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How to Write a Cover Letter for a Resume

In this article we will dive deep into how to write a cover letter, and if it worth to have a cover letter.

How to Write a Cover Letter for a Resume
Photo of Brenna Goyette
Brenna Goyette
9 min read

You have several job applications in front of you and you can’t send them a blank resume with a bland email body that will not create a good impression on the employer. So you need to write a dreaded cover letter for each of the job application you are applying to. You might be wondering why is it necessary to write a cover letter when you are already attaching a resume in your email.

Well, your cover letter is read! That’s true. If your employer just skims through your resume, he will read your cover letter. The resume provides an overview of your professional qualification and skills but the cover letter will edge out the requirements the job needs from you. Therefore, it is necessary to write a well-articulated cover letter to catch the attention of the employer and increase your chances of heading towards the interview.

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Read on further to know about the cover letter, its importance and how to write a cover letter for a resume.

What is a Cover Letter?

It is a single-paged document that accompanies your resume when you apply for a job. Unlike a resume, it gives you the liberty to customize the application to the specific job you are applying for. It may explain your interest in the job position and what skills, experience, qualifications and achievements you have that make you the right person for the job.

You might end a single resume to every job you applied for but the cover letter that will be specifically written for a certain job application will explain to the employer why you are the right person for the job. A Cover letter isn’t a replacement for your resume. They both serve their purposes and both are important to apply for a job.

What is an ideal Cover Letter Format?

Well, there isn’t any specific cover letter format one should implement. However, there are certain rules and pattern that your cover letter must follow.

  • Header
  • Greetings
  • Opening Paragraph
  • Middle Paragraph
  • Closing Paragraph
  • Professional Closing

Let us look into each of these sections in detail.

Header:

The header is the top section of your cover letter and primarily covers your personal and contact information. It includes the following information:

Left Aligned

  • Full Name
  • Title
  • Name of the Hiring Manager
  • Their Position
  • Company Name
  • Company Address
  • Date

Right Aligned (primarily at the top right corner)

  • Your Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Social Media Profiles

A LinkedIn Profile must be added permanently whereas other social media profile links like Skype, GitHub or Behance must only be added if the job requirements say so. Apart from that, you can also add a link to your website. Make sure that the contact information you add is consistent across the cover letter and the resume.

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Keep in mind, never add your address or city of residence in your cover letter. It will take up unnecessary space and is not demanded by the employers since it is already there in the resume. Moreover, avoid adding funky, unprofessional email addresses like fairyalice87@gmail.com. It creates a really bad impression on your profile. If you don’t have a professional email address, create one now. Furthermore, it is impolite to add your current work reference thus avoid using your current work email address or current work address to send your email cover letter.

Greetings and Salutations

Whenever you meet someone you exchange greetings with them. The same formula applies here. If the employer sees the cover letter, then he shall be greeted first. In this way he’ll get the respect he deserves and he’ll be more interested to read your cover letter further. It is therefore an infallible strategy to make the letter accentuate to the employer.

For Example:

  • “Dear Samantha”
  • “Hello Mr. David”
  • “Dear HR Team”
  • “To whom it may concern”

Addressing the employer shows that the job seeker is not just spamming every job opportunity he came across and did his research which indicates his enthusiasm to work for the company. Therefore, if you don’t know the employer’s name then there are several approaches you can take:

  • Look over to LinkedIn and find out who the potential employer is.
  • Head over to the company’s website to find about the employer.
  • Ask your contacts in the company.

Even if you don’t find the name of the person you can give a general salutation like the last two points of the example.

Opening Paragraph

You’ve added header and salutations and now you are worried about how shall you begin the letter. The opening paragraph of the cover letter starts with your purpose of writing the letter. This is your first impression that the employer will have of you so it is necessary to grab his attention and win his favor. What shall you be writing in the opening paragraph?

  • The job title you are applying for and the reference through which you got to know about it.
  • Why do you believe this role and the company interests you?
  • Add your experience or qualification briefly here.
  • Your intention with the role.
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Make sure it is striking, readable and shows your confidence as the reader reads through the lines. Don’t worry about the English you will be using since they aren’t there to judge your language skills. Instead, they want to know more about why did you apply for the job.

Middle Paragraph

The middle paragraph is where you will be primarily judged. If you perfected the other parts of the cover letter and failed to convince the employer why you are fit for the job, then the purpose of your cover letter will fail. The paragraph contains information that will state to your employer, why you are the right person for the job and what qualities you have that will make the employer select you for the job. So before you get started, research a bit about the company: How does it operate? What does the company deliver: products or services? How much autonomy do the employees have and much more?

Once you have ample information about the company, you can turn those researched facts into your favor. You can use the information you like about them and link yourself to the information. For example, you like how a company always incorporates advances in their product so you’ll admire their way of business and explain to them how you can settle in their business model.

Now, you can’t mess things here. Just to link yourself to the company, job seekers write too wordy sentences that becomes cliché and unnatural. It seems like you are forcing yourself to link to the dynamics of the company.

So what do you have to do?

  • Show the client what they are looking for lies in yourself (highlight your relevant skills and achievements).
  • Avoid bragging about your professional expertise and skills.
  • Explain to the hiring manager how your experience can help the company grow ahead.
  • Be honest about yourself and make sure whatever you write is supported by the resume.
  • Avoid adding irrelevant information since it will only make things wrong.

Closing Paragraph

At this moment you will be feeling like throwing away some sentence and add goodbyes to finish the letter and send it. However, the closing paragraph is where you make your offer and it is the last chance to show your enthusiasm towards the company; that is, you are interested in this job, not just any job.

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So in this decisive paragraph, you have to provide value. Thank the employer for reviewing the cover later and the resume. You have to summarize the compelling reasons for applying to the job and state that you will be looking forward to meeting in person. Additionally, you can add a few lines regarding how your skills, expertise and experience can help the company in achieving its goals. Be courteous and end with a good note. Avoid writing words that express how badly you want this job. You should be expressing interest not need.

Professional Closing

You are done writing the letter, so now you have to end it properly. Add the following sign-offs of your choice:

  • Thanks and Regards,
  • Best Regards,
  • Thank You,
  • Sincerely,
  • Kind Regards,
  • With Best Regards,
  • Respectfully,
  • Yours Truly,

The above-listed sign-offs are professionally and casually used in every letter or email so you’ll be safe using them. After the sign-off add your full name and signature (if you digitally have it).

If you think you are done, you are mistaken. Proofread it well and pass it through grammar check available on the internet. You can’t handover a grammatically wrong cover letter.

Let us now look at some details that must be considered while writing the cover letter

Cover Letter Formatting

Your cover letter shall be a single A4 page long only. It shouldn’t go beyond that. Ideal cover letters lie between 200-400 words. Font size shouldn’t be smaller than 12 and cover letter margins must be in the range of 1” – 1.5”. Always justify your document as well.

Choose the right tone

Your cover letter tone is how you are speaking in front of the employer. Therefore, you must be picking the right tone for each job you apply for. When you’ll be researching the company, you’ll get to know about the tone you shall be using. So be appropriate and maintain it throughout the letter.

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Generally, when the employer is reading your cover letter he must feel that you were relaxed while writing the letter. Too many formalities are avoided in this era.

Write Cover Letter for every job you apply for

If you need to spam your employer’s email, then don’t bother writing a cover letter and only send your resume. You may find writing a cover letter every time you apply for the job but believe it, you will place yourself in a safe zone by doing that. If you pass down the same cover letter that only has company-specific information changed then the employers will likely recognize it and throw your application in the trash. Therefore, buzz up some more effort for every job application. You know the drill so it will be easier for you to write every time.

Anecdotes

The anecdote strategy is the most creative one that the candidates are using these days. Employers are tired of reading the same generic reference to your abilities like “I am proficient at Microsoft Office thus I would be fit for your organization” – employers don’t need that. Instead, you can elaborate the skill with a short anecdote that indicates where you used that skill and how accomplished you were.

Final Words

Your cover letter is as important as your resume and you know how to write it now. Draft it yourself and land yourself a dream job.