How to Write a Cover Letter 2018 - Extensive Guide [+Examples]
Cover Letter Writing
The process of writing a Cover Letter that is personalized for each particular job is one of the most challenging parts of the job searching process according to the feedback received from our community.
Based on this feedback and from the fact that almost no one enjoys job hunting, we decided to prepare this extensive guide so your job searching process will be more enjoyable.
What will I learn after reading this guide?
- What is a Cover Letter
- What to Include In a Cover Letter Sample
- How to Address a Cover Letter
- How to Write a Good Cover Letter (from Start to Conclusion)
- How to Start a Cover Letter
- How to Write a Conclusion of a Cover Letter
- How to End a Cover Letter
- How Long Should a Cover Letter Be
What Is a Cover Letter?
According to Investopedia, a Cover Letter definition is: “a written document submitted with a job application explaining the applicant's credentials and interest in the open position.”
Therefore, your résumé should all the time be sent together with a Cover Letter that supports and elaborates more on your previous achievements and skills that make you the perfect candidate for this particular job opening.
Remember that it is crucial to personalize each Cover Letter for the particular job ad, by highlighting how your past achievements and skills can help them solve their current needs and why you are the perfect fit for that precise job.
It might be difficult to know exactly where to start because there are so many different tips and advice out there regarding Cover Letters.
Some might even wonder why would you still need a Cover Letter nowadays in the age of digital communication?
What to Include In a Cover Letter Sample?
The Cover Letter format that most recruiters and employers agree upon needs to contain the following information:
- Your name and contact details
- The name of the company you are applying to and its address
- Date when the Cover Letter was created
- Dear Mr./Ms. First name + Last Name (or the department you are applying to, more details will follow)
- Content (this will be explained in more details)
- Sincerely, (or similar) + Your Name/Signature
Keep in mind that your Cover Letter sample should complement and add value to your résumé, therefore do not just copy + paste the achievements from your résumé in your Cover Letter.
In the Cover Letter, you can show your personality and add more explanations about your hard skills, expertise and raw data in your résumé.
For example, you can list “SEO” as one of the hard skills in your résumé and then further explain in the Cover Letter:
“Considering that you are looking for someone to help you rank more keywords on the first page of the major search engines for your main keywords, my 6 years SEO experience during which I helped 4 websites to rank for more than 60 high-traffic keywords on the first page might prove valuable to you.”
Cover Letter Example for a Business Graduate
How to Address a Cover Letter?
There are a couple of rules to keep in mind when addressing your Cover Letter.
Firstly, include a formal full name salutation including the hiring manager's first and last name, including as well “Mr.” or “Ms.” (for example: Mr. John Doe or Ms. Jane Doe).
The only exception when you shouldn’t include the formal salutation is when you are familiar with the company’s culture, and it is well known they are more casual.
If the name of the hiring manager or the responsible person is not specified in the job ad, try to find it since it is essential to address your Cover Letter to a particular person.
In the case, you can only find the founders or the executives of the company listed on their website, try to address it to the person that is responsible for the department you are applying for since it will show that you took the effort to find someone responsible for the position.
When even after research you are not able to find anyone in the company (this can happen when companies are protecting their employee's privacy) make sure to be as accurate as possible and use a greeting that shows you are writing the Cover Letter to a particular audience. (for example: “Nurse Hiring Manager”, “Hiring Responsible” or “HR Department”, etc.)
How to Write a Good Cover Letter? (from Start to Conclusion)
Writing a good Cover Letter starts by selecting the structure of your content.
3 distinct parts need to be included: An Introduction, the Body, and a Conclusion/Closing.
How to Start a Cover Letter - Introduction
It is critical to already mention in the introduction the most valuable skills that you possess that are also present in the job ad to highlight that you are the ideal candidate they are looking for. Briefly covering this in the introduction will offer a preview to what will come next.
In some cases, it might be important to mention the job you are applying for and where did you hear about the open position. This is especially important when you have heard about the job from a person inside the company.
However, try to make an original introduction based on your personality, using the same language as the company to showcase that you already know their culture.
The Body of the Cover Letter
In one or two longer paragraphs (you can include here also bullet points) try to explain your sincere interest for this position, and how your previous achievements will meet the expectations listed in the job ad.
You can see under an example where previous achievements highlighted in yellow showcase how the candidate has the experience to solve the duties/goals highlighted in blue (taken from the job ad) of the new job:
The Conclusion of a Cover Letter
The conclusion or closing of your Cover Letter has mainly 3 goals:
- Express your gratitude towards the reader and their time.
- Mention again your interest for the position you have applied.
- To be a call to action.
It is decisive to end your Cover Letter strong with a call for action because this will be the last part the recruiter or employer will read.
By writing a persuasive, convincing and exciting closing, you will leave the reader with the impression that you are the perfect match to be called for an interview.
How to End a Cover Letter?
Remember that the Cover Letter is a formal document; therefore there are some specific conclusion/closing paragraphs as mentioned before. You can see in the following comparison the best examples of closing expression that can be used before your full name/signature and the ones that would be unprofessional:
- Sincerely yours
- With best regards
- Best regards
- Kind regards
- Respectfully yours
- Best wishes
- Take care
- Have a nice day
How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?
Most of the recruiters and employers agree that a Cover Letter should not be longer than one page.
It should all the time be written and personalized for one company and position at a time, including your most significant achievements that should correlate with the information available in the job ad.
In a recent survey based on different employers it was found out that their preferences regarding the length of the Cover Letter are:
- 43.7% prefer it to be ½ (half) page.
- 24.1% agree that “the shorter, the better”.
- 19.5% have no preference.
- 12.6% would like it to be one full page.
Checklist Before Sending Your Cover Letter
- Include your name, professional title and full contact information.
- A consistent look between your résumé and Cover Letter.
- Include your key skills/achievements.
- Include all the necessary sections: a salutation, opening paragraph, main body and a closing paragraph + call to action.
- A balance of the white space used. Not too much, nor too little.
- Length of about half a page (excluding your contact information and that of the recipient).
- No spelling, punctuation or grammar errors.
- Uniqueness. The Cover Letter should be personalized for one position only.
- Explaining why you are the perfect match for the job opening.
- Reuse the same Cover Letter for multiple applications. It is ok to follow these guidelines, but personalize the letter each time.
- Be vague or include cliches such as: "To whom it may concern...", "My name is...", "I am writing to express my interest...", etc.
- Simply repeat the information that is available in your résumé. Instead, explain how does your skills and previous achievements match with the requirements from the job ad.
- Use an unprofessional email address. Choose a format consisting of "First Name - Last Name" or professional variations of it.
- Go over one page. Employers and recruiters will value if you can write a concise and to the point Cover Letter.
- Include graphics, images, tables, etc.
I am ready to create my professional Cover Letter and get my dream job!
Now that you have all the knowledge necessary to create a Cover Letter, you can simply select one cover letter sample and start personalizing it for your dream job.
Remember to share it with your network since you might offer a huge help to those looking for a new job and not having the necessary skills of writing a good Cover Letter!