Writing a cover letter in today's competitive world has become an art form. While there are the established rules of keeping content tight and focused, and formatting well, there are some secrets you should know.
We'll look at 10 important tips that will help you write the perfect cover letter easily while achieving the best results possible.
in this guide we'll teach you:
- Formatting tips for writing a cover letter
- Who you should focus on in your writing
- The difference between a cover letter and a resume
Before we get into it, make sure that the other crucial component of your application is in place - the resume.
10 Tips for Writing a Killer Cover Letter
1. Your cover letter should never, EVER be longer than one page
Recruiters are busy. They have lots of experience in making quick decisions based on the dozens of cover letters that they have to review daily.
If they see anything longer than one page, they are likely to toss it away. The worst thing you can do is hand in two or more pages stapled together.
It's normal to have lots to say regarding why you want the job or why you're qualified to do it, but this is why you have to think strategically and choose great examples of your career to talk about.
Save your big speech for the interview and if you want to land one, keep the cover letter a short page.
2. Use formatting in your favor
Following up on the single page cover letter secret - you can use your space wisely if you format correctly.
Stick to a letter size between 10 - 12 and got for a compact style such as Tahoma, Arial, or Calibri. Make sure not to leave spaces before or after any commas or periods.
Use 1.5 spacing. Double is too much, yet single will make your text hard to read. This way, you'll be able to fit more text on the page and keep it organized and easy to read.
3. Save your cover letter in the right format
One of the best-kept secrets is the power of PDF. You should always save your cover letter in PDF because it's the only way to make sure that it opens on every device and it keeps your formatting in place.
If you save the cover letter in a ".dox" format, you risk having it appear out of order on the recruiter's computer. Moreover, not every computer is able to open a ".dox" format and be sure that the recruiter won't take an extra five minutes to convert your files.
Play it safe and go with a PDF cover letter.
4. Show, don't tell
Your cover letter should be engaging and interesting to read. The resume is the serious part of the application where you establish all of your factual information.
The cover letter, on the other hand, is your chance to show your creativity and let your personality shine through.
Make your writing visual. Check out these two examples:
"I've worked in customer service for 5 years and know how to calm down an angry customer."
While this may be true, the statement above is plain boring. Here's a better way to let the hiring manager know about your customer service superpowers:
"During my time at Company X an angry customer whose account had been hacked came in. I managed to diffuse the situation by dropping everything I was working on and accompanying them in the entire process until we got it resolved. The client ended up being one of our most loyal users for the next 4 years."
The second example helps the hiring manager imagine how exactly you use the skills you keep saying you have. Make your cover letter visual and use the show vs tell method.
5. Make the cover letter all about the business
We know you care about landing a job, but put yourself in the company's shoes. They want to hire dedicated people who are serious about moving the business forward.
Make sure that your cover letter reflects this idea. There's nothing worse than a selfish applicant. Check out this example:
- "Dear Hiring Manager,
- I feel like I could really learn and grow in your company. The pay is great too, so I will be happy being rewarded for my work."
While all of the above makes sense for the candidate, it looks bad from the recruiter's point of view.
It's okay to care about yourself, but show that you care about the business, too. Let's have a look at a better way to write a cover letter:
"Dear Hiring Manager,
I want to be your next Sales Manager because Company X needs a strong leader who will take your team from good to great. I was impressed by the data that you published last quarter and especially the fact that you were able to increase your market reach and demonstrate an 8% increase of earnings.
I see a great potential in your product and the team, and strongly believe that with the right guidance, your earnings can hit the double digits as soon as the next quarter."
This candidate shows that they follow the company and have a clear plan in mind. This is what the hiring manager wants to see - someone coming in with determination, knowledge, and fresh ideas.
6. Show that you’re keeping up with the company’s work
This secret goes along with the previous tip. Follow the company you most like to work at and know what's happening at all times.
Keep in touch via Twitter, LinkedIn, and reading the company site. This will come in handy both while writing a cover letter and during your interview.
7. Proofread the right way
Proofreading is super important. Spelling or grammar mistakes will make you look careless.
The best way to proofread is to print out your cover letter and read it on a physical sheet of paper.
It helps a lot to have a second pair of eyes, so ask a friend to look it over for you. In order to identify grammar mistakes, use Grammarly.
8. Know the difference between a resume and a cover letter
Repeating information is a complete waste of time, especially for someone as busy as a hiring manager. Many candidates make the mistake of repeating their resume on the cover letter. In fact, the two are completely different and should be treated as such.
The resume presents the facts of your professional career. The cover letter, on the other hand, shows your motivation for wanting to do the job.
The cover letter should tell a story, be easy to read, and feel convincing. Focus on that and keep the facts on your resume.
9. Never open the cover letter by explaining what position you're applying for
Don't repeat information that's already on your application. Remember that the hiring manager will see your basic information and the position you're up for long before they even get to reading your cover letter.
Opening with "My name is__and I'm applying for__" is a big no-no. Instead begin with the standard "Dear Hiring Manager," and then get right into why you want the position.
10. Have a strong conclusion
Wrap up the cover letter as quickly as possible. Make sure that the one story you pick to demonstrate your relevant skills is exactly what the recruiter is looking for.
Once you hit them with the perfect example, you don't need to worry about explaining further or whether you've been persuasive enough throughout the letter.
Writing a cover letter is no science but it does take an extra effort to get it right. Always keep your letter down to a single page with persuasive content that tells a story, as opposed to repeating your resume.
Proofread and format well in order to keep things clear and organized. Make your cover letter all about the business and be careful of talking about your personal interests too much.
Finally, make sure to keep in touch with the company on social media and know what's happening at all times.
Knowing these 10 secrets for writing a cover letter, you can go ahead and apply confidently. Have one last look at your resume and make sure it looks perfect.