Are you looking to apply for a job soon? Has the thought of writing a cover letter dissuaded you from starting your application?
You’re not alone. Many people have confessed that having to write a cover letter for a job application makes them drop the application.
Writing a cover letter can seem challenging and pointless if you don’t know how. But learning how to write a cover letter the right way can help you craft the perfect cover letter for every job application.
Read on to learn what a cover letter is, why you need to write one, what to include, what to avoid, and how to use a cover letter to stand out from other applicants.
- What Are the Main Objectives of a Cover Letter?
- What Should You Include in a Cover Letter?
- What Should Be Avoided in a Cover Letter?
- What Makes You Stand Out in a Cover Letter?
- Cover Letter Tips
- Wrapping Up
What Are the Main Objectives of a Cover Letter?
Before you can learn how to write one, you need to understand the definition of a cover letter.
A cover letter is a one-page document you submit with your resume to formally introduce yourself, highlight your strengths and accomplishments and give more information on the job-relevant experience. Here are reasons why you need to write a cover letter for a job application:
1. Help You Get an Interview
A well-written cover letter can help you land an interview. It shows that you have understood the responsibilities of the role.
Also, if a recruiter or hiring manager has indicated that you need to send one, having one increases your chances of getting an interview.
2. Let a Hiring Manager Know if You Are a Good Fit
A cover letter highlights your job-relevant skills. It shows a hiring manager that you can perform the tasks required of you if they choose to hire you.
You can explain how your past and current responsibilities have equipped you to handle the job you’re applying for.
3. Stand Out from Other Applicants
In your cover letter, you can highlight any unique accomplishments, awards, and experience that make you the better option for the role.
It is the chance to stand out from other applicants by detailing why you are the better candidate.
4. Explain Any Red Flags in Your Resume
Whether you took a career break or switched careers, the cover letter allows you to explain yourself.
Instead of assuming the hiring manager understands or hoping they came to the right conclusion, you can offer a concise explanation and avoid having your application rejected.
What Should You Include in a Cover Letter?
Writing a cover letter is not as challenging and time-consuming as many people think. If you know how to structure your cover letter and what you must include, you can craft one in a few minutes.
Cover letter creators make this process more efficient, but you don’t need one to get started. Here is what you should include in your cover letter:
- Date: The first thing you must include in a cover letter is the date. Indicate the date you are writing the cover letter, not the date you send the application.
- Professional Greeting: Starting a cover letter off right is very important. You need to begin by addressing the person who will be reading your cover letter. Use a professional opening salutation and use the hiring manager’s name.
- Information About You: You should introduce yourself within the first two sentences. State your name and current position and follow up with where you saw the job posting. You can also share what drew you to apply to the role.
- Any Necessary Explanation About Your Experience: Go into detail about the roles, skills, and responsibilities you highlighted in your resume. Use the job description to appropriately explain how your experience is valuable for the job you’re applying for.
- Why You Want the Position: You want to let the hiring manager know why you are applying. You can highlight this in your introductory paragraph or before you close. Focus on explaining what about the job or company you like.
- What You’d Bring to the Position: Talk about your accomplishments and strengths. Highlight how they would benefit the company and make you the best candidate. Let the hiring manager know what you bring to the table and why they would gain an advantage by hiring you for the role.
- Professional Closing: End your cover letter with a brief closing paragraph showing gratitude for the opportunity and consideration. You can also indicate your availability for further discussion or an interview. Use a professional closing salutation like sincerely or best regards.
What Should Be Avoided in a Cover Letter?
To ensure your cover letter is read and gets you an interview, keep these tips in mind:
1. Using a General Greeting
General greetings show that you didn’t do the proper research or pay attention to who posted the job.
A cover letter is an introduction. You need to introduce yourself to a person specifically, not a group of people.
2. Being Too Casual
In your opening and closing salutation, ensure you stick to professional language.
A cover letter is a professional document, and you must use professional language, even if the hiring manager is a friend. Avoid abbreviations, slang words, and contractions.
3. Underselling Yourself
There is no need to be modest about your accomplishments in your cover letter.
While you may think you’re showing humility, the hiring manager will assume you aren’t qualified enough for the role. Underselling yourself is a fast way to get yourself rejected.
4. Lack of Details About the Specific Job
No hiring manager wants to read about general qualifications or your life history.
They also do not want to speculate if you read the job description or were just applying to multiple jobs with the same cover letter. Lack of details about the specific job shows a lack of care or attention to detail.
5. Not Following Instructions
If you don’t follow instructions, your application will not be considered. It shows a lack of attention to detail or a disregard for authority and structure. Either of these qualities is not particularly attractive to hiring managers.
What Makes You Stand Out in a Cover Letter?
The cover letter is the easiest way to stand out from other applicants. The following explains what can make your cover letter stand out.
Your cover letter should not be interchangeable with that of another applicant.
Adding personal details allows the recruiter to connect with you as a person as opposed to thinking of you as a number. Personal elements should be professional and job-relevant but still retain authenticity.
Good writing is more than just using the right format. The correct format can help you structure your thoughts and present information better.
Another part of good writing is proper grammar and syntax, and impeccable sentence structure. You should also pay attention to how you use verbs and adjectives and avoid wordiness.
You need to show that you want the job. Showing enthusiasm for the role and working at the specific company goes a long way in gaining your favor.
Recruiters are looking for someone who wants to be there, not someone HR will have to coerce to come to work. Show enthusiasm by praising the company’s success and demonstrating how you can add to it.
Anecdotes That Show Your Strengths
Anecdotes help your personality shine through the cover letter. While you should always stick to professional details, bringing in short and interesting stories that show job-relevant strengths is a great way to stand out from other applicants.
Look for cover letter examples online with anecdote examples to help you if you have no storytelling skills.
Don’t fill your cover letter with irrelevant details just to get a word count or an entire page. You would rather have a brief cover letter with only job-relevant content than a long, winded one that adds nothing to your application.
Focus on highlighting your job-relevant skills, experience, and company knowledge. Avoid wordiness, and do not share your entire academic or work history.
Cover Letter Tips
Here are tips to help you craft the perfect cover letter in a few minutes:
1. Follow Instructions Carefully
Read the job description carefully. It holds details that are unique to the job you’re applying for. It also details what to include with your application. Ensure you follow the instructions in the letter.
2. Address the Hiring Manager By Name
It is better that you include a name in your opening salutation. Use LinkedIn, the company website, and social media to find the hiring manager for the position if they aren’t named in the post.
If you cannot find a name, it is better to use “Dear Hiring Manager” as opposed to “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern”.
3. Do Your Research About the Company First
Researching the company shows you what projects they are currently working on, their vision, and their mission. It can help you highlight experiences and skills that bring the company closer to its goals.
It also gives you information on the hiring manager and your possible interviewers.
4. Repeat Words from the Job Description
Don’t just highlight your skills and expertise. Link them to the job requirements listed in the description.
Doing this shows that you understand the scope of the job and can perform the needed work.
5. Include More Information Than Your Resume Covers
Ensure you address every strength, job-relevant skill, and accomplishment you have. Describe the skills and job experience you listed in your resume, giving detailed examples.
Don’t restate the points in your resume. Instead, go into detail about how you achieved or surpassed performance metrics or how your skills were crucial to your previous or current employer.
6. Let Your Personality Shine Through
Anecdotes are a great way to include a little personality in your cover letter.
However, you can add personality in any other way you find natural as long as you remain professional and stick to job-relevant details.
7. Make Sure to Edit It
After you’ve finished crafting your cover letter, ensure you proofread it. Check for grammar and syntax errors as well as wordiness.
A cover letter is your introduction to the hiring manager and details your relevant skills, accomplishments, and experience.
Take the time to read the job description and research the company before you begin writing your cover letter. Always proofread and edit to ensure you submit a concise and grammatically correct cover letter.
Comment with any more tips or questions on how to write a cover letter the right way below.