Like in every business presentation, introductions are vital to give precedent and channel a proper flow to words and ideas. When it comes to sending out job application documents like resumes, cover letters work great in giving a formal, proper introduction and additional context to hiring managers looking for prospects.
Elements of a Good Cover Letter
Cover letters, when written effectively, can help you stand out among other job applicants. A carefully-crafted cover letter goes beyond the information found in the resume and expand it to get the hiring manager reading interested to you. In making a good cover letter, make sure to observe the following elements:
- Format: Order is essential in every professional documents. To employ this order, cover letters follow a specific format, which are the mechanics in the arrangement and placement of the different parts of your letter. Your letter style, spacing, and margin are some of the technicalities you must take note to employ a consistent format.
- Receiver: Documents of job application, including cover letters, are received by hiring managers. While it can be hard to know the name of the hiring manager, various websites and research tools can prove to be helpful for this task. Stating the name of the hiring manager instead of the usual “Sir/Ma’am” will show that you are committed in your application.
- Sales pitch: Delight your prospective company with a short sales pitch in the body your cover letter. Think of it as if you are in an interview and you only have to answer the question “Why should we hire you?” The enumeration of your past job experiences and achievements account for a strong sales pitch.
- Keywords: As hiring managers probably have a thick pile of application at their side every time they conduct their hiring season, your cover letter must help your application stand out. This can be done by interjecting the content of your cover letter with key words that are from their job posting. Through this, you are portraying yourself as the candidate they are looking for and increasing the chance to land an interview.
- Call to action: It is the language of your cover letter that makes the hiring manager want to take action. Since your objective in writing a cover letter is to land yourself an interview, phrase your words as a proactive openness, like saying “I would be delighted to discuss to you what I can bring to the table,” instead of “I am hoping that you would consider this application.”
- Language: Base your tone on the company’s culture when writing your cover letter. Different industries have varying required levels of formality and you should be able to get a feel on the company to judge what language you will be using. But regardless of what tone you are going with, always observe proper grammar in your letter.
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Steps to Make a Great Cover Letter
Among all the part of a letter, the body has always been the hardest part to make. However, below re the steps you need to produce great content for your cover letter.
- Start by crafting a dazzling introduction: Do away with cliches in cover letters like “I would like to express my interest…” and start thinking out of the box like presenting an anecdote or a short tease of your experience. Think of sentences that entice the hiring manager to read further instead of going with lines that they probably have heard a thousand times. Creative presentation withholding, provide necessary information in your application such as your name, the position you are applying for, and how you got to know about the job opportunity.
- Work on your sales pitch: The second part is where you convince the hiring manager that you deserve an interview. Focus on what you can bring to the table by sharing your previous job experiences and the skills you have gained from it. Define your previous responsibilities and achievement with specific past situations. You can strengthen your sales pitch by adding in information about the company and how their culture will make you the right person for the job. For the succeeding paragraphs, you can talk about your plans and aspirations in your career and relate that to the company’s standard and vision.
- Conclude with a call-to-action: You can express your gratitude to the company in a lot of ways, like thanking them for spending the time in reading your letter, and you can also express your willingness to be interviewed. End your letter with a call to action that will encourage the hiring manager to schedule an interview with you.
Tips for a Great Cover Letter
- Do not use “To whom it may concern”: This overused line that is facing obsolescence in cover letters no longer provides you any advantage. The technology for researching about the names of employees in a company is already available, and hiring managers get turned off when “To whom it may concern” is used as a salutation. It gives off brashness and lack of commitment in your application as a whole.
- Attach it as PDF: Saving your document in PDF will preserve your formatting and will prevent accidental alterations. It gives confidence to you as the sender that the information you provide in your cover letter will remain untouched.
- Observe full block: For your cover letter to look professional and consistent, justify and align all of the contents to the left margin. This style used in business letters is called full block.
- Treat it as an extension: Your cover letter should not completely be a summary of your resume. As hiring managers will also check your resume, your cover letter should provide new information that are not found in your resume. Use your cover letter as an extra avenue to express your qualification.
- Set important points in bold typeface: If you want to highlight a particular experience or skill in your cover letter, set it into bold. This will give more emphasis to that detail and will give the hiring manager a reason to think why it matters.
Types of Cover Letters
- Cover Letter for Job Application: This type of cover letter is the most common one as it is always precedes a resume submitted in every job application. It is geared toward creating an introduction to the contents found in the resume and a brief pitch to land the applicant an interview or job opportunity. Application cover letters vary depending on the job posting and the company.
- Cover Letter for Job Prospects: It is almost the same as the application cover letters except that it does not pertain to a specific job position but an inquiry, rather, for available positions at a company. Like the preceding type, prospecting cover letters endorses the applicant.
- Cover Letter for Networking: Although this type is also sent by a job seeker, networking cover letter does not necessarily require a tone of formality. It is sent to the job seeker’s family and friends to search for vacant job positions.
Cover Letter Template Sizes
Cover letters are printed on or saved as documents with the US letter size of 8.5 inches by 11 inches.
Cover Letter FAQs
Do you email a cover letter as an attachment or as a message body?
Cover letters can be sent as attachment or as a message body. It does not really matter how you will send your cover letter as hiring managers will read it either way. Remember, though, that when sending your cover letter as an attachment, save it as a PDF and write a brief message in the body of your email pointing out to it as an attachment.
What’s the best font to use a cover letter?
You can go anywhere to the basic formal fonts like Arial, Calibri, Verdana, and Times New Roman. As long as it is professional and on a readable size, any font will do.
How long should a cover letter be?
Although cover letters provide vast information and add a little more detail, it should be kept as short as possible, like in 3 to 5 paragraphs. Arrange the ideas well to make the content concise.
Most job seekers would often make the mistake of overlooking the importance of cover letters. Yet, little do they know that hiring managers always read them because they contain vital information that gives a little more value to resumes. So may it be for the purpose of simply standing out among other job prospects, or taking that extra step of nabbing your dream job, a good cover letter will always get you covered.