Many young jobseekers either underestimate or undervalue the power of a good cover letter. Perhaps they are deterred by the perceived effort it takes to compose one or feel that resumes would suffice.
Cover letters act as a preface to your resume, which means that they are typically the first thing employers read. Hence, a well-written cover letter can set you apart from the competition and snag you that coveted job interview. This is especially important for polytechnic graduates, who may find themselves contending with fresh degree holders entering the workforce.
We list five essential elements of a stellar cover letter:
A cover letter should not include a laundry list of your experiences, skills, achievements and hobbies. Remember to KISS (Keep It Short and Simple). Keep your cover letter to three short paragraphs within one page.
2. Highlight Key Capabilities
To keep your cover letter concise and straightforward, shine a spotlight on your educational background and key strengths. Pick the most outstanding details that may bowl over the reader and include achievements relevant to the job. For instance, if you are applying for a job that requires you to train people, you might want to mention the workshops or camps you have conducted in the past, or about your experience in mentoring your juniors.
3. Customise It for Different Positions or Industries
Also, make use of keywords listed in the job advertisement. If the position calls for someone who is "meticulous" and "goal-oriented", repeat these words in the cover letter. Cite examples – such as major projects and internships you have undertaken – to demonstrate those traits.
If you are applying for a marketing position in the retail or Food & Beverage industry, you may wish to highlight any prior experience you have had. For example, you can state: "Having worked part-time in a clothing store for two years, I have a keen awareness of retail trends and operational knowledge on retail processes."
4. Be Unique and Positive
While resumes are a summary of your qualifications and work experience, cover letters allow you to showcase your personality and fit for the organisation.
Use positive and dynamic language, with adjectives like "performance-driven", "resourceful" or "enthusiastic". You can also weave in powerful verbs, such as "launched", "managed " and "achieved".
Avoid leading with phrases like ‘Despite my lack of …’ that highlight your weaknesses. Instead, focus on what you can offer!
5. End with a Call-To-Action
Round up your cover letter with a summary of how you would like to contribute to the company. Besides thanking the employer for considering you as a potential candidate, this is also where you provide your email address and contact number for a follow-up.