Your dream job can be a cover letter and an interview away. You may have done all the right things in college including internships, good grades, clubs and so on but the recruiter has a specific basic objective that needs to be fulfilled.
Most of us make the fundamental mistake of focussing on our own achievements and aspirations but forget to direct our attention on the specifics of the job description. The Job description represents the recruiter’s aspirational candidate in terms of skills and experiences. As a general rule, you don’t have to fit a 100% of the job description unless it is a critical or non-negotiable qualification.
The winning cover letter has to focus on the job description and then work backwards from there into the candidates own demonstrable strengths to highlight his/her suitability for this specific job. The cover letter has to appeal to the job description and hence should be modified accordingly for each job that the candidate will apply to.
Another crucial clue is the tone of the cover letter. You would not want to sound ‘arrogant’ and yet do not wish to appear ‘weak’. The cover letter has to deliver a ‘quietly confident’ and ‘want to learn and grow’ tone especially for early career professionals. Aspirational candidates for consulting and investment banking must attempt to meet and network industry professionals at University events and should try and politely reference someone from ‘that company’ to add credibility and prove genuine interest in these competitive roles.
The cover letter should have the right balance. You don’t want to go into Victorian era romanticism and yet do not want to speak in a social media language. It should be ‘you’ and your ideas and free from any typos and grammatical mistakes. Your address, email and other details should be well presented, and fonts should remain consistent. Depending on the country, adding a signature could make it appear more professional and authentic. Ideally, one page is recommended given the attention span of your reader might be low. Don’t make claims that you can’t substantiate in a job interview or which will come back to bite you. Submitting a pdf version is generally recommended unless otherwise specified. The file name of the cover letter should also be professionally stated perhaps including your last name and the company you are applying to.
Finally, it never hurts to edit your cover letter from a professional and gain additional insights. Remember, this content forms the foundation for the following interview(s) and your career. Remember ‘Good Packaging is Great Marketing’