It is an easy mistake.
You see a job advert and you know you are qualified. In excitement, the next thing you do is send your cover letter and CV to the hiring manager.
No, don’t ever do that.
First impressions matter a lot but when you send your application without paying considerable attention to the cover letter, then you are missing a good chance to create a good first impression.
The good news though is that writing an effective cover letter that gets the attention of the hiring manager is not rocket science.and can be learnt.
That is exactly the focus of this article. Help you understand what a cover letter is and how you can write a good cover letter anytime you are applying for a job vacancy.
So what is a cover letter?
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter for a job is a letter of introduction that introduces you to the potential employer stating why you are the perfect candidates for the job roles advertised.
Now that we have gotten the definition of what a cover letter is, let us look at why a cover letter is important and how you can write one.
Before we progress, let me tell you Mary’s story.
I met Mary about 8 months ago and immediately I saw her, I knew something was wrong. Over coffee, she explained how she was frustrated with her job search. She has sent her CV to different recruiters and she has not heard back from them. So she was worried about what she might be doing wrong.
Of course, it did not take a seer to know precisely where the issues are. If you keep sending your CV to recruiters and you are not getting an invite for interview, it simply can be one of two things.
Either you are sending to the wrong person or your CV is not catching their attention.
But before a recruiter reads your CV, there is an introductory letter that accompanies a CV. That introduction letter is what is known as a cover letter and it is your perfect opportunity to get your foot in.
Do Cover Letter Still Matters to Recruiters?
When sending a resume, writing a good cover letter is important. This is because apart from the fact that some job advert specifically requires you to send a cover letter, recruiters like Suzanne still believes cover letter are important. According to her cover letters are your one chance to explain who you are, not just what you’ve done. While it’s true that some recruiters and hiring managers don’t look at cover letters, many do. And among those that do, a strong cover letter can make the difference between getting an interview and being ignored.
What Are the Basic Features of an Effective Cover Letter?
An effective cover letter should contain the following features:
- It should be specific to the job role advertised.
- It should not be more than 1 page. In fact the shorter the better
- It should accompany your CV
What are The Basic Essentials of a Great Cover Letter?
If you want to send a great cover letter that gets your foot in the door, you need to understand what makes up a good cover letter.
A cover letter that catches the attention of a recruiter should contain the following main ingredients.
- Salutation – Who are you writing to? I want to be sure I am the right person to read it. Therefore you should not use the phrase “To Whom It May Concern”. In cases where you do not know the name of the recruiter, use the salutation “Dear Sir/Ma”
- Opening – What is the letter all about? This is where you tell me what role you are applying for and where you found the advertisement so I know precisely if we are talking about the same job role
- Hook – Okay, now why should I care about you? What is so special about you that will make me read your CV. In short, why should I believe you are right person for this job role?
- Skills – What makes you qualify for my job role?
- Conclusion – The way you close your letter is as important as the way you start it. End with a closing salutation like “Yours Faithfully” or “Yours Sincerely”
8 Sure Steps to Writing A Cover Letter
Now that we know what the basic essentials of a good cover letter are, it is time to settle down and know how exactly to write one. If you are in haste, you might just want to skip to the next segment and just use the free template included in this article.
Step 1: Take a look at the Job Role. What specific skills are required?
Step 2: Write your address and the address of the firm you are interested in.Write your first paragraph- The first paragraph should be your introduction. How did you hear about the role? What role are you applying for? All these information goes into the first paragraph
Step 3: Open with a salutation. If you know the name of the hiring manager, then use it. Avoid using “To Whom It May Concern In Your Salutation”
Step 4: Write your first paragraph- The first paragraph should be your introduction. How did you hear about the role? What role are you applying for? All these information goes into the first paragraph
Step 5: Write the second paragraph- Here is where you sell yourself. What makes you qualify for the role? Is it your experience or the skill you have. The skills you mention here must match the skills specified in the role advertised.
Step 6: Write the third paragraph that shows how excited you are about the job role and how you can be contacted should they need to talk to you further
Step 7: Thank them
Step 8: Sign off professionally. Use your faithfully or Yours Sincerely when signing off and make sure you include your name.
Here are some free samples of cover letter you can use based on the steps highlighted above.
Free Sample of A Cover Letter
Here is a free sample of a cover letter you can use when sending your resume. Remember you should never send a resume without attaching a cover letter to it.
A Sample Cover Letter for Internship Position
Writing a letter for a job when you have some experience is usually easy but how about when you have to write a cover letter for an internship position or when you absolutely have no job experience in that industry. Here is a sample cover letter you can use to apply for an internship position.
11 Tips to Writing a Good Cover Letter
Now that you have seen a sample cover letter, what are the basic tips to writing a cover letter that gets a recruiter’s attentions?
- Be brief- Your cover letter should never be more than a page therefore, you should not rewrite your CV
- It is job specific- Make sure you have the role description handy while writing your cover letter. Now highlight the skills you have that are required for the role advertised
- Spell check- Write your letter but do not hit the send button yet. Give yourself a break of 30minutes and then come back again to proof-read.
- Avoid the use of adjectives.
- Highlight your achievements.
- Make sure your contact information is correct
- Use appropriate subject line. Do not use the word “To Whom It May Concern”
- Be ultra specific- Break your cover letter into 4 paragraphs- Your introduction, why you are applying, why you are the best candidate for the job and your closing
- Include the recruiter’s name in the salutation
- Always sign off with your own name
- Be professional- This is why it is important to use a template like the one we provided above.
That is all to know about what a cover letter is and how to write one. Next time you see a job vacancy, take a minute to read the job description and the skills requirement for the role. Then write your cover letter using the tips in this guide.