When applying for a job, cover letters aren’t always needed, but many employers use them to assess your abilities, passion, and experience.
A well-written cover letter that makes a strong positive first impression on employers will increase your chances of landing an interview. But especially if you lack work experience, crafting a fantastic cover letter is easier said than done.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a one-page document that you provide with your resume to indicate your interest in a position. A cover letter’s objective is to introduce yourself to an employer and give a brief outline of your work experience, professional qualifications, and why you’re the ideal candidate for the job. While your CV emphasizes your qualifications and accomplishments, your cover letter elaborates on them, highlights your personality, and explains why you’d be a good fit for the organization.
An excellent cover letter can pique the interest of the HR manager and persuade them to examine your resume. A poor cover letter, on the other hand, may result in your application being tossed in the trash. To avoid this, it’s critical to know how to create a persuasive cover letter.
The following sections should be included in a cover letter, which should be formatted like a business letter:
Date and contact information in the header
Greetings or salutations
The first paragraph
Paragraph(s) in the middle
The final paragraph
Letter’s conclusion and signature
Your cover letter should be one page long and written in a simple, professional typeface like Arial or Helvetica, with a size of 10 to 12 points. Your letter should be left-aligned with one-inch margins and single spacing.
Following the steps below will get you to write a great cover letter that will make you stand out amongst your fellow job hunters:
Do your research first
Find out more about the firm and the position you seek before you start writing. Of course, you should read the job description carefully, but you should also look at the company’s website, executives’ Twitter feeds, and LinkedIn profiles of employees. Because you should not send a generic cover letter, this research will assist you in customizing your cover letter. It will also assist you in selecting the appropriate tone. “Think about the culture of the company you’re applying to,” Glickman recommends. “You might take more risks if it’s a creative agency, like a design company, but you might pull back if it’s a more conservative organization, like a bank.”
Focus on the future
The cover letter, according to Glickman, should focus on the future and what you want to do, while the résumé is meant to be a look back at your history and where you’ve been. Think of it as a connection between the past and the future that explains what you want to do next and why. Because of the pandemic, employers are less likely to expect you to apply for a job you’ve previously held. Millions of people are changing careers freely or involuntarily, and they need to pivot and reassess how their skill set connects to a different job or industry. You can use your cover letter to describe why you’re changing careers, for as from hospitality to marketing. Consider it a chance to market your transferable skills.
Most people start their letters by saying, ‘I’m applying for X job that I saw in Y location. What a waste. Instead, start with a powerful sentence. Begin with the punch line, why this position excites you and what you offer to the table. “I’m an environmental fundraising specialist with more than 15 years of experience searching for an opportunity to apply my abilities in new ways,” you might write. “I’d love to add my expertise and passion to your growing development team,” you might continue. Then, instead of rehashing your résumé, insert a phrase or two describing your background and relevant experience.
You want to grab the eye of the hiring manager or recruiter, who is likely to be perusing a stack of them. But don’t make an attempt to be amusing. Humor can easily go flat or come across as arrogant. Also, avoid using common platitudes. Say something direct and exciting, like “Let me call your attention to two reasons why I’d be an excellent addition to your team.”
Make your personal worth a priority
Hiring managers seek persons who can assist them in solving difficulties. Show that you understand what the company does and some of the issues it encounters by drawing on the study you completed earlier. These don’t have to be particular, but you might describe how the pandemic has affected the industry. “Many health-care firms are overwhelmed with the requirement to deliver high-quality care while ensuring the health and safety of their employees,” you might write. Then explain how your previous experience has prepared you to satisfy those needs; for example, explain how you solved a similar situation or share a relevant accomplishment. You’ll need to show proof of the things that set you apart.
Adaptability and the ability to learn rapidly are two talents that are applicable to practically any employment right now. Include any brief examples you have that exemplify these abilities. For example, if you assisted your team in making the transition to remote work, explain how you did so and what resources you used.
It’s rare that you won’t be employed due of a lack of qualifications. People didn’t trust your tale, that you were interested in the job, or that you knew what you were getting yourself into. Hiring managers will choose the candidate who makes it appear as if this is their dream job. As a result, make it apparent why you desire the job. Personality is communicated through enthusiasm. “I’d love to work for your company,” you might write. Who wouldn’t want that? You’re the industry leader, and you’re the one who sets the standards that everyone else must follow.” If you’re not enthusiastic about some part of the firm or the role, don’t bother applying.
Keep an eye on the tone
Simultaneously, avoid being overly flattering or saying things you don’t mean. The importance of authenticity cannot be overstated. Even if you’ve been unemployed for months and would take any job, you don’t want to come out as desperate. Be professional and mature, as you don’t want your tone to detract from your message. Put yourself in the position of the hiring manager and consider what kind of language he or she would use with one of the company’s clients as a rule of thumb.
Keep it brief
Much of the advice out there is that it should be under a page long since shorter is better. It should be brief enough to be read in a single glance. You must cover a great deal of ground, but you must do so quickly. It can be beneficial to have a friend, previous colleague, or mentor evaluate your letter at this point. Request that they read it through and point out any areas where you can make cuts.
When you are unable to send a cover letter
Many businesses now employ online application systems that do not allow for the submission of a cover letter. You might be able to put one in the same document as your résumé, but this isn’t always possible, especially because some systems only allow data to be typed into specified boxes. Use the format provided to demonstrate your competence to perform the work and passion for the position.