6 must-haves for your cover letters

A cover letter is your 30-second elevator pitch on a paper – a one page summary of your resume and that answers the question: why should the hiring manager choose you? It is vital then, to make sure that it is succinct and grabs attention. Human Resource managers and recruiters spend just seconds going through cover letters before shortlisting applications. It’s essential you know how to write compelling cover letters. Here’s how you can make yours stand out!

1. Introduce yourself

  • Start by giving out your name, professional email address and phone number. Make sure you can be reached through the phone number you give out.
  • Specify the position you’re applying for. It could look like this – ‘RE: Application for the position of Marketing Manager.’
  • Make an effort to address the recruiter, the person in charge of going through your cover letter, by name. Search on LinkedIn, ask company contacts or make a call to find out. If you can’t, address the letter to ‘Whom It May Concern.’ Addressing the letter to the recruiter makes your cover letter personal and appealing.

2. The pitch

  • After the introduction, it’s time to pitch yourself to the prospective employer.
  • Weave in in your experience and achievements into the opening line along with the position you’re applying for. For instance, rather than write ‘I’m applying for the position of Marketing Manager’, you can write ‘Having had three years of experience as a Marketing Manager with three awards to my name, I’d like to apply for the position of Marketing Manager’ which makes your cover letter interesting and invites the recruiter to read further.
  • Don’t just list your experience and accomplishments. Your resume does that for you. Avoid making the your pitch too long, complicated or verbose. Keep it short and crisp.

3. Match skills/experience

  • Find out the required skills and experience as specified in the job description by the company.
  • Match your skills and experience with the company’s requirements. Starting with those that matter the most.
  • A few short bullet points will do. Again, don’t make it too long or verbose.
  • Research the company to learn about the company’s culture and personalise the letter to fit the company’s values.

4. Expand on achievements

  • Don’t hesitate to mention relevant achievements.
  • If possible, quantify your achievements. For example, you could say ‘The company’s revenues grew 25% under my management’ than say ‘the revenues grew a lot’.
  • Mention accolades/recognitions for outstanding work performed in your earlier jobs.

5. Express passion/enthusiasm

  • Unlike your resume, it’s alright to let your passion or enthusiasm for the job show in your cover letter.
  • Add in a line on why you’re excited about the job or how you feel it’s your dream come true. Share your vision for the future and how it aligns with the opportunity.
  • Again, everything is only good in moderation. Don’t go overboard with unbridled passion.

6. End well

  • Be polite and express gratitude to the recruiter for considering your application.
  • Drop in a line about how you expect to hear from the recruiter and sign beneath.
  • A good ending could be like this – ‘Thank you for viewing my application. Looking forward to hear from you.’

Make sure the cover letter is proofread and all mistakes/typos are corrected before submitting it with your resume. Check on the status of your job application from time to time and request feedback from the company in the event of rejection. A cover letter is the first hurdle that determines whether your application goes further or gets dumped. Personalise your letter for each one of your job applications. Make sure you get it right. If you’re a job seeker, you can also register online at iimjobs.com for some great job opportunities.


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