Writing A Cover Letter - HR Professional Advice
Writing a Cover Letter, love it or hate it?
At one point in my career, I have been in the position of giving the recommendation on whether a candidate should apply for a job using a Cover Letter, also, his résumé, or just simply send in his CV.
Later on, I was applying for an opening at an international organization, and I felt like not only was I required to write a formal Cover Letter, but I was also repeating my intention with every single one of the questions listed on their career page. Here are some of my thoughts on this Cover Letter issue.
First of all, thank you, Cover Letter, ma'am! Now, how often do you stop and assess the means to an end?
Many times when job hunting, we act on the urgency to leave the current employment, rather than researching thoroughly if the job conditions & requirements are the most suitable.
Having in mind the need to change the job, we apply to as many job ads as possible, hoping to get at least some interviews. But...we comfort ourselves that either way, we will be more eloquent when facing the employer, rather than in a letter.
This might not be the case for you, but I surely wouldn’t like waste my time in writing customized Cover Letters, too much effort for too little result!
Nonetheless, I would like my interviewer to know me better beforehand and appreciate my interest and drive for getting the job.
My approach: with each paragraph, I write about why I am a good match with the ideal profile, I try to picture myself in a real workplace situation.
Could I do it, would I enjoy it? Needless to say that if the answer is no, I go back to step 1 and reconsider my application.
Secondly, every single experience I had with Cover Letters, as a recruiter or as a candidate, has been dull: same format, same pompous statements, ending with the same conclusion. “Looking forward to your job offer.” Too little has been said about creative Cover Letters.
Don’t rush to the previous argument “this is too much effort,” hear me out, please. When I write about things that do not interest me, I get bored and give up altogether.
On the other hand, I have discovered that the most enjoyable conversations are the ones when I get to talk about my [insert flattering attributes here] self.
Crazy thought: why not write about who I am and what I do similarly, using my voice, natural tone, without worrying about overselling?! I have practiced creative writing in Cover Letters, trying to keep it as nonfiction as possible.
I get inspiration in reading online articles, or even classes on storytelling. Try to write a Cover Letter that includes your motivation, not the one you think they’d want to hear.
Read it with a critical eye, like a piece of literature: what would you think about the author, would you like to meet him/her?
One final argument: if you, like me, are hard-headed and don’t like to be told that you have to write a letter to have your résumé taken into account, try to win this graciously.
You can do as you please, there are no [valid] rules on how to get your motivation heard across the room. You don’t even have to attach a PDF to an email.
I don’t know any recruiter who wouldn’t appreciate a direct message from a genuinely interested candidate. Write it, honestly, and stick to what you do best. You can either email it, attach it, draw it, picture it, whatever.
Like Don Draper said: “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation,” unless you want the job. Then forget what I said, do what they tell you.
I hope by now you are more relaxed as far as Cover Letters go, and when required to write one, you’ll no longer get stuck. Best of luck in finding and writing down your motivation for getting that dream job!