Cover letters 101. Everything you need to know about cover letters.

cover letter image for theh post cover letters 101

Did you wonder what a cover letter is? Or why is it used? Want to know how to write one? No problem, we will discuss it here everything you need to know.

Cover letters are the gateway to your resume. It covers, enhances and improves your resume. It also increases your chances of getting hired. If you know how to write a cover letter properly, then it can mean a difference between getting and losing a job!

Ok, now first try to understand what a cover letter is. It is just a type of formal letter and so its format and writing style will also match as any other formal letter. Cover letters should be nice, standard and should impress the employer. In this article, we will learn step by step to create a cover letter and also we will see examples along the way.

Cover letters 101

cover letter with a pen

A cover letter is a one-page document that formally introduces an applicant to a recruiter. It contains around 3-5 paragraphs that briefly describes the reason and experience of the applicant. Cover letters are meant to give hiring managers a broad overview of the applicant. It also helps them to decide whether the person will suit for the position or not before going through the resume. It was just an introduction to cover letters. Let’s now move on to the tricky part: the basic format of a cover letter.

The basic format of a cover letter

A cover letter’s format is similar to any formal letter. Put your address, email, phone number or any other important contact information at the beginning. Then it is followed by the date and salutation of the hiring manager. After that, the body of the letter is written in between 2-4 paragraphs. The applicant’s signature comes at the end.

We will now break it down and discuss each of them separately:
1. Header
2. Salutation or greeting
3. Body of the cover letter
4. Conclusion and leave-taking

1. Header

header part of the cover letter
Cover Letter Format

Headers provide the main skeleton of the cover letter. It should contain these following:

  • Your address which includes locality, city, postal code, etc.
  • Address of the company you are applying
  • Email Address
  • Your phone/mobile number
  • Date

Address of the applicant

On the left side of the letter, put your address clearly. You can use an official or residential address, whichever is convenient for you.

Company Address

Here you will put the address of the company you are applying to. The city, street name, etc. You may also put the hiring manager’s name, phone number and email.

Email Address

After the address, you can optionally put your email address so that they can contact you. Make sure that the email id is professional such as “danielsmith@gmail.com” and not “boringdaddy@gmail.com”.

Phone/Mobile Number

You can also put your phone or mobile number in the header but it is not mandatory.

Date

After writing down the contact information, don’t forget to put the date of writing the letter.

If you are writing the cover letter in the body of email, then you will have to edit and modify some parts of the header such as removing the email address. Where will you write your cover letter? Email body or as an attached file? Decide it well!

2. Salutation or greeting

salutation and greeting part of the cover letter

Salutation is very important and if done well, it can get the attention of the hiring manager or the employer. It should be specific and respectful. For example, if you write “Dear Mr. James”, it will make the employer feel as if it was written personally for him/her compared to “Dear Hiring Manager”.

It will spark an interest in his/her mind to start reading the letter. It will also give a surprise for good. So don’t forget this.

3. Body of the cover letter

main body of the cover letter

This is the main content of the cover letter. Without it, the cover letter has no value. The way in which you write the body of the cover letter will determine if the hiring manager should continue with your resume.

The body should be broken down into at least these 3 important paragraphs:

1. The first paragraph: Introduction and your interest

The first paragraph should have something which is attention-grabbing. It should describe why you are interested in the company that you are applying for. You should be genuinely interested to work for them. It should not look dull or boring. Also, do not forget to describe how you got to know about the company.

2. The second paragraph: Work experiences

Here you should hardly describe one or two experiences which you think will be the most helpful for the recruiter to know your worth. Make it catchy, interesting and appealing. If you write this part well, the hiring manager will surely love to learn more about you from your resume.

3. The third paragraph: transitioning into conclusion

This paragraph is actually used for transitioning to the closing paragraph. If you did not mention your important skills you can do it here. Also, you can request or ask the hiring person to check out your portfolio or resume. After this paragraph, you can add a formal closing paragraph.

These three paragraphs are like basic requirements for the body of a cover letter. You can sure add some more paragraphs but remember that it should not be too long or else it won’t be a good cover letter. Do you like to read long letters? Nobody has time to read that.

4. Conclusion and leave-taking

signature and complimentary close of a cover letter

The conclusion can be a paragraph by itself where you can thank the reader for providing his time to read the cover letter. This should be written in such a way that it leaves an impression and makes the employer see your resume.

It is recommended to put the complimentary close ‘sincerely yours’ or ‘regards’ and then end with your full signature.

Important tips to remember

Now you know the format of a cover letter. To save you from trouble and to write a nice cover letter, always follow these 3 tips:

1. Never reuse a cover letter. Always write a new and fresh one for each company.

2. Be specific. Try as much you can to use the hiring manager’s name in the salutation.

3. Keep it simple. Cover letters are not meant to list your education, skills, and experiences. That’s what a resume is for. You can get the best resume templates here.

Baraja Swargiary

He is a forever learner and a student who likes to blog on various topics. He also likes to cook and try out new recipes. Besides that, he also knows web designing and loves writing code.

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