When you have spent hours crafting the “perfect” CV, you want to make sure your cover letter introduces you with the same level of professionalism. A cover letter is not a repeat of the information contained in your CV. Instead, it should highlight the critical skills that will make you stand out as a candidate. It’s for this reason you should take some time tailoring a cover letter, so it is specific to each position.
Recruiters often receive a deluge of applications, and a well-crafted cover letter is key to ensuring your application stands out and catches their eye. Cover letters deliver more context about yourself that can help the recruiter make a decision, and the plan is to sway their decision in your favor.
In this article, we will cover critical aspects that will help you craft the perfect introduction to why you are the best fit for the job, including:
- What you should include in the cover letter
- Sample templates
- What to do
- What not to do
So, let’s get to it then.
Elements to Include in a Cover Letter
Here’s what you should include in every cover letter.
This is quite straight forward. A written application should contain your contact information as well as the contact information of the company you are apply to. If you know the name of the hiring manager, then address the cover letter to him/her, e.g.:
- Hiring manager name (if available)
- City, State Zip Code
Make sure to include a subject line that contains the position that you are applying for.
Where possible, please use the name of the recruiter or hiring manager to be more personable. I know this can be a headache. Some companies make it easier by including the name of the recruiter or the hiring manager in the job posting. Some, however, do not. If you can find this out great, then use it. If you cannot, then just use “Dear Sir/Madam” in your salutation.
Note: If you do not know the gender of the recruiter or hiring manager, then just use the full name in the salutation to be on the safe side.
The body should consist of the opening paragraph, the middle paragraphs, and the closing. Let’s explore these segments together.
Opening Paragraph: The opening paragraph is important because it’s the hook that will grab the reader’s attention and keep them reading. State the position you are applying for, follow with a contact name if someone referred you, and finish strongly by stating an accomplishment of note from your last place of employment. Be sure to express your passion for your work and the excitement you have for the opportunity to work with such a fantastic company.
Middle Paragraphs: This is where you should sell yourself, showcasing your experiences, successes, and knowledge. Do this by connecting your skills and experience with what you know will be required in the new position. Keep the focus on the value you can bring to the company while emphasizing your greatest strengths relevant to the role. Also use this block to highlight why the company is a great fit for you. Show them that there are mutual values and ethics foundation and the company’s brand aligns with your career goals.
Strong Close and Signature: Finish off strong. Let the hiring manager or recruiter know that you are interested, available to discuss further at any time, and always thank them for their consideration. In addition, though you can sign off with a “Yours Sincerely” with a typed signature, think about signing it as well to show more initiative and dedication.
Sample Cover Letters
I will share with you two sample cover letters with slightly different styles but that follow what we laid out above.
Subject: Sales Associate position at ABC Company
Dear Hiring Manager,
I am excited to be applying for the Sales Associate position at ABC Company. I believe that I hold all the fundamental skills and characteristics to help your company grow and would love for the opportunity to showcase my unique value. I have an extensive background in serving customers and marketing merchandise, and I know how to identify a company’s most pressing needs so that I can fulfill them.
In my former position at 123 Company, I was responsible for managing a multi-level sales task force, where I improved sales by 12.3% every quarter. My other duties involved creating customer service initiatives along with a pilot inventory management program. Following my successful execution of performance-oriented retail and customer service frameworks, over 90% of surveyed customers stated that their overall retail experience had improved significantly since the previous year.
Upon reviewing your company, I am confident that I can be a powerful asset to foster growth and innovation to enrich your overall core mission. I am a focused and driven individual who is always searching for ways to create and add utility, including developing new strategies for marketing, sales, and customer service. I cultivated a reputation for bridging the gap between the sales and top management executive teams and have a track record of working in high-pressure retail environments.
Thank you for taking the time to review my CV and cover letter. I look forward to learning more about your Sales Associate role and the company’s long-term sales goals. With my education level, work history, and unique skill sets, I believe I would make a valuable addition, and I hope to advance to the next stage of your hiring process.
(where you sign — optional)
I am writing to express my interest in the lead coordinator position at ABC Company. Dan Peters suggested I contact you about this position, as he feels my experience and skills would be of benefit in this role. As project coordinator at Blue Widgets Company, I increased my team’s production capacity by more than 27% over 12-months. My track history shows that I am a skilled team leader and can deliver projects ahead of schedule and on budget, making me a perfect fit for this position.
As project coordinator at Blue Widgets Company, I oversee four project managers and coordinate an average of four concurrent projects each month. I plan and monitor communications and project budgets and am responsible for allocating resources. I am experienced in the operation of several cloud-based project management applications and specialize in creating project documentation to inform stakeholders on the milestones, deliverables, and scope of each project.
Blue Widgets Company is a fast-paced environment that requires me to remain calm under pressure, focus on outcomes, and use creative problem-solving skills to ensure projects reach projected milestones. While my usual workload encompasses an average of four projects a month, I often carry double that when other project coordinators are on leave. During these times, I am still able to manage a 97% completion rate.
Thank you for taking the time to consider me for this position and review my application. I look forward to the opportunity to learn more about the lead coordinator role at ABC Company. I have brought considerable experience and expertise to Blue Widgets Company, and hope to do the same ABC Company.
(where you sign — optional)
Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Cover Letter
It can be challenging to know what to include and what not to do when writing a cover letter, so here’s a quick list of dos and don’ts to keep in mind while you are creating yours.
- Focus on how your skills and experience will benefit the company.
- Add some personality, so your prose doesn’t sound too robotic.
- Be succinct. Keep your cover letter brief and to the point.
- Ask friends or family to check for typos and spelling mistakes.
- Don’t let typos, spelling mistakes, or grammatical errors ruin your chances.
- Copy samples you find on the web verbatim, use them as a guide only.
- Talk too much about what the job can do for you.
- Rehash material that is in your CV. The cover letter should focus on your strengths.
Take the time to research the company you are applying for, do a thorough read of the job description, and really take the time to see if you could be the best person for the role and why someone should hire you. Then tailor your cover letter to fit the qualifications in such a way that shows you are someone they should take an interest in.
As a final note, always remember to keep your content short, exciting, and approach it as not why you want the position, but what you can offer them. Show them what you can contribute and shift the focus onto your goals of improving the business/company instead of yourself.
If you would like to learn more about how to tailor your cover letter as a recent graduate with no experience, then click here to explore more.
For those of you interested in writing a cover letter for career change, have a look here.
How about if you just want to send an unsolicited cover letter? We got you covered. Have a look here.
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