What is a cover letter?
A cover letter, also known as an application letter, is a document you send with your resume when applying for a job. It doesn’t just restate what’s on your resume; rather, it highlights the most impressive parts, adds further detail, and entices the reader to take a look at it. As such, it should be both engaging and informative.
The purpose of a cover letter is to:
- Explain how your skills and experience can benefit the employer
- State which vacancy interests you and why
- Highlight your most relevant experience and qualifications
- Request an interview
1) Do your research
You need to do some research before writing your cover letter. Find out who will be reading it, some background information about the business and its competitors, and about any recent news or trends in the sector. This will help you to tailor the letter to the role you’re applying for.
2) Tailor your cover letter
Before we get into the detail, we need to stress how important it is that you tailor your cover letter to the role and business you’re applying for. When doing your research, try to find the name of the person who will be reading your letter. Addressing it to them will demonstrate your initiative and make your letter more personal.
Look carefully over the job description. What skills and experience is the employer looking for? Talk about those, and try to emulate the phrasing that they use. If the job description asks for somebody who’s ‘tech-savvy’, don’t just say that you are — show them by illustrating what you say with examples.
You should also write specifically about the company. Mention any values that resonate with you, or work they’ve done that you particularly enjoyed; show the employer that you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in the role rather than just ‘getting a job’.
3) How to write a cover letter
You should format your cover letter just like any other business letter. Begin with your address, followed by the date, and then the recipient’s name and address. Then, include a salutation, subject line, your body text, and the sign-off. Learn how to write a formal letter if you’re still a bit uncertain.
43 Lake Street
Brentwood, NY 11717
December 23, 2016
Mr. Joe Bloggs
291 Taylor Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901
Dear Mr. Bloggs:
APPLICATION FOR JOB TITLE
The opening paragraph of your cover letter should state the name of the job you’re applying for and how you heard about it. If somebody referred you — such as an existing employee — it’s best practice to give their name. Explain why you’re interested in the position, and show initiative by linking your interest to something about the organisation. For example: “I am keen to join Resume-Library after discovering that it is America’s leading independent job site.”
In this section, you should show the employer, with examples, how you’re qualified for the role. Point to the most notable achievements in your resume, but don’t just summarize what your resume says. Say what you did, and then explain how your skills can benefit the employer. It’s best to limit this section to one point per paragraph; for example, you might talk about your work experience in one paragraph and your academic career in another.
The purpose of the final paragraph is to demonstrate goodwill and seek a follow-up. Request an interview, and tell the employer how to contact you by including your phone number and/or email address. Thank the employer by saying something like “Thank you for your consideration. I will be in contact next week to arrange the interview.”
Cover letter tips
1) Short but sweet
You’re intelligent and qualified for the role and you want the employers to know that! It can be hard to keep your cover letter succinct, but it’s important that you keep it nice and concise — recruiters won’t trawl through multiple pages, trust us. Keep it to a one letter-sized page.
2) Don’t copy your resume
Your cover letter is supposed to make someone want to read your resume; it should complement it, but not copy it. Of course, you should take the most impressive achievements from your resume and expand upon them, but don’t just copy exactly what your resume says. What would be the point of a cover letter if it were just a duplicate of your resume?
3) Check, check, and check again
It sounds obvious, but make sure you triple check your cover letter when you’ve finished it. Then show it to somebody else and have them triple check it. Recruiters will see you as careless if your letter is rife with spelling errors and typos; why would you want them to think that over something completely avoidable?
4) Avoid clichés and buzzwords
Employers don’t care that you’re a “team player,” a “forward-thinker,” or a “highly motivated individual.” That’s what everyone else says! Show them when you worked in a team, and how your teamwork contributed to the success of the situation.
5) Use statistics
This will be easier in certain industries, but if you can, try to back up what you say with statistics. For example, instead of saying that you “improved sales,” say that you “boosted sales by 10% in the last quarter and directly improved profitability.”
Sending your cover letter online
What file format should I use?
Macs use the .pages file extension for word processing; Windows PCs use .docx. To avoid any problems, save your cover letter with the .PDF file extension. Any computer will be able to open it and your formatting will be preserved, so the employers will be able to see it as you intended.
Sending as an email
Some employers will ask you to send your cover letter not as an attachment, but as the actual body text of your email. If this is the case, skip the addresses and your signature — they won’t be necessary. Just jump straight into the content, and sign off with your name. You should format the subject line as follows (If you’re given a reference number, include that, too):
Application for Job Title — Your Name
Source – CV Library –Kieran Barker – 4th January 2017