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5 things to AVOID in a cover letter

By SARVESH AGRAWAL
April 08, 2021 11:06 IST
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Make sure that your cover letter isn't a longer version of your resume, cautions Sarvesh Agrawal, founder and CEO, Internshala, a recruitment and training platform.

How to write a cover letter: Dos and Don'ts to follow

Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes. Photograph: Kind courtesy Christina Morillo/Pexels.com

While applying for a job, the two most important things you must have are:

1. A resume mentioning all relevant details about your education, qualifications, achievements, skills, and experiences, and
2. A precise cover letter.

A well-written cover letter helps you make a case of why you are the perfect fit for a particular job opportunity.

It also helps your job application stand out to the recruiter who has to find the right fit from thousands of applications.

Therefore, it is extremely important to write a good and precise cover letter especially if you are looking for your first job.

Here are some basic Do's and Don'ts to follow while writing a cover letter:

DON'Ts: What to skip in the cover letter

1. Clichéd phrases

Avoid writing overused phrases like 'fast learner' and 'hard working'. Instead use action words such as led, designed, developed, conceptualised, etc that show these qualities in action.

2. Overly formal tone

A very formal tone can give the impression that you picked out a cover sample off the Internet. It can also make it difficult to read your letter.

Make it simple, short and conversational.

3. Narrating your resume

Make sure that your cover letter isn't a longer version of your resume.

Think about the highlights during your internships or extracurricular activities that relate to the job and give insights about them.

4. Improper formatting

Use consistent formatting throughout the letter and use a font that is easy to read such as Arial or Calibri.

5. Typos and common grammatical errors

Once you have done the lion's share of the work by writing the letter, make sure that typos or bad grammar don't ruin your masterpiece!

Even if all seems in order, run it through a grammar checking tool or ask a friend to review it for you.

DOs: What to include in the cover letter

1. Contact details

Imagine writing the perfect cover letter and never finding out whether the recruiter liked it because you forgot your contact details.

Remember to write your name, e-mail address, contact number (not numbers), and date at the top left of the document.

Make sure that your e-mail address isn't unprofessional.

Example: Meena Joshi
(91) 9*********
meena.joshi@gmail.com
December 10th, 2020

2. CTA (Call to Action)

While ending the cover letter, tell the hiring manager what you want them to do.

You can request an interview or a meeting.

3. Enthusiasm for the job/organisation

You may have all the requisite skills, but so might the other candidates.

What can really set you apart is your enthusiasm for the role or company. Mention what aspects of the job make you feel eager to join the organisation.

4. Customisation

Each job description comes with a different set of requirements and each company has a different culture.

Customise your cover letter every time.

Rather than sending out generic e-mails for any job, narrow down on jobs that you really want and find time to write letters that reveal your personality and enthusiasm.

5. Conciseness

Once you have written your cover letter, take some time to edit.

Eliminate everything that is repetitive. Your cover letter length should not exceed one page and 250 to 300 words.

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SARVESH AGRAWAL