Cover Letter 101 is back in session. This time, the lesson is about adaptation.
How do you adapt what you’ve accomplished throughout your years of education when applying for that first job?
How do you craft the perfect fresh graduate cover letter for any position?
Before we get to that, do you want to know what’s the catch 22 here? As a recent graduate writing a cover letter – you don’t have a lot of material to work with but you still need a solid resume to get shortlisted for a job. If the experienced professionals find it difficult to stand out, what more you?
Don’t let it get to you, though. Put on your rose-tinted sunglasses and look at it this way. It is an opportunity for you to showcase your enthusiasm and position your skills in a way that matches the role.
1. Address It Right
Do you remember the interview scene in the movie Step Brothers? During the interview, Will Ferrell’s character addresses the interviewer, Pam, (in person, mind you) as ‘human resources lady’… Yes, avoid that at all cost, especially in your cover letter. If the information is unavailable online, call the company to find out. The added effort will work in your favor.
2. Do Your Homework
Research the company. Go beyond their website’s homepage and dig into their current projects, if and how they are covered in the media. Go through their social media feeds, look at comments and read the reviews (if any). Your goal here is to gather as much information as you can to draft out a SWOT Analysis (SWOT= Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats).
3. Put the S.W.O.T To Work
Use your SWOT Analysis as your framework to list down the value you can bring to the team. You need to capture the reader’s attention and present yourself as a strong applicant. Focus and expand on skills you’ve acquired that can transfer into the job you’re applying for. This is a good opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the job and company in a more detailed fashion.
Tip: Explaining that you understand what the company is going through (Strengths and Weaknesses) and showing interest in their future (Opportunities and Threats) tells the reader that you’re invested in the role and this isn’t just another mass email/general letter you sent out to everyone.
4. How Does Your Story Relate?
Use this space to explain how you have used skills such as problem-solving, time management, commercial awareness, personal branding, communication and teamwork without using those buzzwords. While you’re at it, do not repeat statements or information that’s listed on your resume. Tell a story about what you learned during internships, part-time jobs, extra-curricular activities and positions you held during your time in school.
“My internship at UPal Sdn. Bhd. has honed the skills that are necessary for me to perform in this role. [Elaborate on related responsibilities/how those skills are transferable].
For [amount of time], I have carried out these responsibilities and tasks to the best of my ability. Given the opportunity, I am certain I will be able to do more and contribute to your team in meaningful ways.
Although I am a recent graduate, my maturity, practical experience, and eagerness to enter the [industry] will make me an excellent [job title].
I am confident and ready to start my career with your company.”
5. Let Passion Guide Your Letter-Writing
In a personalised cover letter or a cold call cover letter, end on a strong and clear note. Remind the hiring manager why you are suitable for the role and express your excitement at the prospect of joining the team/ joining their mission. Express yourself clearly and avoid clichéd statements.
P/S:Need something to spark your passion? Look back at how Chris Gardner approached his job interview in The Pursuit of Happiness.
6. Before Sending, Check It Twice And Then Some
After you’ve checked your letter twice and read it out loud, don’t send it yet. Get a second pair of eyes (ask a trusted friend/lecturer/career advisor) to read through the letter for you. Having someone else look at it objectively allows for more thorough examination. Keep in mind that your pristine format won’t matter if there are spelling or grammatical errors.
Tip:Avoid using too many “I” statements. Some say if you don’t – you risk disengaging your reader.
‘Best of Luck for interview’