Cover Letter Companion

people with papersOften considered the mayo to the proverbial work search sandwich, cover letters are an intriguing job search document.

Why mayo? This condiment can be polarizing; some live by it, some are horrified by its ‘nutritional’ value, and others proceed with ambivalence, they are ignoring this post and enjoying their respective meals.

Job seekers take a similar, eclectic approach to cover letters.

When applying to different job competitions, some seekers always include a cover letter, some may only include if specified, and others may include one depending on if there’s a decent version saved in a convenient location.

Unless explicitly stated within the application directions, I would always advise job seekers to include a cover letter with their résumé.

Most of the time, cover letters are an extremely underutilized component, an afterthought before you click send. Almost like the feeling that something’s missing before you take a bite out of that sandwich.

If you are actively seeking employment, be sure to follow these tips to improve your chances of job search document success.

Greetings
How do you address the letter?
To Whom It May Concern is quite impersonal and dated.
Dear Sir or Madam has a similar connotation. Unless you know specifically who to address the letter to, try using Dear Recruiter or Dear Hiring Team –both salutations are more modern and the latter implies knowledge of the competition process.

Be Consistent
A cover letter needs to have the same font size and same style as your résumé. Remember, you are reinforcing your brand and consistency is key.

If you are rushed for time and working from an old cover letter, be sure to change the name of the position at the start of the document AND at the end. A quick overview will save you from this error.

computer girlToo many I’s
I know when I read cover letter, I am very irritated when I see “I” at the beginning of every sentence. I think it’s too much. I think you should avoid this error. I understand it might a challenge, but I strongly recommend it.

Wasn’t that statement annoying? It can be a challenge, but you can lead with a verb or combine statements to avoid excessive “I” use. Read the cover letter out loud to avoid any jarring constructions. Oftentimes, whenever you read something out loud and it sounds off, it’s likely also grammatically incorrect.

Practice Brevity
Cover Letters need not evolve into thesis papers. Try using bullet points to summarize your qualifications over mammoth paragraphs. Done well, this adjustment is two-fold, it will alleviate the use of “I” and it can really zero in on key competencies for the employer.

Don’t be a Bully
Some online resources suggest job seekers take a more aggressive approach in their writing tone. Example: “I will be contacting you next week to set-up an interview time.” The rationale behind this assertion is that job seekers need make an impact in such a competitive job market.

The larger the organization, the less likely they will appreciate your forceful style. You can make an impact by highlighting key competencies and relevance to the job posting.

Remember, there is a fine line between being assertive versus being aggressive, especially when it is in writing. If you feel your statements are too aggressive, definitely consider revising.

How to Apply?                                                                                                                               Apply with both your résumé and cover letter as one attachment, as a complete application. Most professionals appreciate having to open one attachment to view all the information in a message. Apply this strategy to your work search.

A carefully built cover letter is the mayo of job search documents. Done well, it can add texture and depth to an existing application. Don’t miss an opportunity to add this type of flavour profile.

Following these steps will assist in cultivating your cover letter writing skills and hopefully your sandwich.

LidiaSiino– Lidia Siino
Journalism and Communications Media ’02
Follow Lidia @Lidzini

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