It is not a trifle to find a job of your dream even if you are a top-class professional with exceptional skills and talents. From the very beginning, it is a fierce rivalry. You need to get noticed, but there may be hundreds of competing applications. It is not a secret that only a small portion of them get examined properly. Thus, yours must be impressive and grasp the attention at first glance. At that moment, your strongest ace is the cover letter.
Many applicants tend to omit this step. If the job posting does not demand a cover letter, they only write a brief introduction to their CVs instead of exposing their professional backgrounds and other advantages immediately. Still, you should not ignore the chances that a cover letter brings. Companies appreciate soft skills more these days. They want to get familiar with the personal traits of candidates before interviews. A cover letter gives them an opportunity to get the information at once.
We’ve made this guideline on how to write a cover letter for a job application. In this article, we are going to illustrate the main requirements of this document. Also, we’ll highlight the practical tips that will help you in writing. As the hiring managers mostly refer to cover letters for the candidates’ data during the preliminary evaluation, you can’t afford to fail this essential step.
Before we proceed to the structure and mandatory elements of the cover letter, let’s clarify its essence. It might seem strange, but lots of details concerning this document may puzzle. How large should it be? What data should it include?
A cover letter to a company serves as an introduction of your resume. Its goal is to make the reader interested and transfer them to the more formal and detailed list of data in a resume. A cover letter puts your personality in focus. Taking the resume data as a foundation, it summarizes the information and converts it into a freer form.
It is still regulated to a certain degree. Still, it allows you to be more creative in introducing yourself as a candidate. Thus, you can use some anecdotes from previous experiences or let yourself be more emotional.
Cover letters don’t have any official formats – it allows different elements and organization. There aren’t even strict content requirements. However, certain rules exist. In any case, you need to provide a definite set of data to the potential employer:
You might notice an evident similarity with the personal statements you did in college and grad school. This document has a similar purpose: you describe why you are the best-matching candidate. If you are successful at that stage, the manager proceeds to your CV to learn more.
Therefore, we’ve clarified the essence and the most crucial requirements of the cover letter. Now, let us review it in detail and define how to organize the information correctly.
All manuals on cover letter writing will recommend telling stories instead of listing facts. This recommendation is decent. Managers are people, and a catchy story has more chances to grasp their attention than a dull collection of standard constructions.
However, even if you could tell excellent stories about your previous work experience, the exposition format is as critical. Those facts you plan to mention must be united smoothly. The structure of a cover letter turns the list into a logical narrative. It must present evident connections and conclusions to help the hiring managers notice you and motivate them to learn more.
According to the business letter writing standards, you should provide your name, address, phone number, and email address at the top of the letter. After that, you need to address the right person – the company representative whom you contact. The job posting should have this information. If there is an employee who is in charge, there will be their contact details. If the vacancy does not provide such data, you can omit that section. After this section, it is the place for the current date.
Important: Many companies provide online job application forms on their websites or on official job searching portals. If it is the case, you will only need to fill the necessary fields. However, if you send your application by email and attach the cover letter to a resume – pay attention to the format and adjust your letter accordingly.
Now, let’s refer to the content – what should you put on a cover letter, and in what order. In some aspects, this application reminds an essay. It also has an introductory part, the main body paragraphs, and the conclusion.
Start with a greeting. If the job posting includes a hiring manager’s name, address your letter to that person directly. If there isn’t a name, use a standard polite greeting like “Hello.” It is better to avoid formal introductions (To Whom It May Concern) and casual greetings (Hello there). Here, the middle way is the best.
After the greeting, proceed with the explanation of what position you apply for and why. It is essential to show your enthusiasm and express interest in a position at once.
This section usually contains several paragraphs. At the beginning of the Body part, summarize your background and most essential skills and achievements. Mention only relevant features related directly to the particular job application. The goal is to show that you are qualified for it and that you’ve already achieved much. It is a signal for all hiring managers that you are a worthy candidate with potential.
Important: Don’t list all your skills and achievements. They are present in your resume, and the manager will come to them. However, at that moment, they might get bored by lists. Therefore, choose one or two features from the most recent experience. They must be valuable for this application. Note that you should not only name them but also provide a story. Illustrate how you used that skill, what you achieved, and how it proves you are the best match for the job.
Dedicate the next paragraph to your reasons to apply. Also, explain which benefits you will bring to the company in the same section. Use the “show, not tell” approach – it is not a movie, of course, but do your best to make the story visual. Be concrete and refer to the practical cases from your past experience: define the problems you faced and how you resolved them. Your primary goal is to demonstrate your expertise in action. Of course, you should not turn the cover letter into a collection of dozens of stories – keep them for the interview. The fundamental principle is the same: choose one or two strongest examples that do you justice.
Summarize your relevant skills and experiences again and stress that they make you a perfect candidate for the job position. Convince that the company will benefit from hiring you. The final sentence should be a call to action, but make it polite. For instance, mention that you’ll gladly provide the hiring managers with more information. In the end, put a signature. Usually, it is a combination of the closing line (“Sincerely Yours,” or “Best Regards”) and your name.
Keep the cover letter short. Some job descriptions specify the cover letter size, or there can be a limitation set in the online application form. Still, in every case, your cover letter must be concise, clear, and short. The reason is the same: the hiring managers get too many applications, and they need them brief.
We’ve also collected some additional tips and warnings. To learn how to do cover letter correctly, you should pay more attention to some aspects and avoid mistakes. Which ones? Let us describe.
As you see, writing a cover letter is a feasible task. Using our recommendations, you will cope with it! Still, if you think you need a professionally-done cover letter, we’ll be glad to help you. Just contact the team!