It must show what interests you about the job for which you are applying. You must show the recruiter that you can be counted on to perform the tasks associated with the job you are seeking. It is the second key component of your file. Whether you send it by e-mail or by mail, your cover letter should be attached to your curriculum vitae and should follow certain rules in terms of style, structure, content and presentation.
What style works best to catch the recruiter's eye? Be dynamic, clear and direct, and observe the following guidelines. Moreover, a well-structured letter will allow your recruiter to get his/her bearings quickly.
Address. Put your contact information including your phone number and email address at the top right-hand side and the company’s address on the top left-hand side.
Title. If you are replying to an ad, indicate in the subject line the title and the reference number of the position you are interested in. Write Employment enquiry followed by the role that interests you if you are sending a speculative application.
Structure. You – me – us. Create distinct paragraphs for each. A golden rule in written communication is to express only one idea per sentence in order to ensure maximum clarity. Use present and present perfect verb tenses, particularly when describing your accomplishments and/or the results you achieved.
Length. Your letter should fit in an A4 page.
Sobriety and space. Harmonize the style and layout of your letter. Refrain from using unusual styles or effects and choose a sober font.
Signature. Don’t forget to sign your letter by hand
Motivation. Explain why you are interested in this position and in this company in particular. Try to link your qualifications and your accomplishments with the profile the company is seeking. Highlight your strengths and the benefits you could bring to the company, particularly in the position you are applying for. You can also mention a reason why you wish to get a new job.
Impact. Use a positive vocabulary and action words that will help you come across as a driven, dynamic and serious candidate. Stay away from negations and negative constructions whenever possible. Avoid using abbreviations.
Availability. Your letter should show your availability for a face-to-face interview. If you have had an earlier phone conversation with a human resources representative, mention it in your cover letter with the date and the name of the person.
Zero mistakes. Correct any grammar or spelling mistakes. Use your word-processor’s spell check. Proofread your letter and have somebody proofread it for you.
Sending your application is one thing, but landing an interview takes more effort. Here are a few tricks to make sure you get that all-important interview:
Five to seven working days after sending your file, call the person to whom you addressed your application in order to convey your motivation verbally. Prepare yourself for the phone call. And smile...as surprising as it may seem, a smile can be heard in one's voice! To find out more, read our article “A phone call can boost your chances”.
Be succinct and precise: Say that you are calling about a given position, that you have sent your file on a given date and that you would like to know at what stage in the recruitment process the company is.
Express yourself clearly. If the position is still open, say that you would be very interested in meeting them. And if they tell you that the recruitment process has been put on hold, ask for how long; then call back a few weeks later to ask whether the position is still open and especially to show your continued interest.
Have your agenda handy to jot down the day and time of the meeting. Write down the address and name of the person you are meeting as well as their direct number.
Only send a handwritten letter when you are specifically asked to.