When you apply to be a part of a company, organization or institution, you need to be able to convince them that you are the best candidate that is applying for the position. You need to provide them with information about you enough to convince them to give you the spot.
In this case, you need a cover letter to effectively do that task for you. Your cover letter will introduce you as an applicant, showcase your experiences, qualifications, skills, and explain your purpose.
In order to make a cover letter that will effectively sell your qualifications to your receiver, you need to know the basics about it. This means you need to understand the essential elements that makes a cover letter good. Thus, here is a list of the important elements every cover letter should have:
1. Formatting: A good cover letter follows the standard formal or business letter format. You should follow the format where your address is in the top right or left corner and the company’s address on the left. There should only be at most four short paragraphs.
2. Specific recipient: In this time and day, there is no excuse to not know the actual name of the letter recipient. Thus, when you write your cover letter, make sure you research about who you’re supposed to send the letter to. Write his/her complete name in the inside address and his/her last name in the salutation.
3. Good introduction: Before you go to the good part of your letter, make sure provide a good opener for your letter. Your introductory paragraph must be impressive from the get-go. You must cohesively convey your interest for the position and present your most important qualifications.
4. Powerful sales pitch: One of the purpose of your cover letter is to sell your qualifications. Thus, on your body paragraphs, it is important to not sell yourself short; include pertinent information about you that is most relevant to what is needed for the job. However, remember to be truthful and not include information that is not true.
5. Knowledge of the company: Before you even send your cover letter along with your CV or resume, you should do research about what the company does, what their mission and vision is, how they operate, etc. You should read through what has been listed in the job posting so you can tailor your cover letter specifically for that.
6. Call-to-action: It is important to express your enthusiasm to the position and company; thus, a call-to-action is a welcomed gesture. Including a call-to-action on the conclusion of your letter encourages the reader to give you a callback for interview.
7. Keywords: Companies receive hundreds of cover letters and resumes daily especially when there is only quite a few available spots to fill in. In this case, they use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to efficiently scan for the right keywords in every submitted document. Thus, it is a plus to add keywords used in the job posting into your cover letter.
A good cover letter can be your edge against other candidates in your application process. It is important to be able to produce quality cover letter since this is your first formal communication with the recipient; you should be able to impress them with your cover letter. Here is an easy guide on how you can make a good cover letter for your application process:
1. Write out your address and contact information as the return address, the date, and the recipient’s address and contact info as the inside address. You can either follow a full block format, semi-block, or a modified block style. It is also acceptable to use the return address as the letterhead.
2. Next, include a formal greeting on your cover letter. A salutation is a good way to formally greet your recipient. A good letter salutation starts with the salutation Dear + last name of the recipient. Remember to use the actual name of the recipient indicated on your inside address. Since this is a formal business letter, use a colon (:) after the name of the recipient.
3. Immediately explain the purpose of why you have written the letter. Specify the position you are applying for and where you saw the announcement. On the same paragraph, introduce your most valid qualifications, i.e. what degree you graduated with and where.
4. This is where you provide other relevant information about you. You can include your hard skills or skills you have acquired through studying like computer programming, web design, typing, accounting, finance, writing, mathematics, and other quantifiable skills. You can also include other impressive qualifications that you have. On another paragraph, you can indicate your soft skills like communication, flexibility, leadership, problem solving abilities, etc.
5. Conclude your cover letter with a good call-to-action that will encourage your potential employer to give you a call back. You can also leave your contact information should they have further questions for you. In addition, you should also direct them to read the resume or CV you have attached.
6. After concluding your letter, make sure you formally close the letter with a professional complimentary close. Some examples of a complimentary close are Truly Yours, Sincerely, Respectfully, etc. A few spaces after the complimentary close, indicate your signature line containing your full name. Do not forget to affix your actual signature.
Now that you know how to write an effective cover letter, it will be easier for you to write for your own. However, since this is formal business letter, you need to consider some of the existing rules like following a specific format and using a professional language and tone. Here are some tips to help you make your cover letter more impressive:
As you may know, a cover letter is a good introduction you can give to your future company, organization, or institution. It helps you express your interest and showcase your relevant experiences and skills. To help you write better cover letters, you should know various types that you can use. Here is a list of the different cover letter formats:
1. Application cover letter: This cover letter is the standard cover letter used alongside a cover letter or CV during an application process. This is a tool used to sell yourself as a qualified job candidate. It helps you expand on your work history and qualifications, at the same time, complements your resume or CV.
2. Prospecting cover letter: Just like the previous type of cover letter, a prospecting cover letter is written by a job applicant to a company that he/she is interested in. However, the major difference between the two is that this cover letter is sent basically to inquire if there is any vacant positions to fill and not in response to any announcement.
3. Networking cover letter: Others consider this type of cover letter as the black sheep since it has no specific company as recipient in mind. Instead this cover letter is written by a job applicant to former colleagues, mentors, friends, and other contacts to inform them of his/her status and asks them for help in the job search.
4. “Non-Covet Letter” cover letter: This cover letter is basically the email you send along with an attached resume or CV. This does not follow a specific format; it is brief but still professional in nature. This type of cover letter is a good alternative to a formal cover letter when there is no request for one in the job post.
Since a cover letter is a formal business letter, it has a standard paper size that is preferred by companies, organizations, and institutions. The standard paper size is 8.5 × 11″ (215.9 by 279.4 mm).
Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions about cover letters:
There is no way for you to upload or post a cover letter when you are applying for a job online, it is acceptable to not include one. You don’t need to write a cover letter when the employer specifically asks for a job application, e.g. resume, references, etc.
There is no need for a cover letter to be lengthy since it should only supplement your attached resume or CV. A safe bet is a three to four paragraphs long cover letter or approximately 250 and 400 words. However, instead of paying attention to your word count, prioritize your writing style and coherency.
Cover letters will never run out of style. Although some companies, organizations, or institutions may not require it, it can help set you apart from other candidates. Some employers take cover letters seriously, but some recruiters don’t. But in case they do, it is better to be safe than sorry; writing a good cover letter can be your ticket to success.