Writing a cover letter sounds easy but it can be a daunting challenge for anyone.
How do you let your potential employer know what your experiences and skills are while still letting your personality show through in the letter?
Plus, with so many applicants applying for the same position, how do you make your job application stand out?
Here are some job search tips on how to make an exceptional cover letter.
- Address your letter to the hiring manager
Scrap the traditional ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ opening. Be specific. Know the name of the company’s hiring manager and address your cover letter to that person. The selection of words you use to open your cover letter shows your interest in the company and that you have done your research. Finding a specific contact person personalizes your cover letter. Having a contact also makes it easier to do a follow up.
- Make it concise
Cover letters do not have to be long to cover all of the information you need to make an impression. Recruiters for large businesses and major corporations may read hundreds of applications on a daily basis.
A short but concise cover letter makes their jobs easier.
One study invited employers to participate in a survey involving recommended lengths for cover letters. Nearly half of the respondents indicated that they prefer reading a cover letter that is only half a page long. Approximately 24 percent preferred even shorter cover letters. The total percentage for these two groups is almost 70 percent.
In a typical format for a cover letter, the first paragraph serves as an introduction followed. The next explains what your qualifications are for the position. Next you have the closing statements. That’s it. Employers and hiring managers usually skim any other information provided after these three paragraphs.
- Match your skills to the job requirements
One critical factor when it comes to creating a cover letter that catches the eye is making a clear match between what the company is looking for and what you can offer. Your letter must show how your credentials correspond with what the company needs.
- Use bullet points
Long statements can blur the information. Use bullet points and short sentences to make your cover letter easier to scan through and read. You can use bullets to list down your related work experiences, expertise and skills. Starting each bulleted statement with an action word can leave a bigger impact.
- Include lots of white space
Effective use of white space can help improve the readability of your cover letter. The white space can make your letter look cleaner and the information less cluttered. Include some spaces between your greeting, the body of the letter and the closing or your email signature.
The margins should be around 1 inch all around the letter, with the text aligned towards the left side of the paper.
- Use a basic font
Choose a font that’s easy to read. Fonts such as Times New Roman, Calibri and Arial may seem old-fashioned or outdated but they are clear and don’t strain the eyes. You can use 12 points as a standard size for writing your cover letter. Use the same type of font for your resume to give your documents a consistent professional look.
- Include your email signature
Email signatures often include your name, email address, phone number and the link to your LinkedIn profile. Do not forget to include these contact details to make it easier for potential employers to get in touch with you.
- Check for errors
Before clicking ‘Send,’ read and re-read your cover letter carefully to see if you have missed any typos or grammatical errors. Reading it out loud can help you pick up other mistakes you may have missed before. There are online apps and software such as Grammarly and Orwell that you can use to check your work for typos, grammar and even the readability of your letter.
- Pay attention to the subject line
The subject line lets the reader know what they email is about. Unless the company or recruitment agency has specific instructions on what to indicate on the subject line, it is recommended that you include your name and the position you are interested in applying for.
“For instance, your subject line would be: Hotel Manager – John Smith.”
Try to limit the length of your subject line to 30 characters or less. There are employers who prefer reading applications and emails using their mobile devices. Keeping it under 30 characters ensures that your subject line is not truncated when viewed using a mobile device.
Keep these tips in mind when drafting your next cover letter. Contact us today to find out how our human resources staff can help you land your next job and advance your career.