What to Write in a Cover Letter for a Job
Nowadays, some job candidates question if cover letters are even necessary. There are plenty of job postings on sites like Indeed and LinkedIn that make it easy to instantly apply, and the postings may even say that cover letters are optional.
Some surveys indicate that job candidates may skip submitting cover letters – but this could be a mistake. Even if cover letters don’t seem as important as they used to be, submitting one with a job application gives you an edge.
And in a highly competitive job market, why not put your best foot forward and go above and beyond with an outstanding cover letter?
Writing a good cover letter is an essential skill in job hunting. A cover letter is a tool that allows you to highlight your accomplishments and experience, show your motivations for applying, and catch the eye of hiring managers.
Empire Resume will explain what to write in a cover letter for a job, including why you should always submit one, the best things to include, and what to leave out.
Why Cover Letters are Important
Are cover letters outdated? Increasingly, some people think so. In an era of digital job hunting and recruiting, some job hunters and hiring managers believe cover letters are a waste of time. After all, hiring managers spend an average of six seconds scanning resumes, and most resumes are sorted through Application Tracking Systems (ATS) before they even reach hiring managers.
But the debate about cover letters isn’t one-sided. Many HR professionals still believe in their value, especially in certain cases. For example, if you’re applying for a job in a field like marketing or communications, showing off your writing skills in a cover letter makes absolute sense.
Other HR experts say cover letters should only be submitted in some instances, such as when you’re applying to your dream job, or you have a personal connection to the hiring team. This may be the case, but Empire Resume will go a step further: Cover letters are still important most of the time and submitting one will give you a big leg up on your job-hunting competition.
A recent survey by Human Resources Online showed that 83% of hiring managers, recruiters, and HR pros still believe cover letters are an essential part of the hiring process. That’s because submitting a cover letter shows you took the time and effort to show you really care about the job opening and you’re motivated to work for the company.
Other benefits of submitting a cover letter are that complements your resume, showcase your communication and writing skills, and help you overcome a lack of experience or other problem areas of your resume.
The MOST important benefit of submitting a cover letter is that you can tailor it to each hiring manager and job role, which will separate you from the masses of applicants who only submit their resume.
Keep Cover Letters Short
So, now that we’ve determined cover letters are crucial, how do you go about writing a great one? First of all, pay attention to the length. Cover letters should be succinct and to the point. Ideally, a cover letter should be a half-page to a page in length or about four paragraphs.
Check the length requirements in the job postings and stick to them. But also, don’t overly focus on hitting a specific word count. The word count is a general guideline and, if you can sum things up in a shorter amount of space, that may even be the better option.
A strong cover letter will highlight your skills, accomplishments, experience, and why you’re interested in the position, and they should have a reading time of about 10 seconds. Think of it as your elevator pitch to the hiring manager.
Checking all the Cover Letter Boxes
Cover letters don’t have to be super-original. In fact, most of the cover letters you write will follow the same basic formula. While you certainly don’t want it to be generic, there are a few basic things every cover letter should include.
In the first paragraph, introduce yourself and say why you’re interested in the position and the company. Be enthusiastic and use this section to show you’ve done research about the role and the firm.
The second paragraph should include your pitch: why are you a good fit for the position, and what skills do you have that match the job requirements? Then, make a brief survey of your relevant experience and skillset.
Next you should list a few key achievements that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a retail manager and have experience both in retail and in operations, it’s best to emphasize your retail achievements.
In the last paragraph or section, use a “call to action” and show you’re excited about the opportunity, and you’ll follow up with the manager. Sum up what makes you a great potential hire. Also, say that you appreciate them considering you for the position.
Throughout the cover letter, also consider using keywords from the job description. So much of today’s hiring process is automated, so an online tracking system may be searching for specific keywords. Not only that, but hiring managers may also look for particular keywords used in the cover letter.
Demonstrate Why You’re a Good Fit
Remember to not just restate your entire resume in the cover letter. The cover letter and resume are supposed to complement each other, not match.
Use the cover letter to demonstrate why you’re such a good fit and that you understand what the position is and what the company does. Simply summarizing your experience and skills and making the cover letter all about you is a huge turn-off for recruiters and hiring managers.
Always try to use the hiring manager’s name in the cover letter.
With a bit of simple research online or on LinkedIn, you can discover the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s name and then address them at the beginning of the letter.
Managers and recruiters will like the personalization, and it’ll show you went the extra mile to do additional research about the company.
Always Include an Excellent Cover Letter
Some people believe the cover letter is an outdated concept in today’s digital job-hunting world. While the debate continues, Empire Resume recommends submitting a cover letter with your applications for several reasons.
- Submitting cover letters show you’re genuinely motivated and interested in the positions you’re applying for.
- You can tailor the cover letter directly to the hiring manager and role while using a single master resume.
- You’ll gain a competitive edge over candidates who don’t submit one.
Whatever you do, don’t make your cover letter too generic. The idea is to personalize it and show how you fit specifically for the job and the company. Of course, all of your cover letters will follow a similar formula and format, but the best ones will match your skills and experience with the job you’re applying for.
If you’re looking to land your next job, Empire Resume can help. Our team of professional resume writers can craft you a resume and LinkedIn profile that will generate results and land you the interviews and jobs you really want.
Stay tuned to Empire Resume’s blog for more insights on the job-searching process, such as articles like How to Tailor Your Cover Letter, 3 Ways to Enhance Your LinkedIn Profile, and How to Negotiate Your Salary.
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Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.