When you are looking for a job, the first thought that comes to mind is to create a resume.
However, equally important is your cover letter, which is a vital part of your job application process. Some job recruiters or employers require a letter in addition to your resume, while others do not.
However, it’s always a good idea to send a letter telling a potential employer more about yourself.
Remember, your letter serves as the first page of your resume and could lead to you being invited to a job interview.
What this means is your letter must be carefully written.
Make sure you don’t make your letter too long – that’s what your resume is for. If you lose your reader – the job recruiter – it probably means you won’t get an interview.
What is a Resume Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a brief introduction to a potential employer, that is attached to a job application with your resume.
It needs to have details of why you, as a job seeker, are qualified for the position you are applying for.
It should explain why you are interested in working for a specific company and what relevant skills you have for the position you’re applying for.
A cover letter, like your resume, is essentially a way of advertising yourself. Think of it as a marketing tool to market the job seeker.
It gives you the opportunity to quickly introduce yourself, catch the hiring manager’s attention, and pique their interest so they are forced to read your resume.
How to Structure Your Cover Letter
The first tip in creating an appealing letter that will catch the eye of the recruiter,
There are some steps that must be taken in order for it to be appealing.
The letter must be tailored to the job requirements.
It should be concise, left-aligned, the right tone, and free of spelling and grammatical errors, so make sure you spell-check the document and should not exceed one page.
One key point to make is when applying for different jobs, avoid sending the same type of letter.
If you apply for 10 jobs, write 10 different cover letters.
Recruiters are not likely to invite you for an interview if they think you’ve used a generic letter.
What to include in your resume cover letter
The information provided in your cover letter should relate to what is requested in the job advertisement.
Don’t forget to learn the hiring manager’s name as it personalizes the conversation and also helps to establish an early dialogue, and make sure to mention what appealed to you about the job and why you prefer the job to others.
Make an honest evaluation of your qualities and abilities.
Take advantage of the opportunity to mention additional qualities that you do not have on your resume.
Always mention why you are interested in the position and why you want to work for the organization.
In the letter, you should only mention your relevant experience briefly, leaving the details for your resume.
Writing a cover letter could be tricky if you don’t have knowledge of its structure and the information to include.
Without knowing, attracting the recruiter’s attention becomes more unlikely, and so does an interview.
You must create a letter that will appeal to the hiring manager.
Things You Should Know About Writing a Cover Letter
One rule of a job interview is to dress smartly – it’s deemed to be essential.
And a cover letter is equally important.
Job advertisements don’t always specify whether you should send a cover letter – but you should.
Sending a letter is a good idea for no other reason than to show how effectively you can convert your ideas and beliefs into writing. A letter is a great addition to your resume.
One of the goals of any interview is to show your confidence and a refined appearance – in person and on paper.
A well-written letter can enhance the desirability of your resume, in the same way, looking smart can improve your chances.
What Makes a Good Cover Letter?
Writing the ideal letter does not have to be a difficult task. You do not need to be a professional writer to draft one.
You must include the full name of the company.
It’s also a good idea to visit its website to learn more about its viewpoint, ethos, core values, dream, and mission statement.
Make sure to learn about the company’s history and the names of its high-ranking staff and board members.
Reading PR releases on the news page is also a good idea – making reference to any ongoing projects they may have recently launched will go down well with the interviewer.
Likewise, look at its social media pages, as well as using search engines like Google and Bing to carry out further research.
Explore the details of the specific department where you could be working and learn the details of new programs or any newsletters that might be freely available.
Learn more about who your colleagues might be.
See if they have LinkedIn or Facebook profiles and try to identify anything you might have in common with your potential new boss.
Try to establish a connection. For example, companies are often fans of community work.
A winner for you could be to identify any projects the company may take part in and express your excitement about working with the organization on future projects.
Revealing knowledge of existing software programs is also likely to be in your favor.
An example of a good cover letter
“Dear Hiring Manager, Please accept this cover letter and the enclosed resume as an application for the position of HR Assistant at your company.
“I was able to visit your official website.
“According to the December 2020 newsletter, the HR department intends to switch from its present software system to the system in March.
“In my previous role, I assisted in the training of ten people in my department on how to use PeopleSoft.”
If the interviewer sees a connection they’ll be more favorable.
People want to work with individuals they like and who share their interests and values.
As a result, if you can nurture an essential relationship in your letter and have the transferable skills the employer is looking for, you have a much better chance of being called in for an interview.
Provide a Brief Overview of Who You Are
While your resume provides valuable information about what you have done, it is also essential to devote a few sentences in your letter to describing who you are.
Ideally, the connection you made in the first paragraph enticed the person reading your letter to read on.
The second paragraph needs to express your interest in the position.
Say why you want to join who you are with why you are involved in the role in the next few sentences.
Take into account what urged you to respond to the job posting or describe how you felt when you started learning about the position. It’s a good idea to list two or three specific reasons why you want the job.
In the third and fourth paragraphs, provide specific instances of your professional experience and skills.
You’ve now made a connection with your potential employer and explained why you wanted to work for them in the previous two paragraphs.
How to Sell Yourself in Your Cover Letter
Now it’s time for your sales pitch.
The majority of job postings include a description of the position’s duties, essential functions, required and preferred education, work experience, skills, and abilities, or any combination of these.
The final paragraph is giving the interviewer the opportunity to interview you.
Provide your email, phone number and full name so they can contact you.
It’s also a good idea to thank them for taking the time to read your letter.
Things to Keep in Mind when Drafting a Cover Letter
The fact is, almost everyone devotes the majority of their employment search to working on their resume.
While having an effective resume that outlines your skills and qualifications is important, it is only essential after your letter has piqued the interest of your prospective employer.
But if the crucial introductory letter is a last-minute addition, all those hours spent polishing your resume will be for nothing.
Your job is to promote yourself to possible employers, and you must first get their attention before they will listen to you.That is the role of the letter in your search for your dream job.
The letter is the very first thing the potential interviewer sees.
It could be the case you have the most amazing resume that makes you perfect for the job – but it might never get read.
A memorable introduction gives you a significant advantage over the competition, even if hundreds of people have applied for the same position.
The letter that goes with your resume is your first and most important marketing tool. It either advances you to the next round or eliminates you from the competition right away.
Once your letter has done the job, the resume is the only thing that matters.
If you miss the mark with your letter, chances are your resume won’t ever get looked at.
Things to Remember When Applying
Never apply hastily. You need to determine who you want to reach and address your letter to the job title accordingly.
This step may mean contacting the organization in order to locate the right person. Do everything you can to get that information as it will impress the person you are writing to.
Keep your first sentence brief and to the point. Instead of using a “standard” letter that sounds like it was written in the 1960s, stand out with a unique approach.
The initial sentence is extremely important. If you get it right, you’ll make a good impression, which will allow your resume to continue marketing you as a valuable candidate.
More Career Advice
Things Not to do When Writing a Cover Letter
- Don’t tell your interviewer your life story
- Don’t waffle. A letter should be short, sweet, and to the point.
- Don’t overcrowd the page with text.
- Not enough white space is a no-no
- Do not beg or come across as desperate
A well-written, sharply focused letter distinguishes you from the crowd and increases your chances of getting an interview.
It’s never about you when marketing yourself as a potential employee; it’s always about how you can help the company grow.You must concentrate on the value you can bring to their organization, so make it clear what you have to offer.
This is where your research can really pay off.
Understand what they want and present yourself as the valuable asset they seek.
Be true to yourself and allow your personality and passion to shine through and make sure you demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position that the organization is seeking to fill.
This alone will set you apart from the crowd of other candidates because people notice when you show an interest in and passion for your work.
They will be able to see it for themselves when you conduct the interview.
Make sure you are positive and ask for an interview. This shows you mean business and that you need to be given the job.
Following that, follow up on every contact and lead. It’s simple to let things slide, and most individuals do.
Even so, staying in touch shows potential employers how far you’re willing to go.
There are several simple steps involved in getting the job you want.
Before you do anything else, you must make an impression with a strong letter of introduction that captures the minds and hearts of those doing the hiring.
Never, ever, ever use your letter to beg for a job.
Always show a good attitude and make a compelling case for why you believe you are qualified for the job.
In your letter, you should seem more driven and not desperate.
You should exude positivity and eagerness for the role.
However, if you pour your heart out about how essential this job is to you, he or she may be put off by your desperate appeal for work.
A tiny line frequently divides the two, so the best advice is to trust your instincts.
Beware of Cover Letter Templates
- Employers want something fresh
- Don’t send something generic
- You can add and delete sections
- Some websites will generate a letter for you based on your question answers
Not everyone’s a writer, so there is help at hand.
When used correctly, letter templates can be a valuable asset to job applicants.
But watch out,there are some things to look out for.
One common misconception about professional cover letter templates is that job seekers can use them as they are.
Letter prototypes are not ready-to-use. They are an initial point for you to progress your letter.
What you must avoid is sending an employer the same letter they’ve seen hundreds of times, which will go straight into the bin/deleted emails.
Another common misunderstanding is that applicants believe that letter templates available on the internet and in books are considered exactly how prospective employers want letters to appear. While prospective employers want to see specialized-looking letters, they also want to see a fresh and unique cover letter that catches their attention.
A common cover letter template clears the misunderstanding that the job seeker should not modify or delete any sections of the form.
To make your letter new and original, you should be confident enough to add to and remove parts of the template.
There are websites that will utilize a questionnaire to ask you more questions and then compile your answers into a letter for you.
Make your templates your own
Don’t forget, this is still a template.
Job seekers appear to believe that by using this letter-writing service, they would receive a fantastic letter that doesn’t need anything doing to it.
You’ll need to go through the letter to see whether it genuinely shines, and then add or remove sections that will make it perfect.
Some templates don’t show bullets in the body of the message.
Bullets can be beneficial to you since they emphasize your credentials and character traits that are relevant to the position you are looking for.
Bullets make the letter easier to scan, allowing the potential employer to quickly read and decide whether or not to invite you for an interview.
Take the time to demonstrate why you will be a valuable contribution to the firm for which you are applying.
Another common cover letter design misperception among job seekers is that if they write a genuinely excellent, new, and distinctive letter for one prospective company, they will utilize it for all prospective employers.
This initial letter should only be used as a starting point for creating new and unique letters for other potential jobs.
Cover Letter Mistakes You Need to Avoid
The first step should be to tailor your letter to the position you’re applying for.
The interviewer is unconcerned with how that particular role will assist you to advance in your career.
They are more interested in what you performed and how you are assisting your present or past job.
Your letter should demonstrate real enthusiasm for the position you’re applying for.
If you are requested to join the firm, you should make it clear how long you expect to stay with them.
Take a look at the following two real-life examples:
An incorrect example is:
“Through my experience as a Sales Executive has been rewarding, I am considering a career in the Purchase Department as an administrative assistant to help me develop my negotiating abilities.”
The correct example is:
“This Sales Executive role excites me, and I am confident that if given the chance, I would be able to make a major contribution to the turnovers. Please take into account my performance in my current role.”
Don’t waste space
Letters should not be more than four or five paragraphs.
You’d be wasting valuable space by repeating the obvious – describing the position, how you learned about it, and why you’re applying, especially if it was listed under job opening.
What the interviewer is looking for:
- Your skills sets and how you would be able to provide value to the position that you are pursuing.
- What you’ve achieved in your previous role
- That you’ve understood what the position you’re applying for is and what the role entails.
Mentioning items that are unrelated to the job or the company makes your letter weaker and the employer less likely to interview.
Your letter should make it evident to HR that you are serious about the position you are applying for and that you are familiar with it. A template or a form letter can be identified by HR and discarded.
There are a plethora of websites that provide a template or a form letter.
Check, Check, Check
Check. Once. Check once more. Check again.
If you said in your Post Script that you included your résumé and then forgot to stape it, you’re going to make yourself look very silly in the eyes of the interviewer.
When submitting your letter by email, it is quite simple to forget to attach a file.
This is a fatal error.
HR will not contact you or send you a letter asking you to resubmit your resume.
Because there were plenty of others who did everything correctly without making that critical and catastrophic error.
Likewise, make sure your contact details are included.
Look out for typos
Everyone does them, but that’s no excuse.
It is also quite simple for HR to dismiss your letter especially if it contains bothersome typing errors.
You’re purposefully playing into his or her hands. You are giving them the option to reject you in favor of someone whose application isn’t full of mistakes.
The 5 biggest myths about resume cover letters
- A letter needs to be long
- It needs the same information as your resume
- It needs to be addressed “to whom it may concern”
- You don’t need to chase the interviewer
- Only include information about the job in your cover letter
Don’t make it too long
A letter should be brief and straightforward.
You don’t want to tell your entire career narrative in a resume cover letter – Just mention your relevant accomplishments.
You’re only trying to showcase those unique talents that an employer won’t be able to discern by reading your resume, but keeping it too short makes you uninteresting.
Make your cover letter around three to five paragraphs long, each about three or four sentences long.
Of course, you don’t want to ramble on, but your letter also can’t be too short since you don’t want it to appear as if you used a template to write it… even if you did!
Highlight crucial aspects of your resume in your cover letter
There’s no point – that information is in your resume.
Tell the company things that your resume cannot, such as how you learned about the position, why you’re interested in it, and why you believe you’re a highly qualified candidate for it.
Inform them of something they don’t know!
Never begin a letter with “To Whom It May Concern”
You’re obliged to attach a letter with your Resume, but you can’t address it to “Whom It May Concern?”
Instead, try to find out the recruiter’s name and address it to them.
“To whom it may concern” or “Dear sir/madam” is very old-fashioned.
Make it a point to explain how you plan to contact the future employer when they get your resume and cover letter
Most companies prefer not to be contacted after they’ve received your resume and letter.
That is why you must ensure that your letter and resume are both excellent.
You shouldn’t have to phone them to send a follow-up email; they should be eager to speak with you!
“I look forward to hearing from you soon,” for example, is quite acceptable.
Only include material directly connected to the position you’re applying for in your letter
Of course, you don’t want to go too far from the topic, but you do need to spice up your cover letter.
For example, when applying for a job in accounting, it’s OK to indicate that you’re not just talented in your field and good with numbers, but also good with people.
Sometimes expressing minor good attributes that you have that you wouldn’t ordinarily believe are relevant to the position is what catches an employer’s notice.
So go ahead and mention personal attributes about yourself that you believe will win them over in your letter, even if they are unrelated to the job.
- More advice on CV writing and finding a job can be found here.