Job-hopping is one of the most difficult tasks in the life of a professional, no one likes it. But, then you are forced to do that because of a lot of reasons, sometimes due to reasons beyond your control and wish.
Admitting that you have to look for better opportunities, one of the critical aspects of finding the right job and grabbing it is preparing a wonderful cover letter. I am sure not many of you would be aware of how to prepare a cover letter and how it is so crucial for you as a job-seeking professional.
The truth is that cover letters are still very important and not sending them along with your CV is actually a sign of showing laziness. It’s like making typo errors in your CV, which is an absolute NO for any professional. Typos are something that is looked at with hate by the employers because that truly reflects the fact that you are not serious about your job application. In my personal experience (I would have interviewed more than 100 professionals in my career) candidates who’s CVs are filled with typos have always been either last in my priority to meet or sometimes not even meet at all. In my articles on ‘how to write compelling CVs’ you can read about it in greater detail.
If you Google you will find numerous articles on creating good cover letters, but all of them typically tell you few things such as – your language should be good, use good grammar, etc. However, through this article, I have tried to capture the best points that I personally believe are utmost important in writing a good compelling CV and which I believe would surely have your CV catch the HR manager’s eye balls.
In addition to giving you some tips and secrets to write a great cover letter, I have given a template that can be used by you in drafting a good cover letter. I hope these tips and suggestions help you get the right job.
1. At no cost your CV should be repeated
The biggest mistake a candidate does is summarize their CV in the cover letter and that’s the biggest blunder one can do. If the cover letter had to be a summarized CV, perhaps there would have been no reason to send a cover letter. Obviously, no HR manager has time and patience to read same set of information twice.
You can safely assume the cover letter would either be attached to your CV (physically) or part of the same email (if sent via email) and therefore, the HR manager would have some curiosity to definitely glance your CV whilst he/she is reading the cover letter. Hence, reading the same language in two documents wouldn’t make much of a sense.
Rather, your cover letter should depict your enthusiasm and your keenness to join the organization and how your skills would be effective and useful for the organization. In the later part of this article I have captured these points.
2. Do a thorough research about the Company and the job position
Before you even start to write a cover letter or modify your CV, it is very important to at least know little bit about the company and the job position to which you are applying. Learn about the company, its employees, its strengths, the culture, the team with which you might be working etc. If possible, identify why is the company looking for a candidate in that profile, the problems the company would have been facing and how your skills would be helpful in mitigating those problems.
Also, you should be very clear about the role that position will offer and how it will benefit you. Without knowing the job profile, you may not be able to create a relevant and compelling cover letter.
Once you have done a thorough research it would be easier for you to identify the points that require a mention on the cover letter.
3. Start with a strong punch line
You may not have been told about this, but starting with a bang always catches the eye of the HR people. Just imagine from an HR person’s perspective. He/she would have to sift hundreds of CVs and go through the same boring and routine CVs/ cover letters. Therefore, if your cover letter starts with something new and catchy, it would surely attract him/her.
For example if you are applying for a position as a fresh CA in ‘Indirect Tax’ then you can think writing your punch line on these lines – “I believe my three years of articleship in Indirect Tax would surely be of immense value to your IDT practice”. Or suppose, if you are applying as an experienced professional in ‘international tax’ you can think on these lines – “I am a seasoned international tax professional with 10 years of experience and I would love to bring my expertise and enthusiasm and help your team grow exponentially”. There is a high likelihood of your cover letter being noticed.
Also, try and be direct in your communication without being ambiguous. Something like – “before you start reading about me, I would like to bring your attention to two reasons why you should consider me for this post…”
4. Always use professional language and format
You cannot afford to be casual in wiring a cover letter, even if the HR person is known to you or you have sent your CV through a reference. All job applications and cover letters should always be highly professional using a sophisticated format. Every HR manager wants to see a sophisticated format highlighting candidate’s skills, qualifications and relevant experience for the job.
5. Tell how you can solve their problems
The best way to catch an eye is to let the hiring manager know how your skill sets and experience would help solve the organization’s problems. This would be more relevant for candidates who have some experience that can be used by some other organization in their business.
Basis your research about the company and the job profile, you might be in a situation to identify the problem and let them know how you would be the best person to resolve it.
6. Be highly enthusiastic and short
Please be short but highly enthusiastic in describing your skills and qualifications. Your language should be filled with some charisma on why you want this job as your enthusiasm reflects your character and personality. Obviously, no organization wants to hire someone who is not enthusiastic in nature, not at least when he/she is applying for a job. Try and convey a message to the organization about your keenness to join them, but don’t go overboard to show your desperation. You shouldn’t be looking like an in-experienced fresher from a college for whom getting a job is like winning kaun banega crorepati.
7. Address the cover letter to nobody
You don’t want to get into an embarrassment by addressing the cover letter to Mr___ when the hiring manager is a woman. To avoid that situation, it is better to address it as “To whomsoever it may concern” or “Dear HR Manager”. It is always better to be safe by not writing anything rather than writing it wrongly.
8. Try avoiding use the following phrase
Personally, I think it is best avoiding the phrase – “My name is ____ and am applying for the position of ____”. The hiring manager already know about it and it might look in-experienced on your side.
9. If you can’t physically submit a cover letter
In today’s digital world lot of companies don’t ask for physical copy of CV, rather they have their own portals where the candidates are required to upload their CVs. In case they ask you to send an email then you would probably have an opportunity to send the cover letter along.
However, in cases where the portal has specific boxes to insert the relevant information, you may not get a chance to send the cover letter. In these cases, try and show off your enthusiasm and skills by using the appropriate words to be inserted in the boxes. Or perhaps, you may get a chance to know the hiring manager’s name and email ID and then you can follow it up with a brief email highlighting the key points of your job application.
I hope these tips are useful and informative. I would now like to summarise the Do’s and Don’ts:
· Have a strong opening statement on why you should be hired;
· Be succinct, no one has time to read ling pages;
· Illustrate your qualification and experience with examples and how you would be able to do justice to the job; and
· Be formal.
· Send a generic cover letter to every organization. Try and be specific;
· Have typo errors. It is very unprofessional and sucks;
· Try to go overboard on selling yourself. Be concise and crisp.
So, finally after reading all the above tips and suggestions, I have tried to compile them to draft a cover letter. Please note that this is just a suggestion and am sure if you work hard on it, you would be able to improvise and make it look much smarter.
Dear Mr. [Name],
With the utmost enthusiasm, I would like to bring to your organization my very interesting and knowledge filled three-year articleship experience from [Company’s name] in audit/tax/accounting. After having worked with marque clients like [Client’s name] and with a passion to learn more and serve more organizations with my knowledge, I would like to express my interest in this position with your organization.
I truly believe that I am an absolute fit for your company, because I can immediately bring to the organization:
1. [Write skill #1 – such as ‘effective communicator’] – With my experience of working with marque clients like___, I have got enough experience of handling and communicating with global organization's, which would surely help in communicating with your clients.
2. [Write skill #2 – such as ‘a disciplined worker’] – I have always showed exceptional professionalism and discipline in dealing with clients and my peers and with my attitude I had impressed ___ and ____ companies. My award of the ‘best article’ is a testament to this fact.
3. [Write skills#3 – such as ‘passionate’ throwing positivity around] – My passion to learn and explore more has allowed me to throw positivity in my previous organization [write company’s name]. Everything that I have been engaged with has been driven by my interest and passion to excel. Even as an article I ensured that some part of my day goes to [action] and it is this passion that has taken me that far.
I look forward to contributing immensely with my skills and my infectious positive behavior to the [position title]. I hope I would get a chance to discuss my skills and how I can be an asset to your company.
Just go and give your cover letter a personality of yours, sell your creativity, knowledge and experience to the hiring manager. Make it work for you and the only way it would be is to write the cover letter yourself, rather than copying and pasting it or asking someone else to do it for you.
Your career is in your hand and you have to be extremely serious about it. If you are not serious about it, then you don’t have a right to complain anyone about your failures. Because then, it is only YOU who has to be blamed and not any one else.
I hope I have been of service to you and these suggestions help you craft a wonderful life for yourself. You can keep visiting my blog www.nimishgoel.com for more insights and tips.
Authored by Nimish Goel (www.nimishgoel.com), a chartered accountant with more than 12 years of experience and who’s passion is to coach and help young chartered accountants and aspiring students achieve the best in their life. Nimish used to work with EY and PwC in India and has also worked with KPMG in Europe. He now runs his own consulting company and runs a blog www.nimishgoel.com. He can be reached for any queries and issues on his blog and on his Facebook page “Nimish Goel Blog”.