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There are two most challenging aspects when you sit down to write a cover letter.
One, you have to polish up your writing skills and be a convincing storyteller even if it doesn’t come naturally to you. Two, you have to self-promote during your application, and that task can easily feel uncomfortable.
However, the experience of writing about you shouldn’t necessarily be painful to bear!
That’s why we’ve written this article to help you!
And to that end, we’ve included an easy-to-follow example to guide your writing. Download Austin Belcak’s cover letter example here on Google Drive. (To save the document, make a copy of it to make it editable.)
Writing a cover letter is an excellent opportunity to learn about what makes you stand out among other professionals.
So, what is a cover letter and why does it matter?
The cover letter is a one-page document to introduce yourself in a memorable, personal way during a job application process.
A well-written cover letter goes over information on your resume and expands this information for the reader, taking them on a guided journey of some of your greatest career and life achievements. Its purpose is to elaborate on the information contained in your resume while infusing your personality.
And unlike a resume, a cover letter lets you introduce yourself to the hiring manager, provide context for your achievements and qualifications, and explain your motivation for joining the company.
The question stands: how do you pique the interest of your future employer and hiring manager by showing your authentic self?
What structure can I use to put together my letter?
You don’t need to be overly creative with the document, or even have writing skills that challenge Maya Angelous’.
Instead, you can follow a tried-and-true format:
- In the header, include your contact information. Include links in the details so that it’s easier to get in touch with you.
- Greet the recruiter/hiring manager and be personal in your tone.
- In the opening paragraph, grab the reader’s attention by sharing your proudest achievements.
- In the second paragraph, discuss why you’re the perfect person for the job.
- In the third paragraph, discuss why you’re a good match for the company. This means you need to research the culture of the business and identify ways you can connect it with your personal/professional values.
- Close off with a formal and courteous tone.
Before we get to the elements that make up the cover letter, let’s highlight the most prevalent mistakes to avoid:
The five most common mistakes to avoid in your letter
1. Using more than one page
2. Grammatical errors and typos
3. Not addressing your cover letter to an actual person
4. Repeating the same information found on your CV document
5. Hiding your personality in favour of sounding “professional” (hint: don’t sound like a robot)
Now, here are ways to structure your letter:
Address the hiring manager by their name
An advantage when you submit a cover letter is the opportunity to further create a strong, more personal, connection with your recipient.
To achieve this, make sure to speak directly to a person, instead of writing “To Whom it May Concern”.
That might give off the impression that you didn’t do your research to learn about the person who’ll be processing your application.
Discuss reasons you want to work in the company and why you’re qualified for the job
In this case, it’s important to bring attention to your unique selling points (USP).
Be positive about what you have to offer and define how your skills and professional experience meet the requirements in the job description. Demonstrate why you’re the perfect candidate!
Although, self-promotion can be a tricky task. But when you approach it through the lens of highlighting why you are the perfect fit for the company you’re applying in, it becomes a little bit easier to pull off.
Connect your work experience to the company’s business needs
You need to rewrite the cover letter every time you apply for different vacancies.
Submitting generic letters for all your applications can lead recruiters to identify your lack of sincere effort in the application process.
How to sign off the letter
Finally, here are the elements of a good cover letter closing.
Summarise your strengths:
When you showcase your talents, don’t use phrases that recruiters have read many times before. Throw in unique phrases to succinctly make your case close.
A cover letter closing such as, “I look forward to hearing from you,” will not move a recruiter to dial your number. Rather, you might write, “I look forward to speaking with you about how I can put my skills to work for [Name of Business].”
Always express gratitude for other people’s time:
Thank the recruiter for considering your application. Avoid over-used phrases such as, “Yours,” “Cheers” or “Take care.” Don’t be afraid to infuse your personality into the words that you send out.
Be sure to keep your cover letter to one page and indicate any email attachments, as well as enclosures or documents the hiring manager may expect to receive related to your application.