Whether you are looking for a career shift or just starting your career, finding the right job can be a tedious process. And it doesn’t stop with finding the job either; the application process is almost equally daunting.
Writing a professional cover letter is the first part of this process and, for many, the most challenging part too. So, if you are someone wondering how to write a cover letter, this article is for you.
A cover letter is a professional document about you that the recruiter reads before your resume. It is generally only one page long, includes 3–4 small paragraphs of about 100 words each, and is addressed to a particular person, like the hiring manager.
You can think of a cover letter as a letter of introduction that accompanies your resume. It is a more personal and detailed document that explains why you are interested in the position and how your skills and experience make you suited for the role.
Conventionally, it includes information about how you found the job opening and how you can contribute to the projects of the organization. While a resume is mostly about your professional past, a cover letter is supposed to throw light on your future ambitions and prospects.
A well-framed cover letter can set the tone for your resume and make it more effective. It gives you an opportunity to explain your qualifications and experience in greater depth and to highlight specific achievements or projects that are particularly relevant to the job.
It also allows you to show your enthusiasm for the position and the company and to demonstrate your communication skills and professionalism. A good cover letter significantly increases your chances of getting a job without experience in a role where prior experience is preferred.
It is recommended to stick to the convention and use a commonly used format for your cover letter. A well-structured cover letter conveys professionalism and seriousness about the job. A cover letter should typically include the following parts, and it is crucial to pay individual attention to each one of them.
Here is a sample cover letter for your reference. The applicant is Mark Twain and the recipient is John Green who is the hiring manager at The Media Cart
Writing a cover letter may seem pretty straightforward at first glance, but once you get down to it, you will find out that writing one that impresses the recruiter is not that simple. Be as original as you want while writing your cover letter, but keep these points in mind while editing.
1. Researching the Company: You can’t just recycle an old cover letter for your current job application. It needs to be specifically tailored to the job you are applying for. And for this, the first step is to research the company.
Spending some time reading up on the organization before writing the cover letter is always a good idea. Go through their website, LinkedIn page, and even social media handles. The social media handles of the organization can be particularly useful to find out about the current projects of the company.
It would also give you an idea of the culture of the organization, and you can use it to tailor your cover letter more specifically for them.
If you can, reach out to the hiring manager or other employees on LinkedIn for insights about the organization that would make your cover letter stand out from other applicants.
2. Be mindful of your tone: In contrast with a resume that is written in the third person, a cover letter is written in the first person and allows the employer to gauge your personality. So, while being professional, you should also try to give it a personal touch.
Have an optimistic tone throughout, conveying that you are confident about getting the job without sounding cocky. And if you are praising the organization, take care that it doesn’t come off as blatant flattery. Ideally, your tone should be of someone who has chosen the job rather than someone who desperately needs it.
3. Watch the word count: Although descriptive, a cover letter is not supposed to be more than 400 words long unless you have something really important to include, like your relevant achievements. So, it should be readable at a glance and preferably no more than a page long.
Human resource professionals receive a large number of applications for any given job opening, and they have limited time to review each application. A short cover letter is more likely to be read in its entirety, as opposed to a lengthy letter that may be skimmed or even ignored.
4. Keep it company-oriented: While explaining why you would be an ideal fit for the position, try to focus more on the needs of the company than what you can offer. The primary function of a cover letter is to demonstrate your interest in the organization, and understandably, a hiring manager would be more inclined to select a candidate who is interested in the organization rather than just being interested in the job.
Make sure to highlight how your strengths and personal assets would be relevant to the organizational objectives and leave out any skills or experience irrelevant to the position you are applying for. You can also use the cover letter to account for the gaps in your resume.
One of the most crucial pieces of advice for writing a cover letter is to carefully review the job description and follow its instructions. For instance, if the job posting specifies that the letter should be in PDF format, avoid sending a Word document.
Similarly, if it requires the letter as an email attachment, make sure to send it that way. Neglecting to comply with all the directions in a job advertisement could result in your disqualification from consideration for the position.
A cover letter is a great tool to create a positive first impression on the recruiter, but if written recklessly, it could cost you a job you could easily get on the basis of your resume.
So, here is a quick list of things to be avoided when writing a cover letter
Any one of these mistakes can make an otherwise perfect cover letter ineffective or even backfire. So make sure to steer away from them while writing your cover letter.
By following the tips outlined in this blog, like researching the company thoroughly, tailoring your letter to the specific job, using clear and concise language, and highlighting your relevant experience, you can write a compelling cover letter that sets you apart from other candidates.
With a little effort and attention to detail, you can make a great first impression on potential employers and take the first step toward securing your dream job.
And when you get through to the interview round, remember not to contradict anything you have written in your cover letter. I hope you found this article helpful and best of luck!
Q: Is a cv a cover letter?
Ans: No, a CV (curriculum vitae) is not the same as a cover letter. A CV is a comprehensive document that outlines your work history, education, skills, and achievements whereas a cover letter is more focused and specific to the job you are applying for than a CV.
Q: How long should a cover letter be?
Ans: A cover letter should be concise and to the point, ideally no longer than one page. While there is no hard and fast rule for the exact length of a cover letter, keeping it to one page or less helps ensure that it is focused and easy for the employer to read.
Q: Do you need a cover letter for a resume?
Ans: No, you don’t, unless explicitly requested in the job posting. However, if you send out a cover letter along with your resume of your own accord, it can be a plus point by conveying professionalism to the hiring manager.
Q: Can a cover letter be two pages?
Ans: It is generally recommended to keep a cover letter one page or less. However, there may be some rare cases where a two-page cover letter is appropriate, such as for a high-level executive position or academic job application. But even then, you need to make sure that the additional content is relevant and adds value to your application.
Q: How many paragraphs should a cover letter have?
Ans: Generally, three to four concise paragraphs are more than enough for a cover letter. However, if you think adding more paragraphs would add value to your letter, there is no hard and fast rule against it. Just remember not to go against the convention unnecessarily.