How to write a cover letter
A cover letter is like your resume’s sidekick – while it isn’t the main star of the show, it’s there to provide backup when needed. The resume is to tell your professional story – your education, job experience and skills. It usually tends to be a bit of a dry read (sorry, resume). However, a cover letter is there to show your personality. It’s allows you to show your own voice and colour so you have the opportunity to stand out.
Accompanying your resume, our cover letter should be a well-written letter addressed to the hiring manager covering these areas:
Your contact information
Make it clear who the cover letter is coming from. Include your first and last name, complete address, phone number and email address.
It might not seem like an important addition, but the date is a way to validate the day you submitted your application to ensure it is within the job opening period. The date should be the true date you submitted the application.
The hiring manager’s contact information
It’s important to address the letter to the right person. Include the full name, job title or position, company name, company address, and the contact’s phone number and email address. If you don’t have this information or don’t know who you’re sending your application to, you can replace the name with “Hiring Manager.”
Begin your cover letter by a salutation. If you know the name, start with “Dear Miss/Mrs./Ms./Mr./Dr. Last Name.” If you aren’t sure of the gender, you can use the full name. However, if you don’t know the name, simply use “Dear Hiring Manager.” That salutation is better than the generic alternative of “To Whom It May Concern.”
Now it’s time to get to what you’ve applied for. Begin by stating the position you’re applying for. Include where you heard about the posting, especially if someone in the company suggested you apply. If this is the case, drop the name, but just make sure you’ve told that person you are using their name. The Hiring Manager may contact them at some point in the hiring process and it’s best they are prepared for that situation.
After you’ve introduced the job, give a brief overview of the highlights of your resume – it could be your skills, experience or education – anything that would interest the hiring manager. Write persuasively so you get the interest of the person reading.
This is the golden nugget of the cover letter. It is here that you let your own voice shine through. In a few paragraphs, explain why you are interested in the job, how you’d be a good fit and why you want to work for the company. Show, in words, your personality, work ethic, professional skills – anything you deem appropriate for the job in question. Really try to pique the interest of the reader by stating specific scenarios and examples that may be relevant to the position.
Here’s a helpful tip: go back to the job posting and reuse the terminology and phrasing the posting uses – this will prove that a) you’ve read the job description and b) you are qualified for the job.
Wrap up the letter with a nice concluding summary of you. Don’t repeat yourself, but find a new way to say how great you are and why you want the position. Include your interest and willingness for an interview, either in-person, by phone or video conference. Depending on the hiring process (if a timeline of steps has been included or not), you should also state that you will follow-up and when you will do that (give at least two to five business days). Don’t forget to also thank the person for their consideration and time in reviewing your application.
Last but not least, include a signature. After you thank the hiring manager, use “Sincerely,” “Yours truly,” or some other complimentary close before your name. If possible, you should include your handwritten signature (tip: you can scan your handwritten signature to your computer and convert to a jpg!). Then, type your full name.
Follow these tips and you’ll have a stellar cover letter for your next job! Don’t forget to customize the information for each job you apply to.