We all know how important it is to make a good first impression, especially when it comes to applying for a job.
That’s why you should spend a lot of time and effort making your CV as good as possible, because that’s the first impression a hiring manager will have of you, right? In fact, it’s your cover letters that make the introduction.
It is important to remember that you are not advertising to the world. Instead, you’re trying to impress the specific hiring manager for each application. With that in mind, there are two basic principles to follow: make it easy to read, but make it eye-catching.
It sounds contradictory, but it basically boils down to where in your cover letter you can personalize it and where you need to keep it simple. This article will walk you through how to write effective cover letters with a focus on format, design, and content.
Cover letter format and content
The format of your cover letter establishes its structure.
When it comes to impressing the hiring manager, having a well-organized cover letter can help you stand out in their eyes as much as what you write in it. This is a testament to your attention to detail and your professionalism. It also makes them easy to read, which makes their jobs easier – and showing them that you can make their job easier will impress them greatly.
Readability is more important when it comes to your cover letter format than standing out, which is why we advise you to keep your cover letter short, simple, and to the point.
First of all, the header of your cover letter should match what you are using on your CV so that both are formatted with the same structure. The same goes for the font and paper style you use. When it comes to content, however, avoid repeating the same information on your resume verbatim.
Second, you need to make sure that your cover letter is as concise and easy to read as possible. In total, the number of words should be between 250 and 350 words and each paragraph should not exceed four sentences.
This can be tricky at times, as you’ll really need to keep your points short while still hitting all the important information. One tip to help keep it concise is to use a bulleted list – when listing previous accomplishments or relevant skills, for example, put them in a list with 3-5 bullets.
Here are the different sections you will need to complete your cover letter:
Make sure the header of your cover letter matches that of your CV. Follow the header with the date you submit your cover letter and also include the reference number or job posting title. Avoid starting your cover letter with a signature block with the company address; this is an outdated practice because we no longer physically mail cover letters to hiring managers.
Address the reader
The best method to use is to address the hiring manager by name, as you will already show your dedication and resourcefulness. However, it can be difficult to know for sure who is for the job posting in question. Here are some tips and tricks you can use to get this name:
- Check the job posting in case it gives explicit instructions to follow, such as who to apply to; it may also list the contact’s email address (for example, (email protected)).
- See if you know someone who works at the same company and ask if they know who the hiring manager is for this job posting or if they don’t mind finding out about it. you.
- Look up a list of company employees on their website or on LinkedIn and see if a hiring manager in the department you’re applying to is mentioned.
- Try calling the company or emailing them asking who your application should be directed to.
Now, assuming you’ve figured out the name to use, there are several ways you can approach them in your cover letter. Most of the time it’s best to be respectful and address them as Mr. or Mrs. However, if the name you come up with doesn’t have a clear gender and that you don’t know for sure (e.g. Alex or Terry), you’re will be best served by using their full name.
Unfortunately, there will be times when for some reason you won’t be able to find or use the name of the hiring manager. There are a number of options you can use to address your cover letter to someone you don’t know. The general consensus is that most hiring managers prefer “Dear hiring manager”, followed by “To whom it may concern” and “Dear Sir or Madam”.
The most important part of this section is the opening line, where you need to make the best impression to capture the interest of the hiring manager. We recommend that you start with an anecdote about a defining moment in your career that relates to the job you are applying for. If you can, try using an anecdote that illustrates the value you can bring to the job. and business.
During my first job as an IT manager I led the development of (Software ABC) which increased our online production efficiency by X% in 8 months. I am very interested in bringing the same knowledge and expertise to the integration of your company’s new (software information system) which, depending on your job posting, will be the focus of your job posting.
After the first line, your introductory paragraph should mention the specific job you are applying for and how you heard about the opening. Have you heard of it from a friend, family member, or network member, or found it on a job board or an ad?
If you’ve heard of it from someone in your network who also works for the same company, it’s absolutely something you should be playing. End the paragraph by explaining why you are interested in the position and the company, unless you have already managed to do so in your opening story.
I have been an avid user of your software ever since I tried to teach myself to program as a teenager, so I was delighted to see on Indeed.com that you have an opening in as a software developer.
I know Jane Smith, a financial analyst on your staff, and she urged me to contact you. She told me about the exciting new project you are developing and I would love to have the opportunity to help you achieve and surpass your goals.
The second paragraph
Doing some research on the job posting and the company will serve you well for this section, so take advantage of anyone in your network – or even with the company itself – even – to give you vital inside information.
Here you can give a more direct list of your skills and accomplishments, preferably in bullet form to maintain readability. What you include on this list should be what you think is most likely to make you attractive to the hiring manager. You can draw a bit of your resume here, but again, make sure you borrow and present, not an outright copy.
In the last paragraph, you need to emphasize a few key points and then establish your initiative. To start this paragraph, list the skills you have that best qualify you for the job and set up your “call to action”. This is where you build your confidence and initiative, and how you do it depends on your confidence level.
The safest option is to let them know what methods they can use to contact you that you prefer, for example via LinkedIn, email, or phone.
If you are feeling more confident, you can say that you will make a follow-up phone call or email to set up a job interview at some point – as long as the job offers. job does not tell you explicitly. to contact them directly in this way. If you decide to be more assertive, be sure to call them within the time frame you gave.
My experience and expertise in IT and information systems, especially business intelligence and data warehouse systems, align well with this job opportunity . I look forward to you contacting me directly to arrange an interview by phone or email, whichever works best for you.
My skills as a medical technologist with specialized diagnostic procedures and sample analysis should be well suited to your business role (job name mentioned in job posting). I will follow up with you over the phone over the next two weeks to set up an interview.
Finally, we come to the last line, where you should be looking to end as firmly as you started.
While the overall goal of your closing statement is to reaffirm your interest in the job and the company, it should be as open, personable, and sincere as you can get. Here with your opening statement you can really add a personal touch that can help you stand out in the eyes of the hiring manager.
I love working as a pharmacy technician, and after researching your company and the job posting, I became very excited about the opportunity to work for you .
I have heard nothing but great things about your company and its culture, and would be honored to join your company as a chemical engineer.
Cover letter design
The layout and design of your cover letter involves elements such as font, spacing, and paper. The absolute principle involved with good cover letter designs is readability, so every decision you make should be with that in mind.
You don’t want the hiring manager looking at your cover letter to be annoyed because the font is too small or the paper is too shiny. If something makes the cover letter even slightly difficult to read, you’ve probably lost interest. Here are the different design areas you will need to consider:
The types of fonts can be divided into two categories: serif and sans serif. Serif fonts like Times New Roman are easier to read on a printed page, while sans-serif fonts like Arial are easier to read on screens.
However, keep in mind that a hiring manager can print yours before reading it, so the safest option in general is a serif font. For size, stay within the 10 to 12 point range. Don’t even try to play with the colors – stick to black. Whatever style you choose for your cover letter, be sure to use it on your resume for consistency.
When it comes to the font style, beware of adding bold, underline, or italics for added weight. You may be able to get away with using them once or twice, and no more than three words in a row, to draw attention to something you want to emphasize. Anything more than that looks messy and unprofessional.
For spacing, each section should be single spaced with double space between the separated sections. Depending on how much actual text you have on your cover letter, you may be able to get by with more than double-spaced between sections. Again, this is about balancing the white space on the page with the text so that it is easier to read.
Much like selecting your font, you might be tempted to use a more decorative and elegant paper to make you stand out.
However, remember the readability issue – some papers may not hold ink as well as the simpler types, especially paper with a very glossy or coarse texture. For colored paper, stick with white or off-white, as you will just be playing with fire if you use something else.
The final touch
All that remains is to reread, reread, reread.
Try to focus on one thing each time you read the whole thing: check your spelling first; second, check the punctuation; third, check the layout and white space; finally, check grammar and syntax by reading it aloud.
If you find yourself tripping over any part of it, chances are you will need to edit it until it reads properly.
This may all sound like a lot of work, but it will do wonders for your chances of making it to the interview phase of the application process. The more cover letters you write, the more you will be able to adjust the process to suit your style and really stand out with hiring managers. Good luck and good job search!
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