A cover letter, also known as a covering letter or application letter, is a one-page document that introduces a job seeker’s work history, professional skills, and personal interest in applying for a job. The purpose of your cover letter is to expand upon the achievements in your resume, showcase your personality, and explain why you’d be a good fit for the company. Overall, your cover letter (paired with your resume) helps managers and recruiters screen your job application. You should always include a cover letter unless the job advertisement clearly says not to.
The purpose of a cover letter
When writing a cover letter, you should:
Mention the job (or kind of job) you’re applying for (or looking for).
Show that your skills and experience match the skills and experience needed to do the job.
Encourage the reader to read your resume.
Finish with a call to action (for example, asking for an interview or a meeting).
How long should a cover letter be?
Keep it short. A cover letter is meant to be a summary of your resume, so don’t write more than one page.
Matching your cover letter to the job
Use a different cover letter for each job you apply for. Your cover letter needs to show that you know what the job involves, and what the employer is looking for.
7 steps to write a perfect cover letter –
- Step 1: Put your contact details (and the employer’s) in the header
At the top of your cover letter, type your:
First and last name.
Email address(make sure it’s professional, and not [email protected]).
Mailing address (optional).
LinkedIn profile link (optional).
Under your contact details, you should then type:
The first and last name of the person you’re writing to, or the relevant department.
The company’s address.
The company’s phone number.
The hiring manager or company’s email address.
- Step 2: Address the hiring manager by their name
- Opening Salutation: Make a great first impression by addressing your cover letter directly to the reader. Robotic and impersonal greetings like “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam” come off as lazy and insincere.
- If you’re not certain about the recruiter’s title (like Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., etc.,) you can drop it from your cover letter salutation. For instance, “Dear Jane Smith” is acceptable.
- If you can’t figure out who the recruiter is, you can guess. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing position, you can address the marketing director by name instead.
- If you can’t find anyone’s name, you can address it to the department. For instance, “Dear Marketing Department” is okay.
So the salutations you can use are –
Dear Jane Smith
Dear Ms. Smith
Dear Accounting Department
Dear [Company Name] Recruiter
- Step 3: Hook the hiring manager with a strong introduction
- Intro Paragraph: Job seekers often worry about how to start a cover letter, but it’s actually quite straightforward. An effective cover letter introduction simply includes the following:
- Job position: The name of the position you’re applying for.
- Company name: The name of the company you’re applying for.
- Intention to apply: An enthusiastic announcement that you’re applying for that position.
For example, I’m thrilled to be applying for the open content marketing coordinator position at J&M Consulting.
However, you should make your introduction even more attention-grabbing by adding some personality, passion, or a major career highlight. For example :
I’m a believer that small details make a big difference, and I made my last boss a believer too when I saved the company $60,000 per year simply by analyzing and questioning every line on a gigantic balance sheet. If Trulane Accounting is seeking an accountant who won’t skip over the small stuff, I believe I’m the perfect candidate for this job.
- Step 4: Prove that you’re the perfect candidate for the job
- Body Paragraphs: Next, it’s time to make a convincing argument that you’re the right person for the job. To write your body paragraphs well and sell yourself as the perfect candidate, remember three main points:
Be bold, but don’t brag.
Be honest, and don’t embellish.
Don’t include irrelevant information.
Here are some important points you can include in your cover letter to highlight your value:
For example, Duties at my previous company included making 60 cold calls a day to businesses and private individuals in order to solicit sales for goods and services. During my tenure, I implemented a new mobile strategy, reducing training expenses by 90% and increasing the close-ratio by 10% on telephone sales within 3 months.
For jobseekers with little or no experience, you can include these points –
Academic (and other) achievements.
Self-motivation and goal setting.
Remember that any of the information you include should be relevant to the job you’re applying for. For instance, your theater club experience will have no relevance for an accounting job, unless you were the treasurer.
For example, I recently graduated summa cum laude (3.7 GPA) with a BS in Accounting from the University of Maryland. During my final two years there, I served as treasurer for the Student Government Committee, managing a $30,000 budget, developing internal controls and financial management policies, and providing accurate financial reporting. I’m excited to bring a significant amount of real-world experience to your entry-level role and quickly prove my worth.
- Step 5: Close your cover letter with a request to interview
- Closing Paragraph: When writing your cover letter closing, be polite, confident, and continue to sell yourself as a candidate. It’s important to write your final paragraph as thoughtfully and strategically as the rest of your cover letter, so be sure to:
- Thank the hiring manager for reviewing your resume and cover letter.
- Concisely summarize why you’d be a good hire.
- Reiterate your excitement about the opportunity.
- Politely ask them to send you an invitation to interview.
For example, Thank you for spending time reviewing my application. I deeply believe that my skills and qualifications make me an ideal candidate for the 5th-grade science teacher position at Ironside Academy. I’m extremely motivated to join your school and look forward to discussing my candidacy in an interview.
- Step 6: Sign off with a professional closing salutation
- Closing Salutation: Sign off your cover letter with a professional closing salutation –
Finally, make two spaces between the salutation, and type your full name. For some professional (but optional) flair, scan your written signature into your cover letter under your typed name.
- Step 7: Review your cover letter
Check for any kind of grammatical and spelling errors. Do not include your personal information such as family, religion, gender, etc. Also, refrain from adding your photo or salary information to the cover letter.
These are the 7 steps you must follow while writing a cover letter. For your convenience, I am putting a cover letter template here – Cover Letter Template
For more career-related information, click here.
Aqib Adnan Shafin
Content Writing Intern