The Perfect Cover Letter

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A cover letter is the ultimate presentation. It needs to be a stand alone piece of work: introducing yourself and why you fit the job your are apply for perfectly. And it also needs to fit well with your résumé: providing a proper introduction to it.

Most importantly though, it needs to spark interest in the reader. Interest enough that they want to read your résumé and hopefully, talk to you.

Some hiring managers go straight for the résumé, rendering your cover letter useless. But many do the opposite: opting to read ONLY your cover letter.

I’ve been working on cover letters pretty diligently for the last few weeks, and have got some good feedback on it! I got interviews with both Scotia Bank and BMO Investment Banking and both sets of interviewers complimented me on my cover letter! So today I want to share with you some tips and tricks along with links of where I stole them from!

1. Have an attention grabbing opener
Just like a presentation, the opening few lines will make or break your cover letter. Nothing says I am boring then the cliché line: “Thank you for taking the time to review my application” or whatever other generic line you are probably using now.

Here’s what I can up with after reading this link: http://careergirlnetwork.com/4-cover-letter-openers-that-score-the-interview/

From the busy streets of Nairobi to the islands of Indonesia, I have always taken opportunities that add unique and high profile experiences to my CV. A couple of years ago, my friend, the VP of Private Equity in Sub-Saharan Africa for the German Investment and Development Corporation, asked me if I would go to Indonesia for a year as a consultant on an aquaculture project. I immediately said yes. My willingness to take on new challenges has allowed me to develop expertise in IT, Real Estate, Aquaculture, and most recently in Venture Capital.

It is with pleasure that I submit my application for the position Analyst-in-Training at Scotia Bank. In support of my application I would ask that you consider the following:

Not bad eh?

2. Use headings that match the job requirements
This is my favorite trick! Job openings often list requirements like: “Strong written and verbal skills” or “High proficiency in Excel”. The best place to address these is right in your cover letter:

See #5 here: http://career-advice.monster.ca/resumes-cover-letters/cover-letter-tips/cover-letter-donts-canada/article.aspx

Here’s an example from one of mine:

Proven record of outstanding achievement in academic and extracurricular activities
In addition to a 3.9 GPA at the University Of Alberta’s School Of Business I have also been an avid business case competition competitor. Over the course of 2012, as part of a team, I won 1st overall in 4/5 case competitions entered.

3. Keep it short
A full page is around 400 words once you put your address and a date at the top. Try to keep yours under 300. This is tough and I myself have struggles with this frequently clocking in over 300. But trust me on this one: less is more!

Remember writing a cover letter is an art form! So make your next cover letter into a master piece!

Warm regards,

Aaleem Jiwa

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