When there are more job seekers around than job vacancies, human resource personnel tend to be more selective when short listing candidates for interview. Hence, you should use the cover letter as a tool to win the heart of a prospective employer. Market yourself to create a positive first impression in the cover letter, so that the person will read your resume, shortlist you for an interview, and offer you a job. A poorly written cover letter is likely to get instant rejection from the employer given the current job market.
As there is no standard format for cover letter, you are encouraged to write a particular cover letter, one at a time, to apply for the position of your interest. Cover letter should not be generic, i.e. you should not use the same cover letter for all the companies you wish to approach. This is because details like where and when you learnt about the vacancy, why you are interested to apply, what you have to offer to the company etc. are different for each of these companies.
Generally, a well written cover letter should provide answers to what the employers want to know:
* Are you the kind of person they are looking for?
* Do you have the relevant education, work experience and skills?
* Can you handle the work demands, based on the job description?
* Have you shown a commitment to this particular field of interest?
* How well can you communicate with others?
* Are you a team player?
* Have you any leadership qualities?
Guidelines for writing a cover letter:
* Organize your thoughts carefully
* Express yourself clearly and reasonably
* Use strong action words to describe your achievements
* Use active rather than passive voice
* Avoid jargon
* Avoid long sentences
* Avoid bad grammar and spelling mistakes
* Limit the length to one page only
* Proof read before you send via e-mail
Layout of a cover letter
1. The opening
* Include your name and address, the date, employer's designation and address, salutation and subject.
* Nominate the job for which you are applying for.
* Indicate the source and date of the job information.
* Mention briefly your qualifications
* Indicate your interest, career objective or goal.
3. Sales pitch
* Highlight the extent to which you match the requirements of the job.
* State your relevant experience gained from industrial attachments, projects, vacation or part-time jobs.
* Give a brief summary of your educational achievements, experience, qualities, capabilities and skills.
* Outline any further points in your favor related to the job and mention the attached resume.
* Mention your interest in the organization and your reason for applying for that particular position.
4. Request for further action
* Write that you look forward to a call or letter.
* State your availability for interview.
* Thank the person for his or her time and consideration.
5. The complimentary close
* Remember to sign personally and include your name. State your enclosures such as your attached resume, academic results or references.
by Ngeow Yeok Meng