How to Write a Professional Cover Letter: Step-by-Step Guidelines
A cover letter is a one-page document serving as your introduction for recruiters. Its main goal is to encourage HR managers and employers to read carefully through your resume. Some of the job openings explicitly require sending over your cover letter and some don’t but going an extra mile and writing a cover letter is a great idea. We’ve created a guide with some interesting tips that you can follow to achieve your goals.
Reason why you need to write a cover letter
You might have a situation when you need a cover letter written to send together with your resume but you don’t know where to begin. Many job applicants have troubles before getting down to writing it because they do not know the significance of this piece of document in the hiring process.
A cover letter is a marketing instrument serving as an introduction of your main skills and qualifications, and how they can be of use to your potential employers. It should also end with an explicit call to action, should it be an interview or a telephone conversation. It might seem excessive but in fact, your chances to get a job will be higher if you enclose your cover letter together with your application. No matter if the job opening requires it or not, you should definitely spend an hour or two while writing a cover letter.
Structuring your cover letter
Your cover letter should cover the following aspects: contact section, opening paragraph, body of the cover letter (1 or 2 paragraphs) and conclusion.
There are three main sections components to focus on in your cover letter.
Skills and abilities. Here you give yourself the chance to demonstrate your prospective employer what you have to offer to make the company even more successful. It is critical to elaborate briefly on:
- Work experiences and other training.
- Educational background
Conclusion. This is your final paragraph in your bid to win the job competition.
- Reiterate your interest.
- (Optional) Inform the company that you will call them for a follow-up on the status of your application within a given timeframe.
- Put your contact information such as phone number and email address as well as the best time to reach you.
Choosing the right format for your document
There are three cover letter formats you can use.
- Paragraph cover letter.
- Specific Needs cover letter.
- Grocery List cover letter.
Choosing the appropriate length
The general rule is that your document should not be too short or too long. Don’t go for more than four paragraphs. While three sections are the standard, you can add one more paragraph to your letter but not more. It will be repetitive, and you will instantly lose your reader’s attention. The font for cover letter should not be too intricate, just use a simple font such as Calibri or Times New Roman.
Addressing your cover letter
In situations wherein no contact person is available, here are some of the tricks that one can exploit to get the task done.
1. Do some research.
This process is all about checking the website of the company for staff information. Some companies list down their most personnel from the certified executive officer to the hiring manager. Use that listing or simply call the company and ask for the information you need.
2. Create a general contact name and information.
In case your efforts are futile, just write “Hiring Manager” or “Recruitment Officer” on the top of your letter. Remember that the address should be the company’s name and physical location.
Spicing up your introductory paragraph
In this section, you have to write the main reason why you are reaching out to the human resource manager.
For example, if your submission is in response to a job position posted recently, you have to make sure that your cover letter indicates the following: job advertisement, credentials and description of where you learned about the new posting.
Your first paragraph should be quite short, not more than 3 or 4 lines.
Here are some of the examples of the opening statements.
“I am writing to apply for the Senior Management Position in your company. John Doe, the current VP for Advertising, informed me that you are looking for enthusiastic and goal-driven individuals to join your team. Hence, my application.”
“It is with great pleasure that I am submitting my bid to the Editorial Assistant job posting you listed on Jobbank.com. My ten years’ experience as an editorial staff for Time Magazine allowed me to develop earlier unknown skills and abilities needed to fulfill the requirements for this job successfully.”
Another strategy would be to go straight to the point by mentioning your relevant experience and its relevance to the position you are interested in.
Please accept this letter and the accompanying resume as an expression of my interest in a position of a Senior Demand Planner with your organization. As a professional manager with a proven record of 10y+ in supply and equipment management, scheduling, training, and mentoring of staff maintaining and supervision of daily operations of the military battalion of 600 soldiers, it is with great excitement that I submit my resume for consideration to become a member of your team.
How to End a Cover Letter: Top Closing Ideas
To create a lasting impression on your proposal, make sure to use the following top phrases:
“I am very thrilled to hear back from you and discuss a potential opportunity to work along side you in sustaining the company’s greatness.”
The above sentence shows confidence and enthusiasm that all employers are looking for.
“I have faith in that your company’s culture aligns with my values and principles. Thus, making our partnership sustainable, healthy, and expanding.”
Give emphasis on what you find attractive about the company.
“I am looking forward to further discuss with you my qualifications and abilities that will be beneficial to the positive growth of the company.”
This shows your ability to communication and perseverance, which are attributes that are impressive at best.
Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid
1. Copying your resume.
Some applicants simply copy their experience and skills from their resume making their cover letter sound like a plain text version of their resume which is not what it is intended to be.
2. Writing an endless cover letter.
No one is going to read a novel about your life and experiences. The best solution here will be to stick to four standard paragraphs and limit yourself to three or four sentences in each of them.
3. Focusing too much on yourself.
While it is important to include your achievements and relevant competencies, you still have to remember that your cover letter should demonstrate how you can use your experience in a new setting, how you can leverage your skills to help your company grow.
4. Using clichés and trite expressions.
"A team player", "hardworking professional" and all the phrases like this are not doing any good to your cover letter. It should be original and should answer only the question of how you can contribute to the growth of your company or one of its departments.
5. Indicating irrelevant information.
Writing about skills and experiences or personal interests that are not relevant to the application.
Dealing with special cases
Writing a Cover Letter with no experience
If you do not have anything under your belt that can contribute to a substantive and impactful letter, you don’t need to worry. There are lots of solutions to your problem, just choose what works best for you.
Focus on your general skills. So what if you do not have any paid work experience or training that could have prepared you for the job. Your skills like excellent written and verbal communication, hard work, aptitude to work in a team can easily get you the job you dream of.
Volunteer work and school activity. Believe it or not, most employees look for job seekers who do volunteering. It shows compassion, determination, and perseverance that are needed in the workplace today.
Writing a cover Letter for an internship
When applying for the internship and get the scholarship interview, it is important to do you best to showcase your skills and experience. The cover letter should stand out in several ways:
- The applicant must ensure that they use the right message, keywords, and formats.
- It should focus more on what you can do, rather than what you’ve achieved.
- Formatting is an essential component of writing a winning cover letter; both from the content as well as the presentation perspective.
- Internship cover letters should take the form of formal business letters. They should contain formal salutations in the introduction and presented in paragraph form. Moreover, these cover letters should have the signature and ending sections.
- Besides, an applicant should create a targeted and effective cover letter, demonstrating their qualifications for the position they are applying for. It is also important to ensure that each cover letter is customized to ensure uniqueness.
Most Important Things to Do When Submitting Cover Letters for Job Applications
Be straight to the point. Employers hate reading applications that are way too long and windy. You have to learn to establish your network. Did someone refer you to the company? Mention it! Sometimes, it is not what you know, but who you know that gets you hired.
Do not forget about keywords and include those that were mentioned in the job description.
Lastly, be enthusiastic and show your value! Your excitement should reflect on your letter. Do not be afraid to brag about your accomplishments, it will give you an edge over the competition.