Unless you have been living under a rock this past year, which may actually be the best socially-distant place there is, you would be no stranger to the far-reaching effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the different facets of life, including work.
The pandemic has exposed the fallacy of the ‘ideal employee’ as per traditional beliefs and brought to light the qualities modern employees must possess in order to navigate an unpredictable and fast-changing business world. You can therefore expect the process of job hunting in 2021 to be a lot more different than in previous years.
To keep up with the times, one of the many things you will need to do when applying for jobs in 2021 is to take a new approach when writing cover letters. If you are looking to write a compelling one highlighting your qualities and achievements that will stand in your quest to land your dream job this year, you have come to the right place.
What Is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter, which is essentially a single-page letter that is normally sent to prospective employers together with CVs and resumes, can make or break your job application. It is a document that provides employers with additional information on your educational background, work experience, and job-related accomplishments, which can either get your application noticed and shortlisted or thrown out. It is therefore important to devote time and effort to draft an effective cover letter that will, without fail, impress recruiters.
How Should an Effective Cover Letter Be Structured?
Despite the shift in employers’ expectations of employees, the structure of a cover letter should remain more or less the same.
Start off your cover letter with a polite greeting.
If you know the name of the recruiter, write: “Dear Mr/Ms [Name]”
If you do not know the name of the recruiter, write: “Dear Sir/Madam” / “Dear [Company Name] team”
Introduce yourself to the recruiter and let him/her know the reasons you are writing to them, which is to apply for the position in their company that you are interested in. Include a sentence or two briefly highlighting some of your core strengths that communicate your ability to carry out the responsibilities of the position.
Show What You Have to Offer
Highlight some of your most notable work in your current and previous roles as well as the results you have accomplished, and relate them to the position you are applying for, demonstrating to the recruiter that you have the skills and experience to meet the demands of the role.
Illustrate Your Knowledge of the Company
It is important to show the recruiter that you did your research on the company. One way you can do that is to share a piece of information that struck a chord with you and explain why it makes you want to be part of the company. If you are impressed by its vision, for example, you can write about what you can contribute to propel the company forward on its path to realizing it.
Summary & Call-To-Action
When ending your cover letter, it is best to provide a short summary of what you can bring to the table and inform the recruiter of your availability for a call or an interview.
Thank the recruiter and finish off with a formal closing that includes “sincerely” or “yours truly” as well as your name and/or signature.
What Should You Highlight in Your Cover Letter in 2021?
As the dynamics of the workplace has drastically changed in the past year, employers’ expectations of employees have changed along with it. It is therefore important to highlight in your cover letter some of the qualities pertinent to maneuvering the effects of the pandemic in 2021.
Strong Interpersonal Skills
Despite the world becoming increasingly digitized, COVID-19 has shown businesses the importance of human connection, which is exactly why strong interpersonal skills will be in demand in the workplace in 2021. Having a high emotional intelligence—which is the ability to be conscious of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to manage interpersonal relationships wisely and empathically—is a great trait to have in 2021.
Strong Communication Skills
Since many employees continue to work from home in 2021, it is important for employees to communicate effectively with their team via email and Zoom meetings like they do face-to-face in the workplace. Great communication skills maintain trust and high productivity levels.
The pandemic has proved that creativity and innovation are not only reserved for marketers and web designers, but required for all professions. As challenges arise, which are frequent occurrences in a pandemic, employees must be able to quickly identify them, analyze the situation, think outside-the-box to formulate strategies, and implement them to solve the problems at hand.
Critical Thinking & Problem Solving Skills
Critical thinking and problem solving skills are equally as important as outside-the-box thinking for tackling challenges. Being able to think logically and rationally is crucial to make well-informed decisions, especially in tough and time-starved situations.
With the ‘new normal’ involving fewer human interactions and more virtual experiences, digital literacy has almost become a must-have skill this year. Depending on your industry, being knowledgeable in computer programming, coding, and data analytics to name a few will give you a competitive edge.
One of the best things you can do when drafting your cover letter is to ask yourself, “What is the recruiter looking for in an ideal candidate?” and answer the question as objectively as possible. Doing so will not only give you an idea of what to write in your cover letter, but it will also help you realize whether or not you are a suitable candidate for the position.
We wish you all the best on your job search!
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