How To Write A Good Cover Letter: Seven Practical Tips
A cover letter or an application letter is an integral part of a job search process. Usually, employers require applicants to send their cover letters along with the resume or CV. The primary purpose of such texts is to filter the most relevant potential hires. If your cover letter is good, the hiring manager is more likely to proceed to read your CV.
Hence, you need to write a cover letter that will stand out, and it has to be perfect. But how do you set about coming up with such a letter? Thankfully our guide is here to help. Read on to find out how to write a good cover letter.
Why do you need a template?
Typically, when you are in the middle of a job search process, you send out a lot of applications. Additionally, you will find that you need to include a cover letter for 90% of jobs listings.
It takes too long to write a new cover letter each time you are applying for a job. This is why you need to base your text on an effective template (dozens of useful templates are available to our Premium users). Here you can find the one you could use to skyrocket your chances of landing a job.
1. Don’t forget about the header
In most cases, you will be allowed to attach a cover letter as a file, and it is a good idea to structure it properly. In doing this, you can follow the rules of formal business letter writing and include the following information:
- Phone number and email;
- The name of the person you are writing to (the hiring manager) and the company name;
- Links to your professional website and social media profiles.
Try to keep it professional. For example, your email address should be more or less formal: if your primary email looks something like [email protected] get an additional one like [email protected] It is also a bad idea to send resumes using your current work email: it is just the not correct thing to do.
2. Follow the three paragraphs rule
The main goal of sending a cover letter is to attract the attention of the hiring manager and get this person to review your CV or resume.
This means a good cover letter should not be too long. Three paragraphs will be enough. The basics of writing brief texts such as these are as follows:
- In the first paragraph, you should try your best to grab the reader’s attention.
- The second paragraph is used to describe your offer.
- Polish the impression in the last paragraph.
Here is what you can include in each section of your cover letter.
3. Writing an introduction
According to stats, recruiters spend an average of just 6.25 seconds on reviewing a specific resume. This means that for the cover letter you have even less time to convince your reader. And so, the opening paragraph is crucial.
Try to avoid wordy and overly official sentences. Such texts do not make any particular sense, and lack the details that might help the hiring manager in determining whether you are a good fit for the job. Here are two examples of opening paragraphs:
I am writing to you in response to the PR Manager job posting. I have 7+ years of experience in PR and would like to apply to this position.
At first glance it is OK. However, if you put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager, you will see some problems and gaps to fill. For example, there are no details about what exactly the candidate was doing for those seven years of their career. The main point is that the applicant considers him or herself a good fit because they have done something similar before.
I am an active follower of XYZ company, and so I was excited to see your job posting for the PR Manager position. I’d like to put my knowledge and skills forward to help in reaching your public relations goals, and think I might be a good fit. While working at SuperCorp company I was responsible for nationwide PR activities working on getting the company mentioned in media outlets like Forbes, and overall reach through this channel has increased by 23% in six months.
See the difference? Here we have highlighted achievements and enthusiasm for the job. These are always good things to have.
4. Show benefits for the potential employer
Once you’ve managed to attract initial attention, you then need to develop your success stories and offer more details. This is what the second paragraph of the cover letter stands for.
In this part you should mention why you are the best solution for the company’s need, meaning that this section has to be tied to the job description.
For example, in the case of the PR manager above, the XYZ company needs:
- An experienced PR manager, who is used to working with media, journalists, pitching corporate stories and handling inquiries.
- Also, they need the candidate to be tech-savvy, as the XYZ is an AI technology startup.
Here is how you can deal with these requirements in your cover letter:
At my current company SuperCorp, I am working on organizing and handling the PR support of new releases from planning to media outreach, and media relations to reporting. For example, this year my crucial challenge was to increase media coverage in top-tier technology-related publications (TechCrunch, VentureBeat, etc.) by 20%. By the end of the first quarter, the number of mentions in the media from the list had increased more than by 30%. Referral traffic now brings about 15% of overall website traffic (compared to 5% the year before).
At the beginning of the section, the candidate outlined their duties in their current job, then mentioned that the work relates to dealing with the technology-oriented press, and finally demonstrated some numbers and results.
Important: the text is focused on benefits for the current employer (better media outreach, traffic growth, etc.).
When reading this, the hiring manager clearly understands what the XYZ company might receive if the candidate is hired.
5. Explain why you want this job
A good cover letter not only highlights an applicant’s experience and future benefits for the potential employer but also should provide an answer to the question of why the candidate wants this particular job.
Here is a perfect three-step strategy for solving this puzzle:
- Mention some company-related fact like an upcoming, current, or most exciting project or product/service.
- Explain why you are interested in it: demonstrate some knowledge.
- Mention once again how your experience will help to achieve better results with this project.
Here is an example:
I’ve read a lot about your new AI-based shopping recommendation app. I am interested in this project both from a personal (I am a passionate shopper) and professional perspective (It is always an exciting challenge to get a new project off the ground). I believe that my professional experience in media relations and a network of connections in online technology-related media will help in generating traction for the project.
6. Polish everything
Perfect, now you have a nicely written cover letter with all the significant questions of the potential employers answered. However, it is too early to hit “send.” First, make sure that the final result is quick and easy t to read. If your text exceeds 300 words, go through it again and cut down this number.
Also, an overall impression could be easily spoiled by grammar and spelling mistakes. To eliminate them, run your final cover letter for a job application through a grammar checker – for example, Linguix.com.
Bonus tip: use the postscript
The “P.S.” section of any letter is perceived as a place for important information. It is psychology: even if you are scrolling down, your eyes will catch the headline and the postscript. Marketers know this perfectly and actively use it in email marketing, for example.
You can leverage this technique to tell the hiring manager something significant that will add to the overall impression. In the case of the PR manager, you can offer to share your ideas and practical advice on solving the tasks mentioned in the job description.
P.S. If you are interested, I would be happy to share my ideas on getting into TechCrunch and Business Insider as well as attracting more leads around your new product based on my previous experience with SuperCorp.
Final thoughts: Do’s and dont’s
In conclusion, let’s outline the short rules to follow and mention the mistakes to avoid when working on a cover letter for a job application:
- Focus on the employer, and the benefits you can bring once hired. Show the hiring manager why the business needs such a good professional.
- Be brief. Follow the “three paragraph rule,” and try to keep your cover letter down to 300 words. However, there is nothing terrible about adding a valuable “P.S.”
- Customize cover letters to better fit a certain position. Refer to a job description and tailor the description of your experience to the problems the company wants to solve with a hire.
- Double check everything. Run your writing through Linguix.com and try to find someone to proofread the text.