There are different opinions on what a Cover Letter should look like. How long are you supposed to spend on perfecting it? Do recruiters read it? Can you send only your resume and hope that is enough?
First off, a cover letter is a very quick way to introduce yourself to a recruiter and it gives them a taste of you and your capabilities. Over the course of this article, we are going to talk about the things you need to know to tailor your cover letter to the job you are applying for.
When it comes to writing a good cover letter for a job, it is usually the little things matter. Remember, it is the first impressions that count. It is usually a good idea to make sure yours is as perfect as it can possibly be. If your cover letter is not well written, it is just as useful as not applying at all. The fact that your cover letter is your first opportunity to show your communication skill and your proficiency in your field, it is extremely important that you make it as business appropriate as possible.
What you will learn
This article will show you:
- How to write a cover letter
- Things to look out for when writing a cover letter
- Pitfalls to avoid
- Cover letter format
- Phrases to avoid
- Details to avoid
- Top 8 tips for writing a cover letter
- Common mistakes job seekers make in writing cover letters
Cover Letter Format
The first most important question to ask yourself is, “How long should my cover letter be?”
In truth, best practice is to restrict your cover letter between 3 – 5 paragraphs and just one page. The content of the cover letter should be informative without being long and tiring. Every single paragraph must address a specific point.
Don’t forget that the recruiter is going to be going through hundreds of cover letters so make yours brief but straight to the point. Make it interesting enough that they would be interested in learning more about you.
Let’s go through the standard cover letter format:
- Start with your personal contact information. Your future employer would be able to contact you with these details if he/she is interested in hiring you.
- Add the date and the company’s contact information. Endeavour to separate each section with a space. This improves legibility and helps making the cover letter easy to read.
Below is an awesome Cover Letter Format you can use:
Dear Mr./Mrs. Last name,
Paragraph 1: Since this is your first paragraph, you should make sure it is strong and piques your reader’s interest. Define your purpose for writing. Describe the position you are applying for and mention the position and title of the job you want.
Paragraph 2: This is usually the main body of the cover letter. In this paragraph, you introduce yourself and let your future employer know why you are the best person for the job you are applying for. This is your chance to let them know what you are offering and why your skill and expertise is perfect for the position. Do not forget to launch an extensive research on the company and the position.
Paragraph 3-4: These paragraphs are used to talk about the concerns any prospective employer might have with regards to your ability to do the job. You can also talk about your accomplishments, success stories and more. Feel free to add any information that would give you an edge over other job applicant
Final Paragraph: This is where you wrap up the letter. Ensure that you thank them for considering you for the job and that they should not hesitate to reach out to you if they have any questions or any concerns that were not addressed in the cover letter.
Points to note:
- It is good practice to address your cover letter to a specific person. Since this information isn’t always available, you can address it using “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Recruiter”
- Never use “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam” as they are old fashioned and can be offending to some recruiters
- It is sometimes possible to leave out the opening salutation and just start with a subject line. This is not advisable though. A good idea would be to make an effort to find out whom to address it to. It gives the letter a much more personal feel and shows your dedication to that job position
Top 8 Tips & Hacks for Writing a Cover Letter for Job Application
- Your cover letter should not be longer than a single page. Make sure you keep it clean and concise and avoid the use of flowery words
- Make sure the reader of the cover letter knows exactly what you are capable of in terms of your job experience and capability
- Do not try to be vague or generic. Ensure that your cover letter is targeted to the job you are applying for. Do your research before applying.
- Address your cover letter to the right person. Do your research to find out the name of the recruiter. If you cannot find the person’s name, address it to “Dear Hiring Manager,” or “Dear Recruiter”. Do not use “Dear Sir/Ma”
- The easiest way to get your cover letter in the trash is to write a cover letter full of errors. Take time out to go through your letter to avoid spelling and grammar errors.
- Pay attention to the words and phrases used in the job postings. Make sure your cover letter echoes those words and phrases but avoid keyword stuffing.
- Maintain a professional tone in your cover letter. Introduce yourself and stay away from details that are unrelated to the job. It is also a very bad idea to speak badly of previous employments.
- Follow up your cover letter to show dedication. If you do not reach out to the recruiter, you stand a chance of being forgotten.
Common Mistakes Job Seekers Make in Writing Cover Letters.
- Proofread: This goes without saying. No matter how many cover letters you have written, you still need to proofread. If you are truly serious about the job you are applying for, you need to go through your letter to make sure you have corrected the grammar and punctuation errors in them.
- Do not lie about your past experiences. You are allowed to brag a little provided it is true. When you have to lie about what you can do, you would end up not being able to complete the tasks given to you. This would leave to a very frustrated work experience.
- Do not mention your salary requirements yet. That is supposed to be saved for the interview.
- Avoid getting personal with your cover letter. Keep it professional. There is absolutely no reason why you should start talking about your family members or things like that.
Download Some Cover Letter Samples here
We believe this article has helped in no small measure to help you understand all it takes to write a cover letter good enough to land you a job. Just to highlight some of the points we went through in the body of this article, to write a good cover letter…
- Adhere to the format
- Avoid old fashion salutations
- Try as much as you can to address your cover letter to a specific person
- Avoid spelling and grammatical errors
- Don’t include unnecessary details that are related to the job
- Spend quality time researching the company you are writing the cover letter to
- Avoid lies and exaggerated claims as they might come back to haunt you
- Avoid mentioning salary expectations and financial negotiation
- Keep it simple and professional
Are you interested in letting us re-write your CV to match your Cover Letter? Start Now
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The first thing a potential employer sees in your job application is the cover letter. This doesn't just support your CV – it's an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd and persuade the recruiter to put you through to the next round.
Be wary of spending hours on perfecting your CV at the expense of your cover letter. If you need some inspiration on what to include and what format to use, here are our helpful guides – just remember not to copy them as exact templates.
1. Standard, conservative style
This is ideal for sectors such as business, law, accountancy and retail. For more creative sectors, a letter like this might be less appealing, and could work against you.
Dear Mr Black,
Please find enclosed my CV in application for the post advertised in the Guardian on 30 November.
The nature of my degree course has prepared me for this position. It involved a great deal of independent research, requiring initiative, self-motivation and a wide range of skills. For one course, [insert course], an understanding of the [insert sector] industry was essential. I found this subject very stimulating.
I am a fast and accurate writer, with a keen eye for detail and I should be very grateful for the opportunity to progress to market reporting. I am able to take on the responsibility of this position immediately, and have the enthusiasm and determination to ensure that I make a success of it.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this application and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
2. Standard speculative letter
This may vary according to the nature of the organisation and the industry you're applying to.
Dear Mr Brown,
I am writing to enquire if you have any vacancies in your company. I enclose my CV for your information.
As you can see, I have had extensive vacation work experience in office environments, the retail sector and service industries, giving me varied skills and the ability to work with many different types of people. I believe I could fit easily into your team.
I am a conscientious person who works hard and pays attention to detail. I'm flexible, quick to pick up new skills and eager to learn from others. I also have lots of ideas and enthusiasm. I'm keen to work for a company with a great reputation and high profile like [insert company name].
I have excellent references and would be delighted to discuss any possible vacancy with you at your convenience. In case you do not have any suitable openings at the moment, I would be grateful if you would keep my CV on file for any future possibilities.
3. Letter for creative jobs
We've used the example of a copywriter but you can adapt it for your profession. The aim of a creative letter is to be original and show you have imagination, but understand what the job entails. Balance is essential: don't be too wacky, or it will turn off the reader.
Dear Ms Green,
· Confused by commas?
· Puzzled by parenthesis?
· Stumped by spelling?
· Perturbed by punctuation?
· Annoyed at the apostrophe? (And alliteration?)
Well, you're not alone. It seems that fewer and fewer people can write. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who can read. So they'll spot a gaffe from a mile off. And that means it's a false economy, unless you're 100% sure of yourself, to write your own materials. (Or to let clients do it for themselves.)
To have materials properly copywritten is, when one considers the whole process of publishing materials and the impact that the client wishes to make, a minor expense. Sloppiness loses clients, loses customers.
There is an answer. Me. Firm quotes are free. You can see some of what I do on my multilingual website at [insert web address]. If you'd like, I can get some samples out to you within 24 hours. And, if you use me, you'll have some sort of guarantee that you can sleep soundly as those tens of thousands of copies are rolling off the presses.
Luck shouldn't come into it!
With kindest regards
Other helpful resources
•How to write a perfect CV and cover letter
•Applying for jobs without experience? How to build and sell your skills
•Five steps to the perfect graduate CV
•School-leavers and graduates: how to write your first CV
•How to write a personal statement for your CV
•CV templates to fit every stage of your career
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