As you’re applying for jobs, you might run into countless cover letter questions. How long should it be? Is it even necessary? Knowing how to write an effective cover letter can put you miles ahead in your job search. Not only will it set you apart from other applicants, but it will also ensure you leave a great first impression. To help you achieve that, we answered some of the most common cover letter questions that you might have.
Why is a cover letter necessary?
Your cover letter is your first chance to introduce yourself to your potential employer. To pique their interest and make a positive first impression, your cover letter should be value-driven and clear. A well-written cover letter reflects your dedication. In turn, it will show hiring managers that you strive for excellence in your work. Moreover, it’s your chance to go beyond your experience and show off a bit of your character. And although more and more companies are choosing to bypass cover letters, it’s still a great chance to sell yourself as a future employee.
Frequently Asked Question about Cover Letter
introduction presents you and why you’re interested in the job. The body paragraphs then elaborate on your career successes. And finally, your conclusion should prompt the employer to get in touch with a clear call to action.
At the very top of your cover letter, include your full contact information. Next, write a formal greeting addressed to the recruiter. Then, write the body of your cover letter. The opening part should be eye-catching yet brief. Your past achievements, strengths, and expertise should all make an appearance in the middle part. Apart from showing that you’re qualified for the position, it should also explain why you’re interested in the job and the company. Finally, close off the letter with a summary and a complimentary close followed by your signature.
If you know the hiring manager’s name, it’s best to address them directly. If you are not sure of their gender, you can begin with “Dear Name Surname.” If you do know, it’s best to start with the standard “Dear Mr./Ms. Surname.” If you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, make the effort to search for it. A good place to start is the company website or LinkedIn profile. However, if you can’t find the name anywhere, address your cover letter to the department or team you are applying to. Despite not addressing a person directly, it is still personalized and shows that you care about the position.
Including keywords in your cover letter will help you get through the ATS and ensure your application makes it to the employer. The keywords you use in your cover letter should be the same as in your resume or LinkedIn profile. Read through the job description and look at the wording used to describe required skills, qualifications, and daily tasks. Then, sprinkle these throughout your resume and cover letter.
An effective way to make your cover letter stand out is by mentioning a reference from the company. If applicable, you should include this in your first paragraph to grab the employer’s attention right away. Another way to set yourself apart with your cover letter is to include your past successes. Elaborate on what you achieved and how it positively affected the company.
Some job listings might not ask for a cover letter directly or may not even mention it. However, in most cases, you should still submit a cover letter. For example, you may need to explain employment gaps, career changes, or include extra information about your background. However, there are times when the cover letter is not needed. If the company says they do not accept cover letters, or if there is no way to submit one, it’s most likely unnecessary. Also, think twice about submitting a cover letter if you’re short on time. Sometimes, it’s better to leave it out than to submit a rushed, low-quality one.
In short, yes. You want to show the employer why you’re a good fit for this specific position and company. Thus, sending out a generic cover letter won’t be very effective. In each cover letter, emphasize why you’re the best person to fulfill the specific job duties. Similarly, explain what makes you a good fit for the company. You can create one generic cover letter and then personalize these details for each position to save time.
Keep your cover letter short and to the point. Ideally, aim for three to four paragraphs. Include only the most relevant information and keep your cover letter one page or shorter. That way, you’re not letting the employer lose interest with lengthy paragraphs and too many details.
If you don’t have experience in the field you’re applying for, focus on transferable skills. For example, if you learned to lead a group during a school project, discuss this to emphasize your leadership skills. Essentially, use the experience gained through education, volunteering, or informal employment to make up for a professional experience.
Forgetting to proofread is a common mistake people make when writing cover letters. So, before you send your application, make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors in your writing. It’s also common to become repetitive with the use of “I” at the beginning of sentences, making the text harder to read. Also, avoid repeating the exact information you included in your resume. Instead, focus on the most relevant achievements and relate them to the role you’re applying to.
To avoid looking unprofessional and leaving a bad first impression, make sure not to include any mistakes or typos in your cover letter. Also, you shouldn’t cross the line between relevant and personal information. Only focus on information that is directly related to the job and your professional abilities. Similarly, don’t include information that is untruthful or exaggerated. To ensure a good first impression, leave out any negative comments, complaints, or salary and benefits expectations.
Each cover letter will have the same main sections, which you’ll find in every template. However, you should always tailor the cover letter to reflect who you are and the position you’re applying to. To achieve that, instead, write your own generic template and then tailor it to each job.
Remember that your cover letter should be balanced in all aspects. You can let your personality shine through but keep it professional. Boast about your achievements but explain how you accomplished them. And, of course, tailor it to the job, but make sure you still stand out. A powerful cover letter can expand your resume and present you as a stellar fit for any position.