In the following article, we are going to discuss about How to Write a Cover Letter in an efficient and persuading way. First we need to know what a cover letter is.
It is a single-page letter that should be part of any job application and should be included in every job application except when a job ad clearly says not to include it.
In order to be considered for a particular job position, you need to write a letter of application. This letter should introduce you to the recruiter, as well as should explain your purpose for writing, show highlights of a few of your experiences or skills, and should request the potential employer for an opportunity to meet personally with him.
You should be extremely careful while writing it and should make it effective to read, because this letter is your introduction to an employer and because first impression counts. Remember that the letter not only should tell about your accomplishments but should also reveal how effectively you can communicate and how good your communication skills are.
Everything that you write counts. The content should be appropriate and meaningful. The format and tone for application letters vary according to the position and the personality of the applicant. You can even ask several people having past experience in obtaining jobs or in hiring in your field, to help you out and critique a draft of your letter and to offer suggestions for revision.
Though the cover letters require more work, they are a great opportunity to cover qualifications we can’t fully explain in our resumes. Also, they help the job applicants and enable them to come across more as real people to potential employers.
A cover letter typically accompanies each resume you send out. Your cover letter can make the difference between obtaining a job interview and having your resume ignored. Where a resume focuses on your work experience and accomplishments, a strong cover letter will make a connection between what the company needs and what you can offer.
It makes sense to devote the necessary time and effort to write an effective, targeted cover letter. Your letter should convey how your skills and accomplishments will benefit the company. Under most circumstances, a cover letter is used as an introduction and should accompany your resume, whether e-mailed, posted on a job site, mailed, or hand delivered to an employer.
Don’t take it light. If you throw together a cover letter in the hopes that nobody will actually read it, you might be missing a chance to land the job. In order to take advantage of a cover letter’s full potential, follow these steps below. In this article you’ll not only find advice on formatting, reviewing, and researching cover letters, but also you will find useful information related to writing your own personal cover letter.
Purpose of Writing A Cover Letter
The question that arises in our minds is that what is the purpose behind writing a cover letter and what does your cover letter need in order to be perfect. You might be applying for a specific, advertised job, or you might be contacting a potential employer to see if they have any vacancies. Your cover letter should:
- Introduce you
- Mention the kind of job you’re applying or looking for
- Match your skills and experiences with the skills and experiences required by the
- Encourage the reader to read your resume
- Finish with a call to action (e.g., requesting an interview or asking to meet)
Things to Include in A Cover Letter
The following tips should be kept in mind while writing a cover letter:
- Always try to limit your letter to a single page. Be succinct.
- As much as possible, tailor your letter to each job opportunity. Demonstrate, if possible, some knowledge of the organization to which you are applying.
- Assess the employer’s needs and your skills. Then try to match them in the letter in a way that will appeal to the employer’s self-interest.
- Try writing in a style that is effective, mature and clear.
- Avoid long and intricate sentences and paragraphs. Use action verbs and the active voice; convey confidence, optimism, and enthusiasm coupled with respect and professionalism.
- Remember to arrange the points always in a logical sequence; organize each paragraph around a main point.
- You should never use the same cover letter for different job applications.
- Try to show some personality, but avoid hard-sell, gimmicky, or unorthodox letters. Start fast; attract interest immediately. For more information seeBusiness Letter Format.
- A cover letter shouldn’t be more than one page. It’s only meant to be a summary of the information you put in your resume, so remember to keep things short.
- Customize your cover letter
- Your cover letter needs to show that you know what the job involves and what the organization requires.
- You need to be as specific as you can about your skills and qualities and how they match the job or organization’s needs.
Questions to Guide Your Writing
These are the questions that should be targeted while writing a cover letter. You should take care of covering all these aspects in your cover letter. These include:
- Who is my audience?
- What is my objective?
- What are the objectives and needs of my audience?
- How can I best express my objective in relationship to my audience’s objectives and needs?
- What specific benefits can I offer to my audience and how can I best express them?
- What opening sentence and paragraph will grab the attention of my audience in a positive manner and invite them to read further?
- How can I maintain and heighten the interest and desire of the reader throughout the letter?
- What evidence can I present of my value to my audience?
- If a resume is enclosed with the letter, how can I best make the letter advertise the resume?
- What closing sentence or paragraph will best assure the reader of my capabilities and persuade him or her to contact me for further information?
- Is the letter my best professional effort?
- Have I spent sufficient time drafting, revising, and proofreading the letter?
Example of Cover Letter
Let’s look at an example of cover letter first:
Ms. Rhonda West
Customer Service Manager
123 Corporate Blvd.
Some town, CO 50802
Re: Customer Service Representative Opening (Ref. ID: CS300-Denver)
Dear Ms. West:
I was excited to see your opening for a customer service rep, and I hope to be invited for an interview.
My background includes serving as a customer service associate within both call-center and retail environments. Most recently, I worked on the customer service desk for Discount-Mart, where my responsibilities included handling customer merchandise returns, issuing refunds/store credits, flagging damaged merchandise for shipment back to vendors and providing back-up cashiering during busy periods.
Previously, I worked within two high-volume customer-support call centers for a major telecommunications carrier and a satellite television services provider. In these positions, I demonstrated the ability to resolve a variety of issues and complaints (such as billing disputes, service interruptions or cutoffs, repair technician delays/no-shows and equipment malfunctions). I consistently met my call-volume goals, handling an average of 56 to 60 calls per day.
In addition to this experience, I gained considerable customer service skills during my part-time employment as a waitress and restaurant hostess while in high school.
I also bring to the table strong computer proficiencies in MS Word, MS Excel and CRM database applications and a year of college (business major). Please see the accompanying resume for details of my experience and education.
I am confident that I can offer you the customer service, communication and problem-solving skills you are seeking. Feel free to call me at 555-555-5555 (home) or 555-555-5500 (cell) to arrange an interview. Thank you for your time—I look forward to learning more about this opportunity!
Three Ways to Make Your Cover Letter Specific
Below are mentioned three ways to make your cover letter as specific as possible. These include:
Find out who to address it to
Try to find out who to address your application. Though it takes a little bit of effort, but it’s worth it. If you found the job in an ad, the ad will probably name a person to send the application to. If not, call the employer or recruitment agency (don’t email them) and ask who to send the application to.
When addressing a letter, don’t use the person’s first name. Instead, use “Mr.” or “Ms.”
Find out more about the job
When finding out who to address your application to, you should also try to speak to that person so you can ask questions that will help you tailor your cover letter. Questions you might consider ask include the questions mentioned below. The answers to these questions will give you an idea of what you should mention in your cover letter.
- What can you tell me about the job?
- What can you tell me about the ideal candidate for the job?
- Is there a position description I can look at?
Find out more about the company
Try to find out more about a company and research on it very well. Also, this is also a good way to work out how to tailor your cover letter. Keep the following tips in mind and you will succeed. These are:
- If you know the name of the company, look for information online
- If they have their own website, check it out, especially their About Us page
- If the company name isn’t in the ad, call the recruitment agency and ask who the employer is
Cover Letters for No Job Advertised
There occur many cases when you might want to work for a particular business or organization even though there haven’t been any specific jobs advertised. One thing to keep in mind is, that contacting these businesses directly to ask if they have any jobs available is a perfectly legitimate thing to do. It can show a high level of motivation and enthusiasm, and could even lead to a job.
Even if there’s no job currently available, there’s a chance they could keep your details on file and get in touch with you when a job does become available. This kind of cover letter should be written in the same way as a general cover letter, but with a few differences.
In such case, you need to remember the following tips to succeed:
- Show that you’ve researched the organization or business and know about what it does
- Try to mention why you’re interested in working for them
- Demonstrate how your skills, experience and interest fit in with the goals of the business or organization and how you are a perfect candidate to be hired
- Indicate what you’re hoping to get out of contacting them – do you want to know about positions currently available or to speak to someone about what it’s like to work there?
- Finish the letter by saying that you’ll contact them in a couple of weeks, but that you’re happy to talk to them if they want to contact you before that
- If you haven’t heard back in a couple of weeks, it’s okay for you to contact them in order to ask for a response – try emailing them or calling them to discuss your letter directly.
Things to Include in A Cover Letter
Below is mentioned a list of things that you should include when you write a cover letter.
Your name and contact details
Always put your name and contact details at the top of your cover letter. If you don’t have to give your postal address, then you do need to include your email and phone number. Make sure you’ll be able to answer the number you give – no sense giving your home phone if you’re not going to be home to answer it. Also try to make sure your email address is a professional sounding one.
Their name and contact details
Try to include the name of the person you’re writing to, their position or the name of their company and their contact details. If you’re having trouble finding this information you can call the company to ask who you should address your application to. Also you can use “To Whom It May Concern”, but this is a least recommended approach to use.
The name of the job you’re going for
Remember to explain which job you are applying form at the start of your cover letter. You can do this on a line by itself (e.g., “I am writing to apply for the recently advertised XYZ position.”)
Your relevant skills
Try to write a brief summary of your skills and experiences that match the job description. A short bullet-pointed list is fine. Your cover letter needs to respond to all of the items on the “essential” list and as many items as possible on the “desirable” list in as short a way as possible.
If you’re answering a job ad, either the ad or the position description may provide a list of skills and experiences that are essential for doing the job. It may also provide a list of desired skills and experience. Remember that if you say you have a skill or experience, you need to show how you’ve utilized it, and show some experience regarding it.
Speak their language
Using the same language as people who do a particular job is a good way to convince people you’re suited to the job. Getting familiar with what a company does and how it talks about itself can give ideas about things to mention in your cover letter, and how to talk about them.
Ask them to check out your resume & contact you
Also, don’t forget that your cover letter should finish by asking the reader to look at your resume. It should also ask them to contact you about an interview. Try something like, “I look forward to hearing from you about this application.”
How to Write a Cover Letter
This is how you should arrange the contents of your cover letter:
Write the reason of why you are writing it, and create a point of contact (advertisement in a specific place for a specific position or a particular person’s suggestion that you write). Try giving some brief idea of who you are.
Second and third Paragraphs
Arouse your reader’s curiosity by mentioning points that are likely to be important for the position you are seeking. Show how your education and experience suit the requirements of the position, and, by elaborating on a few points from your resume, explain what you could contribute to the organization. Highlight a few of the most salient points from your enclosed resume.
Emphasize on action, and politely request an interview at the employer’s convenience. Indicate what supplementary material is being sent under separate cover and offer to provide additional information (a portfolio, a writing sample, a sample publication, a dossier, an audition tape), and explain how it can be obtained.
Don’t forget to thank the reader for taking out his/her time and for the consideration. Indicate that you are looking forward to hearing from him/her.
Information that should be Included
You should explain to an employer why you are interested in their business, and the particular role. Showing a genuine interest helps you stand out among other candidates, so it is important to tailor your cover letters so they relate specifically to each job application. To get an employer interested, you need to explain how your skills, attributes and achievements match those needed in the job vacancy.
Your cover letter should give an employer an idea of who you are, and explain what skills you could bring to the job. You can use information about your work history, including voluntary work, life experience, education and training and, if relevant, personal activities.
- Use two or three key examples to demonstrate your suitability for the job.
- Promote yourself – explain how you can contribute to the company. Focus on what you have to offer, rather than what you want.
- Explain why you are the best person for the company and how your skills will meet the company’s needs. Link your experience, skills and qualifications to what the employer has asked for, and show that you meet the job requirements.
- Research the company and show your knowledge by sharing any recommendations you have. For example, you can write, “With 5 years of retail management experience and a record of rapid advancement, I have found at least three ways to increase sales at your XYZ outlet.”
How to Format a Cover Letter
This is how you can format your cover letter:
- Type each letter individually, or use a word processor.
- Each letter should be grammatically correct, properly punctuated, and perfectly spelled. It also should be immaculately clean and free of errors. Proofread carefully!
- Whenever possible, address each employer by name and title.
- Use good quality bond paper.
- Use conventional business correspondence form. If you are not certain of how to do this, ask for help at the Writing Center.
Things that should not be included in a cover letter
Here is a list of things that you should NOT include in your cover letter:
Typing Mistake or Wrong Information
Never leave any mistake. It leaves a bad impression on the recruiter and shows your image as an irresponsible person who cannot even write a cover letter properly. Double-check everything in your cover letter. If you mention a company’s name, make sure you get it right. If you mention places you’ve worked before, make sure you get their names right too. Mistakes on cover letters are worse than typos.
You should always spellcheck your cover letter. It’s even better to get someone else to read it and point out any mistakes or confusing things. People you can ask include friends, family members, your careers teacher or a careers counsellor at your university.
The whole resume
Never cut and paste your resume into your cover letter. Try to re-write the information on your resume rather than just repeating it. Keep your cover letter short and let your resume tell the whole story.
Using the letter “I” too much
Avoid addressing again and again using “I.” This makes it irritating enough to look at.
Try to make sure that you don’t fill your cover letter with things like “I believe”, “I have” and “I am”. Once you’ve written your letter, look over it and see if you can take out – or rewrite – any sentences that start with “I”.
Never mention your other job applications
Even though most people assume you aren’t only applying for one job at a time, it’s best if you act as though you are. You’ll probably have more than one job application on the go at any one time. It’s important, though, not to mention other job applications. You’re trying to convince people you really want the job. Never mention other job applications on it.
Email Cover Letters
In order to write email cover letters, you should keep the following things in mind, as sometimes you’ll be asked to send your cover letter as an email instead of a separate document. If this is the case you should:
- Write your name and the job title in the email subject line
- Always send the email from a professional looking email address
- Remember you still need to use the name of the person you’re writing to
- End the email with a professional signature that includes your phone number
- Avoid formatting the body of the email like a traditional letter – leave out the contact details and just go straight to the “Dear XXXX” part.
Tips Related to How to Write a Cover Letter
Your cover letter may be the first contact you have with a prospective employer, so it is important to make a good impression. If your cover letter makes a poor impression, your CV may not be read. Ways to demonstrate your interest in the job could include:
- showing how motivated and enthusiastic you are, and how you can fit into the organization
- discussing your personal qualities and why the position interests you
- mentioning any personal interests or activities that are relevant to the company and the work it does
- Remember that whoever reads your cover letter will consider it an example of your writing skills. Make sure there are no grammatical mistakes and that the spelling is perfect.
- Always get another person to read your letter before sending it to an employer.
- Make the letter interesting to read, but short and to the point. Do not repeat everything you say in your CV.
- Be enthusiastic and assertive but not pushy. Do not beg for a position.
- Use simple, natural language, avoiding clichés and expressions like “aforementioned”.
- Your letter should start by stating where you heard about the job. This directly relates your application to a position they have advertised. If no specific opening has been advertised be sure to state what your job objective is.
- End by saying you look forward to an interview, and that you are willing to provide further information.
- Use positive words and phrases such as “I have” or “I can”.
- You can put your key points in a bulleted list, or in a comparison list-style in which you directly compare your specific experiences and accomplishments with the company’s stated needs.
- Use clean, white, A4-sized paper and keep it neat. Don’t send cover letters that are photocopied or marked.
- Use an easily read font (or tidy handwriting if you are asked to supply a handwritten letter). Examples include Calibri, Georgia, Helvetica, Arial and Times New Roman.
- Leave plenty of space around the edges of the page and clear space between each paragraph or section.
- Write a rough draft first so you can get your thoughts in order.
- Commenting on something positive about the company and letting them know why you would want to work there. For example, you could refer to the company’s reputation, management philosophy, product quality, or other factors that impress you.
- Cover letters are usually no more than one page long.
- Address your letter to the relevant person, rather than starting with “Dear Sir/Madam”. If you are not sure who to address your letter to, contact the employer and ask.
- Be professional, warm and friendly.
- Don’t use words that weaken your message or give the impression that you lack confidence – for example, “fairly experienced” or “some knowledge”.
- Do not start every sentence or paragraph with “I”.
- Keep copies of all letters sent – when you get an interview it is very useful to know what you have written. It also makes the next letter easier to write.
Cover letters make a great difference on your resume. You should know what skills you expertise in, and how to make thing pretty more attractive to the recruiter. Formatting should be perfect enough, with no spelling or typo mistakes. A resume is of limited value to an employer if he or she doesn’t know what kind of work you want to do. A cover letter tells the employer the type of position you’re seeking — and exactly how you are qualified for that position. Furthermore, it allows you to target the job and the employer in a very specific way, leaving the resume to market your skills, qualities and experience as a part of the bigger picture.
Your cover letter can explain things that your resume can’t. Grammar should be perfect and it should sound professional. Many people who think writing cover letter is a piece of cake are taking it totally wrong. If not written with care and attention properly, then it many result in your resume being thrown in the pile of useless resumes, and not to be considered again by the recruiter. Therefore you should take it pretty much serious, and write it carefully and professionally.