Are you having trouble creating a cover letter that will appeal to potential employers?
Creating the perfect cover letter is an art form that takes skill and practice to perfect. You need to be able to condense a lot of information into a small space and make it really stand out.
Your cover letter is your introduction to your potential employer or the hiring manager. It should grab their attention and make them want to find out more about you. To discover the best cover letter format and tips for success, all you have to do is keep reading.
Is A Cover Letter Really Necessary?
If you are applying for a job, make sure you read the job description carefully. In many cases, you will be asked to submit a cover letter along with a copy of your resume. In this case, it is essential to write a strong cover letter that is tailored to the job. Not submitting a cover letter when you are specifically asked for one will show that you cannot follow instructions.
Even if the job description does not call for a cover letter, it is a good idea to make one. If you are filling out an online application form, there will often be space to copy and paste a cover letter. This will give your application a personal touch that will help you to stand out.
Help get you noticed…
A cover letter is also useful if you are contacting a hiring manager out of the blue. It serves as a good way of introducing yourself and presenting your skills. No matter how good your resume is, a strong cover letter can help you get noticed and called for an interview.
The Ideal Cover Letter Length
Your cover letter should be short and to the point and no longer than one page. Ideally, your cover letter is usually three or four paragraphs long and between 250 and 400 words.
Hiring managers are busy professionals and often receive several cover letters a day. They need to be able to quickly scan through your cover letter to see if you are a worthy candidate. If it is too long or badly formatted, they are unlikely to give it their time and attention.
Cover Letter Creation Step by Step
Like most important documents, there is an art to creating the perfect cover letter. Because this document is so short, every single sentence counts. Let’s take a look at how to structure your cover letter to make an impact.
Choose an impactful headline
The headline of your cover letter should be entered into the subject line when sending it as an email. This is your first opportunity to grab the recipient’s attention and make them want to know more. A strong headline can make the difference between your cover letter being opened right away or saved for later.
The headline should make the recipient want to know what the cover letter is all about. It needs to be dynamic while making it clear that it is not a sales pitch or spam email. Something along the lines of ‘talented professional available for work’ should set the right tone.
Choose the right type of greeting
It is important to start your cover letter with a strong greeting that directly relates to the recipient. Starting with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘To Whom it may concern’ indicates that you are sending a generic cover letter. The recipient is sure to think that you have already sent the same cover letter to countless other people.
It is important to do your research and determine the best person to send your cover letter to. If this is the hiring manager, address them by name. If you have met them in the past, you may want to use their first name to make the cover letter more personal.
Start with a strong opening paragraph
Your opening paragraph needs to be strong enough to engage the recipient straight away. It should explain why you find the job exciting and why you are the perfect candidate. You should briefly outline your experience in the field and the key skills you bring to the role.
You should include a sentence that compliments the company and your appreciation for what they do. However, your opening paragraph needs to be limited to three sentences. Make sure that your paragraph is carefully crafted to include all of the essential information in the most impactful way.
Explain what you would bring to the company
In the second paragraph, you are basically selling your skills and experience. This paragraph should also be around three sentences and should provide a summary of your career and skills. Your research should guide you to the particular elements that the hiring manager is looking for.
Try to include at least one skill that makes you stand out from the crowd. You may have worked on a particular project that taught you skills that would benefit the company. Highlight your most impressive achievements, especially those that give you the edge over the competition.
Outline why you are the perfect fit for the company
The third paragraph demonstrates that you understand what the company is all about. This is your opportunity to show the recipient exactly how you will fit into the company culture. The best way to do this is by showing how the company’s goals align with your own.
Make sure you show your enthusiasm for the company in an authentic way. You could explain what you hope to gain by working for the company. Make sure you show that it will be a mutual relationship that will also benefit the company.
Close with a Call to Action
Your final paragraph should be memorable and inspiring. You should use a sentence or two, to sum up your experience and why you are the perfect candidate. This should ultimately inspire the recipient to reach out to you. The main goal of your cover letter is to arrange an interview.
Therefore, your final sentence should make it clear that you want the recipient to reach out to you. However, you may prefer to take the proactive approach by telling the recipient that you will call them in a couple of days.
Finally, make sure you use a formal sign-off to close the email. This should be something like yours sincerely or best regards. Type your name in full at the end of the cover letter and prepare to send it.
Choose the right method of sending your cover letter
Even if you have created the best cover letter, things can still go wrong if you choose the wrong way of sending it. Make sure that you do not attach your cover letter to an email. Instead, you should copy the contents and paste them into the body of the email.
However, this may not be possible if you are sending an online application form. While you can sometimes upload an attachment, attaching a cover letter may not be an option. In this case, you need to try and find a way to paste the contents into the online application form.
You may also be able to find an online contact to whom you can send a follow-up email. Mention in the first sentence that you have just sent an online application for the job. The cover letter allows you to present a little more information about yourself that will help you to stand out.
Best Cover Letter Format Tips And Tricks
Hiring managers typically receive a large number of cover letters. If yours is too generic or boring, it is likely to get set aside. Here are some ways to make sure your cover letter stands out from the crowd.
Tailor your cover letter to the job
While copying and pasting a standard cover letter into an email may be tempting, this will not be effective. If your cover letter appears to be too generic, it is likely to be passed over. As this is your opportunity to introduce yourself to the company, a weak cover letter could be disastrous.
It is important to create a new cover letter for each job you are applying for. While this may seem like a lot of extra work, it could be the thing that ultimately lands you the job. You should include unique elements about the company and yourself that demonstrate your suitability for the job.
Keep it brief
While you need to pack a lot of information into your cover letter, you still need to keep it short. If your cover letter rambles on for several pages, the hiring manager is unlikely to read it. It is also essential to make sure your paragraphs are properly spaced so they can be read easily.
Do not just repeat your resume
Your cover letter provides the opportunity to provide information that is not in your resume. This is the opportunity to highlight why you are the perfect candidate for the job and company. Take this opportunity to stand out and boost your chances of being called in for an interview.
Let your personality shine through
In addition to having the necessary skills, you need to be able to work well with the other employees. Hiring managers actively seek candidates who can do this and help boost morale. Revealing elements of your professional personality will enable the hiring manager to see you in the role.
Keep it professional
Nothing can ruin your chances of getting a job faster than trying to be funny. Humor is a very personal thing, and you need to establish a rapport with the recipient first. If your joke falls flat, the hiring manager is likely to question your professionalism.
Do not exaggerate
While you need to demonstrate that you are the perfect candidate, you should not simply state this. The skills and aspects of your personality that you reveal in the cover letter should say this for you. Pay close attention to the most desirable skills in the job description and make sure your cover letter includes them.
Personalize your cover letter
Include elements that let the recipient know you are writing just to them. This will make it much more difficult to overlook or fail to reply to your cover letter.
Pay attention to the format
You need to make sure that your cover letter is easy to read. Divide it into three or four paragraphs and use short sentences. But, also check that important information is not missed.
Carefully check for errors
Before sending out your cover letter, take the time to edit it and check for errors. If it is full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, it’s sure to get rejected. If possible, ask a friend or family member to take a look at your cover letter before you send it.
Make it clear what you are looking for
The person reading your cover letter should know exactly who you are and what you want. You may simply want to introduce yourself to the company or be actively seeking employment. If you are hoping to arrange an interview, make that clear in your cover letter.
Looking For More Helpful Advice?
Well, good news! I have put together some great how-to guides for your resume with my How To Address A Cover Letter, How To Write An Introduction Letter, How Long Should A Cover Letter Be, How To Write A Letter Of Interest, as well as my Motivation Letter Writing Guide in 2023.
But that’s not all; we’ve done our research and found some great online books we highly recommend. Just check out Knock ’em Dead Cover Letters, the 101 Best Cover Letters, Get It Done: Write a Cover Letter, the DIY Résumé and Cover Letter Kit, Stand Out Cover Letters, Cover Letters Writing 2023, the Killing the Cover Letter, and of course Cover Letters For Dummies available today.
Last but not least ios you all-important resume, so why not do some reading with the English for Academic CVs, Resumes, and Online Profiles, the Marketing Yourself in the Age of Digital: CVs, Applications, Interviews, Social Media, LinkedIn, or how about the CVs, Resumes, and LinkedIn: A Guide to Professional English, and the Land Your Dream Job: Join the 2% Who Make it Past Resumé Screening books all online today.
Now that you know the secrets to write a good cover letter and what the best cover letter format is, it is time to start practicing. Like most things in life, practice makes perfect. You are likely to find that it takes a few attempts before you come up with the perfect one.
After you have created yours, try to edit it to remove any unnecessary words or sentences. Remember, your cover letter should be concise. A hiring manager should be able to read it in less than ten seconds and know why you are the perfect candidate.
Good luck writing that resume!