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How to write a professional cover letter

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Cover letters are not necessarily needed when applying for a job, however, some employers will always ask you to submit a cover letter alongside your CV (Curriculum Vitae). Oh, yeah, you can also read on how to write a CV.

The key to writing an effective cover letter is to succinctly communicate how your professional experience fits the needs of the role and culture of the company. Below, we’ll break down how to write a cover letter that makes a great first impression with employers.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter which is also known as an application letter. It is a three to four-paragraph memo to employers that explains your interest in the job that a company or an institution is offering as well as the reasons why you are fit for the role. It is a one-page, standalone document expressing your interests in the position that It is typically submitted along with your resume in a job application. This letter should highlights your skills, experience and achievements in relation to the position you’re applying for. Unlike your CV or resume, cover letters allow you to go into more detail about your professional career and explain why you’re a good candidate.fit for the role and company. A well-written cover letter has the potential to impress employers and set you apart from other applicants.

The format of a cover letter

A cover letter has the format of a business letter or a formal letter.

  1. Header with date and contact information
  2. Salutation or greeting
  3. Opening paragraph
  4. Middle paragraph(s)
  5. Closing paragraph
  6. Letter ending and signature

Your cover letter should be one page in length and use a simple, professional font, such as Arial or Times New Roman, 10 to 12 points in size. Your letter should be left-aligned with single line spacing with a margin of 1.0.

Steps in writing a cover letter

  1. Start with a header
  2. Include a greeting
  3. Write an opening paragraph
  4. Follow with a middle paragraph
  5. Finish with a closing paragraph
  6. End with a professional sign off

Start with a header

This section should include your contact information, date of application and recipient’s contact information. If you’d like, you can also center your name and address at the top of the page, mirroring the way it looks on your resume. For e.g.

Your name
Your city and zipcode (optional)
Your phone number
Your email address
Date

Name of recipient
Title of recipient
Company name
Company address

Including your details in your cover letter helps the manager or recruiter to follow up with you regarding the position they are seeking for.

If you’re writing your cover letter directly within an online job application, there’s no need to include your address or other contact information, as you’ve probably already typed that into other areas of the application form. If you’re including your cover letter as an attachment, you can use the same heading in your CV or resume.

Start with a greeting

Try to find the name of the person who will be reviewing applications for the job. Address your letter to this person with a common business greeting, such as “Dear” or “Hello.” If you’re unable to find the preferred gender pronouns (she/her, them/they), it is best to use a gender-neutral greeting such as “Dear [first and last name]” or “Dear (position title)”.

Dear Hiring Manager,
Dear Ms Elizabeth,
Hello Ms Elizabeth Clement,

Begin with an open paragraph

In the first paragraph of your letter, mention the job title for which you’re applying and where you saw the position posting. Explain your specific interest in the role and company so the reader knows you’ve done your research and have genuine interest. Briefly state the main experience or qualification you have that makes you a good fit for the job. The first section of your cover letter is also the first impression the reader will have of you, so it is important to appeal to that person quickly and succinctly.

For example: “I’m excited to apply for the Graphic Designer position at Cloud Clearwater I found on Jalafile. I understand you’re currently adding several new product lines, and I believe my skills in video and animation provide a significant advantage for creating a successful launch. As a longtime fan of your products, I’m thrilled at the opportunity to bring my unique style and passion for beachwear to the company.”

Also Read: How To Ace Your Next Virtual Interview

Follow with a second paragraph

Your second paragraph should be a brief overview of your background as is relevant to the position. Here, you should include key achievements, skills and specialties that make you particularly suited to perform well in the position. Focus on one or two and provide specific details about your success including measurable impacts you made.

Pay close attention to keywords listed in the job description and include those that you identify with in the body of your cover letter. You should only include information about your most recent one or two professional experiences.

Example: “As the Director of Human Resources at Wes Morgan Philips, I was a key senior leader in the organization and was responsible for improving the efficiency and performance of the company’s 540 employees. Before that, I worked in human resources, equal employment opportunity and diversity for Jenkins Technology Solutions, Inc. At Jenkins Technology Solutions Inc., I developed an employee retention plan that involved the creation of a wellness program, an internal training program and a promotions selection process, which led to a 50% reduction in the overall employee turnover rate.”

Finish with a closing paragraph

The next paragraph should focus on another key achievement or skill that is relevant to the position. Instead of repeating details from your resume, expand on specific stories or anecdotes that display your fitness for the role. Again, focus on stories that demonstrate the skills and qualifications outlined in the job description.

If you’re changing careers, this is a good opportunity to talk about transferable skills or relatable experiences from your career.

For example: “Achieving ambitious marketing goals is always a top priority, and I am always looking out for the best interests of the company. I enjoy delivering marketing presentations to potential clients and focusing on the strengths of an organization. My marketing skills at River Tech enabled the company to experience new levels of success and a 45% increase in customer engagement. I am never satisfied with the status quo, and I believe that a company should continually look for ways to improve and reach new clients through innovative campaigns.”

End with a professional signoff

You should end your cover letter with a paragraph that summarizes the reasons you are applying for the role and why you would be a great fit. Keep the cover letter conclusion brief and explain that you look forward to hearing from the employer with the next steps. End with your signature at the bottom.

Example: ”Thank you for your time and consideration. I’m looking forward to learning more details about the Sales position and about TradeLot. Growth is essential to my continued success, and I’m excited for the chance to be a part of TradeLot’s industry-leading team. My proven track record and TradeLot’s quality products are a winning combination for increasing the company’s market share.

Sincerely,

(your full name)
(signature)

Example of a cover letter

Example 1

Administrative Assistant

Job Description

In this role, you will be supporting managers and other senior-level personnel by managing their calendars, arranging travel, filing expense reports, and performing other administrative tasks.

Strong interpersonal skills, attention to detail, and problem-solving skills will be critical to success.

Qualifications:

  • 5+ years of experience providing high-level admin support to diverse teams in a fast-paced environment
  • High school diploma or equivalent work experience
  • Excellent Microsoft Office Skills with an emphasis on Outlook and Excel
  • Self-motivated and highly organized
  • Team players who work well with minimal supervision

Cover Letter

Dear Hiring Manager,

I am writing to express my interest in the opening for an administrative assistant at {name of company].

I am drawn to this opportunity for several reasons. First, I have a proven track record of success in administrative roles, most recently in my current job as an administrative coordinator. A highlight from my time here was when I proactively stepped in to coordinate a summit for our senior leaders last year. I arranged travel and accommodation for a group of 15 executives from across the company, organized meals and activities, collaborated with our internal events team, and ensured that everything ran according to schedule over the two-day summit. Due to the positive feedback I received afterward, I have been given the responsibility of doubling the number of attendees for the event this year and leading an internal team to get the job done.

I am also attracted to this role because of the growth opportunities that [name of company] provides. The research that I’ve done on your company culture has shown me that there are ample opportunities for self-motivated individuals like me. A high level of organization and attention to detail are second nature to me, and I’m eager to apply these skills in new and challenging environments.

I look forward to sharing more details of my experience and motivations with you. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

(Your full name)
(signature)

Example 2

Dear Hiring Manager,

I would like to apply for the Registered Nurse position within your company, Crane & Jenkins Medical Center. As a current student studying nursing at Coral Springs University, gaining this job experience is necessary for my growth in this field of study. I believe I would be a great addition to your team of nurses because I have experience working at hospitals and have completed all of my course requirements with higher-than-average grades.

I previously worked at River Tech Memorial where I applied my skills of proper nursing in the work environment. Furthermore, I volunteered for nearby companies, such as Red Cross, who were in need of assistance in administering treatment and answering patients’ needs.

Accomplishments I have earned include volunteer awards for hours of community service, best customer service, and awards for implementing my real-world nursing techniques at my previous job. These achievements have made me into not only a better employee but a better person as a whole. I have experienced many events that have positively influenced my attitude, work ethic, and confidence as a nurse.

Personally, I am more than excited to apply for this role as a Registered Nurse for your company. I believe that there is room for growth, communication, and improvement that will help me thrive in this environment. I would greatly appreciate your consideration of my application and hope to hear from you regarding an interview.

Sincerely,

(Your full name)
(signature)

Things to avoid when writing a cover letter

1. Avoid generic references to your abilities

Whenever possible, tell meaningful anecdotes that tie your skills to concrete problem-solving activities or tangible business results you’ve worked on in your career. Any candidate can say they possess a desirable skill. To make an impact, you need to show hiring managers examples of your skills in action. For example:

Too vague: “My skills would be a great fit for your organization.”

More specific: “In my role as a sales associate, I am frequently required to provide exceptional customer service on short notice. Exceeding customers’ expectations is a point of personal and professional pride for me, and this is a skill I’m eager to continue developing.”

Too vague: “I’m a proactive team player.”

More specific: “In my current job, I proactively jumped in to help launch an internal recycling and waste reduction initiative. Together, our team contributed to a 25% reduction in solid waste production within the company.”

2. Keep it short and to the point

Unless specified in the job description, there is no required length for a cover letter. When determining how long a cover letter should be, focus on the details that are most important for the job. Read the job description closely to identify the best opportunities to illustrate your qualifications.

What professional achievements are you the proudest of? Choose one or two and map them directly to the desired experience or qualifications the hiring manager is looking for, using just a few detailed but concise sentences. What attributes is the job description calling for in a candidate? Consider using the cover letter itself as a way of demonstrating those traits.

Don’t reiterate everything that’s on your resume. You want to focus on one or two anecdotes, expanding on how you achieved something specific.

3. Proofread before you submit

Reread your cover letter several times before submitting it and keep an eye out for errors of spelling, grammar or punctuation. Reading the letter aloud can help you pick out awkward phrasing or too-long sentences. There are certain common errors that we all tend to gloss over, so make sure to do a slow, deliberate reading that examines each word. If your salutation includes the hiring manager’s name, triple-check the spelling.

For jobs that require submitting a cover letter, remember that you’re getting a valuable chance to illustrate your capabilities and share a glimpse of your authentic personality. Take advantage of the opportunity to let your greatest strengths shine, while also showing that you respect the hiring manager’s time and attention.

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