Establishing a strong and undeniable match between your work experiences, skills, and personal traits with the job description of a position that you are applying for is a great way to gain the interest and trust of a hiring manager. How do you do this? Well, by writing a great application Cover Letter.
Before we dive any deeper on Cover Letters, let us first settle one thing once and for all; Do you really need to send a Cover Letter when applying for a job? It is 2020, is this still necessary?
The quick answer to this is a big YES.
It does not matter what you have heard from other people unless the hiring company explicitly indicated that they are not accepting Cover Letters; you should send one in with your resume.
If you want the job, putting in an extra effort to write a Cover Letter can help make a good impression and hopefully a difference in your application.
What is a Cover Letter and Why is it Important?
A Cover Letter is a document that you send along with your application. Think of it as a supporting paper to back up the skills you have written on your resume. It should contain work experiences and examples of when and how you best displayed them. It’s an opportunity for the employer to know more about you and why they should even consider you in just a few paragraphs.
It is also an excellent avenue for you to market your credentials and to show the person reviewing it that you are the perfect candidate for the job. So be sure to take some time in crafting your letter. Also, remember that every organisation is different; therefore, you want to tailor every single Cover Letter to the position they are advertising.
As a company that not only looks at CVs daily but also edits them, take our word when we say recruiters will know if you have:
1) Copied and pasted from another Cover Letter verbatim
2) Googled a template and used it without tailoring it to yourself or the position.
Types of Cover Letters
There are three types of Cover Letters and choosing which one to send will depend on the purpose. Below are the different Cover Letter types and when to use them.
Application Cover Letter
This is also called the standard Cover Letter and is sent with your resume to supplement or support the personal/work details you have provided. An application Cover Letter should be used when responding or applying for a specific position.
Prospecting Cover Letter
The prospecting Cover Letter is sent when the job seeker is merely inquiring about open positions in the company and not necessarily a direct response/application for a specific post.
Networking Cover Letter
As the name implies, a networking Cover Letter is sent by the job seeker to specific people working in the company of interest. It can be addressed to a friend or a former colleague to let them know that he/she is currently looking for work and requesting to be referred for open positions in the organisation.
Regardless of the type, Cover Letters should be well written and professional.
Choosing which type to send depends on the purpose of your correspondence, but in this article, we will be focusing on application Cover Letters and how to create one that will help you get your dream job.
How to Write a Great Application Cover Letter
Writing a powerful application Cover Letter takes careful planning and composition. It should be designed like a funnel that draws the reader to go over your resume and ultimately list you down for an interview.
This means you need to be able to present your qualifications and experiences in a manner that will hook the recipient. In order to craft such a powerful and persuasive Cover Letter, you need to know the essential elements first. This way, you can construct each one with powerful rhythm and flow for better impact.
Key Elements of a Cover Letter
Let us go over the important elements of a Cover Letter and what should be included under each one.
1. Contact Info
This includes your full name, complete address, and contact information like phone number and email address.
111 Job Search Road
Riverside, CA 92501
Tip: Avoid using unprofessional-sounding email addresses.
2. Salutation or Greetings
Use the hiring manager’s name if possible. Do a quick research to get the correct name and spelling, but if it is not available, you can use the standard “Dear Hiring Manager.” Always keep greetings short and professional.
Example: Dear Mr. Smith
Tip: Avoid using unprofessional greetings.
Use the first paragraph of your Cover Letter to introduce the purpose of the correspondence and then highlight your skills and why you are an excellent fit for the job. Take the time to review the job requirements and ensure that you tailor this part by addressing those. You can also mention how you can be an asset and a great addition to the organisation with your specific skills.
Dear Mr. Joe Recruiter:
As indicated on my resume, I have over five years of working experience as a training manager at ABC company, and the role has sharpened my expertise in management and training development, which I believe, are exactly the skill sets that you are looking for. I was very excited to learn of such an opportunity because I have always admired the company’s commitment to uplift the local community by providing free training to out-of-school youth. As a long-time volunteer at the youth centre, I can attest that the organisations’ efforts are paying off.
Tip: Avoid repeating personal and work information that you have already written on your resume.
In this area, you can talk about what you already know about the company. Talk about the organisation’s mission and vision and how they are aligned with your own. You can also discuss how and what you can contribute to the company’s growth by giving examples of skills and past achievements. Just make sure that the examples you provide are measurable by uses metrics you have achieved at the position.
The extensive training I received in my previous position helped me gain the skills to make me an excellent fit for this job. I was able to apply those skills and proved my capabilities when I handled 30 direct reports in the last year of my stay with [previous company]. Through positive coaching and continuous mentoring, my team was awarded as the top sales team for three consecutive quarters with a sales rate of 89%.
I plan on growing in the sales industry and hopefully contribute and be a part of [company’s name] growth and success. I believe in the company’s mission in becoming the top internet provider in the country and hope to become a valuable asset.
Tip: Avoid making this long. 1-2 paragraphs will do.
Thank the hiring manager for his or her time to review your application and mention looking forward to the interview. Also, mention any attachments in the part if there are any.
Always keep your closing salutation simple by using “Sincerely” or Best” and then sign your name.
Tip: Avoid sounding desperate or too eager.
Cover Letter Formatting Tips
Keep your application Cover Letter professional looking by following these formatting tips:
- Font – Always use a professional font like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman and use a font size between 11-12 pt. Do not use special characters, custom fonts, and emoticons.
- Alignment: Left align everything as this is a standard business writing rule
- Spacing: Follow business letter format spacing: 1 or 1.15 and use double space in between paragraphs
- Margins: 1-inch margins on all sides
- Paper: You can use white or ivory paper in 8 ½ x 11 sizes and make sure to print on one side only.
- Save it in PDF before printing to keep all layouts intact.
- Save a personal copy for documentation or future reference.
Additional Tips for an Error-Free Cover Letter
Go above and beyond in proofreading. Strive to send an error-free Cover Letter if you want to create a great impression. Check the following tips to ensure that your letter is impeccable and error-free:
- Always review instructions indicated on the job posting/ad and make sure to include or incorporate them in your Cover Letter.
- Watch out for formatting and spelling errors, including company and recipient names. Take the time to double-check grammar and punctuations and correct mistakes if there are any. You can also use grammar and spelling checker sites to make sure.
- Read your resume out loud and check if the rhythm and cadence sound good.
- Have someone else read and proofread your letter.
Where to Get Downloadable Cover Letter Templates
Although we advocate writing your own, there are several sites online where you can build and download Cover Letter templates for free should you need some inspirations.
Final Tips in Perfecting Your Cover Letter
Crafting the perfect Cover Letter is all about making a strong connection between the company’s goals as an organisation and your specific skills. Take the time to establish a match between what you can offer as an employee with the company’s needs and core values.
Just remember that instead of highlighting your need for employment, focus on how you can fill current gaps in the company’s processes to convince the hiring manager that you will be a great addition to their team. This way, you create a “need” for the company to hire you.
Job searching can be daunting and sometimes, even downright disheartening. There is a lot of competition, and the waiting game can be disappointing. However, there are some things that you can do to get the ball rolling to your advantage and help you advance to the next stage of the application process. And one of these things is to come up with a great application Cover Letter.