Writing a simple cover letter
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The CV is written. A dream job is found. Only one small, but sometimes impossible task remains – to write a simple cover letter. Alison Doyle, an employment specialist in the United States and the founder of the CareerToolBelt.com job search assistant, shared information about what should be written and what to avoid in cover letters, in the article “How to Write a Successful Cover Letter”. Let’s look at what she advises.
What is cover letter?
Before you write a letter cover for your CV, you need to understand why you have to write it. A letter is a paper submitted with a CV that offers extra details about your experience and skills in the profession.
It gives info about why you are approaching the advertised vacancy. Instead of verbatim duplicating your resume, please tell why you meet all the requirements of the employer. Consider the letter to be your marketing presentation, which helps sell you as an expert and receive an invitation for an interview. It is crucial that the letter makes the best impression of you.
Usually, a letter is submitted together with every CV. Employers use such letters to select candidates for available vacancies and decide with whom of the entrants to conduct an interview. If the employer needs a letter, this will be specified in the announcement. Even if the firm does not have such a condition, you still have to attach a letter to the CV. This way, you can show your high motivation.
Kinds of letters for the CV
There are three main types of letters. Choose the one that matches your situation.
- A letter-response to an open vacancy (published by the employer on their website or some other work resource)
- A request letter about possible vacancies available in the firm
- A letter requesting info and help in getting a job
What to state in the letter for the CV
The letter should complement your resume, rather than duplicate it. The task of the letter is to give explanation the factual information from the resume and make the response more individual. Knowing the differences between the CV and the letter will help you select the correct approach to its compilation.
A cover letter is often the very first written contact with a potential boss and produces a decisive impression of you. The slightest mistake, for example, a typo, can instantly send your application to the waste bin. On the other hand, even if your letter is literate, the hiring specialist won’t be interested in it, if it is too generalized (does not fit the company’s vacancy or any features of an open vacancy).
A professional letter gives explanation why you’re interested in a certain company, and also communicates your experience and skills necessary for this post. Carefully read the description of the job and evaluate how your skills correspond to professional requirements.
Remember the cases when you applied these skills in practice and think about how your fitting in this post can be beneficial for the firm. Before you begin, review the list of required elements of the cover letter.
What you should not mention in the cover letter
There are several things that are best not to mention in the letter. It has to report on your professional qualities, so there’s no need to share personal info in it and talk about your family. If you don’t meet all the requirements of the boss, do not point at it. Instead, focus on those necessary skills that you possess. Do not discuss wages unless the company itself asks about your wishes to the salary. If you have questions about the position, salary, timetable or social package, it is inappropriate to ask them in the cover letter.
It is very significant not to write too much. Your letter should be concise, specific, and consist of several paragraphs. The info should be just enough to interest the hiring specialist and get an invitation for an interview.
Letters that are too long are usually not read.
Personalize the cover letter
It is very important that your cover letter be adapted to the specific job you are responding to. This means not just changing the name of the company in the body of the letter.
- The vacancy, for which you’re applying (specify the title of the vacancy in the first paragraph).
- How did you find out about the vacancy (and the link to the source, if any)?
- Why do you fit this position (be specific)?
- What can you offer the employer, and why do you want to work exactly in this company?
- Appreciation for considering your response to the vacancy.
Guide to writing a cover letter
The contents of the cover letter must be both unique and appropriate for the vacancy. The format is simple – you must adhere to a certain list of mandatory components, which is suitable for responding to a variety of vacancies and job requests.
The cover letter should begin with your contact information and contacts of the potential employer (name, address, telephone number, e-mail address). Next is the date. If this is not an ordinary letter, but an electronic one, at the end, after the signature, indicate your contact information.
- Name and surname
- Home address (city, state, zip code)
- Phone number
- E-mail address
- Company name
Start your cover letter with a greeting such as “Dr./Mr./Ms. Last Name”. If you are not sure whether you’re writing to a man or a woman, just specify the full name. If you do not know the name of the contact person, write “Dear Hiring Manager”. This sounds much better than the generalized and formal “To Whom It May Concern”.
Study the information on how to choose a greeting for the cover letter, so that it is as close to the vacancy and the company where you send the response as possible.
Start the introduction with the job title you are applying for. Tell where you learned about the vacancy, especially if you heard the news from someone who is related to the hiring company. Briefly describe your skills and experience that meet the requirements of the organization and/or position. This way, the employer will get an idea of the basic information in the letter. The task of the introductory part is to draw the attention of the reader. First, look at successful examples of introduction.
In one or two paragraphs, explain why you are interested in a job and why you are perfectly suited for this position. Mention the special skills indicated in the vacancy announcement and tell how much you possess them. Instead of retelling your resume, give specific examples demonstrating your professionalism.
Remember that actions speak louder than words, so do not just tell the reader how you, for example, are a great team player with advanced communication skills and close attention to detail. Instead, use vivid examples from your work experience that show these features in action.
In the final part of the letter, once again list your professional skills that make you a suitable candidate for the position. If you still have some place left (remember that, like your resume, the cover letter should not take up more pages than necessary) you can tell why you want to work in this particular company.
Note that you would be happy to take an interview or discuss job opportunities. Specify the time when you will contact the contact person again. Thank the employer for his/her time and attention.
Politely complete the letter, then sign and type your full name below. If this e-mail, then after a polite end just type your name and contact information.
Your cover letter should look like a professional business letter. Use the same font as in the summary. The font should be simple and readable. Excellent base options are Arial, Calibri, Georgia, Verdana, and Times New Roman. 10th or 12th font size is well read. Standard indentation from the top, bottom, left, and right is 1 inch.
Separate the headings, greetings, each paragraph, conclusion, and your signature with spaces. You can reduce the font size and indentation so that all text fits on one page but be sure to leave enough blank space on the sheet for readability.
Follow these design guidelines to ensure that your cover letters conform to professional standards that employers expect from candidates.
Editing and proofreading of a cover letter
Do not forget to edit and check your cover letter before sending. This may sound silly, but you should carefully indicate the names of the employer and the name of the company. It’s very easy to make mistakes when you send several cover letters simultaneously. Print the text and read it aloud – this way, you can easily find small typos, missed words or strange grammatical constructions.
Always double-check the spelling of the name of the contact person, as well as the name of the company. If possible, ask a friend or family member to help you check the text because two pairs of eyes are better than one. Even professional proofreaders do not always notice their own mistakes.
What exactly can a good cover letter do?
First, it will male the person who reads the letter pay attention to your CV. Give as much attention and effort to writing this letter as you have devoted to creating your CV. Many resort to the services of special firms that assist them make such documents. Sometimes the look, style, and message of the CV do not fit what is stated in the cover letter that was hastily written. It is very crucial to think over the content of your cover letter so that it matches the description of the job and the requirements that are set by the firm.
You must answer the pressing questions such as “Why are you good for this position?” Why do your qualifications match this post?” “What a good cover letter should include?”
- Which post do you apply for and how did you find out about the position?
- What achievements, skills, education or relevant experience make you the right candidate for this post?
- What do you know about the firm (culture of the firm, management style, history of the company, etc.)?
- How can you be contacted?
The cover letter should be simple, and your message should be expressive and concise. Speak to the point.
You must always understand what kind of qualities and characteristics you have (education, work experience, professional and personal skills) to be a perfect candidate for the stated position.
The reality is that 90% of HR representatives don’t read the cover letters themselves, but 53% confirm that they prefer candidates who have such letters. Thus, when responding to the job, it’s highly desirable to create a letter, although most likely nobody will read it.
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