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How to Write a Cover Letter

A cover letter is essentially a formal letter that is sent along with the resume, during the process of a job application. The cover letter fulfills the purpose of introducing the applicant to the recruiting manager. It also gives an opportunity to the applicant to convey some subjective aspects of his personality to the recruiter, which couldn’t be conveyed through the resume. Furthermore, the letter gives the recruiter a sneak-peek into your written communication skills and your command over the language.

Simply put, a cover letter is a powerful tool that can help the applicant present his/her case to the recruiter in a compelling manner, thus assisting in opening the doors for the next round of recruitment, i.e. personal interview. Now that you are aware of what exactly a cover letter is, let us take you through the process of writing a remarkable cover letter.

While a cover letter exactly resembles a formal letter in format, it is essential that you follow all the points mentioned below. Not only will it help create a lasting impression on the recruiter, but will also help accentuate the crucial elements of your resume.

1. Mention Your Contact Information

As is the case with any formal letter, you must begin the letter with your name and contact information on the top. While modern formatting rules allow you to put this information on any side of your choice, we believe that it is better if you put this information on the top right-hand corner of the page. This makes the information stand out, and helps the recruiter spot it almost instantaneously, in case you need to be contacted for further rounds of the hiring procedure. It is also suggested that you write this information in bold. As a rule of thumb, you should first write your full names, followed by your current address. You should then pen down your contact number, followed by your email id.

The example below should help you in understanding the format as well as the sequence of the contact information.

Betsy A. John
15 Elm Lane
Chicago, IL
Home: (735) 236-8900
betsyajohn@example.com

Pro Tip –

For the purpose of job applications, it is better if you have a formal email id such as betsyajohn@example.com or nancy.williams@example.com rather than something offbeat such as beautifulbetsy@example.com or nancyrocks@example.com. It helps create the right impression on recruiting manager by conveying that you are a serious applicant with the required level of maturity for the job profile.

2. Address the Receiver:

Do your research and find out the name and designation of the recruiting manager. While this may seem to be a daunting task, especially when you don’t have the apt sources to get this information hands on, it will be completely worth your while, since it will help create a great impression on the manager.

Remember, every person, regardless of their position or status, likes to be addressed by their name, instead of the displeasing convention ‘Dear Sir or Ma’am’ or the ignorant ‘To Whomsoever It May Concern’.

Once you have the right name and designation, write it down, as indicated in this example –

Ms. Cindy White,

Director of Operations
TSG Software
Chicago, IL

3. Write the Subject Line:

It goes without saying that the letter ought to have a simple and crisp subject line, mentioning the position that you are applying for. The subject line can be written in one of the following two ways.

Re: Opening for the position of IT Engineer

Subject: Application for the Opening for the position of Sales Associate

4. Introduce Yourself:

Following the subject line, you can simply address the manager, and go ahead to introduce yourself, while also mentioning the position that you wish to apply for. That being done, you can state the source of information from where you learned about the said position. You can then offer some basic information about yourself, including your educational qualification, your past experience, your area of expertise, as well as your career goals.

5. Promote Yourself:

In the second paragraph of your letter, you should go ahead to describe your skills and abilities, and how they make you an ideal fit for the job. You can do so by using one or more words or phrases from the advertised job opening. While this paragraph is meant for you to sell yourself, make sure you only mention those aspects that you can back up, if and when required.

If need be, you can also add an additional paragraph, stating the understanding that you have of the organization’s goals, and how can you contribute towards the same.

Pro Tip: You can take some time out to visit the company’s website and go through its vision and mission statements. This will help you present your case in a more compelling manner.

6. Conclude the Letter:

In the concluding paragraph, take the opportunity to instigate the recruiter towards taking an action. Mention the fact, that you are willing to be called for a personal interview. You can also mention, that you will get in touch with them within a week’s or fortnight’s time, to know their response. This will convey your willingness and ardor to take up the job.

Lastly, thank them for giving you the opportunity to apply for the position.

The format of a Cover Letter

Once you have written down the cover letter, it is time to format the letter to ensure that it is presentable. After all, it is the first impression that matters the most.

Here are some elements that need your due diligence when it comes to ensuring that your letter looks as crisp as it sounds –

Margins

Always keep the margins in the range of 1” to 1.5”. This will ensure that the letter looks neat.

Font Size

The lowest font size that you should use is 12. This ensures easy readability. In any case, don’t go beyond the maximum font size of 14, else you will compromise on the appeal of the letter.

Font Type

Choose a font style that looks professional, and avoid using any fancy fonts such as Lucida Handwriting, Comic Sans and the likes.

Alignment

Ensure that the entire letter has a uniform alignment. As mentioned above, your contact information should be right aligned. The rest of the letter should preferably be left aligned.

Pro Tip: Make sure the cover letter is confined to a single page. Since the recruiters have many letters to go through, chances are they wouldn’t take the time or the effort to flip to the second page, and may therefore miss out on some important information.

Spell Check and Grammar Check

It goes without saying that a letter with spelling or grammatical errors can come off as repulsive. Hence, make sure you use one or more of the many tools available online, and conduct a spell check. If you are not confident about your linguistic skills, then it might also be a good idea to opt for a grammar check.

We hope that you now have a clear idea regarding the nuances of writing a cover letter. If you still need any assistance drafting one for yourself, feel free to go through or download any of the cover letters posted here.