You never get a second chance to make a first impression, that’s a fact, that is important to know if you’re writing cover letters. Cover letters instill fear in the hearts of young just graduated specialists and mature job seekers alike. A cover letter aka covering letter, motivation or motivational letter is a kind of letter made for the self-introductions and is usually attached to resume or curriculum vitae when submitting your application. Cover letter writing can be a tricky thing, especially when you don’t know how to express your strongest traits shortly.
Cover letters generally fall into one of 2 categories:
- Letter of application: applying for a specific, advertised opening. See sample letters below.
- Letter of inquiry: expressing interest in an organization, but you are not certain if there are current openings.
According to the latest research findings, 55% of hiring managers don’t read cover letters. The average time for cover letter scanning is approximately 5-10 seconds and there’s only 17% chance your cover letter will be read.
5 Common Types of Cover Letters
Application Letter. Written by the job seeker this type of letter has the intent to interest the potential employer in order to get the job position and is usually submitted in pair with a CV.
Referral Cover Letter. A referral cover letter aims to provide the referring of another person in order to confirm the qualification during the hiring process.
Letter of Interest. This type of letter is also called a prospecting letter, and it is sent for notifying the employer about your interest in possible job openings in the future or present (if such are available).
Networking Letter. Networking letter is sent by the employee to the particular employer to ask for the job advice and recommendations.
Value Proposition Letter. A value proposition letter is a kind of short statements written by the job seeker to the certain company explaining what value he or she can bring in for the company and why should they hire them.
The definable purpose
The main mission of any type of cover letter is to provide the reason or purpose of your application. If the cover letter doesn’t have a reason or the reason sounds too vague, basic or abstract the chances are high your application will
never be seen by somebody except the trash can. Cover letter purposes can sound differently but each and every one should be specific, explain why you’re submitting a resume to the particular job opening.
- Is it a permanent job position you’re looking for or you’re searching for the internship opportunities?
- Are you interested in the current job openings or you looking for the opportunities the company might open in the future? etc.
Does Cover Letter Structure Matter?
Yes, and yes again, there are certain rules for the cover letter format and structure you need to follow to make your cover letter look respectable and professional. Starting with such insignificant on the first sight details like left and right margins you can complete a very credible and good looking cover letter, so here you are, start to learn how to write a cover letter:
Margins. Left and right margin for the hard copy cover letter is considered to be enough when they fall within 1 to 1.5 inches.
Fonts. As known, commonly approved font styles are Times New Roman, Arial Helvetica or Calibri.
Font size. Font size from 10-12 points will look appropriate and moderate but remember that generally different fonts even if they appear to have the same size will look larger or smaller, for instance, Arial will look larger than the same size Times New Roman but you need to keep the font readable under any circumstances.
Don’t write a cover letter that is too long to read, one page is an absolute maximum, some specialists suggest that you should limit it to 3 paragraphs to be successful, if it still feels like some more detail should be added – change the margins and font to fit more information into it.
There’s a great debate of what font should be used to make the cover letter look more professional. Serif, Sans Serif Arial or another one. Obviously, the difference is that some fonts have the finishing strokes at the letter end and some don’t, pick the one that you’re most comfortable with but understand the restrictions. Here is one interesting fact:
According to a recent article in Bloomberg, designers think certain fonts make a better impression in professional communications. Here are two fonts they recommend using: Georgia, Verdana. Here are two fonts they suggest not using: Helvetica, Arial.
The final test. Sometimes it is not easy to determine if your document is okay, for this purpose the better way will be to task another person to evaluate your paper in few seconds. The fresh glance of your friend or acquaintance can help a deal a lot this way you will be sure your letter doesn’t appear weird. If it’s the matter of time and you are aiming to apply at multiple companies at once writing cover letters can better be done by professionals across the industry.
Matching in style. Thinking about making your resume and cover letter of the same style? This could be another great trick that will help to get your application letter better, more polished look, it’s not the obligatory rule to follow, however, a significant difference can be spotted.
7 Cover Letter Hacks
1. Drop a name in the first sentence. Start a letter with a name of the recipient and salutation and end the letter mentioning your name.
2. Focus on a story. The story is a better way to catch the attention of the reader, they have a pattern so they convince the reader why they need to have a look on your resume, your story should be targeted on your employer or particular organization you’re applying to. In the story don’t forget to mention such elements as: education, leadership, experience all that seems relevant to the position you’re dreaming of. Be as specific and provide the vivid examples of your personal professional achievements, along the way express enthusiasm and the positive attitude to your field of work.
3. Keep it formal. No specific terminology is needed to write cover letters, however, you should follow the formal standard of communication to avoid looking unprofessional.
4. Write a three paragraph cover letter. The best-proven length of a cover letter of any format and content.
5. Don’t recycle your cover letter. Craft an individual cover letter for each job position.
According to research from the CV Centre, where 1,000 decision makers in business were questioned, approximately 30% of employers can identify an untailored cover letter.
6. Summarize your relevant work experience, but be brief. Before you start writing the letter think of what features could be theoretically the most valuable for the position then try to apply them for your candidate. Thus a sales manager needs to deliver the high sales scores, gain the new client base, and express the loyalty. Successful and consistent managing of the project might be requestable for the good project manager. The closing paragraph is no less important, never end it with a question, the last sentences should motivate to read your story in more detailed version and get accustomed with your CV. Also, you may notify in the letter the source that provided you the information about the position: a website, a friend or your ex-boss, it is considered appropriate to mention the professional connections in such documents.
7. Be attentive. Make sure you specified all the information that should be covered in the letter, if the position description specifically asks about candidate’s availability or particular skills – always mention them, the reference you can attach to the writing sample. If you’re writing the letter of inquiry don’t expect the employer to contact you, it’s better to finish the letter by saying “I will contact you in one month to find out about possible position openings” and sure set the reminder to call back in time.
A cover letter is the first step to the job of your dream if it’s written properly it can engage the employer at first glance. Chances to succeed or ruin your future prospectives in this case will depend on the content purely, that’s why it is so important not to blow your chances by cliché, half-baked, template looking piece of text.