Writing is hard enough, but when you are doing it to create an effective cover letter that will help you land a job, where your entire personality and your skills are supposed to shine through, it becomes almost impossible, because there is so much at stake.
A good cover letter is a way to sell yourself to an employer. It is often the first impression you will make on an employer and should be concise, well worded, and able to detail all of your strengths. Often it seems that applicants will look at a cover letter as a way to reiterate their resume (which in most cases is included in addition to the letter) or as a simple note that accompanies their resume submission.
Unfortunately, what many people will miss if they utilize a cover letter in this way is their dream job or the promotion of a lifetime. Cover letters are not simply a way to inform of an employer of your intent to bid on a position, they are a chance to explain in minute detail exactly why you are the right candidate for the position.
There is also a common misconception that writing a cover letter cannot be done if you are not feeling particularly inspired, which usually leads to more procrastination. Even if you do manage to write something, you are not terribly focused on what you are doing, and then you wind up with a document that is full of errors and which you will probably turn in and ruin your chances of getting hired.
In this article, we put together all cover letter writing tips and steps that you should take in order to make your cover letter as effective as possible.
What really is a successful cover letter?
A cover letter is a one-page document that explains why you are the ideal candidate for the position you are applying for, which your knowledge and experience will be particularly useful for this position. Your goal is to sell yourself and get an invitation to the interview.
The cover letter is sent along with the resume and but doesn’t duplicate it. In the eyes of the employer, a successful cover letter can be a decisive factor in choosing a candidate.
Your resume may not always reveal all the information about you. If for example, you are a student with no work experience, writing a cover letter will give you the opportunity to emphasize your personality, your way of thinking, strengths, and talents and create a positive first impression.
Remember, you should never copy someone else’s cover letter. Recruiters spend a lot of time online nowadays, which means finding someone else’s cover letter online and altering it slightly to match the job you are applying for will no longer cut it because they will be able to tell if you had copied an existing letter.
How to write the perfect cover letter? Your main goal is to emphasize your uniqueness as a candidate. If the letter is written in general, without personalization and does not give any additional information about you as a person – most likely the recruiter will send it to the basket.
Show your unique value proposition and advantages over other candidates.
How to write a cover letter for a job application
1. Contact information
- Phone number
- E-mail address
Don’t forget that your email address must look professional and contain your name and surname.
2. How to start a cover letter
Begin with a proper salutation – do a bit of research about the company and the person to whom your letter will be arriving. If you can determine the person’s name, address them directly in the letter.
It is considered a good practice to start a letter with greetings by name, for example, “Dear, Susan” or “Dear Mr. Carter”. Even if you make a mistake with the name, it’s not terrible, at least you have made an effort. This personalization also shows that you are intuitive enough to do a bit of background research on the position.
Pro tip: Never use the phrase “To whom it may concern” – for recruiters, this is like a red flag for a bull, they are very annoyed by such greetings.
3. Cover letter body
This is the main part of the cover letter and your chance to make a good first impression.
Describe where you learned of the position – open the letter with an introductory paragraph describing where and how you learned of the position and why you are applying. Say something like, “I find this position on Indeed and I’m very interested in pursuing this opportunity.”
Describe your work experience and relevant accomplishments – this is the main portion of the letter that you want the potential employer to read. Describe your past jobs and why you were great at them. Focus on meaningful and positive changes you made in the workplace and tailor your strengths to the job announcement.
From your resume, pick two to three points or positions that best explain why you are right for this particular job. You need to be very specific in this paragraph. Instead of just stating “I’m good with numbers” point to specific experiences, ie: “I managed the accounts payable department for two years while working for ABC Inc.” Give strong examples.
Pro tip: do not include explanations of how you improved the copying process in your office building if you are applying for a job as a sales manager).
Give a BRIEF description of your education – give just enough relevant information about your education to prove you are qualified for the position. Do not go into great detail about your alma mater as this is not the focus of your letter.
4. How to close a cover letter
Close your cover letter with a “clincher” – conclude with a paragraph telling the reader exactly what qualifies you as the best candidate for the job and why they would be remiss if they did not choose you. Explain that you would love to meet with someone to further discuss your qualifications and the specifics of the job.
This paragraph of your cover letter also should refer the reader to your enclosed resume and communicate the next steps in the process. If you are planning on contacting the hiring manager, let them know when and how. Leave your contact information again (either your phone number or e-mail address depending on the nature of the job), and be sure to thank the hiring manager for their time and consideration.
Close the letter respectfully and professionally by using “Sincerely” or “Kind regards”.
What is the Proper Cover Letter Format
- You should use a block style business letter format with one-inch margins
- Be sure to use the same font style and size that you use for your resume
- You should have your address and contact information at the top, either centered or left justified
- The address and contact information for the hiring manager should be left justified just above the start of your letter.
Congratulations, you’re done!
Creating a cover letter, especially if you are not feeling too inspired, or if your writing skills are lacking, can seem like a daunting prospect. Don’t worry! Just follow our cover letter writing guide and putting all information together will be as simple as piecing together a puzzle. Good luck!