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Making a Covering Letter

The Cover letter for a resume is often regarded as a mere formality and is not given the importance it deserves. Most job-seekers would prefer to skip it and just send their resume alone to prospective employers. Others would invariably send an announcement cover letter stating the obvious i.e " Please find enclosed my resume…". Such cover letters would definitely be a waste. Is a cover letter then, really necessary?

A Cover letter with the resume is essential to improve your chance of selection
The cover letter is the first thing that the recruiter reads when short-listing resumes. It is much shorter than a resume and, if well written in content and presentation, could grab the attention of the person sifting through the possibly large volumes of resumes that have arrived for a particular position. This is particularly so in the case of advertised vacancies where as many as 50 to 100 resumes could arrive for the position every day. With these volumes, you can expect ruthlessness in the screening process. In fact, the first level of screening would probably be done by a clerk who may not even be aware of the details of the advertised position and may be working on a preliminary checklist provided to him. Over 50% resumes may be removed at this stage and may not even reach the next level in the screening process. A good cover letter would definitely help at this stage in at least sounding different and standing out from the crowd. It could improve your chance of being selected for an interview.

Your cover letter should highlight the value you offer to meet the employer needs
The cover letter is an opportunity for you to respond to the needs of the prospective employer. You need to go beyond your resume and its details of your past experience. And highlight how you can help your new organisation in achieving its goals. How your skills and experience together can meet the expectations that accompany the new job profile. You can claim the value that you offer to the organisation in your cover letter. The detailed evidence to back up your claims will be provided by your resume.


Try and customise your cover letters for different employers
A common practice is to send the same cover letter for different employers through a mass mail exercise, where just the employer name is changed. This may be so because it is easier and quicker to finalise one cover letter whereas customised cover letters for different employers would require a lot more effort. You may even reduce the number of companies you send your resume to if you need to customise each cover letter.
When you prepare different cover letters for different employers, you will need to think along the following lines to customise the letter i.e. you need to think about the organisation and the industry its in, its customers and clients, your job profile if you were to get recruited by them, and how your strengths, abilities, traits could help contribute significantly to the organisation . Just highlighting your basic skills could help you get short-listed, but you need to stand out above the clutter. You also need to differentiate yourself vis a vis your competition and let that come through in the letter. That would be the difference a customised cover letter would make.


Address the letter to a specific person
There is a tendency to address the cover letter to a designation such as Human Resources Manager or Personnel Manager etc. Make an effort and find out the name of the person in the organisation in that position and address the letter to him/her. And remember do not get mixed up with gender. If you were to erroneously write a Mr. with a name when it should have been Mrs., you could lose whatever benefit you intended to get by writing the name! Be careful to find out and do not get gender wrong! A correct name would add to the positive spin-offs you could get by customising your cover letters.

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