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So you’ve finished your resume or your CV, and let’s be honest, it’s pretty impressive. Great, now take a breather, you’ve earned it.
Ready to nail part two? Part two being the cover letter, of course. Resumes go with cover letters like fine wine and cheese. Like salt and pepper. Like Bert and Ernie. You get the picture.
Sending a good cover letter greatly increases your chances of getting hired — but beware the double-edged sword, because a poorly written one can really sabotage your candidacy.
Luckily, you don’t have to do this alone.
I’ve prepared this guide specifically for people just like you, so read on and let’s knock your cover letter out of the park together.
If I am getting a little ahead of myself and you do not have your resume or CV prepared yet, no worries! I’ve written detailed guides on how to write both a good resume, available here and a good CV here.
Check those out and then come back for the second course!
Table of contents
You probably have a general idea of what a cover letter is, but if you don’t, or if your memory is a bit foggy at the moment because the last job you applied for was 10 years ago, here is a quick reminder.
Unless the job offer explicitly states not to send one, it is advisable to send a cover letter along with every resume.
This entire guide could be boiled down to one golden rule: don’t be sloppy. To be more specific
As far as basic formatting goes, that’s about it! Following these rules will keep your cover letter looking crisp and organized so the recruiter can focus on what you’re saying.
Getting your cover letter right is crucial. Luckily, it’s enough to follow the steps listed below to craft a cover letter that will grab the recruiter’s attention and keep it focused on exactly what you want to show them.
Let’s take a look at these steps, one by one.
There are two options here. You can either go with something basic like:
or you can go for a more personal approach, and by this I mean referring to the recruiter by name, e.g.
Finding the recruiter’s name might require some extra effort, but what’s the internet for if not for a little cyberstalking? 😄 As with many parts of the recruitment process, sometimes a little effort goes a long way.
If you are having any problems figuring out how to find the right person to address the cover letter to, check out my detailed guide that will help you get that done efficiently and properly.
Addressing the recruiter directly shows them:
If you do decide to address the recruiter directly, however, be sure not to misspell their name or use the wrong title. You can be sure that no doctor went to medical school for all those years for you to refer to them as “Mr” or “Ms” 😄
Also, AVOID antiquated, impersonal expressions such as:
It’s not the 1900s anymore. Don’t wear a top hat to the interview, either.
Start with your personal information.
Your name: David Manchen Your position: Office Manager Your mailing address: 260 East Avenue Houston, TX, 71998 Your phone number: 722-557-2277 Your email: firstname.lastname@example.org Below this should come the date, say: 19/01/2020
Put the hiring manager’s details next.
Addressee: Customer Service Hiring Team Manager OR Mr. Dean Smith Company name and address: Lark Industries 200 Forest Street Dallas, TX, 78212
Now for the actual greeting.
Dear Customer Service Hiring Team Manager/Ms. Donna Smith,
To sum up, the whole thing should look like this:
David Manchen Office Manager 260 East Avenue Houston, TX, 71998 722-557-2277 email@example.com 19/01/2020 Customer Service Hiring Team Manager OR Ms. Donna Smith Lark Industries 200 Forest Street Dallas, TX, 78212 Dear Customer Service Hiring Team Manager/Ms. Donna Smith,
The first paragraph is what’s meant to get the recruiter interested — no matter how impressive your achievements, the recruiter may never get around to reading them if you bore them to tears right off the bat.
So start on a high note.
Mention an impressive achievement or, if you don’t have one just yet, ‘hook’ the reader by bringing up a recent accomplishment of the company itself and say how that motivated you to apply for a position with them.
This could sound something like:
As a lifelong client of Kruger’s, I am thrilled to see you are hiring for the position of office manager. As an office manager with 5+ years of experience, I am convinced I would be a valuable addition to your company. Last year while working for Smith’s Department Store, I balanced a $100,000 office budget, while reducing employee costs by 10%. I would love to bring my skills to the open office manager position at Kruger’s, with the hopes of enhancing my skills and performance further while under your employment.
Ok, you’ve got the recruiter’s attention. Now what?
It’s time to really drive home how much of an accomplished professional you are in your field. You can do this by fleshing out what you started in the first paragraph.
Some of the most crucial aspects of being a successful office manager are anticipating the needs of the team and handling sensitive situations with tact and discretion. I have been commended by my manager as well as my employees multiple times for my unique ability to read and appropriately respond to issues raised by both colleagues and clients. As a result of this talent, I was invited to serve as a part-time personal assistant to two of our firm's senior executives.
All that’s left now is to let the recruiter know you are down to talk anytime, and that’s what we’re going to do. This part of your cover letter should be short and sweet so as not to water down the impression you just made.
Something as simple as:
“I’d be happy to schedule a call to discuss plans for your expansion in 2020”
works. It’s short, polite yet to the point, and it shows you have something to offer.
When reviewing your cover letter, make sure you keep the list of do’s and don’ts below in mind to make the best impression possible.
And that’s it, that’s all there is to formatting your cover letter just right.
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but your cover letter is not a book, and the recruiter reading it isn’t likely curled up on the sofa with their cat and a cup of tea — they will be going through hundreds of them.
Making your cover letter aesthetically pleasing and well-organized will help you stand out and make the recruiter’s job that much more pleasant. Win-win!
Now, time to get down to writing!
Good luck 😄