How to write a cover letter

It is always a good idea to write a cover letter when applying for an open vacancy. In some cases it is simply necessary. The purpose of this letter is to tell the reader about your goals, intentions and motivation for applying for the job. This creates a desire to meet with you. The cover letter is the perfect way to enhance your resume. When a cover letter is provided by a candidate it is always read first. So imagine the advantage this brings, when you’re up against candidates who haven’t attached a cover letter to their resume.

Here is a list of tips we’ve put together at Schwarz & Vogel that will help you write the perfect cover letter

 

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter written carefully and thoughtfully will give you the jump on candidates that haven’t written one. The main purpose of the letter is to grab the employer’s attention and convince them to read your resume carefully. The fact that you took the time to write such a letter will magnify your intentions ambition. Serious candidates always write a cover letter.

If you are submitting your resume to a company you’d like to be a part of, you should not do this without providing a supporting cover letter. This is especially important if that company has no open vacancies. If you are responding to an open vacancy a company has advertised, you must ensure you go through the job description with a fine tooth comb.

How to write a cover letter

In what circumstances is it necessary to write a cover letter?

  • When this is a clear requirement from the hiring company;
  • If you are a junior professional and have little or no work experience. In the letter, you can show motivation and potential;
  • If you are sending your resume to a foreign company;
  • If you are sending your resume to a well-established company;
  • If you are applying for a senior executive position;

 

The cover letter should reflect:

  • Your motivation and desire;
  • Relevant work experience;
  • Skills and abilities that are necessary to make an impact in the position;
  • Your professional excellence and suitability as a candidate. Specifically in regards to the company’s culture;

How to Write a Cover letter: What You Need To Know

Size of Cover Letter 

There are no clear guidelines for the size of your cover letter. The optimal size for a cover letter is 3-5 short and concise paragraphs. The letter should be no longer than one page. The letter should be clear and easy to read. It should only contain information that is relevant to the vacancy you are applying for. If you’re writing to show an interest in a company, be sure to research the company culture and values. Align your skills and personal attributes to your findings.

 

Cover letter style

In most cases a cover letter should be a formal business document. It should be clear and factual containing relevant professional information. There could be situations that require deviation from this idea. If you’re applying for a job as a stand-up comedian, your cover letter should perhaps include some humorous anecdotes. Always tailor your cover letter to the role you’re applying for.

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Structure and content of the cover letter

First, you need to remember that there is no universal template for writing a cover letter. Every cover letter requires an individual approach. Therefore, its construction is a creative process.

Before writing your cover letter, read the job vacancy carefully. Present an argument as to why you are the ideal candidate for the job. Match the job requirements with your experience and focus on relevant competencies in your letter. To make your letter easy to read, your cover letter should be clearly structured.

 

To write your resume cover letter correctly, you need to cover four topics:

  • What do you want to do (or what vacancy you are applying for)
  • Brief description of your skills and experience
  • A brief description of your strengths and abilities
  • Why do you want to work in this particular company?

 

All of these four topics should occupy a maximum of half an A4 page.

The structure of the cover letter may be as follows:

  1. Say hello to the recruiter.
  2. In the first line after the greeting, immediately state the purpose of the letter.
  3. Write what vacancy you are applying for. The cover letter must be addressed, that is, specifically to the employer. For example, when responding to a lawyer’s vacancy, you should write in the letter which company you want to work for. The employer should not get the impression that you are sending the same letter to all companies that have similar positions.
  4. Explain why you are interested in this job.
  5. Very briefly talk about yourself and your experience. This is described in detail in the summary. Describe the relevant experience, and if not, describe the skills and personality traits required to be successful in this position. It is optimal to choose three strong abilities. More-is a lot, less- is weak. Do not evaluate the results of your work, but provide specific evidence and results. For example, specific numbers, if possible.
  6. Indicate other information that may interest the employer and convince them to opt for you. Explain why your experience and competencies will allow you to work successfully.
  7. Designation of interest in this particular company. To do this, you need to carefully study the company’s website, its activities, communicate with those who work or previously worked there, etc. The more exclusive your motivation for this company, the higher the chances.
  8. Proposal to read the CV. Attach your resume and a link to the Internet version in your letters. This will be more convenient for the employer.
  9. Thank you for your attention.
  10. Leave your signature and indicate the contact information by which you can be contacted.
  11. If the employer mentions the need for a portfolio in the job requirements, add a note with links to your work in the cover letter.

How to write a Cover letter template

Greeting. For example, “good afternoon!” or “Bill, good afternoon!” – Greetings by name. Do not be lazy, call the company and find out the name of the head of a department or company. In the worst case, send your CV to the HR manager.

Introduction. Write down which vacancy you are applying for and how you learned about it. Indicate the name of the company and the position for which you are applying, as they are written in the vacancy. This will show that you are writing to a specific company, and not sending bulk letters to all employers. If you are sending your cover letter and CV by e-mail, write where you learned about the job.

The main part is 1-4 paragraphs. Explain why you want to get the job from this company and what exactly attracts you to the job. If you are familiar with the activities of the company and, for example, watch it, read a blog or subscribe to a page in social networks, mention it. This is how you show your loyalty to the company or brand.

Next, tell them about your professional qualities that will be useful to the company. Match the employer’s basic requirements with your experience or knowledge. If you do not meet all the demands of the vacancy, it is better to write about it directly and add what you plan to do about it. The volume of the main body of the cover letter depends, among other things, on the volume of the vacancy. For example, if there are many requirements, try to pay attention to each of them and describe if you match them.

Conclusion. Thank the potential employer for reading your cover letter. Write that you are ready to talk personally. At the end of the letter, leave your Contact details – phone number and e-mail address where the employer can contact you.

When mailing your cover letter, be sure to include a “call to action.” You can use this technique in the final paragraph of your application. For example: Call me so that we may learn more about one another and work out an interview schedule.

Recommendations

Repeating a CV. The cover letter should not duplicate information from the CV. It is correct if it complements it. For example, if your CV contains little work experience or breaks of several months, the cover letter can explain why this happened. For example, if you lack experience, tell the reader more about your knowledge and skills, how they will help you cope with tasks in a new place.

Better to be honest with your employer. If the reason for the long break lies in family circumstances or something personal, write a few words about it. There is no need to pour out your soul, just explain briefly, why you have not worked lately. For example, if you have moved to a new city – and you have not worked in the last year due to the move.

Do not write long text about yourself. Reading long cover letters is difficult and no one wants to do it. As a rule, recruiters scan letters diagonally and look at individual parts, based on which they decide whether to work with the candidate or not. Moreover, the recruiter may not have time to read long letters from candidates.

If the letter is larger than a page, part of it will have to be deleted to end up with 3-5 slender paragraphs, you could always link your LinkedIn social media page if you want to include more information.

Divide your cover letter into small parts so that it is easy for the employer to quickly run through it. One paragraph in one thought.

Personal life. There is no place for personal information in the cover letter. For example, how many children or dogs you have, how you like to spend your weekends, or where you vacationed last summer. The text should be dedicated to what you, as a specialist, will bring to the company.

Typos and grammatical errors. The littlest of all evils, but try to avoid them nonetheless. Always check spelling and punctuation. If you are not sure of your skills, use spelling and punctuation programs or ask your family or close friends to check your letter.

Do not forget to design your cover letter. If you are writing a letter on a special job search site, it is enough to beat off paragraphs from each other with an empty line and make sure that there are no double spaces in the text. If you are formatting the letter in a separate document, use the left-alignment of the text, margins and headings.

The cover letter should be neat and pleasing to the eye. So that you would like to read it. There are a few more nuances worth paying attention to:

  • Before writing your cover letter, it’s recommended that you read about the company you want to get a job in.
  • Do not ask questions such as wages and work schedules. Things like this are worth discussing in an interview.
  • Do not write about qualities and merit that do not match the vacancy, irrelevant experience, or worse, that the job you are applying for is considered an alternate airfield.
  • Do not imitate your cover letter. It is not uncommon for applicants to put periods, exclamation marks, or simply write “Good afternoon” in the cover letter field.
  • Be honest!
  • Demonstrate knowledge of business courtesy. Business style does not allow familiarity.
  • Do not press on pity. Make sure your cover letter is positive and persuasive.
  • You should not write about your aspiration in your career. This can scare off the employer, because now they need to appoint some person to a specific position, and not replenish the talent of top managers with your candidacy.

How to send a cover letter correctly

Almost no one writes a paper cover letter. An exception is if the employer directly asks to bring a printed letter to the interview.

Electronic. If you are sending your cover letter by email, include it in the body of the message and attach your CV as an attachment. You can also send your CV and cover letter as an attachment. This is appropriate if you are applying for a creative position and have done some design for them. In this case, in the body of the letter, include a small message that motivates the employer to open attachments.

In conclusion, while about half of employers do not read cover letters, it is still worth writing them. A cover letter is a chance to differentiate yourself from other candidates.