without waste of time. When you mention skills and experience, state how these helped your present or past employers and how they can help your targeted employer. Mention achievements, not job responsibilities, as an indicator of your capabilities.
  • Support claims with actual experience and achievements. Use titles for each section and description.
  • Customize each resume for each application with the right set of keywords that will convince a recruiter to pick your resume for an interview call.
  • Once done, read a resume objectively, from a recruiter’s perspective to know if it sets out your qualification and experience as desirable enough to shortlist for an interview. The most important and relevant information should be on the first page since most recruiters glance through resumes and it is the eye-catching points that help them decide to trash or shortlist your resume. Better still, have someone else critically review the resume.
  • Give attention to layout, structuring it with paragraphs, headings, titles, bullet points and the choice of right typography, using fonts large enough to be read legibly but not too large as to make the contents stretch out to pages. Contents are equally important with least mention of negatives, either about yourself or your past employers. Format it and save in a format, usually .pdf, where formatting is retained on any system or OS.
  • Prepare a cover letter to go with the resume. Never send it unpacked even if it is by email. If you are mailing a printed version, use very good quality white A4 sheets.