Job seekers often treat a cover letter as an afterthought. Some don’t bother to write one at all! A cover letter is your introduction to a prospective employer, an opportunity to make a good first impression. It’s a way to show that you’d be a great hire, a means to showcase your personality and an opportunity to convince a hiring manager to call you for an interview. While your resume is informative, it’s impersonal. Your cover letter provides a glimpse of you, grabbing interest and making the reader excited to check out your resume. It’s important to include a targeted cover letter with every job application. The following are some tips regarding what to include in a cover letter.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is an introductory letter sent to a potential employer when applying for a job. The primary goal of this missive is to give the employer more information about your qualifications and explain your interest in the position, leading to an interview. A well-written cover letter provides insight into soft skills, attitudes and motivations, helping employers decide whether you are a suitable fit for their company culture and goals. A well-written cover letter can be more effective than a resume!
What is the purpose of a cover letter?
A cover letter is an extension of your resume, diving deep into your professional and personal qualifications. It shows the company why you’re the best candidate for the position. It provides an opportunity to introduce yourself in a personal way, adding an intimate touch to the facts and data in your resume. It’s meant to fill the gaps in your resume, to entice potential employers to read further and get to know you.
What should I include in a cover letter?
A cover letter is a critical part of your application for a position but it should be concise and precise, no longer than one page. Include the following elements:
- Header: Begin with a header that includes your contact information (name, email, phone number, address). You can include links to your portfolio or social media if this information applies.
- Greeting: Locate the name of the potential employer or hiring manager (in the job listing, on the company website, or by phoning the office). Include this name in the greeting, showing your enthusiasm and willingness to go the extra mile.
- Opening Paragraph: In this initial section of the letter, mention the title of the job you are applying for and explain how you learned about the position (classified ad, mailing, company website, personal referral, job board, recruiter, job fair, etc.).
- Introduction: Provide the details of who you are and why you want the position. Offer reasons why you will excel at the position. Express your excitement regarding the opportunity. Explain how you exhibit the strengths that the job posting mentions as essential.
- Qualifications: Focus on your history and qualifications. Share how you can benefit the company’s team. Provide in-depth details about the information in your resume. Explain how your experience applies to the job. Include stories, relevant projects and/or situations that provide insight into your problem-solving skills. Describe how you have contributed to the success of projects and the types of action steps you took. Convince those reading that you have exactly the skills and experience that they want/need.
- Values and goals: Let the potential employer know that you have knowledge regarding their organization, services and products, and that you understand their company mission and goals. Focus on how your goals align with theirs. Highlight the elements of their company culture that you connect to. Explain how you can benefit their future. Show that you can do the job well and fit in with the team. Present a positive attitude.
- Call to action: Summarize your interest. Thank the hiring manager for taking the time to review your application. Express interest in speaking more about the position, and a desire to schedule an interview. Include where, when and how to contact you.
- Signature: Conclude with a professional phrase (sincerely, respectfully, with thanks, thank you) and your signature.
What you shouldn’t include in your cover letter:
There are some things that don’t belong in a cover letter!
- Spelling and/or grammar errors: As a resume is an opportunity to display your attention to detail, even minor errors can affect the impression you make. Proofread carefully and/or have someone else review your resume.
- Inaccurate information: Be sure to check that you address your letter to the correct person at the correct organization. Mass-producing resumes and cover letters can result in this serious error.
- Information that isn’t true: Be honest! Accurately reflect your qualifications. Lies are grounds for rescinding offers and/or dismissal.
- Long-winded paragraphs: Hiring managers read an enormous number of letters. Too many words may result in your cover letter being skimmed or skipped. Include plenty of white space at the top and bottom. Keep paragraphs to 3 or 4 sentences each.
- Salary requirements or expectations: Unless directed to do so, keep the salary discussion for the interview. Mentioning salary in your cover letter can make it appear as though money is your primary or only motivation.
- Negative comments about past employers: Even if you’re seeking work because of problems with your present/past employer, withhold negative comments as they may indicate an attitude and/or performance problem.
- Personal information: Keep the focus on your professional reasons for applying and keep personal ones to yourself.
- Future advancement plans: Most employers are looking for someone to fill a position for a reasonable length of time. Mentioning advancement may leave the impression that you don’t intend to stay long.
- Information regarding what you want: A cover letter is about what you have to offer, not what you want to get. Use the limited length of your letter to focus on what you can provide the company.
- Qualifications you don’t have: Don’t draw attention to your limitations. Focus on your credentials and how they make you right for the job.
- Excuses for leaving past jobs: Excuses direct attention to difficulties as opposed to qualifications. Leave them out.
- A list of requirements: Save your thoughts regarding scheduling, salary, holidays, etc. for when you are offered a job and are in a position to negotiate.
- Repetition of your resume: Your cover letter should complement, not regurgitate, your resume. Provide a fuller picture of who you are. Add a personal touch. Draw in the reader by showcasing your qualifications. Promote yourself.
Your cover letter is critical! It brings character and soul to your factual resume. It makes a case for why you should be selected for an interview. Take the time and make the effort to write a cover letter for each job application. Tailor it to the company that you’re applying to and the position you’re seeking. Personalize it. Convey your unique personality and your enthusiasm for the job and you’ll likely score an interview.
Looking for a new position? Interested in some expert advice and assistance with your resume and cover letter? Call the Calgary recruiting agency, Equation Staffing Solutions at 1-844-367-9618. We are a reliable, innovative, collaborative agency here to support you in your search for a position and/or personnel. Our experience will assist you! Contact us today.