Applying for a job is a serious undertaking. It takes a lot of time and patience. When you are looking for a job, you first have to do your research on job openings, see which ones are suitable for you, and then apply. All that work and you haven’t even been to an interview yet!
To get a call to have an interview with a company, you need to have a strong application. Even if you don’t have a lot of work experience yet, there is one major component of an application packet that can make you stand out: your cover letter.
Since a cover letter is so important, you need to know the exact steps to take to write an excellent one. Look no further because we have all the process here, plus many valuable tips!
Know Who You Are Talking To
Many times, you can do better than the generic “To Whom it May Concern”. If the job posting has a name of who you will be in contact with, then use it. If you can find the hiring department and discover the name of the hiring manager, use that name. You can also include the company as a whole, for example, “Dear APEX team”, or both. Use your best discretion, but try to get specific! Which would feel more personalized – an email addressed to ‘you’ or an email addressed to “sir or madam”?
Don’t Get Fancy with Formatting and Fonts
The next step is to leave things the way they are! Generally, the default font, size, and formatting are pretty standard on your typing software such as MS Word. Don’t mess with it. Choosing a funky font, a color other than black, or any other untypical changes won’t go over well. Anything besides the norm looks unprofessional. (Yes, cursive included!)
Craft Each Sentence Carefully and Logically
The very beginning of your cover letter should briefly introduce who you are, what position you are applying for, and how you have found the ad if applicable.
Example: My name is John Smith, and I recently saw your job ad on Indeed.com. I saw you have multiple opportunities, but I am applying for the accounting position.
The bulk of your cover letter should give relevant background information and explain why you are a good fit. The ending should be strong and have a call to action.
For example: Please don’t hesitate to contact me concerning any questions you may have about my availability or qualifications.
Each sentence should have a purpose. The readers of your cover letter do not want to know your life story.
Use Formal, Professional, and Academic Language (But Don’t Overdo It)
The working world is a professional place. You will need to act accordingly. Your first test is to word your cover letter correctly. You want to sound knowledgeable and professional, even if you are applying for a casual part-time job.
From school, you should already know the differences between formal and informal language when writing. Keep this in mind when you go to craft your cover letter. However, you don’t have to use big words so sound fancy. Remember: simple but professional.
Make Sure to Mention and Compliment the Company
Employers aren’t looking to see so much as to why you are so great but are more interested in knowing how you can help them. You can show that you are worthy of mentioning something you know about the company. If you have personal experience with them, then that is great, but otherwise, go to their website and pick something out to mention. Then, say how you fit in.
Example: ABC is an exceptional company that is really in line with my career goals because I do very well under pressure and in a fast-paced environment.
There are many ways to do the above, so keep trying until you get something that sounds just right to you.
Block Your Paragraphs
Instead of an essay-style piece, a cover letter should have block paragraphs, much like this article. This is because paragraphs that are indented and together appear very dense. Blocked paragraphs have white space and are easier to read. Ideally, you will have two short paragraphs or three as a very maximum amount.
Sign Off Well
Sincere is the go-to ending, but this might come across as being too formal. Use “best regards” or something similar instead. Include your first and last name.
Add Your Contact Information
Although your contact info will also be on your resume, make it available in your cover letter too. Do this briefly. You have two main options: in the text as a part of a sentence or after your name (down a line) at the end. The easier you make it for prospective employers to reach you, the more likely it will happen!
Check It Twice
The last step in the process of writing a custom letter is to reread it at least once more. This way, you can check for simple mistakes or awkward wording. Any spelling or grammar errors will give the idea that you do not take care or pride in your work, which is the opposite of what you want them to think!
Follow these nine steps, send it off, and wait for the call! Don’t give up! Best of luck to you in your job hunt.