Cover Letter Design – Getting it Right
Article by Marcus Lim
Cover Letter Design – Getting it Right
Designing a job application cover letter is often a nerve wrecking affair no matter how many times one has done it before. Learning how to script your letter so that it makes an immediate impact will save you hours of designing and disappointments from potential employers. It is important to understand what role a cover letter plays in order to design one that suitably meets expectations. Always bear in mind that a job application cover letter is not about you but about what you have to offer the organization or firm where you are trying to get a job. It is about what you have to offer your employer.
The first segment of your job application cover letter should contain the salutation. Pay attention to how you address the recipient. At no time should you ever use ‘sir or madam’ in your salutation. Writing ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ shows you do not know who you are addressing, when in essence you need to have done enough research on the firm you are sending your application, to know whether the HR in-charge is male or female. Better yet, use their names instead of plain titles. It will reflect you in a better light and set you off in the right footing with the recipient. Depending on the prevailing culture of the organization, use the name only or with a title. Some organizations will prefer you use either ‘Dear Mr. or Ms.’ when addressing staff. In less formal places, a simple ‘Dear So-and-so’ will suffice.
After the salutation, write your opening paragraph. Here, you should specify the position you are interested in and why you think or feel you are qualified for it. Explain briefly, why you are interested in the position. Ideally, this section should be brief, with a maximum of three sentences. Move on to the next paragraph, which is largely the body of the job application cover letter. Here, spell out your qualifications and skills. You should also mention your past work experiences. If you have not had more jobs previously or are a fresh graduate, a mention of your qualities will work just fine. Give specific examples of accomplishments you have made to support these qualities.
Avoid making exaggerated claims. It’s also unbecoming to mention high profile clients you may have dealt with in your former workplace. Aim to highlight your own portfolio. Give the strongest examples of achievements you have made so far. If you have little experience, your title, job description and projects done during your internship will do. Finish your letter with a reference to the enclosed resume and any other documents. You can also give a period during which you may take a course of action, such as following up on the application. The only exception to this is where the company indicates that they will contact short-listed candidates. You can also request an interview. Do not forget to thank the recipient for their time. Sign out with your name and signature.
Some general rules apply when writing a job application cover letter. Watch what font you use. Forget about trendy fonts and colors. They are a bad idea. Use formal fonts always and do your print outs in black and white, except of course where graphics are involved. Trendy fonts will only serve to make you look immature and a joker. While at this, avoid exclusive use of lower or upper case letters. They look outrageous on a job application cover letter! The only time you should use upper case letters exclusively is when printing out the addresses, both yours and the recipient’s; and the subject of your letter.
Check your grammar again before making the final copy. If you are unsure of how to write a word, check it up. It will only take a little of your time and save your job application cover letter from being trashed. Avoid contractions and use each word in full. In addition, don’t use big words in a bid to sound knowledgeable. The recipient won’t have the time to look for the meaning. Keep it simple and clear.
Do not write a lengthy letter. Keep your letter short and relevant by sticking to the objective. Few recruiters will have the time to read pages of irrelevant material. With a little research prior to writing the job application cover letter, you will be able to tailor the letter to meet the firm’s needs. It will only take a little of your time and make your letter stand out from the many other applicants who will also apply.
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