Concept of a Cover Letter

A cover letter is typically a one-page document that a candidate for a job uses in the recruitment process. The candidate typically submits it along with their CV or resume.

Suppose you are searching for a job and come across an opening that appeals to you, and you decide to apply. In that case, would it be better to submit your CV or resume like example 1 or example 2 below?

I am sure you would agree that example 2 is more appealing. When applying for the job, you want to show your strengths, your unique traits, and your achievements in a positive way. If you just submit a CV, which dryly lists your qualifications and work experience, it may not be easy for the recruiter to assess you properly. Therefore many people decide to submit a cover letter along with an appealing CV. A properly drafted cover letter benefits the candidate in the following ways:

  • It helps the candidate highlight situations in which they performed well.
  • It helps the candidate highlight their unique strengths.
  • It allows the candidate to explain the qualitative aspects of their profile which cannot be deduced from a mere list of jobs and qualifications.

Role of a Cover Letter in a PR Application

When it comes to a Singapore PR application, a cover letter serves the combined role of CV + cover letter (And that is also the reason why it will not be a mere one page document). If you are aware of the PR application process and the forms you are required to fill out, you know that ICA basically needs your job records, your educational records, and some details about your family members. But there can be other aspects which you want to highlight to ICA, and drafting a cover letter is the right approach.

Is the Cover Letter Mandatory?

The cover letter is not mandatory. ICA does not ask you to submit one. In the PR application form, ICA will ask only for basic information, such as identity details, educational background, previous job experience, and some facts about your family members. However, if you want to improve the chances of success in your PR application, you are strongly recommended to include a cover letter. Without one, your PR application may tend to look like the CV in example 1 above.

PR cover letter
When it comes to applying for Singapore PR, a cover letter is a chance to make a favorable first impression in the mind of the reviewing officer, making it an essential part of your application.

Benefits of a Cover Letter for PR Application in Singapore

In this section, we will explain some further benefits of a cover letter.

Cover Letter Can Explain Additional Strengths

Nowadays, it is common for people take additional steps to strengthen their profile. For example, some people do voluntary services, some give money to good causes, some make blood donations. However, there is no way in the application itself to explain all these steps you have taken in the support of your application. A cover letter can be used to summarise all these steps.

Cover Letter can draw Attention to Specific Facts/Performances

No two people are alike. Their personal as well as professional lives differ. People often have some impressive accomplishments in their career or personal life, such as additional educational achievements, various memberships, or awards for excellent performance, which can be worthwhile to bring to the attention of ICA. Not all of these factors can be captured in the form for PR application, but a cover letter can express them.

Cover Letter Can Explain Specific Circumstances in Your PR Application

You may have specific circumstances which are not performance-related but which you feel would be valuable to convey to ICA. For example, you may want to call attention to your extended family of uncles and aunts who are already in Singapore, either with their own PR status or as citizens, as this will show that you will be able to easily integrate into Singapore society. You might have previously stayed and done primary education in Singapore. These kinds of things are positive for your application. So in the absence of any other place in the PR form to mention them, a cover letter can be used to summarise all this.

Clearly Conveys a Message

Your objective with your PR application is to convince ICA that you are a good candidate for Singapore PR status. A properly drafted cover letter will highlight all your achievements and the ways you will contribute to Singapore society, and in the closing remarks of the cover letter you will respectfully request ICA to consider your application favourably. As such, this letter will start with basic facts, then give corroborative evidence, and end with a final appeal.

Cover Letter can Streamline Attention Flow of ICA Agent

As you know, the PR approval percentage in Singapore has been low for many years. Getting PR approval is difficult. As a result, many applicants take special steps and attach certificates and recommendation letters to their application. It is not unusual to see 15-20 additional documents being attached to the application. If all of these documents are given to the reviewing officer in a random way, it might annoy the officer. Moreover, there are more than 300 PR applications handled every day by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore. So the ICA officer handling your case has limited time to review all your documents and draw conclusions from them.

Here is where you cover letter plays a vital role. At the end of it, you can include an annex with a list of all the additional documents you have attached in an orderly manner. This will streamline the information for the reviewing officer, making their task easier and your application more likely to be accepted.

The annex can look like this:

pr cover letter annexure
The cover letter is not just a formality. Do not take an ‘also run’ view towards it. It is your opportunity to sum up your achievements and professional life and show ICA why you will be a valuable asset to the Singapore society.

What Should the Cover Letter Include?

Now we come to the most important part. What should the cover letter include? And what should be its structure? One thing is sure: The contents of the letter will be unique to you, because you are highlighting your qualifications and successes. So no one size fits all. You may have many accomplishments to showcase and hence need a few more sections, while someone in the early stages of their career may have less to include.

However, the broad structure can be divided into 5 sections + 1 annex:

Cover Letter Section 1: Introduction

This is really the first part of the letter. This section will give information about you, your family (if applying for PR for your family also), your educational background, and your work and professional experience. You will mention what you do in your day-to-day job, etc. The purpose of this section is to really open up the communication.

Cover Letter Section 2: Career Progression/Achievements

Continuing from the previous section, you will now explain your career progression. Here the objective is to demonstrate how you have grown in your work and workplace. However, refrain from giving a list of the jobs you have done (the cover letter is not the place for that) and instead explain the progress you have made. Examples:

Example 1 (Don’t do it)

Example 2 (Do it this way)

1999-2002 – Consultant with X1 Company Over the years I have worked with increasing responsibility in the IT field. At the beginning of my career, I worked as a consultant focusing on a single client, then I became a senior consultant, then a project manager, and now I have advanced to my role as program manager.
2002-2005 – Senior Consultant
2005-2011 – Project Manager
2011-2016 – Program Manager

Cover Letter Section 3: Social Contribution

Social contributions towards Singapore society are important and are considered a key indicator of how committed you are towards Singapore. Nowadays, many applicants do voluntary service, make blood donations, or give money to worthy organisations in the society. Include these activities in your cover letter.

Cover Letter Section 4: Other Relevant Factors

“Other relevant factors” refers to the attributes that make you a good PR candidate that are not a part of your work/profession. For example, as mentioned above, you may describe family or friends who are already a part of Singapore society, so that ICA will consider you someone who can easily integrate into the society.

“Other relevant factors” may also include educational achievements. For example, are you from a highly reputed university? Have you attained a high-level degree? You might also mention your achievements in sports or other competitions. Are you a national-level player in some game (say, chess)? Have you won an award for a book you wrote? These are the kinds of highlights you can mention in your letter at this point.

Cover Letter Section 5: Summary

In this section you will conclude your letter with a statement that you are very keen to make Singapore your home, and you will also mention the additional documents you have attached as described in the annex.

Convey confidence in your writing by assuming that the officer will respond positively to your application, and remember to show your appreciation by thanking them for their time. When you have finished, write “Sincerely” along with your full name. Since the PR application is online, a signature will not be required, but add the electronic signature to show the completeness of the document.

Cover Letter The Annex

Depending on your specific case, you may wish to add an annex to summarise all the relevant documents attached. We generally include it for all our clients. This makes the life of the ICA officer easier (thus aiding your case) and helps them see the evidence of the claims you have made in the cover letter.

pr-cover-letter-info-grphics

Key Points to Note while writing a cover letter

Here are some key points to note while writing the cover letter. In other words, do not make these mistakes.

Avoid mistakes in PR application cover letter

Cover Letter is Not a Sales-pitch

It’s a formal letter written as a request. So write it just as a matter of fact. Do not try to make it a salespitch. Do not promote or “hardsell” yourself. For example, do not start a letter by writing, “A PhD holder from a reputed university is requesting you to consider his PR application favourably.”

Do not be an arrogant “show-off” regarding the things that are positive about you. Write the letter in a straightforward manner. Be respectful. You are writing a letter to a government authority.

ICA Officers Have Very Little Time

Every year some 70,000-80,000 PR applications are filed. That means ICA has to process over 300 applications every day. So they have limited time to devote to a specific case. So keep your letter to the point and additional documents limited in number. Do not add some irrelevant documents just for the sake of adding more.

Use Professional Language in cover letter

Use professional, formal, or business language. Do not try friendly terms in your letter. Do not use phrases like “bubbly person,” “ninja worker,” “scooby dooby approach,” etc. Do not use uncommon words, such as calling yourself a connoisseur instead of an expert.

Do Not Concentrate Only on Your Achievements

One of the biggest mistakes people make while writing a cover letter for a PR application is to concentrate only on their achievements. Immigration authorities do not look for people who are most brilliant, but for people who are ready to sink their roots in Singapore. So some part of your cover letter must be dedicated to explaining how you are looking forward to sinking your roots in Singapore. You might be the most brilliant person in your field, but if you are not ready to settle and make a home in Singapore, what is the point of giving you PR?

cover Letter should Not be Running Text

Ensure that there is some white space in your letter, so that you are not overwhelming the reviewing officer with line after line of text. Use bullet points where necessary. Resist the urge of explaining everything in great detail. The things a normal person would understand by reference, you can presume an ICA officer will also understand. After all, they go through hundreds of applications per day.

Organise in Headings and Subheadings

If one of your five sections includes a large amount of material, please use headings and subheadings to logically organise the topics. Do not include too much. Think and prioritise what you really want to highlight. Cut out the other parts.

Avoid Repetitions in cover letter

Sometimes people try to explain the same point time and again, especially if it is very close to their heart. Avoid this urge for repetition. Repeated material will result in the loss of attention/focus by the ICA officer.

Check Spelling and Grammar

Obviously, you should not make spelling and grammar mistakes in the letter. After the letter is completed, check it multiple times to ensure there are no mistakes and have someone proofread it for you. Check that sentences convey the meaning you wish to convey. If English is not your strong suit, you may wish to engage the services of a writer to help you.

ideal Length of cover letter

There is no specific rule as to the length. Usually it should be around 3 pages + 1 page for the annex. However, depending on your specific case, it can be longer or shorter. But in any case, do not go beyond 5 pages. If it exceeds 5 pages, consider what you can cut out. And those 5 pages include the white space mentioned earlier and the annexure if you are including it.

PDF Submission

Submit the document in PDF format, which is standard for all ICA documents. Try to include an image signature in the letter.

Summary

The cover letter is an important part of your PR application process. You can convey a lot of relevant information to the immigration officer with the help of one.

If you are keen on settling in Singapore but are still unsure of the PR application process, or find writing a cover letter difficult, you can consider using our services. Epica Immigration’s services can be extremely helpful, especially if you are not entirely certain about what the PR application process entails. An orderly presentation of documents and an exceptional profile will provide ICA officers with a bird’s eye view of your case and set you apart from the rest of the applicants, and in return boost your chances of PR approval.