You want to write a cover letter, but you don’t know where to start and how to continue? ProperResumes.com is always here to give you tips that are ready to implement.
How to Write a Cover Letter: Mastering the Format
Before we start listing tips for writing a cover letter, it’s important to clarify one thing: the format. Although the cover letter allows for more flexibility when compared to the resume, it should still maintain a proper format. Ideally, you want to keep the cover letter on a single page, within 3-5 paragraphs of text.
This is a format that always works:
- Provide your contact information, followed by the date of writing the cover letter and the company’s contact information. Your personal information is obviously important. The hiring manager has to know who the applicant is. The date shows you’re sending an updated and relevant cover letter, and the recipient’s contact information ensures the right person is reading the letter.
- In the opening, introduce yourself and indicate the position you’re applying for.
- Explain what makes you a good fit for that position. Include your strengths and experiences and explain them in a way that the rigid resume format doesn’t allow you to do. Then, wrap it up by thanking the hiring manager for the consideration.
When you take a look at this structure, it looks simple. However, the content you write in those paragraphs is what matters. Hiring managers like structured application documents, so they can find the info they need where they expect to see it.
Whatever you do, never copy a cover letter! Plagiarism is a serious issue. However, not being unique also means that you’re not standing out among other applicants.
Important Points on How to Write a Cover Letter: What to Include
What exactly should a cover letter contain? That’s the most important part of our cover letter writing tips.
- A strong opening. Start with a punch line that will attract the hiring manager’s attention. “I am a human resource professional with more than 5 years of experience and I’d love to become part of your HR department.” That’s too dry and unappealing. Try something more dynamic. Here’s an example: “I hired over 100 people for the previous company I worked for. They were so good that I felt I reached what I was aiming for. Now, I’m ready to help your organization grow even more.”
- A story. How did you find out about this company and the open position? Why did you decide to apply? What experiences make you capable for this job? How will you contribute to the company’s growth? In a cover letter, you should answer all these questions. You should connect them in a personal story with a logical beginning and end.
- Facts. When you’re explaining how you were a great asset for the previous company you worked for, the words of bragging won’t be enough. Show that through specific examples. If possible, include numbers and statistics.
- Personal value. How will you make this company better? That’s the most important question to answer.
- The hiring manager’s name. You can easily locate such information if the company has an official website that presents the team. If you can’t find that information online, just call the offices and ask who you should address the cover letter to. When you use this person’s last name (including a Mr. or Ms. before it), you show your respect, but you also prove you made an effort to find out more about the company.
How to Write a Good Cover Letter: Do’s and Don’ts
Although many job candidates know what to write in a cover letter, they still make mistakes they are not aware of. These are the most important do’s and don’ts to pay attention to:
- Don’t get too inspired by a template! Although the employer expects to see a certain format, they don’t want to read the same cover letter over and over again. Mind all these tips and rules you just read, but make sure to be creative when writing the letter. Be memorable!
- Do edit and proofread! The cover letter should go through detailed grammar and spell check, but keep in mind that editing software can’t be flawless. Make an effort to read the letter word by word and improve its style, grammar, and spelling. If you’re not confident in your editing skills, you can always get your cover letter edited by pros.
- Don’t start with your name. “My name is Robert Smith and I am applying for the position product promoter in your company.” Yes, you should mention the position you’re applying for in the opening. However, the hiring manager can already see your name at the top of your cover letter. There’s no need to be boring this way.
- Keep it short and clear. Don’t use big words. Shorten the sentences. Don’t go over a page! Tell the hiring manager what you think they need to know without wasting their time.
- Never show the lack of confidence. Show yourself as a valuable candidate, who’s worthy of this position. Take a moment to think about your best qualities. Don’t include your flaws in the resume. “Although I’m not a native English speaker…” – that’s not the right way to go. Don’t say what you can’t; show what you can.
Extra Tips on Writing a Cover Letter
Writing cover letters is ever easy. When you’re expected to showcase your strengths and make yourself more attractive than other candidates, you don’t even know where to start. However, mastering the art of cover letter writing is not something impossible. Repeat this as many times as necessary, until you believe it: “I can do this!”
Now, you’re ready for some extra tips that will help you write a better cover letter:
- Never send the same cover letter to multiple job ads! Many candidates decide to change the employer’s information in the cover letter, make small revisions regarding the position, and send the same letter over and over again. Don’t do that. This cover letter needs to show why you’re the best fit for a specific position. Each job comes with its own requirements and expectations. You can’t keep sending the same thing if you want the employer to see your enthusiasm for being part of their organization.
- Include the right keywords. Most organizations use software to find relevant applications. Your cover letter should include words and phrases they would usually search for. It’s not hard to find the right keywords; just look at the job description to see what skills are necessary, and include them in your cover letter.
- Tell the truth and nothing but the truth. Lying about your education or past experience will only get you in trouble.
- It’s not recommended to mention why you quit your last job. Just explain why you want to move forward and how you see this company as part of your career path. Never trash your past employers! That violates the etiquette of professionalism.
Those tips were more than enough, right? Now, all that’s left for you is to plan what you’ll include in your cover letter and write it!