Have you ever applied for a job and thought you had the most impressive CV but still did not get the job? Well, chances are that you may have fit the job description but what you may not have done well would be the cover letter. What is a cover letter? It is the introductory document attached to every curriculum vitae and it is the most vital one since employers will glance through it first to find out if you are the right candidate. So, how do write an excellent resume cover letter that will capture the attention of potential employers? Read on to understand how to write and structure your cover letter for success.
We are going to get into the details about writing the perfect cover letter that will give you an advantage over your competition. You might not get a free sample cover letter for job application here, but we will show you how to write an irresistible cover letter. Let us start with some basic definitions.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is usually a one-page document that is attached to a resume when applying for a job or an academic institution. In some cases, like academic cover letters, two pages would be acceptable, but this depends on the school.
Cover letters give employers the first impression of your intention and just from the tone and content of your cover letter, some employers may make a decision instantly.
How to write a cover letter
Follow this cover letter format to achieve maximum results from your cover letter. Here are 4 main areas to monitor when writing a cover letter to go with your resume:
1. Your contact information
Employers should be able to contact you through your cover letter. Make the contact details very bold and visible, preferably at the top of the document so there is no ambiguity over how to contact you. Put a working phone number, email, post office box address as well as your current residential location.
Here’s a sample format of contact information for an applicant and the company addressed. Good cover letter examples have this basic format.
Your city, state, and zip code
Your phone number
Your email address
Name of recipient
Title of recipient
City, state, and zip code
You can be as creative as you like but the main thing you should look out for here is legibility and accuracy of the information provided. You wouldn't want to give a wrong phone number. That would be like shooting yourself in the foot.
2. The introduction
The introduction to your cover letter has to be both interesting and relevant to the employer. You can put yourself in the shoes of the employer and ask yourself what they are looking for. Are they looking for a strategy-oriented worker or a labour-oriented one? If you figure it out, then go straight to the point. They normally have a lot of applications to review so it is best to be direct and clear. Next, introduce yourself
Introduce yourself to the hiring manager
Let the manager know who you are and how you heard about the job opportunity. Let them know why you are the best person for this job in terms of education, skills, experience, and the value that you have to offer the company. Use this opportunity to say things that your resume could not fully express. You can use this introduction to introduce them to your resume as well. Show them that you are an achiever and not just a doer. Too many people make their cover letter writing task-based and not results-based. This means that they tell what you did, instead of what you achieved. This is a common mistake for non-professional cover letter writers
3. Sell yourself well
The second paragraph is where all the magic happens. You need to sell yourself and convince the hiring manager that they can not do without you. In this paragraph, you should respond directly to the job description. Talk about your previous work and the value that you have to offer them should you be hired. Find out more about the company and address all the issues that they face with possible solutions. Make sure that all the information that you provide is true. You wouldn’t want to start your relationship on lies.
The conclusion is also known as the ‘call to action’ section. Do not just say a thank you and end the letter. Let them know that you are available for an interview and that you will follow up within a week if you do not hear from them. The idea is to give them options to take action in contacting you for further discussions. When all this is done, then you can thank them for reading your letter.
Styling your cover letter
Now that you have the ingredients for an awesome cover letter, what needs to be done is to improve the visual presentation of your letter. Elements such as margins, font size and style, and alignment all factor into the hiring manager’s overall impression of you so make sure you present an aesthetically appealing cover letter. Here are some guidelines to help your cover letter look good even if you are not a designer.
- 1” – 1.5” margins are always a safe bet. If you are having trouble fitting everything on one page, there is some wiggle room, but be careful not to make the content look crammed together.
- Don’t go below a 12-point font unless absolutely necessary. Anything below 12 can strain the eyes.
- Font style is really a matter of preference. Try to choose one that looks professional or that matches what the employer uses on their website. Keep in mind that different styles will change the size of the font.
- Maintain a uniform alignment throughout. We suggest keeping all paragraphs left-aligned.
More tips for writing cover letters
- Check your spelling and grammar. These are basics that are not expected to be poorly done by professionals. Have your cover letter read by professionals before submitting it. You can also use grammar checker applications to help you. Spelling mistakes create a terrible first impression.
- Look for templates specific to your industry. Every industry has its own jargon and language that need to be featured within a cover letter. Cover letter templates can be of great use. You can search online for free cover letter examples.
- Use proper keywords. We live in a digital age and depending on the type of company that you are applying to, they may pass your application through an Applicant Tracking System (APS). The APS will pick up certain keywords that will be of interest to the employer to make sure you include very obvious and not so obvious keywords in your cover letter that relate to your field of work.
So there you have it: a comprehensive guide to what is a cover letter and how to write it. Following these instructions will help you write professional cover letters that will help you get your dream job. Share this with a friend so they can also produce quality cover letters. Do you have any suggestion? Please add them in the comments section.
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