How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job Application
Cover Letter Definition
A cover letter is a formal written document sent with a job application providing additional information on the applicant’s credentials and demonstrating their interest in the open position. There are other terms used to represent this type of document, such as a cover letter, letter of motivation, motivation letter or motivational letter. A cover letter is usually accompanied by a curriculum vitae or resume. Unlike a resume, which summarizes the applicant’s overall qualifications, a cover letter allows them to present themselves professionally and apply their skills and experience directly to a particular vacancy.
What’s So Special: How to Make a Cover Letter for a Resume
A cover letter is intended to introduce the applicant’s curriculum vitae and illustrate the enthusiasm they feel for a job opening. When writing a cover letter, it is significant to remember that there are nearly 60 seconds the applicant has to grab the prospective employer’s attention.
Hiring managers and recruiters are looking for candidates that meet certain requirements. A cover letter to a resume gives you a chance to highlight skills and experience relevant to the position. It should be a story about your achievements related to required competencies.
You can write a cover letter for employment in several cases. In one case you write a standard cover letter that matches the job description. In another case, you can write a cover letter to a company that has no vacancy.
A cover letter may serve a wide list of purposes:
- Show your keen interest to the position.
- Explain why you are the best option for the company.
- Demonstrate how you meet the key requirements for the position.
- Prove your skills to clearly articulate your thoughts.
- Add a personal touch to the resume.
Why writing a cover letter is a perfect idea:
- Most of the applicants don’t attach a cover letter to the resume. So, sending a cover letter will help to stand out from the crowd of applications.
- For some recruiters and managers a cover letter is one of the indicators of an ideal candidate.
- It is a good chance to express your core skills or explain career gaps.
A resume is a series of lists of your qualities and proper skills, while a cover letter is a story about you as a professional. Only a cover letter lets you describe situations and your experience with real examples.
Sending a cover letter is always a good idea. Even if the employer is not interested in cover letters, writing a letter is worth the effort. Many people are afraid that their letter may be interpreted incorrectly and this may even harm their career. We need to assure you that you won’t be penalized for writing the letter at all.
Step-By-Step Guide: How to Write a Resume Cover Letter
Nowadays, most of the applicants send their cover letters by email or as an attachment to a CV. If the company you are applying to prefers snail mail, this guide will also be helpful. The format and the method of writing cover letters don’t differ significantly. Usually, you need to write a salutation, concise body section, and a polite closing. The following guide will help you consider all necessary points for writing a good cover letter.
Preparing: How to Start a Cover Letter
As you may already know, resumes and cover letters are written for each vacancy you apply to. It is very important to have a basic understanding of the employer and understand whether you will fit the job.
Attentively examine the text of the vacancy. Look not only at the requirements, but try to analyze the whole text. Define the key words and phrases and build a list. What has the recruiter tried to say about the position? What are the key skills? Think what responsibilities excite you the most and what you can do for the company.
Make a list of qualities. What skills do you already possess? What skills meet the vacancy requirements the best? In your letter you will need to focus on three or four credentials and accompany them with evidence. Along with professional skills, it will be a good idea to focus on soft skills too, especially if you are going to work in a team or large company. For example, the list may look like this:
- Leadership qualities
- Ability to multi-task
- Interpersonal skills
- Perfect teamwork
- Verbal and written communication skills
- Stress resistant
Conduct a research about the company. To compose an effective cover letter, you need to have enough information about the company and position you are applying to. It may be difficult to find all necessary information, but even a bit of information will help you make necessary accents in the letter. Start with the online research. For example, let’s say you are applying for a position in the marketing department. Look through the company’s website, activity in social media, advertising, etc. What excites you the most about the company? Basically, this may be enough to analyze information available publicly.
Find out the full name of the person you will be writing a cover letter to. The best way to make contact with the recruiter or hiring manager is by addressing your cover letter directly. You can find the name in the job post.
Contact the recruiter. If you have some questions about the vacancy, you can contact the recruiter in LinkedIn or by email. Recruiters usually are open to discuss questions related to the company. This conversation may be beneficial, as you will show yourself before sending a CV letter. Make sure that your questions are intelligent and relevant.
Look though the examples. On our website you can find great examples of cover letters. In the text below we show examples of cover letters written by expert writers. If it won’t be enough for you, browse the internet for more information. Always make sure of the quality of such templates.
Define what separates you from other specialists. A cover letter is a sort of marketing tool that should help successfully “sell” yourself to the employer. Think on what makes you stand out from the list of competitors. To help you find the answer, try to look through these questions:
- Who are you?
- What can you offer?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- How can you illustrate your strong skills?
- How can you cover your weaknesses?
- What are the three main areas the employer needs help with?
- Why do you want to work at this company?
- What excites you the most in this position?
- What would you appreciate the most if you were hired?
- What language is the most appropriate in this company?
- What difficult situations you have solved?
All these points should help you gather thoughts before writing and determine the points that will be better to highlight in your cover letter. Like writing a story, a cover letter should be laid out in a logical and precise manner. Each paragraph should cover one idea. When you will gather all necessary information and feel that you are prepared, it will be time to move to writing!
Writing: How to Structure a Cover Letter
Cover letters may be written in various formats. Basically, it consists of five paragraphs. Each paragraph should address a particular question.
Don’t expect a perfect cover letter from the first attempt, especially if you have never written such letters before. Understand that you will have to go through several drafts before you will be pleased with the result.
1. Fill in the subject line (if you are writing an email).
Write a clear and brief subject line. Don’t leave this line blank, as the letter will probably be moved to spam. Simply mention your name and the position you are applying to. If you want to draw extra attention to your letter, you can turn on your creativity (depending on the situation and position). Here are some suggestions:
- Job application – Your Name
- Sales manager position – Your Name
- Marketing Research Analyst Seeking New Opportunity
- Product Director Resume and Cover Letter
- Performance Architect Job – Your Name
- Application for Medical Representative
- SMM Manager Position
2. Write the heading (for mailed cover letter).
You need to list the following information: full name, address, phone number, email, and the date you are sending the letter.
3. Write the salutation.
Keep a formal tone and try to address the letter directly to the person. If you have found out the person’s name, just write Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. etc. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand the gender, so don’t guess and write only the name. If you couldn’t find the name, you can write “Dear Sir or Madam” or “Dear Hiring Manager.” At the end of the phrase, put a comma, semicolon, or colon.
4. Write the introduction.
Tell the reader who you are and why you are writing in the first few sentences. Mention the title of the position you are applying to. Then, explain why you are interested in the position. In addition, you can include details on how you found this vacancy:
- Vacancy was advertised
- You were referred by someone
- You are interested in the company and regularly check job openings
Also, the introduction is a good place to show your knowledge about the company. Here are some helpful phrases for a good beginning:
– As a recent graduate from [University] I am full of knowledge to share in [position].
– [Company] has a strong reputation in providing [services]. I am inspired with the company’s work and think that my knowledge in the industry will help…
– My close friend [Name] has recommended to apply to your organization…
– I am applying for the [position]…
– I recently visited your website and found…
– I spent the last five years as a [position] in [company]…
– Last week I visited your store/restaurant/etc. for the first time…
– I was made aware of the opening for [position]…
– I am writing in response to your advertisement in…
– I wish to apply for [position]…
5. Write the body.
This section you can divide into several parts, dedicating one to your skills or experience. Start writing the arguments why you will fit the job requirements. Demonstrate how you match the organization’s goals and convince the reader that the company will benefit from hiring you. Don’t list irrelevant information.
For example, you have read in the job description that a candidate needs good communication skills. So, in one paragraph you will need to tell a story about your positive experience in creating good relationships with colleagues and partners. Organize the paragraphs according to the priority of skill: place the most relevant experience first. Try to use the key words and phrases from the job description.
You can use the following phrases in this paragraph:
- I have strong communication skills and experience working with…
- The position combines my two passions…
- I believe that my experience in…
6. Write the conclusion.
In the last paragraph, thank the employer for the time they have spent on your application. Request an interview or point out that you will follow up this letter within a specific time.
You can use one of the following phrases to conclude a cover letter:
– I am very excited about the collaboration with your company because…
– I have great passion for this industry and I believe that this position will…
– If I am offered this position, I will…
– I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss…
– I will call you [Date] to follow up on my application…
7. Write the closing. For example: “Sincerely, Ted Mosby.” You can also use the following sign-off:
- Best regards
- Kind regards
- Most sincerely
- Sincerely yours
Add an email address, phone number, and link to your LinkedIn profile.
8. Proofread the letter.
A cover letter can show many of your skills and experiences. The quality of the written text will show your diligence and attentiveness to detail. That’s why it’s important to double-check the first draft of the letter, correcting all mistakes and errors. Ask someone to read you letter and give feedback.
9. Send the letter.
So, you have written and edited the letter. Before sending it, we recommend to look through our checklist for email cover letters:
- Check the company’s requirements for sending resume and cover letters by email (if any).
- Fill in the subject line.
- Use appropriate formatting.
- Limit the use of bullets.
- Attach the cover letter to the email.
- Write a brief message in the email.
- Make sure that your attachment has the appropriate format.
- Test the email by sending it to your friend.
How to Write a Cover Letter: Example
In the following cover letter sample our expert has analyzed the design of a well-written letter. From our samples, you can see what points you need to consider to write a powerful cover letter. On our website you can find more cover letter examples that may also help you.
Click on the image to see its full size.
Tips on How to Write a Cover Letter Example
- Use only a professional email address. This means that your email should contain your name and surname. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Keep an appropriate tone and be specific. Keep in mind the cover letter should not be more than one page long. You need to create a brief story in an enthusiastic and formal tone. Many people check emails on the phone, and it will be much easier to read a succinct message.
- Use power phrases to emphasize your qualifications and convey your experience, such as “I have a talent for” or “I have extensive experience in,” and others.
- Avoid such cliched phrases: “good,” “great fit,” “as you can see on my resume,” “this job would help me,” “I’m the best candidate,” etc. Replace them with active phrases.
- Use technical terms and other “insider” words common to your industry to show off your expertise. But don’t overuse them, as it may turn the text into a mess. Also, you can find appropriate words in the job advertisement or company website.
- Give clear evidence why you meet the key criteria for the job. Even if you don’t have relevant experience for the position, you can show what skills you possess and how you can use them on your future position.
- Find networking connections that have already worked in this company. These people may give you important insights about the company and what may be expected from the candidate.
- Use a general format for email letters. This means that you need to avoid using non-standard fonts and font sizes. Don’t attach images or unnecessary materials that increase the size of the email letter.
- Express strong skills. Some candidates apologize that they don’t have a certain level of skill. Try to focus on your strengths and show your enthusiasm.
- Stay real. It is important to be yourself while writing the cover letter. Some people write letters following outdated universal guides, while others show too much enthusiasm. You need to show yourself as a professional and polite person, and not fake.
How to Make a Good Cover Letter: Mistakes to Avoid
- Wrongly spelling the name of the organization, recruiter, or manager. Even one mistake may send your email to the trash.
- Sending one cover letter to all companies. This is one of the most common mistakes people make. You will significantly lower chances to be invited to an interview if you write a generic cover letter.
- Failing to personalize the letter. Nowadays it’s not so hard to find the name of a hiring manager or recruiter. Usually it is mentioned in the vacancy. You can visit the company’s website to find out the name.
- Using an informal tone. Even if you are writing a cover letter to a start-up or a company with an informal corporate culture, you need to stick to a formal style.
- Talking only about yourself. If to consider a cover letter as a marketing tool, you need to tell the prospective employer how you will ease their pain. Every position solves certain pains of the company, so show how your skills can deal with it.
- Retelling your resume. Usually, recruiting managers read resumes first, and there is no need to repeat this information in the cover letter. Your letter should interest and surprise the reader with new, essential information about your experience.
- Writing a generic text. Don’t use general phrases and descriptions. You need to tell your personal story about how you can use your skills in practice. And don’t copy cover letters from the internet – be yourself.
- Skipping instructions. Some companies leave several requirements for the cover letter (legal and healthcare sector). Carefully read the job description. You may be asked to answer a certain question or address the issue.
- Telling stories that are too personal. Cover letters are a good option for those who need to explain their career gaps or job change. But this doesn’t mean that you can tell a sob story about your ill grandma or tragic brake up with your girlfriend.
- Focusing on your education. For example, many students focus on the courses they have passed and papers they have written. Instead of this, you need to tell about your internship experience or volunteering.
A cover letter serves as an indication of your achievements and character, so if it has clear organization and is carefully written, the hiring manager will perceive you as a diligent and well-disciplined person who takes work seriously. With a strong cover letter, you can create a positive first impression on your prospective employer and motivate them to hire you.
We hope that our guide will help you to do a cover letter and get hired. Follow our recommendations, check out our tips, and look through our samples – we believe that you will write an excellent letter. Good luck!