A cover letter is one of the most important parts of a resume. When applying for a new job, it’s crucial to understand that every element makes a difference. A good cover letter can be the difference between getting a new job and getting passed up for a great opportunity. Many people don’t realize just how important this part of their resume really is. You may assume that your resume already gives out enough information about you and your qualifications and that a cover letter is just an optional part of your application.
However, it’s actually one of the most important things to include in any job application. Your cover letter gives you a chance to introduce yourself, explain what kind of position you’re looking for, and go over anything you may not have had the chance to say in your resume. Since a resume is more structured and doesn’t leave much room for explanation, a cover letter is a perfect place to add any extra information.
Writing a cover letter that is low quality or badly organized may cost you the job you are trying to get. By following some important steps and keeping a handful of points in mind, you can ensure that you have a cover letter that does nothing but helps you in the job market. Be sure to consider the following 10 steps when you’re writing your next cover letter. Get to work, and you will be on your way to getting a job interview before you know it.
10Don’t Underestimate It
The most important thing to do when you’re starting out writing a cover letter is to recognize just how important it is. For many employers, your cover letter is the very first thing that they will see and read. Without an informative and tailored cover letter, your job application could get thrown out without another glance. Keep in mind that your cover letter is one of the things that sets you apart from the competition and shows off your passion for the position you’re applying to.
Before you are able to secure an interview, your resume, and cover letter are likely the only form of communication you will have with the employer. Keep in mind just how important this first contact is. This is where you have the chance to convince the employer that you are worth the interview.
Your qualifications are important, too, of course. But in an increasingly skilled workforce, your personality and the way you present yourself are just as important, if not more so. Your resume is made to show your exact qualifications while your cover letter gives you a chance to set yourself apart and show a piece of your personality. If your employer can see that you’ve taken the time to put effort into your cover letter and that you are really passionate about the position, you’re much more likely to get an interview. No matter how extensive and impressive your resume is, it won’t compare to a well-written cover letter that shows you are the kind of person they want to work with.
9Use A Business Format
When applying to any job, it’s important that all of your documents are written in a business format. This means that you follow a certain outline in order to include the most information while remaining professional and concise. A business format is what employers expect from all their job applications, so it keeps things easy to analyze and easy to go through without digging for answers or information.
A business format includes a handful of important elements. First of all, it starts with a header. The header has all of your contact information as well as the contact information of the person you are addressing the letter to. In between the two sets of contact information, include the date. Start off your cover letter with a professional and focused salutation. Here, you can use the name of the person who you are applying to or a simple ‘to whom it may concern’ if you are unsure about the hiring manager.
Next comes the main part of your cover letter, the body. This should be less than four paragraphs and single-spaced with a left margin justification. You should also include a space between each paragraph, a space after the salutation, and a space before your closing remarks. Your closing remarks should be a simple and professional sign-off like ‘respectfully yours’ or ‘yours sincerely.’ Every business letter should end with your signature. By following each of these formatting requirements, you are able to master the business format and stick to exactly what employers are expecting of you.
8Don’t Just Use a Template
Your cover letter should be tailored to the job you’re applying for and the hiring manager that you will be giving it to. If you use a template that is rigid and unchanging, a manager will easily be able to tell. It may be useful to have a general template, but it’s essential to go over it every time and add in important details. Be sure to specify who you are applying to, the position you’re applying to, as well as the reasons that you are applying.
Every time you start writing a cover letter, tailor it to the job you’re applying for. It’s definitely worth the extra effort to prove to hiring managers that you are serious about the application and you’re willing to put the time in. A great way to make your cover letter unique and specific is by discussing the company that you’re applying to. Do your homework and check out the company’s mission statement, history, and recent news. These are the kind of things that you can discuss a little bit in your cover letter. Relate yourself to the company and explain why you are excited about getting a job with them.
Don’t get stuck using the typical gimmicks from cover letter templates or just filling in very limited blanks. Rather, get a handle on the format, but write a totally unique cover letter for each job that you apply to. This will make a world of difference to the employer reading it and making the decision of whether or not to give you an interview.
7Include New Information
Your cover letter is meant to complement your resume, not repeat the exact same information. Be sure that you don’t get stuck listing your accomplishments just as they are on your resume. The goal of your cover letter is to fill in the blanks of the resume, offering some context and new information. If your cover letter is simply a repetition of your resume, it will be boring and a waste of time for employers to read.
The goal of a cover letter is to outline what you can offer to a company and what kind of person you are. It’s easy for anyone to read a dry list of accomplishments and experience- what your cover letter aims to do is go beyond this. You may be up against people with the same kind of skills and experience. Prove to the people reading your cover letter that you will be a great person to work with!
Imagine yourself as a hiring manager, reading piles of resumes and cover letters each and every day. Keep in mind what you might want to hear from a potential employee. Your cover letter is the first place where the hiring manager gets to hear your tone and get a sense of what kind of person you are. Hopefully, this letter is what seals the deal and gets you the chance to have a job interview. Don’t copy and paste from your resume, and don’t hesitate to do the research you need to do in order to make the cover letter stand out.
6Know What Type of Letter You’re Writing
There are a handful of different types of cover letters. Before you begin writing yours, it’s vital to be clear about what you are aiming to accomplish. Consider your goals for this particular job application and try to figure out which type of cover letter suits your needs. There are three types of cover letters- an application letter, a networking letter, and a prospecting letter.
The first type of letter, and the most common type by far is the application letter. This is a cover letter that you are writing in order to apply for a job opening. With an application letter, you know exactly what you are getting yourself into and what kind of job you are applying for. The second type of letter, a prospecting letter, is quite different. With this type of cover letter, you are inquiring to see what kind of positions a company may have available. Here, you likely won’t know much about the exact position. It’s important to rely on your knowledge of the company you’re sending it to and really describe why you’re hoping to work with them.
The final type of letter is a networking letter, a cover letter that isn’t the same as the other two. With a networking letter, your cover letter seeks to ask for help with your job search. This is usually sent to a business, a colleague, or just someone you know. It aims to reach out to your contacts and establish some business relationships in an effort to find a suitable position.
Just like your resume and with every type of business correspondence, it’s essential to keep the tone of your cover letter professional and respectful. Although a cover letter is less formal than a resume, it’s still a business document and should be treated as such. Keep in mind that you are developing a first impression and that you may be speaking to your future boss.
Any grammar issues or typos can cost you the attention of the hiring manager. It’s a good idea to proofread carefully and have someone else take a look at your cover letter. Make sure your paragraphs are short and to the point. Each sentence should contribute to the goal of your overall cover letter and not be boring or just contribute to a word count. Remember that you only get one shot at a cover letter. You don’t want to be casual or unprofessional in your cover letter and cost yourself the chance at a new job. If you’ve had contact with the company in the past, try to match the tone of their correspondence. If not, focus on being professional nonetheless. This is a safe tone to take and doesn’t risk any bad impressions.
Use simple language and clearly stated intentions in your cover letter. It’s not an academic paper or a metaphorical project. You want to ensure that everyone is able to understand what you’re writing and why. In general, try to keep your tone enthusiastic, friendly, and positive to show your excitement and commitment to the job.
4Know What Not to Include
A cover letter has a very specific list of things that it should include. There are also many things that a cover letter should not include, and it’s important to be aware of them. If you accidentally include too much information or not enough information, you may risk your application being tossed aside and not getting a second look.
First of all, don’t include anything negative in your cover letter. Of course, everyone has their weaknesses, you included. But, a cover letter is not the place to try and explain your weaknesses or the places where you lack experience. There will be plenty of time to explain this and discuss it in your job interview. In your cover letter, you can include a brief explanation of glaring employment gaps in your resume, but avoid going into detail about your weaknesses.
Secondly, don’t get stuck repeating the same information and sentences from your resume. Word things differently, and try to focus on a different goal in this document. Of course, never include any lies about your job experience or over exaggerations to make yourself look better. It’s best to be truthful about your experience, even if you feel that it may not be enough to get you the job. A cover letter is also not the place to talk about your expected salary or talk about what you plan to get out of the job. Keep in mind that this is just the beginning of your experience with the company. You will have plenty of time to discuss these other things.
3Send It To The Right Person
Ensure that your cover letter is addressed to the right person. It’s important, in this case, to have an understanding of what type of cover letter you are writing. It all depends on the goal of your cover letter. You may need to send the letter to a hiring manager, a human resources department, a supervisor, or another member of a company’s management team. Sending a cover letter to the right person is essential and proves that you have done your homework both about the company and the job that you’re applying for.
First of all, see if you can find out where to send the cover letter by yourself. Often, the job posting will include this information and attach a preferred contact for you to reach. If the job posting does not include that information, you may have to keep searching. Check out the company website and see if you can find the contact information for their human resources department or hiring manager.
However, different positions may require contacting different people, especially if you’re applying to a large company. It’s a good idea to call human resources where possible and inquire about the position you’re applying for. By calling, you will know for sure that your cover letter is going to the right place and that it won’t get lost in the shuffle of paperwork. Sending a cover letter to the wrong place or addressing it to the wrong person aren’t the best ways to kick off a job application.
2Start Off Strong
Make your writing stand out right from the get-go in your cover letter. Employers have to read resumes over and over again, so it’s essential to capture their attention right from the beginning of your cover letter. Focus on keeping your writing clear and concise while also outlining your strengths and accomplishing the goal of your cover letter. Before you start, consider your goals with this application and think about the position that you’re trying to get. It’s easy for a cover letter to seem bland and uncreative, so take a moment to consider exactly what you’re trying to say.
At the beginning of your cover letter, you should try to prove that the rest of it is worth reading. You want to prove that you have done some research about the employer and the position you’re applying for. You also want to pull some of the most important highlights of your career out and explain to employers why they are or will be useful in a new position.
The smallest mistake in your introduction and first paragraph could have an employer writing you off. Don’t give them the chance to do so! If you’re going to put most of your effort into one part of the cover letter- put it on the first paragraph. Hook your readers right from the start and get some of your most impressive points across right then. Keep in mind, this is one of your only chances to secure an interview, and the only place where you can prove yourself before you get one.
1Avoid Writing Too Much
Because a cover letter serves as an introduction and a complement to your resume, it’s important to avoid letting it drag on for more than one page. Keep your cover letter short and sweet to ensure that it holds the employer’s attention for its entirety. Your cover letter should be focused on every line and not include any fluff or unnecessary information. You want to ensure that your cover letter isn’t too short or too long, that you achieve the proper length to convey what needs to be included.
If your cover letter is too short, it may seem that you didn’t put much effort into it or that you just used a template from the internet. This kind of cover letter is useless, and it definitely won’t help you get the job that you want. However, on the other hand, if your cover letter is too long, it will not be focused and will likely get boring and repetitive.
The maximum length of a cover letter should be around four paragraphs, no longer than half a page or one page. Rather than trying to hit a certain length or a certain number of words, focus on accomplishing your goal. When you feel as though you’ve gotten your point across, you can look back and refine the cover letter adding or cutting information as necessary. It’s a good idea to check out the employer that you are writing the cover letter for, to see if they have any length requirements outlined already.
Resumes and cover letters go hand in hand, there’s just no replacing either one of them. It’s essential to give each one the same kind of care and attention and ensure that they are giving you the best opportunities. Employers are constantly looking at resumes and cover letters, constantly having to choose who the top contenders for their open positions are. Often, they may be looking through big piles of resumes that look very alike. The thing that can set you apart from the competition is a well-written and focused cover letter.
A cover letter gives you the chance to prove your attention to detail and fill in the blanks that your resume simply can’t include. Employers may not even look at your resume unless your cover letter is tailored to what they are looking for. Writing a cover letter proves that you are tenacious and serious about the job that you’re applying for- something that no resume is able to do, no matter how much experience and how many qualifications you have. It is able to offer context and give your resume and focus on the exact strengths that you can bring to any position.
It may feel useless to write a cover letter, especially in the age of social media and online applications. However, don’t underestimate the importance of taking some time to think about your goals and the kind of strengths that you are able to bring to the position. Even if you are applying online, you can use the information on your cover letter during an interview.