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How to write a cover letter?

Published On: 03 Dec 2012 | Last Updated On: 03 Dec 2012

As the saying goes “your first impression is the last impression”. This is the very purpose of a cover letter as well.  Cover letters compliment a resume and also introduces an individual to the employer. It interprets the data and facts in the resume and also adds a personal touch.  In fact, a cover letter is often the earliest written contact with a potential employer.

Many find it difficult to write a cover letter. What makes it easy is taking one step at a time. The six key elements to remember while writing a cover letter are —the five W’s and one H; Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. These important elements are explained below to aid in writing an impressive cover letter:

Who?

Find out who the letter needs to be addressed. This will indicate the degree of professionalism and is also a sign to show that you have done your homework. Writing “To whom it may concern" or “Dear sir/madam”, will only indicate a rushed or lazy application, which is not appreciated by employers. If possible, indicate the name of the person you are addressing the letter to.

What?

Most offices hire for as many positions available, therefore it is mandatory to add what job one is applying for. Begin the cover letter by stating the title of the position being applied for. This can be done as follows:

Re: Trainee Analyst Position

Or

 “I am applying for the Trainee Analyst vacancy in your office, as listed in current vacancies link on your company website.”

This will make sorting of applications easy. Most of the job aspirants usually forget to indicate the position they are applying for leading to a lost opportunity in many cases in big firms.

Where?

Give details such as where you are located. If you’re not in the same city as the job, will you be re-locating for the job? Let the employer know if you are available for the interview in the same city as the job. Give details about your travelling plans, if any that might want you to put the interview on hold and the like.

When?

Be specific while answering this one because excellent communication skill is what the employer is looking for. Tell them if you have graduated or not, when you can attend an interview. If you are currently employed, how much notice would you need to give to your current employer? When can they contact you?

Why?

This is the most important part of the letter. A good WHY will land you an interview. Simply explain why you are interested in this company or in the particular position. Why should the company consider you for the job? Is it your experience or just that this company is in sync with your career goals.

While applying for the job put down experiences and skills gained, this will give the employer a better understanding of you. Many graduates complain of having “no experience” to put on a CV. Deconstructing their experience will help identify what they learned from which tasks. Make sure to always have an explanation for everything you put down. Do not lie.

How?

At this point, the cover letter should have the name and address of the firm you are applying to. The date has to be indicated if applying by post or fax. If applying by mail,  remember to add the vacancy reference number from the advertisement in the subject line.  While ending the cover letter thank the person you are applying to and remember to include details of how and when you can be contacted for more information.

Finally, remember that your cover letter should never be more than a page. Check for spelling mistakes because silly errors and carelessness will only land your resume into the bin.

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