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How to Write the Best Cover Letter You Have Ever Had?

Updated: 3 days ago


Let's start with a fact: Writing a cover letter is a pain. However, even if you don’t meet all requirements specified in the job description, a well-written cover letter can still get your foot in the door. If you do it right, it gives you a strong competitive advantage and boosts your chances of getting a job. This guide will help you write the best cover letter possible (with ease!) and set yourself apart from other candidates. What will you learn in the next 10 minutes:

  1. What is a cover letter?

  2. Why is the cover letter important? (and does anyone still read them?!)

  3. How to structure your cover letter?

  4. What to do when writing cover letter?

  5. What not to do?

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So buckle you seat belt and let’s start!

WHAT IS A COVER LETTER?

A cover letter is a document you send along with your CV.

The main purpose of it is to introduce yourself to the potential employer and explain your suitability for the position you are applying for.

A well-crafted cover letter goes beyond the information included in your resume. It shows why you should be hired and sets you apart from other candidates.

Your cover letter is where you can show your passion for the position and the company, and highlight your most relevant qualifications, achievements and successes.

A good cover letter should do four main things:

  • let the employer know your reason for contacting them

  • connect your skills, interests, and academic background with the requirements from the job description

  • articulate why you're a good fit for the position through specific examples

  • fill in places or further explain aspects of your career that the resume cannot describe.

WHY IS THE COVER LETTER IMPORTANT?

As mentioned above, a cover letter can set you apart from other candidates – even if you don’t have everything the employer is looking for.

When you are applying for a job, you only have one shot to present yourself as the best candidate.

Why rely solely on cold facts from your resume when you can add more information, share a story about those facts and add colour to your application? All of that can be done in a single page cover letter.

Additionally, cover letters are the best evidence of your motivation.

Put yourself in employer’s shoes and imagine the following situation.

You have two resumes in front of you – Tom’s and Bob’s.

Tom and Bob are equal in terms of their experience and qualifications.

Tom saw the job description. He knew he met all of the requirements and he already had an appropriate version of his CV prepared. He did contemplate sending a cover letter. However, it would mean he would need to spend 45-60 minutes to write it. And he thought no one would read it anyway. So Tom’s final call was to submit the application without a cover letter, and just sending a generic CV.

On the contrary, Bob has put some extra effort into his application. He sat there for an hour, thinking about the job, the company and how he can add value to it. He has put his thoughts in five short paragraphs of text. Eventually, he ended up having a concise, but tailored and to the point cover letter that was submitted along with his resume.

Guess who was invited to the interview?

Exactly - Bob was!

Better luck next time, Tom! Even if a cover letter is not requested as part of your application, always send one.

Employers may look for individualized and thoughtfully written cover letters as one method of screening out applicants who are not sufficiently interested in their positions or who lack necessary basic skills.

Don’t fall in the trap like Tom did, assuming no one would read his cover letter.

Of course, that might be the case, too.

However, you never know who your resume will stumble upon and what their preferences are.

There are always two possible scenarios.

First – you send your cover letter and they don’t read it.

Second - you don’t send your cover letter and they expected you to do so.

In the first scenario, you can get the interview invite if your resume shows you have everything they are looking for. In the second one, unfortunately, it’s not as likely.

To be perfectly honest, there is a fact that might discourage you.

Many recruiters don’t read cover letters.

They have seen thousands of look-a-like cover letters with the same sentences, clichés and empty phrases, so eventually they gave up on them.

But you know who does read them – always, without an exception?

Hiring managers. At the end of the day, they are the ones you need to impress.

Moral of the story:

Write that cover letter. Put some effort into it. Don’t miss your chance to shine.

HOW TO STRUCTURE YOUR COVER LETTER?

Here is the most common structure of a cover letter.

  1. Heading

  2. Greeting

  3. Intro section

  4. Body

  5. Closing section

1. Heading

Include your name and contact details in the heading.

If possible, apply the same formatting as you applied to your resume. (Matching layouts make you come across as detail-oriented and professional.)

Additionally, add the name of the company you are applying for and their address (a place where you will most probably work at). This part should always be left-aligned, like the rest of the letter. Include the date when you submitted your application.

2. Greeting

It can seem silly, but this part sets the tone of your cover letter and can easily be a deal-breaker, so you need to do it right. Do not use To Whom It May Concern or Dear Sir or Madam – they are obsolete, unnatural and way over-used. Some hiring managers stop reading a cover letter as soon as they see one of those two phrases, so avoid them by all means.

Try to address your letter to the hiring manager directly.

If no name is listed with the posting, research the name of the department director, recruiter, or other contact associated with the position.

LinkedIn is the best tool to help you with it. Simply enter the name of the company (e.g. RbyR) and the job title in the search box (e.g. Performance Director) and see what comes out.

If you can't find a name, start the letter with ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ or Dear XYZ Team.

3. Intro section

Grab the reader's interest with your opening paragraph.

In one or two sentences, tell them who you are, why they should hire you, and express your enthusiasm for the role.You can simply rephrase the personal profile overview from your resume to fit the context.

For example, you could say:

"As a performance manager with four years of experience in managing the team and exceeding targets each quarter, I was excited to see your advertisement for regional performance director."

It grabs attention more effectively than "I am writing to apply for the role of regional performance director, which was advertised on the XYZ job board." It will also set you apart from other candidates, as you will have an opening sentence that differs from 97.6% of other cover letters.

4. Body (Spoiler alert: This is where you win them over!)

This is the most important part of your cover letter.

You can write one or two short paragraphs to answer two main questions:

  • What experience, skills and knowledge you have that is, of course, relevant to the job?

  • How your experience, skills and knowledge can add value to the company you want to work for and to the job you are applying?

Showing you have done your research on the company is vital for this section.

Demonstrate your knowledge of the organization's mission and goals and how your background, interests, and experience can contribute. Demonstrate how you are a good fit for the position. Point out relevant experience and education. When possible, use keywords from the job ad.

Fill this section with specific examples that do more than reiterate what's in your resume.

Quantify your achievements wherever possible. For example, if you've exceeded your performance targets, share a percentage or a monetary figure.

Including numbers that illustrate the results you’ve achieved takes your cover letter to the next level. They effectively grab attention and make it easier for readers to understand the impact of your actions. So let numbers speak for themselves.

Also, put them in the spotlight by creating a short bullet point list of key achievements.

For example, this is not eye-catching:

"I have increased the size and sales levels of my client base in every position I have held, which in turn has increased the revenues and profits of my employers. I want to bring the same success to the account position you have posted on your Website."

This is:

"As a Performance Manager, I have increased the size and sales levels of my client base, which resulted in:

  • Increased unit sales from $2 million to more than $5 million yearly.

  • Expanded client portfolio by 48%, from having 55 clients in 2017 to 81 clients in 2018

  • Improved client satisfaction score from 6.1 NPS to 7.9 NPS

I want to bring the same success to the regional performance director position you have posted on your Website."

And that is how you create an exciting and attention-grabbing cover letter.

5. Closing paragraph

Finally, round up what you've written.

Restate your interest in the position and indicate your availability for interview. For example, a strong closing paragraph could be, "I'd be delighted to meet with you and discuss the value I can add to your team." Additionally, express your appreciation for the hiring manager's time and consideration. The final greeting can be “Sincerely”, “Best”, “Best regards”.

To make sure the content is right and it actually helps you land the interview, keep these do's and don’ts in mind: WHAT TO DO WHEN WRITING A COVER LETTER?

Research the company Researching the company will definitely set you apart from other candidates. Here is a refresher on how to do it. If you throw in relevant facts about the company, they’ll be impressed when they see that you’ve actually put a bit of time to one side to learn about the company that you could potentially be working for. It will also be clear you have put additional effort to tailor your cover letter, instead of just sending a generic one. What is more, you will come across as a motivated, well-prepared and professional candidate. Talk about skyrocketing your chances of being invited to the interview!

Adjust your tone Researching the company should help you adjust the tone of your cover letter, as the tone and content of your letter highly depend on the company you’re applying for. Thus, it’s important to learn as much as you can about it. Take a look at their website and look up any outside articles about the work that they’re doing. For example, if you’re applying to write for a blogging website, go with a friendly tone like the site uses. If you’re applying for a position in the bank on a law office, a more serious tone will work better. Tailoring your voice shows the hiring manager that you’ll fit in well. Tailor it to the job Apply the same approach as you did when you tailored your resume to the job (here is a reminder/hyperlink). Fill your cover letter with keywords and phrases from the job description to make it obvious you are everything they are looking for. Match it with your resume Use the same formatting style as you applied to your resume. Make sure your contact information matches the other materials you're sending. Proofread, proofread, and proofread Typos, grammar mistakes or missing words make you come across as careless and /or unprofessional. Use a dictionary or simply google words you are not sure about. Ask someone else to read your letter. A fresh pair of eyes can pick up errors you might have missed. Additionally, reading it aloud can help to ensure that the letter flows smoothly.Proofread it a dozen times before you save it as the final version. Take a 15-minute break and then re-read it once again, before submitting your application. WHAT NOT TO DO? Don’t send a generic cover letter Generic cover letters are cliché-filled, vague and don’t add any value to your application. Recruiters even know some over-used sentences and phrases by heart. This type of cover letter doesn’t fit the purpose as it doesn’t connect your skills and will hinder your application. Don't use meaningless buzzwords Don’t fill your cover letter with words that don’t mean a thing, if you can’t support them with specific examples. Phrases such as “proven track record”, “thinking outside of the box”, “team player”, “forward thinker”, “self-motivated”, “working well solo as well as part of the team” are all overused and carry little weight these days, if they are not underpinned with achievements. Don’t make jokes Humour is highly subjective. It can also be easily misunderstood, especially in the written form. There are other ways to show your personality. When it comes to cover letters, making jokes is not the best way, so avoid doing that.

What’s more, you should avoid any informal writing. The aim of a cover letter is to come across as a professional and qualified candidate. Slang and unnecessary abbreviations don’t fit the aim. Don’t make it too long A one page cover letter is more than enough. It doesn’t have to be an essay on all your achievements. Instead, focus on relevant ones and keep it concise and to the point. A few bullet points can help, especially in the middle part of the letter. Don’t lie This should be clear, but it’s still worth mentioning. You never know who knows whom and how the employer can check the information from your application. Also, they can always ask you more about the information you included in your cover letter during the interview. So never ever fake, exaggerate or embellish your accomplishments. LET’S RECAP: A well-crafted cover letter sent with your resume can give you a competitive advantage. When done properly, a cover letter shows the employer that you're the right person for the job and increases your chances of landing the dream job. This one-page document should do the following:

  • let the employer know your reason for contacting them

  • connect your skills, interests, and academic background with the requirements from the job description

  • articulate why you're a good fit for the position through specific examples

  • fill in places or further explain aspects your resume cannot describe

Your cover letter should have five main parts: heading, greeting, intro paragraph, body and closing section. Try to showcase your skills by describing real and specific examples. Connect them with the company’s strategy, mission or the team to show you have done your research on the company and you know how you can add value. Your career will thank you for it. You still don’t know where to start from? Take a look at some of our resume templates that come with matching cover letters. All templates have 50+ recruiter’s tips. Follow them and jump-start your career.

#jobsearch #newjob #newcareer #jobsearchtips #coverletter

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