Just like a resume, a cover letter is a weapon to “sell yourself” to the hiring managers. What differs between the two are the format and content. Resume is a brief description of your cover letter. In cover letter, you should write in detail about personal information and professional quality in order to attract recruiters to shortlist your job application.

Tim Windhof, an executive resume writer at Windhof Career Services in Columbus, Ohio, advices that your cover letter should address the following: how you learn about the opportunity, how your qualifications match the job requirements, your possible availability in the area and how you can be contacted. In brief, your cover letter must describe “why it should be you and not others”.

Take a look at the following tips on how to write an appealing cover letter for successful job search:

01 Choose wording that mirror the ad language  

Before writing a cover letter, you should review the job ads carefully and underline the main points. If your cover letter will be read by hiring managers, they are more likely to skim brief at first to see whether you are a good fit or not. You can increase your chance of getting shortlisted when your cover letter matches most requirements listed in the job ads.

Don’t embellish your qualifications if you don’t really meet the requirements. Only write down real information and present yourself in the best manner by describing as many qualities as you can. You never know which qualifications employers value most.

02 Pay attention to readability

This is important as a cover letter written in readable format will likely to win employer’s heart. In a cover letter, you should only use business letter format. This will make the recruiter to only focus on your content rather than on the writing style. Business letter format usually comes along with 1” – 1.5” margins, 12-point font, professional font, uniform alignment (justify).

03 Address it to specific person

Do your homework and find out who will be responsible to receive and check your job application. Calling or sending email to the contact person provided in the job ads can be an effective way to get such information. You can also ask questions or confirm certain information related to the job opportunity to the right source instead of wondering around.

If you are sending the cover letter via post mail, make sure to write both the employer’s and your address. It usually contains first and last name, street address, city, state zip, and postal code, phone and email for applicant.

Example:

Your Name

Address

City, State, ZIP code

Your phone number

Your email address

 

Date

 

Name of Hiring Manager

Name of Company or Organization

Street Address

City, State, Zip Code

On the other hand, if you send the cover letter via email, you can simply start by writing the hiring manager’s name. This is much better than writing with to whom it may concern. Yet, in a situation where you can’t find the name of the hiring manager or head of HRD, you can address your letter to “Dear Hiring Manager.” It’s a better choice than starting with Dear Sir/Madam.

04 Brief introduction

In this part, you should start with when and where you find the job opening. Make sure to specify job position that you want to apply, especially when the company post multiple job positions. Make it into a paragraph that contains two to four sentences.

05 Compelling content

To grab the hiring manager’s attention, you should start by writing your educational background, followed by your achievements such as related training or internships you have completed and work experiences. However, if you are a fresh graduate with no job or internship experience, you can emphasise other skills such as organisational, leadership, or even time management skill, etc.

You can write it in two to three paragraphs for the content. However, you should not be wordy or  spill too much information. Sometimes, giving too much information can hinder you from getting the job offer.

06 A-Okay closing

Always finish your cover letter by asking for an interview and reiterating how much you want to proceed to the next step of hiring process. Also, do not forget to always provide your phone number so the recruiter can contact you with ease.

07 Signature

Always give signature to either written or email cover letter. Use complimentary closing sentence such as best regards, regards, sincerely, yours respectfully, etc. In a written letter, just simply write your full name. Meanwhile in an email, always type your name followed by contact information.

Example:

Sincerely,

(your signature)

Your full name

Mobile: (66) 987-98787

Email: andie@andiejone.com

08 Proofread, proofread, and proofread

Lastly, you should give the right amount of time to proofread your work – in this case, your cover letter, maybe two or three times proofreading. Find out spelling or grammar errors that might lessen your chance from getting shortlisted. Again and again, cut out the flowery words as too much description or information will make your cover letter look unprofessional. As best as possible, keep your cover letter only in one page.

Read also: Passion versus Skill: What Comes First in a Job Search?

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