How to write a cover letter

How to write a cover letter
September 30, 2022 Comments Off on How to write a cover letter Education Rachel Denial

The cover letter is usually the first item an employer reads from you. Your letter should immediately indicate what position you are applying for and then give information that demonstrates why you should be considered for the position. Do not repeat all of the information contained in your resume.

When do you need a cover letter?

A job application should explicitly say whether or not to include a cover letter with your CV.

If you include one when you’ve been asked not to, a potential employer might just skip it and jump straight into your CV. The worst case? You’ve shown you’re not very good at following simple instructions.

If you don’t include a cover letter, you could include a short introduction at the beginning of your CV (space permitting) to do the same job. We cover introductions in our guide to writing a CV.

If a job description doesn’t say anything about a cover letter, play it safe and include one just in case. It’s an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your writing skills if this is an important aspect of the role.

University or college students applying for a part-time job probably won’t need to include a cover letter.

How to write a good cover letter

When you apply for a job, it’s extremely rare to be the only applicant. In nearly all cases, you’re one of a group, potentially hundreds, of applicants. 

That means your cover letter is one of potentially hundreds the recruiter will read. This is why it’s so critical that you write a cover letter that excels in the following:

  • Grabs the recruiter’s attention
  • Effectively communicates why you’re an ideal candidate for the role
  • Makes you stand out from the crowd 

Remember, your goal with a cover letter isn’t to give the recruiter a recap of your work history (your résumé should accomplish that and you don’t want to be redundant), but to intrigue them enough to offer you an interview.

Research and brainstorm first

Before you start writing your cover letter, familiarize yourself with the role and its requirements. Read the job listing carefully and pull out the most important information, like which of your specific skills to highlight in your cover letter and how your experiences have prepared you for this role. Then, spend some time on the company’s website to get a strong sense of the company’s culture, values, and mission.

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Once you thoroughly understand everything the role entails, brainstorm the most effective way to communicate your suitability for the role in your cover letter. Brainstorming is a key part of the writing process. As you brainstorm, determine all the possible topics to include in your cover letter and ways to emphasize your competency for the role. 

Personalize the greeting

The first thing the recruiter or hiring manager will notice in your cover letter is whether you addressed it to them personally. 

It’s not always easy to find the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s name, but it’s always worth your time to do so. If their name isn’t listed in the job posting, take some time to find it. You can likely find it on the company’s website. If that doesn’t yield results, try LinkedIn. 

If you absolutely cannot find a relevant name, a generic greeting like “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear [Company Name] Team” is acceptable. But do this as a last resort—it’s always best to directly address the person who will be making the hiring decision. 

Grab the reader’s attention

Just like a book needs to grab its reader’s attention within the first few pages, your cover letter needs to grab attention within the first sentence or two. Remember, the recruiter is going to be reading lots of cover letters—cover letters that will contain pretty similar content. If your cover letter doesn’t captivate them from the get-go, you could end up getting overlooked.

You can grab the reader’s attention by starting with an interesting fact about yourself:

  • “At the last two universities I worked at, I ended up playing Santa at the holiday party. Maybe it’s because I’m jolly, maybe it’s because I love cookies, but I like to think it’s because I spearheaded the most successful alumni giving campaigns each year.”

Or you can highlight a unique way one of your job skills has come in handy:

  • “As a project manager, I’m no stranger to connecting people to keep projects moving forward. But I never imagined I’d be managing an effort to get a beached pontoon boat moving forward—until my company fishing trip last year.” 
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Just make sure your sizzling opener relates to your fitness for the role you’re seeking.

Showcase your most relevant strengths and skills

You’ve probably been told to “show, not tell” in writing assignments before. Your cover letter is no different. Instead of listing your strengths and skills (remember, your résumé does that), tell stories that show these assets in action. 

Use the same techniques you used to grab your reader’s attention in your opening lines. For example, you may highlight a major career accomplishment by first describing the circumstances that led to you taking action and achieving a specific result. 

Anecdotes like these demonstrate why you’re the perfect person for the job. 

Make it as much about the employer as it is about you

This one can be tricky. The key here is to not simply write a letter about yourself, but communicate the benefits you offer the employer as you do so. 

Here’s where your initial research into the company’s culture pays off. The person (or team) tasked with filling the open position isn’t just looking for somebody who can do the work; they’re looking for somebody who fits into the existing company structure and culture. By writing your cover letter in a way that mirrors their brand style, you’re communicating that you understand who they are and the kind of person they’re looking for. If the copy on their company website has an understated, simple style, stick to similarly simple, straightforward writing in your cover letter. If they have more of a hip, edgy feel, you have room to go outside the box a bit in your cover letter. 

If a current employee at the company referred you to the role, mention that in your cover letter. But don’t just mention their name—include a sentence or two about why they specifically reached out to you and recommended you pursue the role.  

Show your enthusiasm about the role

Throughout your cover letter, use language that communicates your passion for the kind of work you do. Your word choice plays a big role in shaping how recruiters perceive your attitude toward your work experience and your enthusiasm for the role. 

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When you’re highlighting your past achievements, use specific language and action words. Take a look at the difference between these two sentences:

  • I was a manager to a team of four salespeople.
  • I ran a nimble sales department.

Or consider the difference between these:

  • After sixteen years as a bank teller, I decided I’d rather be an electrician.
  • After more than a decade as a bank teller, I pivoted to a new career and began my electrical apprenticeship.

With words like “ran,” “nimble,” and “pivoted,” you paint a more dynamic picture than you do with words like “was a manager” and “decided.”

Here’s another easy way to make your writing more dynamic: use the active voice.  Instead of “under my leadership, 50 loans were prepared,” say “under my leadership, our team prepared 50 loans.”

When you use the active voice, you’re owning your accomplishments. 

Types of Cover Letters

While there is no set template for a cover letter, the type of letter that you write will depend on the requirements of each individual company or employer. The information that is included in a cover letter will vary depending on the goals and purpose of your application.

  • An application cover letter is the most familiar type of cover letter. This is generally written in response to a vacancy that is posted on a company’s website or a job board. In addition to answering any specific questions posted in the job ad, it may also highlight any experience or skills that are suitable for the position. 
  • A referral cover letter is similar to an application letter, but it includes the name of a colleague or employee who recommended the applicant for the open position. A strong referral can help you stand out against other applicants. 
  • A prospecting cover letter, also known as a letter of interest, is written by a job seeker and addressed to a company where they would like to work. However, it is not aimed at a specific role or vacancy. Instead, this type of letter inquires about open positions in general and may highlight any special skills that make the writer suitable for the company. 

source 1:- www.ucas.com

source 2:- www.investopedia.com

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About The Author
Rachel Denial Rachel is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of romances, thrillers, and graphic novels. Her debut thriller When No One Is Watching was the winner of the 2021 Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Paperback Original and the Strand Critics Award for Best Debut. Her Civil War-set espionage romance An Extraordinary Union was the American Library Association’s RUSA Best Romance for 2018, and her contemporary royal rom-com A Princess, in Theory, was one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2018. Her books have received critical acclaim from the Library Journal, BuzzFeed, Kirkus, Booklist, Jezebel, Shondaland, Vulture, Book Riot, Entertainment Weekly, and various other outlets. When she’s not working, she can usually be found watching anime or wrangling her pets.