Job hunting has never been easy. Scrolling through the online job boards trying to find matches. It gets much worse when you have to draft an application for each job that you want to apply to. The most challenging part of the job application is writing an effective cover letter. According to the research by Office Team a staffing service specializing in administrative Professionals, 86% of the applications copy and reuse cover letters which is not appropriate. It is advisable to freshly apply for every position given its uniqueness. In this article, we will explain what a cover letter is and how to write an effective one.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter also known as an application letter is a short memo usually between 3-4 paragraphs that you send alongside your job application to recruiters. The cover letter is used to explain your interest in the role and summarise your fitness for the role. More importantly, it highlights your skill, experiences and achievements in the role you are applying for.
Taking time to write a disruptive cover letter will help you stand out in the sea of boring cover letters to impress recruiters and increase your chances of scoring that job application.
Formatting a cover letter
Before getting down to writing it is important to do basic formatting to improve the general neatness of your cover letter. Here are the basic formatting tips:
- Always limit the length of your cover letter to one page. Most recruiters never read beyond the first page given that they are supposed to go through other applications too.
- Use easily readable fonts when writing your cover letter. Fonts like Calibri, Verdana and Serifs are easily readable. This increases the overall probability of a recruiter going through your cover letter.
- Apply a 1inch margin on both sides of the page and make sure your text is aligned to the left
- To increase the overall neatness and readability, adjust the cover letter spacing to feature double spacing between paragraphs and 1.5 between lines.
- Use font sizes f between 10.5 and 12. Smaller font sizes cause the hiring managers to strain when reading your cover letter while larger fonts show a lack of professionality.
- Save your cover letters in PDF format by your name. This way it will never lose its formatting and can be easily identified that it belongs to you.
This section will include your name, contact, date of application and the recipient’s contact.
Example of a cover letter header:
00100 City square
July 5, 2022
Hakuna Matata Inc.
123 Riverside Drive
It is advisable to try and find the name of the person who will be reviewing your application. The recruiter’s name can be found on the job application or the company’s website. If you are not successful in finding the recruiter’s name, direct your salutation to the team or department you are applying for. For instance, “Dear Marketing Director, “ or “Dear Accounting team,” or “Dear Hiring Manager”.
Do not use generic greeting terms such as “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”. Such terms do not portray bad cover letter etiquette and unprofessionalism.
Use the introduction paragraph to grab the manager’s attention, provide an introduction about yourself and explain to the employer how you are excited about the job you are applying for. These sections should always include the title of the job, how you found the job, keywords from the job description, and how the job and company you are applying for align with your career goals. If you were referred by someone who works at the company or knows the hiring manager, this will be the most appropriate section to mention them.
Have a look at this candidate’s introductory paragraph:
I’m a marketing coordinator with five years of experience working with large teams and driving social media campaigns — qualifications that I believe would fulfil the needs of your social media manager position.
Body or middle paragraph.
Use this paragraph to further solidify your experience and relevancy for the position you are applying for. You must be willing to go beyond and impress the hiring manager. It is advisable to research the company, its goals, challenges and plans and detail how you will fit in and help the company achieve all these. Ensure that there is a connection between your previous accomplishments and your suitability for the role you are applying for. When writing this section, opt for points that you can quantify by hard numbers. This way, you will demonstrate to the hiring manager that you can deliver tangible results and they will highly benefit from hiring you. Take a look at the example below.
During my career, I have shown outstanding detail in preparing, cooking and presenting food, evident in the following achievements.
- Contributing to a 20% increase in monthly reservations through word of mouth from satisfied patrons
- Reducing project yearly costs by an average of KES. 90k for 3 consecutive years
- Representing Upperline restaurant on various media platforms including local TV, Newspapers, and charity events
A strong concluding paragraph should thank the hiring manager for their time and consideration, restate your contact information such as phone number and email address and a call to action that will prompt the manager to invite you for an interview. You should always leave the hiring manager wanting to know more about you.
See the example below:
Thank you for considering my application. I’d love to join the team at [Clinic Name]. I’m looking forward to having a more detailed discussion with you about how I can join your team and help you achieve your goals. Feel free to contact me at (555) 047-1701 or email@example.com.
Use a complimentary closing that is friendly yet formal. You may consider using: sincerely, regards, thank you for your consideration, and respectfully followed by your full name.
Related: 9 Modern hacks to get your job application at the top of the competition