what is a cover letter

A cover letter is a brief, informal letter that introduces or expresses interest in a job opening. It generally appears at the top of the resume and is often used by candidates applying for an advertised position.

In order to write an effective cover letter, you have to put yourself in the mindset of hiring a manager for a moment. Think about who this person is: they are busy, they’re quite possibly overworked and stretched thin so they want to find candidates as quickly as possible. This means they’re looking for short and to-the-point cover letters.

Think of a cover letter like the packaging on a product: it’s there to present the information in a neat and orderly way so that hiring managers can quickly find the information they want, use it, and then get back to their jobs.

A good cover letter is always short, always professional, and leaves absolutely no doubt as to why you are applying for the position. so start the cover letter now!!

A good cover letter is also well-timed. It should be written when you have a clear understanding of what the job is all about, or when you have a general sense of who the hiring manager is and why they matter to you. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but by following this advice, you will find it much easier to put your best foot forward.

What is the purpose of a cover letter?

A cover letter is a document that includes information designed to entice an employer to read your resume. It should explain why you are a good fit for the company and how you can benefit the employer. It should also briefly summarize your skills and include any information that would not fit well on your resume.

The average length of a cover letter is 1 page. In order to stand out from other candidates, however, it’s important to make it unique and personal. If you have a lot of experience with a certain type of work, you may need to include that in your resume instead of extending it into the cover letter.

How do I write a cover letter?

There are many different ways to write a cover letter. It can be as simple as a sentence or two, or it can be as long as two pages. It should be tailored to the job you are applying for and include information specific to that job (like what qualifications you bring to the company) if possible. You should also address the person who is going to read your resume by name and try to get the name of that person from the company’s website. If you don’t know someone’s name, address the letter to the department. Cover letters should be well written and error-free.

Some cover letter templates can be helpful to see how information should be presented in a cover letter, but make sure they are free of errors and include information that is appropriate for your specific situation. Make sure to personalize!

Tips to write an effective cover letter:

Here are the following best writing tips to create an effective cover letter that lands you a dream job interview.

Keep it short and sweet:

The more information you put in a cover letter, the less likely it is to be effective. At the same time, you need to be able to succinctly communicate why you are a great fit for this job. You might think that writing a 30-page cover letter should have your resume do all of the communicating for you, but that is rarely the case.

Personalize:

More than anything else, hiring managers want to know if they are reading someone’s words or an advertisement. Personalization is always a good idea. For example, personalize the cover letter by including your name and contact information at the very end of your letter.

Don’t make this about you:

Effective cover letters are about the employer and why you are qualified for the position. Tell them why you are qualified for the job, rather than why you should be in charge of it (see more tips on resumes).

Be concise:

Cover letters should be brief. Don’t go into details unless requested.

Make sure it’s clean and presentable:

We are a professional services industry – we live and die by our image. Make sure your cover letter is free of errors, and that it looks professional to boot.

Mention the company:

If you know anything about the company you are applying to, mention it. Even if the only things you know are their name and where they’re located, mention it in your cover letter. Since many companies have multiple branches in multiple locations sometimes this simple information will help distinguish you from the crowd.

Mention the position and why you want it:

Make it clear why you are applying for this particular position and how it will benefit the company as well as yourself. You can also mention any previous experience you have that is relevant to the job opening; for example, past positions, extracurricular activities, etc.

Don’t use a generic cover letter:

Generic cover letters (ones that you just change the name, the company name, and maybe the job title) are often horrible and ineffective. It stands to reason that if you submit one of these to a company they will think that your resume is just as generic and thus unsuitable for them.

Don’t be afraid to ask for an interview:

Similarly, always end your cover letter by asking for an interview. It’s a powerful way to close the letter. If it doesn’t end with a “call me at …”, then you should assume that they won’t.

Come prepared for the interview:

You will impress your interviewer more if you come prepared rather than if you don’t. Come prepared to discuss something about the company and the position that you are applying for.

Conclude with “Thank you”:

The thank-you is very important. It is how you leave a professional impression of yourself with your potential employer. It’s an indication to them that you are formal and care about etiquette. While this sounds antiquated and formal, it is actually very effective.

If you are looking for a job in the Professional Services industry then you need to make sure that your cover letter is the best that it can be.

What to include in cover letter:

In your cover letter, you should include information that will help the hiring manager to better understand how your background and experience qualify you for the job. You also want to present these details in a straightforward and succinct manner so that hiring managers can quickly find what they’re looking for and then get back to their jobs.

To accomplish these things, a cover letter should include the following points:

  • Who you are
  • How you found out about the company or job opening (if via a recruiter, list this as well).
  • How you match the job description.
  • Why you are qualified for the job.
  • Your specific qualifications.

Any knowledge that you have of the company, its products, or industry. It is possible to be general in your qualifications without being imprecise and can include your experience, education levels, and professional achievements.

What NOT to include in cover letter:

Never tell a hiring manager about how they are going to benefit from hiring you. You can tell them how you can help their company, but never state that they’ll benefit from hiring you. Unless you know exactly what the hiring manager is looking for, it’s not a good idea to mention your salary requirements or salary history.

  • Don’t ask for a job offer. This should only be done in the interview (see more on this below).
  • Don’t use humor. This might not seem like the obvious issue with a cover letter, but humor can be misinterpreted and will often reflect negatively on you.
  • Don’t include personal information. While most companies don’t ask for it, some do and this information could then be accessed by a different department than your potential hiring manager’s.
  • Don’t use slang or informal wording. This also seems like an unexpected issue, but slang is not professional and off putting to many hiring managers.
  • Don’t include photos or graphics.
  • Don’t mention the location of the job in your cover letter. This brings up questions from hiring managers about whether or not you’re serious about the position. Consider the experience you’ve had as an industry-member or professional and how that would relate to a location (if it’s at all possible). If you can’t pinpoint where you would be comfortable working, then don’t mention it to anyone until after you’ve been offered the job.

Cover Letter Example Templates:

Key Takeaways:

  • A cover letter is a written document that accompanies your resume when you are applying for a job.
  • The cover letter is an introduction to yourself and your work, and helps the employer to determine if you seem like a good fit for the job.
  • A cover letter should be tailored to each job and employer that you are applying to.
  • The cover letter should be short and to the point. Do not include irrelevant information.
  • Your resume should go first, and your cover letter should go on top of the resume.
  • When you are writing a job application letter, the first line is the most important part. It should contain an attention grabbing statement such as “I am applying for the position of…..”
  • The letter should be written in an easy to read format, such as font size 14 or larger.
  • When you are writing a resume, the most important items on the document are the name and contact information (e.g. address, phone number). These elements should be easily readable, so that a recruiter or employer can quickly identify your credentials and contact you if they need additional information from you.
  • Most cover letters do not go into much detail about your previous work experiences.

Recommended Reading:

Published by Sarah Samson

Sarah Samson is a professional career advisor and resume expert. She specializes in helping recent college graduates and mid-career professionals improve their resumes and format them for the modern job market. In addition, she has also been a contributor to several online publications.