When you first start looking for a job, one of the top things on your To Do list should be to write a cover letter. Some job seekers might think the cover letter is a formality that you add to your resume. They couldn’t be more wrong. Cover letters are the personal introduction to your resume’s more formal application. Hiring managers will go through the cover letter first before even looking at your resume. Here is our guide to the cover letter for beginners.
First Things First
Before we get going, there are a couple quick tips to keep in mind. Slate.com says: “Keep it short. I started putting word limits on cover letters because I couldn’t stand, nor did I have the time to read, the especially long letters I’d receive.”
Another thing to keep in mind is writing in a personable tone. The cover letter is a chance for you to bring out a little bit of your personality. Keep things professional, but don’t be afraid to let some of you shine through.
Addressing the Letter
Beginners often start their cover letters with “To Whom It May Concern’. Always try your hardest to find the name of the person in charge of hiring. If a job is posted on LinkedIn you will be able to see the name of the person who posted the job. If a job posting doesn’t give you a name, call the company, mention that you’re applying for the job and ask if there is someone you can address your cover letter to.
Starting your cover letter off with “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager” isn’t going to get your cover letter thrown out, but having the right person’s name there gets you off on the right foot.
Introduce yourself, note the position you’re applying for and give a reason or two why you want this specific job. Note something specific about the company, the way they do business or someone you know working there. Demonstrate that you’ve researched the company and the position you want.
This is the meat and potatoes of your cover letter. In this paragraph you want to talk about you, what you’ve done and what you can bring to the company. Focus on what the job posting mentioned as key responsibilities and qualifications needed for the position. Mention successes you were a part of in your last job. You want the person reading your cover letter to come away thinking, “this person is perfect for the job”.
This is where you wrap it all up. Reiterate the fact that the skills you have are a perfect match for the awesome company you’re applying to.
Finally make sure you let the hiring manager know what the next step is. A lot of job postings say that they will contact you. In this case, make sure you include something along the lines of “I look forward to hearing from you.”
If it is not expressly stated that you will receive a call, we suggest something like “I will follow up with you in a week’s time.” This lets the hiring manager know exactly what to expect.
The Cover Letter for Beginners
You’ve now got a great cover letter to go along with your resume. Writing from scratch can be tough though. Experience.com offers a great example of a cover letter.