According to the statistics, 49% of hiring managers believe that job-seekers should attach a cover letter to their resume. A cover letter is a great tool to showcase your motivation, present specific experiences and relevant projects, and explain how you can contribute if hired. So, do not hesitate to submit a cover letter to all job postings, unless the employer asks you not to attach it.
Writing a strong cover letter is tricky, though. Some candidates keep it overly generic and unfocused, while others add lengthy personal stories and irrelevant details. Today, we will share some professional practices so that you could write an interview-winning cover letter.
If writing is not your forte or you want to save time, consider a professional CV and cover letter writing service. A professional cover letter writer will effectively present your strengths to the employer and position you as a good fit. You can also order a resume writing service, and the editor will adjust for a specific job posting and sell your skills.
- Research the employer and analyze the job posting
Before you get down to writing, read the job ad several times and research the company. Take a look at their social media pages, including LinkedIn, and the profiles of some employees and executives. Why? Firstly, you will better understand the company’s needs and expectations from the employee. Secondly, you will be able to choose the tone and writing style that works better for their corporate culture. And finally, you will learn more about the organization and whether you want to work there.
- Address the hiring manager by the name
Avoid generic salutations like “To whom it may concern” at all costs. Address your letter to a specific person directly. If the hiring manager’s name is not specified in the job posting, research them on LinkedIn or in other sources. If the candidate did not bother to find out the hiring manager’s name, it shows a lack of enthusiasm and interest in a position.
- Use an effective structure
Keep your letter concise – ideally, it should take 4-5 paragraphs depending on the job seniority level and your experience. Make sure not to exceed one page, as recruiters are usually not receptive to multi-page cover letters. The first paragraph is meant to catch the reader’s attention and introduce yourself, the letter body expands on your accomplishments and strengths, and the conclusion summarizes your value proposition and calls to action.
- Write a catchy introduction
Job-seekers often start their letters with “I’d like to apply for X job with Y company”, yet there are more effective opening sentences. For example, you can start by summarizing your areas of expertise, and mentioning a few accomplishments, or the skills that will be beneficial to the company.
Another good strategy is to talk to someone from this company on LinkedIn or in person and mention “I spoke to <person’s name> from your company recently”. Such name-dropping will attract more attention to your letter.
- Present your experience in the letter body
The main section of your cover letter should make it clear why the recruiter should choose you over others. Tell about professional qualities and attributes required for the job. Do not simply write “I can provide good customer service and learn quickly” – give specific examples from your work history. If you don’t meet 100% requirements in the job ad, write about it honestly and explain what you plan to do with it.
Employers like figures and percentages – illustrate your impact with numbers when it is possible, and also mention awards, additional training and other details essential for the job. The length of the letter body will depend on the job type, level of seniority and your experience. If there are many requirements listed, focus on the most important ones and mention them in your letter.
- Add a strong closing
In the final paragraph, thank the potential employer for their time, leave your contact details and express interest in talking more about the position. You can also add a call to action like “Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions”.
- Express interest and enthusiasm
The content of your letter is important, but what the employers value most is the tone and energy behind this letter. For example, even if you lack some skills or training but your letter sparks enthusiasm and expresses genuine interest in joining the company, they are more likely to choose you over the experienced candidates. All in all, your personality matters most, since skills can be learned but attitude is difficult to change.
- Edit and proofread
Hiring managers frown upon poor grammar and other writing mistakes. They believe that typos and errors show a lack of attention to detail or poor communication skills. Make sure your letter meets all the norms of the English language. Proofread it using a spell checker and then read sentence by sentence to ensure that each phrase sounds natural and makes sense.
- Get feedback
If you do not work in recruitment, it may be hard to evaluate the quality of your letter and know whether it can spark the employer’s interest. Once you have a written letter at hand, consider showing it to a hiring manager or other professional who works in talent acquisition. Alternatively, you can turn to a professional resume writer and ask them to evaluate your letter. These professionals will spot the strengths of your letter and recommend improvements to improve its efficiency.