Not always required, but always encouraged, cover letters are the first form of direct contact with a hiring manager. This is your opportunity to showcase your applicable background and qualifications. In today’s job market, cover letters are typically emails rather than an actual letter. But that’s the best part, you no longer are restricted to a standard format, you’re free to describe yourself in a personal but professional manner.
We have provided you with the necessary information you should include in each section of your cover letter.
In most cases, you will not be given a name for direct contact. You have to take it upon yourself to find the appropriate name to address your letter to. Avoid using “to whom this may concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager”. If you use an actual name, it shows that you made an extra effort to find their contact information and did some company research. Hiring Managers can typically be found on the company’s website, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
If your introduction lacks personality the reader will quickly move on to the next before he or she even gets to the second paragraph. This is a professional letter, but you must capture the reader’s attention right away by expressing excitement about the position. Use an anecdote or tagline that best defines who you are as an employee. Also, make sure your bullet points aren’t just adjectives that describe you. Each bullet should be a phrase that starts with an action word that matches the job description qualifications.
The rest of the greeting should be brief. Explain how you came across the job and what interested you about it. If you heard about the position from a current employee make sure to mention them. Add one or two reasons why you believe your skills match the job requirements as a sneak peek for what’s to come in your body paragraph.
This portion should be one or two paragraphs. Similar to your resume, your cover letter should be no longer than one page. Remember this space is not meant to copy and paste your qualifications from your resume. Your short sentences should be filled with memorable information and significant examples of your previous work. Don’t repeat the bullet points you listed above, instead explain each one more in-depth. Describe to the reader what you’ve done rather than what you are. Stating “leader” is not as impressive as giving an example of how you’ve lead a team to accomplish a task. Include specific data and metrics to explain your past involvements. Quantifying your accomplishments makes your experience seem more substantial and hiring managers can see the impact you made.
This is your chance to reiterate how your qualification best fit and your interest in the role. The closing paragraph is also the place where you can clarify anything left unsaid. If you are applying to a long-distance job, include the dates you’ll be in the area for an interview. Or if you have a noticeable employment gap you can justify your reasoning. Most importantly, this is where you want to thank the employer for their time and consideration!
When it comes to layout, keep it simple and crisp. Research different format options for your cover letter. You can include small hints of your personality and style, don’t be afraid to experiment! Try adding a subtle pop color to your name or aligning your contact information around at the top differently. Above are some examples you can play around with and see what format best captures you as a professional.
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