Writing a Compelling Cover Letter
Consider the following structure as a guide for your letter:
- Introduce Yourself
Grab the reader’s interest with your opening paragraph. In one or two sentences, tell him who you are, and why he should hire you, and express your enthusiasm for the role.
For example, you could say, “As a sales manager with six years’ experience of motivating my team and exceeding my targets each quarter, I was excited to see your advertisement for regional sales director.” This sounds much more appealing than, “I am writing to apply for the role of regional sales director, which was advertised on LinkedIn.”
- Explain Why You Are the Best Candidate
Next, describe what you can bring to the role. Give examples of skills that you’ve developed or successes that you’ve enjoyed that are relevant to the job description.
Be specific, and quantify your achievements wherever possible. If you’ve exceeded your sales targets, for example, give a percentage or monetary figure. Tell the truth, and don’t be tempted to exaggerate or embellish your accomplishments – it’s unethical, and will backfire if you are caught out.
- Be Enthusiastic About the Role
You may have the qualifications and the experience to do the job, but employers also want to know that you feel passionate about the role and their organization. Describe why the company or department appeals to you. For example, you could explain that you share its values . This signals that you’ll be engaged, committed, and likely to stick around.
- Summarize and Request a Follow-Up
Finally, round up what you’ve written, and indicate your availability for interview. A strong closing paragraph could be, “I’ve always delivered outstanding results, and I’ve enjoyed every challenge that has come my way. I’d be delighted to meet with you and discuss the value that I can add to your team.”
Formatting Your Cover Letter
Format your cover letter as though you were going to send it in the mail, even if you’re sending it by email. This will make it look more professional.
Here’s a point-by-point guide for laying out your cover letter:
- Write your name and address at the top of the page. Align it to the right.
- Write the name and address of the prospective employer. Align it to the left.
- Add the date of your letter under the employer’s address, and align it to the left. Leave a line space between the address and the date.
- Begin your letter with “Dear…” and the name of the hiring manager. Avoid “To whom it may concern.” If you don’t know who to address the letter to, send the HR department an email asking for the appropriate recipient.
- Use a font that’s clear and easy to read, such as Arial or Helvetica, with a type size of 10 or 12 points.
- Space your paragraphs, keep wide margins, and don’t crowd the page.
- Leave a line space under the final paragraph, and sign off with “Yours sincerely” or “Best regards.” Leave a couple of line spaces under the signoff, and then sign your name, typing it in full beneath your signature. If you are sending the letter digitally, it’s not necessary to actually sign it – just type your name instead.
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