Cover letters are a perfect way to complement your resume, show your enthusiasm for the job, and quickly convey to a hiring manager why you are a good fit so they will want to learn more about you. Your cover letter shouldn’t be a condensed version of your resume. Instead, it should offer additional information and insight while focusing on how you can meet the company’s needs. Remember – it’s not all about you.
While you are writing about yourself, the goal is not to show why you want the job. It is to show why you are the best candidate for the role to help the company achieve its goals.
Structuring Your Cover Letter
Let’s start with the basic format of your cover letter. Here are the key sections to include:
- Contact information: Include your name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn URL. Double and triple check that the information is accurate.
- Company information: Add the contact information for the company to which you are applying.
- Greeting: Try to find the name of the hiring manager or recruiter by looking at the job posting, company website, or LinkedIn. If you can’t find a specific name, consider using “Dear [Department Name] Manager” rather than the generic “Dear Sir/Madam” or the dreaded “To Whom It May Concern.” Show that you put in the effort to find the correct person or department.
- Opening Paragraph: Don’t start off with “My name is” because the hiring manager can see your name in the heading and closing. Jump right in by telling more about yourself, such as your profession (“As an elementary teacher” or “As a mechanical engineer”) and a relevant strength or two within your role. Then include the exact position title and company name for the job you are applying to. This personalization helps show that you’re not simply using the same generic cover letter with every application.
- Middle Paragraph: This is where you want to highlight how your skills and experience align with the job opening. Go beyond simply what is mentioned in your resume. Add quantifiable results, more details of how you accomplished a major project, or the impact it had on the company/client. Use the job opening as a guide to see what the hiring manager is looking for in a candidate, then target those points.
- Closing Paragraph: Be confident. Tell the hiring manager that you look forward to speaking with them about how you may be a good fit for the position.
Do You Have to Include a Cover Letter?
Unless the job positing specifically says not to include a cover letter, your best bet is to include one. Worst case scenario, it doesn’t get read. But including one even when it is optional or not mentioned shows your initiative and can help you stand out from other applicants. It is an opportunity to make a strong first impression and catch the hiring manager’s attention.
Tips for Cover Letter Writing
- Always tailor your cover letter for each job, focusing on how you can meet that company’s needs.
- Keep your cover letter to one page. It should be short and concise.
- Do your research. Review the company’s website and social media pages. Get to know what they’re all about so you can weave in how you would mesh with their company culture, mission, and values.
- Mention any current employees at the company who referred you for the role.
- Let your personality shine. Your cover letter is written in a narrative format, so it gives you more opportunity to share your voice and build a connection.
Your cover letter is part of your application package. Make it work in your favor rather than it being an afterthought. It is often the first impression that a hiring manager has of you, so make them want to read on, learn more about your experience, and bring you in for an interview.
Including a well-crafted and well-written cover letter will help you and your resume stand out from other job seekers. Contact Grammar Chic today to learn more about our resume writing and cover letter writing services.