Do we still need a cover letter in 2020?

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A cover letter is often a first piece of information that you share with the prospective employer to introduce yourself. It is an opportunity to elaborate the key highlights of your resume, and also communicate other relevant facts that are generally not incorporated in a resume. For example- reason for any gaps between jobs, relocation, change of industry etc.

A well-crafted cover letter will speak volumes about you as a professional and help the recruiter to distinguish you from other candidates with a similar profile. Therefore, it is always important to include a well-articulated cover letter which is tailored to the listed role to stand you out from competition.

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When you must not include-

You do not need a cover letter if it has been specifically mentioned by the employer not to share one, or you are uploading your CV to recruiter’s website but there is no option to upload a cover letter.

The other scenario in which it is better to avoid a cover letter is when you do not know how to write an appropriate one. Sharing a poorly written cover letter is worse than not sharing any at all because it will most certainly diminish the prospect of  getting the recruiter interested in reading your CV.

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How many words and what to include in a cover letter?

Recruiters get hundreds of cover letters for the same role and do not spend more than 5-10 seconds to scan each letter. Therefore, keep your cover letter short and concise that fits in one page. Make sure that it aligns with the job description and captures the essence of your profile to catch the reader’s attention. Write between 200 to 400 words in 3-4 paragraphs. here is what you should include and how you should format a cover letter-

  • Use a business letter format if you are uploading your cover letter on a website, sending it by post, or attaching it with an email. You may also share your name in the header and contact details in the footer so that it looks like your personal letterhead.
  • Include your name and contact details on top followed by date, name and job title of the contact person, name and contact details of the company. Sometimes employers do not share the contact person’s name, in this case only write the company’s name and contact details. But, avoid writing “to whom it may concern” as it is too bleak. Include a subject to share reference details of the position to which you are applying.   
  • Add appropriate salutation such as “Dear” followed by title and surname of the contact person, for example- “Dear Mr./Ms./Dr Cheung,”. If the contact person has a gender neutral name, skip the title and write their full name instead. Use generic salutations such as “Dear HR Manager,”, “Dear Sir/Madam,” etc., in case the name of the recipient is not shared by the employer. Include a coma (,) after the salutation.
  • The first paragraph of your cover letter is an opening statement in which you introduce yourself to the recruiter and often give details of your academic and professional qualifications, current organization, and years of work experience.
  • The middle one or two paragraphs are very important and this is where you need to invest time to strengthen the content. Highlight the most relevant key skills and achievements to convince the recruiter that you are the best candidate for the role ensuring that you are not copying pasting the details from your resume. This is your opportunity to explain how your skills, and prior experience can add value to benefit the hiring organization.
  • In the closing paragraph, instead of simply writing “look forward to hearing from you”, express your interest in the role once again by thanking the employer for their time and considering your profile for the listed job. Moreover, request for arranging a meeting or call for a detailed discussion.
  • Complete your letter with a complementary close such as “yours sincerely” or “yours truly” etc., followed by your name. Sign your letter if you are sending a hard copy.

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Below is a Sample Cover Letter for a position of Senior Administrative Manager-

Candidate’s Name
Address – Phone Number – Email id

Date:

Hiring Manger’s Full name

Job Title

Company Name
Company’s Address
Contact Number

Email id

RE: Position of Senior Administrative Manager with ABC international (HK) Ltd. (Ref “AB-123456”)

Dear Mr./Ms. (Hiring Manager’s last name),

I am writing to express my interest in the above referenced position of Senior Administrative Manager advertised on JobsDB. With a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and over 9 years of extensive work experience in office administration, I believe that my experience will add significant value to your organization and this is the kind of role that would enrich my experience in this field.

In my current role as Administrative Manager with LMN Services, I have been in-charge of day-to-day running of business and have successfully handled support services to facilitate daily activities across departments. I  have trained and mentored a team 25 Assistant Managers to provide seamless administrative support in Hong Kong and PRC. Being a multilingual with fluent English, Cantonese, and Mandarin, my core strength lies in effective communication that enabled me to establish and maintain thriving communication networks internally- within the organisation, and externally- with external vendors and stakeholders.

I have a track record of successfully negotiating deals with vendors year on year that resulted in savings of about HKD 1 million in last 3 years. I am an organised professional with sound time management skills and deep understanding of organisation’s requirements. My expertise include coordinating across functions, scheduling meetings, and organising conferences in addition to keeping records and updating internal and external stakeholders. I also have in-depth experience in formulating and implementing Administrative policies and procedures ensuring compliance with organization values, prevalent laws and regulations.

Thank you for your time and consideration. My detailed resume is attached for your perusal.  I look forward to scheduling a meeting with you at a mutually convenient time to discuss more about this position and the contributions I can make to your organisation.

Yours truly,

Candidate’s Full Name

 

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