A cover letter can help you stand out in the crowd by showcasing your skills, persona, and willingness to join the company and position you have applied for.
It’s only natural that you’re ambitious for your dream job.
With a clear job description in your mind and a list of companies checked, you must be preparing for the application procedure.
Suddenly you hear from good sources that a resume alone may not be enough; you also need a cover letter!
Could you relate?
Many applicants impatiently skip cover letters. However, it’s not an obstacle but a hurdle leading you to the finish line.
So, if you want to craft a well-structured, compelling cover letter, this article will help you do that.
Read on; it’s just going to get better!
What Is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter acts as a complement to the attached resume in your application.
As the name suggests, it’s the first page that performs the opening act to your job application process. And it’s just 1 page long.
Though most information is in the resume, cover letters allow you to present the information personally. It doesn’t mean sharing all your history, likes, and dislikes. Instead, it’s a brief elaboration of all the information mentioned in the resume in a more personalized manner.
Cover letters allow you to aptly describe the skills and achievements relevant to a specific job role. Here, you hint to the hirer why you stand as the best choice compared to the rest applicants.
Please note that a cover letter is independent of a resume that waits right behind this opening page. It is wrong to assume that it should mention the same information already mentioned in the resume. Had that been the case, cover letters would’ve been redundant.
Also read: Premium Resume Builder to Build a Powerful Professional Resume
Why Do You Need a Cover Letter?
As per stats, 83% of the hirers consider attaching a cover letter important. Interestingly, 38% of the applicants do not attach a cover letter to their applications, even when the hiring company asks for it.
That means, by making a habit of adding a cover letter to your profile, you’ve already won the competition by 60% in case the company has asked for it. Interestingly, sometimes the hirer gets convinced of hiring the applicants simply by going through this introductory page without feeling the need to go beyond.
Isn’t this a powerful tool?
Cover letters are generally preferred when applying for higher profiles, but they could also be a deal cracker for entry-level candidates.
Undoubtedly, a cover letter is one of the most important segments of your job application. Let’s look at some of the key benefits of having a cover letter:
- Personality window: An interesting introduction and a brief discussion about your values and work styles act like a window to your personality and character. Your writing style also conveys much about your tone. It helps establish a better connection between the applicant and the hirer. This is where a resume could fail.
- Tiebreaker: Let’s say there is another applicant who equally stands an opportunity to get the job as much as you do. But a well-compiled cover letter mentioning the right details can win the tie.
- Systematic presentation: A well-planned, systematic presentation of your information is highly effective in convincing the hiring manager about your candidature.
- Expressing willingness: Cover letters let you express your enthusiasm for joining the company and the role, which is very much desired by the hirers.
- Showcasing skills: A cover letter allows you to showcase your skills. And the companies are looking forward to it. Not only can you mention the skills but also your joy in executing them, highlighted in the achievements section.
Moving on, let’s understand what sections you must add to your cover letter.
Different Sections of a Cover Letter
Many applicants blabber about their profile, use unnecessary cliches and try to appear unique to fill this first page. However, it takes art to write a genuine cover letter, which the hirers always eye for.
Let’s discuss how to write a compelling cover letter and the sections included in it:
The header is the first section of the cover letter. It is subdivided into the below order:
- Name and contact details: This will catch the first attention of the reader. Make the header of a cover letter look similar to a resume.
Along with the name, add your place of stay with the city and zip code, followed by the phone number. Do not forget to add your email address.
- Name of the recipient
- Designation of the recipient
- Company name
- Address of the company
Greet the hiring manager properly by adding salutations like “dear”.
The name of the hiring manager should be written after the salutation.
Example: Dear John Doe
Avoid generic writing here or in any part of the letter, which gives the hiring agency an idea that you are applying to various profiles by copy-pasting.
Example: Hello, Sir/Madam. (Instead, be specific to whom you are addressing.)
As goes the saying, the first impression is the last. In order to hook the hirer to read ahead with interest, keep the introduction catchy.
Here, you can mention the job role that interests you and where you came to know about the requirement. If it’s through a friend, mention that unless it may have a negative impact.
Express your enthusiasm and willingness to work for this post. Mention a few of your skills and talents that you consider using for the company. Also, add a few relevant details about the company that you appreciate. This will impress the hirer that you’ve researched the company well.
Keep this paragraph brief and dense. The body section is the heart of a cover letter.
Show how the company will benefit from the skill you mentioned in the introduction. Use a case study from the company’s requirement to present this. This will also show that you understand the company’s needs.
Now is the time to showcase your achievement within the current company you’re associated with. This can also be explained in a story or as a case study. Use measurable figures (% or numbers) showing how your skills benefitted the current company.
You can add another paragraph to mention additional skills that benefit the company.
In a short space, mention additional skills if necessary. This will give the hirer an idea of your career growth and previous experiences.
Round up the letter by reiterating your skills, strength, and interest in joining the company. Thank the reader for their time and leave an action step like anticipation towards the interview.
Also, mention that a resume containing your additional details has been attached.
Closure & Signature
The closing should be friendly and formal, followed by your full name.
Formatting Rules for Cover Letters
After you have compiled a cover letter, review it once to check the grammar, tone, and other details of your write-up. Ensuring consistent formatting is also essential. It will contribute to the readability of your letter and add more professionalism to it.
The below points will help you achieve this:
- Font: Avoid using fancy fonts. Use standard fonts such as Arial or Calibri.
- Font Size: Font size between 10-12 is considered readable. Anything lesser may stress the hiring manager while reading, and anything more might add another page for you and could bore them. The chosen format should also align with the font used in the resume.
- Spacing: Maintain consistent spacing between each line, paragraph, and section. This will aid in increasing the readability.
- Margin: Margin can be kept to 1″ from both sides. In case you are running out of space, re-read your writeup to see if you can remove a few sentences. If that doesn’t help, the margins can be reduced anywhere till the limit of 0.5″.
Note: Reducing the margin adds to cluttering all the words within the letter, affecting the readability.
- Naming: Use an appropriate name for your cover letter in case it’ll be sent as a softcopy. Imagine the hiring manager scrolling through various applications. Proper naming will save their time and make the letter more considerable.
Additional Tips for Creating a Cover Letter
Here are a few bonus tips to make your cover letter designing experience interesting.
- Align with the instructions: Re-read the job posting ad and confirm whether your cover letter meets those needs. Example: Addressing the right recipient, sending the right format, etc.
- Make it personal: Do not use a generic form of writing. Just like when you address the hiring manager, use the name. Do enough research to write their name, even if it may take a phone call or looking up the company profile on LinkedIn. If you are still clueless, use “Dear Hiring Manager”.
Secondly, know that anyone can claim to possess particular skills. Instead of keeping it generic, elaborate on how you’ve brought results using these skills to a company. Have proof ready if asked.
- Keywords: While writing the introduction and body, use the keyword mentioned in the ad or posting.
- Recent achievements: Try mentioning your recent achievements instead of earlier ones.
- To the point: Back your achievements and strengths with the necessary stats and keep them to the point. Avoid mentioning unnecessary experiences, personal information, or social standing irrelevant to the application.
- Don’t express regret: Avoid discussing your weakness or lack and then apologizing to the company. Focus on what you possess and how it can benefit the company.
- Avoid overusing “I”: Writing too many “I’s” might give an impression of bluffing or pride. So, avoid its overuse.
- Proofread: Proofreading is a must technique to ensure no mistakes in your cover letter. Read your write-up aloud before finalizing it.
- Do not copy: You can find many samples online, but at the end of the day, your personality will speak through the letter. So, keep it unique.
Also read: Best Cover Letter Creators for Your Next Job Application
Cover Letter Creators
Many websites can create a cover letter for you with their customized templates that you can choose. Some of them are:
- Resume Genius: This top-rated website creates professional cover letters after taking in details from the user. After creating the letter, the download is chargeable.
- Zety.com: Zety is considered second to Resume Genius with lower prices. It offers easy-to-use tools and quickly builds a cover letter.
- MyPerfectCoverLetter: Award-winning website that builds a cover letter for you with expert advice, templates, and examples.
- Kickresume: It lets you download templates for free with more features unlocked with the paid version.
Some more free websites that offer basic letters (but with limited templates) are Indeed, CVshaper, and Canva.
Cover Letter Templates
Some of the cover letter templates are as follows:
Microsoft Office (CV Cover Letter): Microsoft Office offers a pre-formatted cover letter in Word format so that you can create a professional-looking cover letter. This includes formatting and is easily customizable within the Word file.
Template.net: It offers a CV cover letter for internship purposes with no experience. You can download the cover letter in different formats, such as Word, Google Docs, and Apple Pages format. These formats are printable, downloadable, and editable.
Microsoft Office (Organic Shapes Cover Letter): Get a good-looking cover letter template with Microsoft office that provides a striking organic shape and unique design. Build with Microsoft office cover letter templates and get results faster.
Examples of Great Cover Letters
Here’s what a good cover letter may look like before you create one:
Notice how the header is centered on the top, along with contact and address details?
The cover letter is neither too long nor too short, explaining everything to the hirer in one page.
Here’s the next cover letter example. Can you notice something interesting about this one?
This comes from a data analyst who has prior work experience. And the addition of previous experiences and skills gained connects with the company that can benefit them.
How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?
A cover letter is a 1-page document with a word count of 250-400. The focus, however, is on the ability, willingness, and presentation of the candidate, which is taken into consideration.
Can You Use the Same Cover Letter for All Opportunities?
You can use the same template for multiple opportunities but not the same content. It deserves tailoring based on the company and job title you’re applying for. After all, the purpose of a cover letter is lost if it loses the personal touch.
Most applicants keep a template ready. Considering the opportunity you are applying for, you can modify the mood, tone, and stats of the letter, which makes it appealing to the reader.
A cover letter is a 1-page document that extends the resume by adding the applicant’s personal touch. When written artistically, a cover letter can help you land your dream job.
Thus, consider the essentials that build a cover letter’s structure, format it well, and consider a few additional to crack the selection process.
While it’s best to write a cover letter by yourself, there are also customizable templates available on a few websites, with other facilities to create one.
Next, check out the free tools to create an outstanding visual resume/CV.