A cover letter is a paged letter that you attach to your job application. Unless the job advertisement says no to it, you should always include a cover letter.
These are some of the must-dos when you’re writing a cover letter:
- Introduce yourself
- Mention the type of job you’re seeking
- Prove that the skills and experiences you have match the ones needed for the job
- Interest the reader is going through your resume
- Complete it with a call to action such as proposing a meeting or an interview
About the length of a cover letter, it’s better if you keep it short. A cover letter is supposed to sum up your resume, so make sure not to write more than one page.
Your cover letter should be as specific as possible and here are three simple ways to do so:
1. Address it correctly
Instead of writing ‘To whom it may concern, you can find out the name of the person who’ll be reading your application. This little effort will prove to be fruitful.
2. Know more about the job
This will help you in matching both your cover letter and resume to the job.
3. Know more about the company
You’ll be able to tailor your cover letter for the job once you find out more about the company.
Things to include in your cover letter
Here are some things you should make sure to add to your cover letter.
1. Your name and contact details
Your name and contact details should be positioned at the top part of your cover letter. Your postal address isn’t necessarily needed, but you do need to add in your email and phone number.
It’s better if your email address creates a professional impression so make sure you don’t add in an email with slang or pet names.
2. Their name and contact details
You must include the name of the person you’re writing to, the name of their company or their position, their contact details, all under your name and contact details.
If finding this information is tough, you can simply contact the company to know to whom you should address your application. Adding ‘To whom it may concern, can be done as a last resort.
3. The name of the job you’re going for
You must mention the job you’re applying for at the beginning of your cover letter. This can be done on a line by itself, for example, ‘Regarding: Application for Marketing Manager position’). It can also be done in the opening paragraph, for example, ‘I am writing to apply for the recently advertised Marketing Manager position’.)
4. A list of your relevant skills
Summarize how your experiences and skills match the job description. A short bullet list will be okay. There might be a position description if you’re answering a job advertisement, the description will list out the necessary experiences and skills.
There might also be a list of ‘desirable’ experiences and skills. Your cover letter needs to acknowledge all of the points on the ‘essential’ list. Preferably, you should also acknowledge as many items as you can on the ‘desirable’ list.
Remember that you’ll have to show how you got a certain skill/experience or how you’ve used them once you’ve said that you acquired them. (for example, if you say you’re good at leadership skills, mention some jobs where you’ve used them).
5. Summarize why you’re right for the job
After pointing out your skills and experience, you must describe why these mean you’re favourable for the job. For example, ‘My ability to be calm under pressure and my experience in dealing with customer complaints in a retail setting make me well suited for this job.’
6. Speak their language
It shows that you understand the industry that the employer works in when you use the same language as people do in a specific job. Know what the employer does, and how they deceive themselves, and try using this language in your cover letter.
For example, if there’s some software or tool that the job requires, mention it in your cover letter, just do it correctly.
7. Ask them to contact you
You should finish your cover letter by requesting the employer to go through your resume. You must also ask them to contact you about an interview.
Put in a simple word such as, ‘I have included a copy of my resume. I look forward to hearing from you.
What you shouldn’t include in your cover letter
Now that we’ve covered the dos, here are some don’ts of writing a cover letter.
Make sure to spell-check your cover letter. You can even get someone else to read it for you and list out any mistakes or confusing factors. You can ask your family members, friends, a career advisor at your university to read your cover letter for honest criticism.
You must double-check every point in your cover letter. Make sure you spell the company name right if you’ve mentioned it. Also, check the spelling of the places you’ve worked before if there’s a mention.
2. Adding your whole resume to your cover letter
You shouldn’t just copy and paste your entire resume into your cover letter. Instead of just repeating the details, try rewording the information in your resume. Let your resume tell the whole story while keeping your cover letter short.
3. Overusing ‘I’
You should try avoiding phrases like ‘I have, ‘I believe’ and ‘I am. Keep in mind that it’s not about you, it’s about how you can be of help to the employer. Once you’re done writing your letter, read over it, and try taking out or rewriting as many sentences that begin with ‘I’ as you can.
You’re possibly applying for more than one job at a time. It’s best to, however, not mention other job applications. Your letter must focus on convincing the employer that you actually want this job. You don’t need to mention it even though most employers will be assuming that you’re applying for more than one job.