August 4, 2020

What is a Cover Letter? How to Write One?

Anshika Awasthi

Seven seconds. That’s all the time the average Hiring Manager gives your resume, give or take!

If you’re applying for a job, chances are that you have already updated your resume or CV to highlight your experience, qualifications and achievements. But what sets your resume apart from the several other applicants, right from the very first glance?

How can you neatly summarize your skills and achievements, and convince your potential employers that you are the stronger match for their organization?

What if there was a way to make an interesting pitch that could market your credentials and help your potential employers considerably narrow you down for an interview?

All of this can be done with an effective cover letter.

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a document that is sent along with your resume, traditionally as the front cover, to provide additional information regarding your skills and experience. But this has changed over time and now, cover letters are sent through emails.

Cover letters are typically used as a way to screen applicants for available jobs and to determine which candidates they would like to interview. While most applications require a cover letter to go along with resumes, a cover letter isn’t always required. But it is always better to include a cover letter, unless it has been mentioned that it’s not required, because sometimes, the cover letter makes all the difference to land you that interview!

A cover letter is not the same as a CV; instead of being an overview of your qualifications, it is written specifically with the job you’re applying for in mind. This means that your cover letter shouldn’t repeat what you have already mentioned in your resume, but it should focus on why you are the right fit for the values and morals of the organization you’re applying to.

A cover letter is not same as a CV

Cover Letter V/S. Resume

Both cover letter and resume are equally important while applying for a job, and can make either a positive or negative impression depending upon the format, business etiquette, information communicated or style. This is why it is important to know the difference between cover letters and resumes.

While a resume gives a high-level overview of your educational background, skills, achievements and work experience, a cover letter is the initial contact you make with your potential employers by introducing yourself, answering a job advertisement and requesting an interview for the position.

The most obvious difference between the two would be that the same resume can be used for multiple job applications and doesn’t have to be edited to fit the job description. A cover letter, however, needs to be customized according to the organization and job description, including how your skills have made a difference at your previous workplaces.

Types of Cover Letters

When you’re looking for a job and sending in applications, it is very important to choose the right kind of cover letter to send in along with your resume, depending upon the letter’s goals. Different kinds of cover letters have different purposes; so the letter that you choose to send in will determine whether you are directly applying for a job or seeking help from individuals in your professional network:

Types of Cover Letters

Different kinds of cover letters have different purposes

Application Letter

An application letter is the traditional cover letter that is sent along with your resume when you’re applying for a job opening. The main objective of this letter is to advertise your strong qualities that make you the right fit for the position that you are applying for. This would include your accomplishments at your previous workplaces and your expectations from the organization that you wish to join.

Referral Cover Letter

A referral cover letter is much like a traditional cover letter, except that in this type of cover letter, you include the name of the individual who has referred you to a job opening in the company you’re applying for. This is a great way to grab the attention of the recruiters, especially if the person providing the referral is known to the company that you’re interested in working for.

Letter of Interest

A letter of interest is a cover letter that you send to a company that you are interested in, enquiring about any possible job openings that you could be the right fit for. This lets the recruiters know that you’re interested in working for them, should an opportunity present itself.

Networking Letter

A networking letter is a type of cover letter that is meant to request job search advice. It can be sent to colleagues, individuals you’ve met via professional conferences, or other people you’ve connected to via social networking sites like LinkedIn.

Value Proposition Letter

A value proposition letter is a brief statement that makes a compelling case about why you’re a unique candidate for the company that you’ve applied for.

How to Write a Cover Letter

There is no “official” format for writing a good cover letter. However, they are required to be visually organized and coherent in its presentation of information.

A good cover letter should go something like this:

  • A memorable introduction
  • Specific and organized examples of relevant work and accomplishments
  • A concise conclusion with a call-to-action.

Since your cover letter is your first chance to give potential employers a preview of what you have to offer to the organization as an individual, including past work experience and problem solving skills, it goes without saying that it needs to be written in a manner that can captivate the recruiter’s attention.

So, here are a few tips on how to write a cover letter that will pique your potential employer’s interest in interviewing you:

  • Customize - Employers want to know how you can be a part of the company’s growth and accomplish their goals with your contribution. So, the key to writing a cover letter which will grab the recruiter’s attention is to customize it to the job you’re applying for. This means that you can’t simply work around a previously written cover letter and change the name of the organization or job position. Every cover letter needs to be written with the job and organization in mind. Try to make sure that your accomplishments and success stories match the company’s requirements and values.
  • Passion - Something that many candidates leave off their cover letter is passion. Mentioning why you would be the right fit for the organization you wish to work for tells your recruiters that you are an invested employee who will take the organization’s goals and values seriously. Plus, when you share your passion through your cover letter, you let your potential employers know that your personality is a possible fit for their work culture.
  • Sell Your Soft Skills - When you send your resume and cover letter, you essentially sell your skills and experiences gathered over the years. While your resume showcases technical skills and experience, your cover letter should be where you provide an in-depth illustration of your achievements. For example, you could mention how you helped your team achieve success through your abilities at your previous workplace. By offering what you have in addition to your technical skills, you set yourself apart from other candidates.
  • Relatable - Employers want to hear the story of how you’ve fared in the past and how your experiences can be of use to the organization. But most of all, they look for a relatable cover letter that can assure them that you share the same morals and values as the organization. Explaining why you can be the perfect fit for the company via an anecdote can leave a lasting impression on your recruiters.
  • Honesty & Transparency - Many applicants feel the need to exaggerate or talk up their stories and achievements in their cover letters. Make your cover letter an honest and transparent one and only mention the skills you have to offer. This will help you build credibility with your employers and convince them that you’re the best candidate for the position.

Cover Letter Guidelines

Here’s an outline of everything that your cover letter should include to make a solid case for your application and grab the recruiter’s attention:

Header

Your cover letter should begin with your contact information and your employer’s, as well as the date. In the case of an email cover letter, this information should be included after the signature at the end.

Contact

First and last name
Address
Zip code
Phone number
Email id

Subject

In case of emails, the contact header can be skipped and the subject should mention the job you’re applying for along with your full name.

Salutation

Always begin with Dr/Mr/Mrs/Ms. Last Name. Do your research about the Hiring Manager beforehand. If you are still unsure about their name, address your cover letter to ‘The Hiring Manager’, and not to ‘Whomever it may concern’.

Introduction

Introduce yourself by stating what position you are applying for. Explain how you came to hear about the job opening and mention the name of the individual who referred you. Briefly mention how your skills are a match for the company. Your goal is to engage the recruiter’s attention with this introduction.

Body

In a paragraph or two, explain why you are interested in the job and why you would make an excellent candidate for the position. Mention the specific qualifications listed in the job opening and how you meet these qualifications. Do not simply repeat whatever is in your resume, but provide specific instances.

For instance, if you have excellent grasp and you are a quick learner, convey this through an incident where you rose to the occasion, rather than just putting it across in words. Use examples from your work experience to show these traits in action.

Closing

Conclude by restating how you could be a good fit for the company if you are the chosen candidate. If you have room, mention why you would like to work at the company and what your expectations are.

State that you would like an opportunity to discuss details of employment in person and request for an interview or a follow-up. Thank the employer for their consideration.

Signature

Use a complimentary close such as ‘Thanking you, yours sincerely’ and end your cover letter with your signature if it is handwritten, or just type your name followed by contact information if the cover letter is a soft copy.

To understand better, here are examples of cover letters that you can use for reference:

Sample Email Cover Letter

Subject:  Application for Social Media Manager Job-Jack Q. Jones

Dear Mr. Smith,

I was very excited to see a listing for the position of Social Media Manager for Evolving Vegan on the careers section of your website. I believe that my three years of experience as the Social Media Assistant at Better Life as well as my passion for your products make me an ideal candidate for the position.

You specify that you are looking for someone who is up-to-date with the current trends on social media. And I am proud to tell you that during my time at Better Life, I have increased engagement and the number of followers on their socials by a considerable amount.

I am also very open to the latest trends on social media and I would like to create engaging content for your followers on social media, as well collaborate with influencers in our niche to broaden the reach of Evolving Vegan.

I have attached my resume for your perusal and I will look forward to hearing from you regarding an interview. Please feel free to contact me via email or my phone number 555-XXX-XXXX.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Yours sincerely,

Jack Q. Jones
123, Main Street
Old Town, NY 12345
555-XXX-XXXX
[email protected]


Email Cover Letter

Cover letters sent through email are similar to the traditional cover letter, but can be a tad more informal, while also maintaining a professional feel. Cover letters can be sent in two formats via email:

  1. 1
    Email cover letters as text are directly typed in the contents of the email, and a document containing your resume is attached in MS Word or PDF format. [Sample Email Cover Letter- Text]
  2. 2
    Email cover letters as documents are written exactly like a traditional cover letter, and are attached along with your resume in the email.

Cover Letter Do’s & Don’ts

  • Remember to edit and proofread your cover letter multiple times for any grammatical or spelling errors before you submit it.
  • Ensure that you have mentioned the name of the organization, Hiring Manager and job position correctly.
  • Do not repeat the same information mentioned in your resume. Similarly, do not reuse a previously written cover letter for a new job application. Always customize.
  • Remember that a cover letter shouldn’t be more than one page long.
  • Use professional fonts such as Ariel, Calibri and Times New Roman, in size 10-12 points. Margins should be a standard of 1” on all four sides.
  • Add a space between the header, salutation, body and conclusion. Ensure that your cover letter is presentable and easy to read.
  • Do not use cliché phrases and words to make your cover letter more professional. Recruiters always look for an interesting and refreshing approach to cover letters. But also, do not make your cover letter too informal.
  • The tone of the cover letter will differ depending on the organization and position that you’re applying to. But it is better to stick with a formal tone in your cover letters.
  • Do your homework and research the company you wish to work for online to understand about their workplace culture and workplace diversity better.
  • Always leave an open-ended call-to-action since it is more polite. Instead of ‘I’ll call to schedule an interview tomorrow’, try ‘I’ll look forward to an interview’.

Bottom Line

A well-written, well-presented cover letter can help you get your application noticed and give you the edge you’ll need over the other candidates who might have applied for the same job opening in a positive manner. By taking the time to personalize your cover letter, you show your potential employer why you’d be the better choice for their organization.

About the author

Competitive, real; loves to keep working for what it wants. An extrovert who lives by her own ideas and methods.


Leave a Reply


{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

You might also like