Before you even finish you studies you have surely set some goals and plans you want to achieve in the future. For example, you want to pursue more of your chosen profession by getting a master’s degree or immediately applying for the industry you want immerse in. Setting a timeline for yourself on what you should do in the future will only do you more good than bad.
You will surely come to a point in your life when you’ll need to write a letter that can help you apply for your dream job. As you have already set a goal for yourself, all you need to do is set a master plan on how to achieve it. In order for you to get your dream job, you need to produce a well-written letter to help you market and sell your set of skills and achievements relevant to the job.
A cover letter is a letter of introduction sent by job applicants to their prospect employers. It is meant to introduce the applicant, his/her qualifications, educational background and the skills relevant to the job. Aside from the introduction, it also briefly explains the applicant’s suitability to the position he/she is applying for.
In addition, the letter is also serves as an introduction to the attached document which is usually the applicant’s resume. If taken literally, it is a covering document that provides a brief overview of what is in store on the document that follows. Hiring managers have used the cover letter to screen applicants basing on the composition and how well the letter is written.
Aside from its use for employment, it is also used for internship applications, loan applications, business proposals, contract drafts and proposals, and others. The cover letter is used to convince the approving party on whatever the writer is applying for. Aside from that it also helps draw attention on the writer’s application and it can also be just an inventory or summary of the documents included in the letter. Therefore, a cover letter is a very important document that can help you achieve a position or favor you are applying or trying to get approval for.
A cover letter must effectively convey the relevant information needed to convince the employer to hire you ass the applicant. In order to make sure your cover letter is able to do that, here are the necessary contents you should include in the cover letter:
The heading of a cover letter basically consists of the return address or the writer’s address, the date when the letter was written and the inside address or the address of the receiver. The return address must indicate the name of the writer, his address and contact information details. Same goes for the inside address: name of the receiver, his/her position or designation in the company and the company address.
The introduction of your cover letter must include a formal greeting before you even start the mention the purpose of you writing the letter. After the greeting, you must immediately state the position you are applying for and where you heard about the job vacancy. This is where you also state 2-3 winning qualifications that you can later on expound on the body of the letter.
The body of letter presents the arguments you have that helps support your cause. It also contains the facts and evidences that can help convince the employer to hire you. This is where you introduce or mention your educational background, key qualifications and the relevant skills.
The closing of your letter is where you wrap up your letter with a strong reminder as to why you are the most suitable candidate for the job. In addition, this is also where you mention that another document is attached with the letter. Lastly, this your chance to subtly request for an interview and thank the employer for giving your a chance to introduce yourself to them.
More than just formality sake, the cover letter is your opportunity to ‘wow’ the receiver and impress him/her with your qualifications and skills. It is a well-known fact in the business industry that resumes that cone with cover letters are more favored and is given more consideration. Therefore, a cover letter helps persuade your potential employer to take a chance on you. To discuss this further, here is a list of what a cover letter can help you make your potential employer see in you:
A well written cover letter will help you standout from all the other applicants. As they say, first impressions count a cover letter helps you give a good first impression. This is your chance to let your potential employer see that you are a strong candidate for the position. Stating your key strengths immediately will help you sell yourself for the position and can surely help you on progressing in the selection process.
A cover letter is also an important way for you to showcase how unique you are from all the other applicants in terms of qualifications, skills and experiences. It is an opportunity for you to present relevant qualifications the employer will need for the position based on the posted job description. While it is true that all of these can be found in the resume, the cover letter provides you the chance to present these in conversational way.
The way you construct your sentences and the overall structure of your cover letter reveals a part of your personality. The tone in which he letter is written provides the employer a glimpse of your personality and can examine them if they are the kind of traits they want in their team. In addition, it allows you to use your own words in explaining why you’re the best option for the job.
A well-written, well-structured and well-informed cover letter can be interpreted by the employer as your enthusiasm and great interest to be part of their team. Therefore, a cover letter provides you the opportunity to express that you are enthusiastic about the job and indicate and emphasize the value you would add to the employer.
Before you get started on applying for your dream job, you must first understand the differences between the two most essential job application documents: the cover letter and resume. Listed below are the most common differences the tow documents have:
These two documents even though connected with each other follow very different formats. A resume is comprehensive document presenting your educational and work experiences, and other relevant information. It should be easy to navigate and scannable. Most resumes use heading or sections to clearly highlight specific qualifications this will help the employer see the relevant keywords and qualifications. Applicants commonly use bullet points to comprehensively showcase and highlight their qualifications, experiences and skills.
Meanwhile, a cover letter does not use headings or sections, it written in paragraph format. It can contain between four to six paragraphs using a business letter format. It includes the applicant’s and employer’s contact information, salutation, introduction, body paragraphs, and closing — just like that of any other business letters. Instead of focusing on being scannable, a cover letter gives more emphasis on how you as an applicant is the perfect fit for for the position.
Resumes present more objective information since it only uses facts about the applicant. The information included n a resume must be factual therefore your educational background must be legitimate, the experiences must have proof and what not. Although the employer does not immediately check for its authenticity especially during walk-in interviews, the resume serves as a basis for a background check should you make it to the next step of the hiring process.
On the other hand, the information presented in a cover letter can be subjective. Subjective in a sense that you are trying to market and sell yourself with what you think is the most relevant and best quality that your have. A cover letter is all about sharing your personal stories while maintaining a professional tone. Although a cover letter is an important document, it is expected that employers will not get much from it since it is just a statement of what you think makes you a qualified candidate without the appropriate proof. Therefore, it must be brief and direct.
A cover letter must be written specifically for the job you are applying for. It must be tailored especially to the needs that the employer is looking for. Some company use keyword detecting software to help screen and select letters that are most fitted for the job with the help keywords. A resume, however, does not need to be specifically tailored for each job application. It can be used in whatever job you wish to apply to. Although you may want to re arrange the content the content still stays the same unlike that of a cover letter where some information are removed and some are added.
A resume is expected to be longer than that of a cover letter since it is comprehensive, meaning information that are relevant to the position even if it’s still from your college days are accounted for. It can contain all your sets of skills, educational background, previous experiences and trainings regardless of its relevancy to the position. So long as it can somehow be of use to the position, it can be included on the resume. Therefore, a resume usually least two pages in length.
However, a cover letter should be brief. There is no need to dive into details since a resume is attached along with it. It only gives an overview or a summary of what make you the most fit for the job. A cover letter should only take a single page to complete.
Aside form all of these, the main difference is that a cover letter is used to introduce the resume. In that sense, they function differently and are written for different purposed. A resume to list all the details about the candidate’s career like his educational background, personal interests, work experience, etc. And a cover letter to explain why a candidate is most appropriate for the vacancy.
Generally, since your cover letter only serves as an introduction it should only be about a quarter length of the whole paper, using a recommended font size of 11 or 12. It is also advised to keep your paragraphs straightforward and short to avoid boring the employer with unnecessary mumble. The order of paragraphs is not critical, but the following structure is recommended:
Research or do a quick phone call or email to elicit information about the recruiting manager i.e. his/her name, gender, contact information and company address. Address your letter directly to the recruiting manager using proper salutation, for example; “Dear (Name of receiver.)” After the name of the receiving party, use a comma (,) to signify that there is a continuation to the letter.
Your first paragraphs should be written briefly, three to four sentences should be enough to introduce the purpose of the letter. It should explain which job you are applying for, how you heard about the post, and some brief background on who you are e.g. in terms of your current job role. You can also include where you found the job vacancy, this will help the company find out if their post has garnered enough number of interested candidates.
In this section, you will provide evidence of how you met the top three or four criteria for the role your are applying for. You can also provide illustrations or examples of your achievements in each criteria. However, you must remember that your letter should only be short, therefore there is no room for unnecessary details.
For example, if the employer is looking for a candidate with a creative writing background or experience, directly state that you have had experiences with that requirement. You can state it like this: “My previous job has exposed me to different creative writing activities and has helped me develop useful creative writing techniques.”
In the final section of your letter, you can include an explanation as to what draw you into this role and organization, and how the role fits in to your career plans. You can also include what defining characteristics or qualities you have that will surely benefit the company once they have on your team. Think of your most unique qualities that you think separates you from the rest of the applicants.
You concluding paragraph should summarize what makes you the most suitable candidate for the job and a statement expressing your interest for an interview. For example, “I look forward to speaking with you in person to discuss more of my application.” You can also include a statement saying that a resume or CV is attached with the cover letter so that the employer can check you other qualities and qualifications as well.
In addition, it should go without saying that you need to include an return address, date, inside address, complimentary close and signature line in your letter. Those are required contents on your letter, this section of the guide is just teaching you ow to format the actual content or the body of your letter.
A cover letter should be specifically tailored to the position and company your are applying for. As there are different sets of qualification for the different job positions for different companies, you should be able to showcase your qualifications that are relevant to each position. The best way to tailor your letter effectively is to:
Your cover letter should present what a great match your are for the job. You need to do your own research so that you can find out and understand the job context, the key priorities, what the recruiters are really looking for and how the job might develop. Doing your research will also help you determine if the job is really what you like and can hep you decide whether you should pursue it or not. This will help you save everyone’s time in the process.
Another way of researching is scouring the Internet for all the relevant information about the company – what they do, how they do it, their internal rules and policies, and how to set an appointment with them. You can find necessary information about the goals and objective of the company, what their latest products or services are, their achievements so far and so much more. You can include snippets of these information in your cover letter to let the employer you know that you are truly enthusiastic and interested in the role and company. And for sure this will come in handy should you be given the chance to proceed to the interview process.
This might not be a conventional way of researching for the position but this is great way of getting your ‘name in the frame’ early. Most recruiters are quite happy to answer questions about the job from potential applicants beforehand. Juts make sure that the questions you ask are intelligent and effective. However, you should be warned that this can also lead into an informal interview where the recruiter can assess you way before you even decide to apply. Before arranging the call, you should reflect on why the employer should hire you, and refine your elevator pitch.
Establishing an internal network with other employees will surely help you know important information about the role and the company itself. You can ask the departing jobholder, their colleagues and subordinates to ask about details for internal roles and the recruiting manager for external roles. The depth of your research will show in your application and really distinguish serious applicants from the rest of the pack. This is also a great way to prepare for the interview stage of the hiring process.
The best way to tailor your cover letter is to only pick out three or four of the given criteria form the post and focus the evidences you present in these criteria. This way you can immediately tell the employer that you have what it takes to be taken as a serious candidate for the position. If the employer is convinced you have the right credentials, experience and skills for the areas that matter most, the chances are that they will invite you to interview. Your CV and your interview can cover the rest.
Make sure that you use the same keywords the employer has used in their job description to have a higher chance of getting shortlisted. Some companies use some kind of a keyword system that checks the cover letter for specific keywords. If the company or organization talks about topics such as ‘leadership’, ‘research capability’, ‘work flexibility’ or being ‘team player’ – it will help if you talk about your experience and interests in the same terms.
A cover letter, although a brief document, holds a big responsibility of helping you get that job or whatever favor you are asking for. Therefore, it should be written effectively and should be given as much time as you have written your resume. Remember that your cover letter is the first document the recruiter reads, if it’s badly written your resume might not be given a simple glance.
Your cover letter is your tool in order to effectively sell and market yourself to the employer. Be sure to only include relevant information and use a professional language and tone. This letter is your chance to impress the recruiter, do it right and flawlessly. We hope this guide has helped you with writing your own cover letter.