People are rarely hired on the basis of a single characteristic—there’s a reason employers are looking for “the whole package.” Companies want somebody who will be a well-rounded addition to their staff. The hiring process is the same way—you do not want to rely on a single strength. That said, some aspects of your application are particularly important, and your cover letter is certainly at the top of the list.
A generic or unconvincing cover letter is a surefire way to have your application disregarded. You need to tell employers why you are interested in the job, and more importantly, why you are the right candidate. Accomplish this, and you very well may get a call inviting you to the next step in the hiring process. You can consult our tips and advice for a better idea of how to create a cover letter with confidence.
How To Create a Cover Letter
Your cover letter is one of the most important parts of your application. When it comes to writing it, though, the pressure may make the task difficult. Following these pointers can help alleviate the stress and show you how to create a cover letter effectively.
1. Consider the job in question
Before you can start writing, you need to know what you are writing about. This is especially true if you are trying to get a job and convince your reader that you are the right choice. To do this, you must be familiar with the position, the company, and perhaps even the recruiter you are writing to.
Do your research before you get started so that you have a good idea of the direction you are going. Once you understand your audience and what the company is looking for, you can more effectively tailor your letter to the position you are pursuing.
2. Introduce yourself
The first thing you want to do—once you have become familiar with the position and its expectations—is introduce yourself to your reader. A recruiter will likely be the one reading the letter, so you should imagine what he or she would be looking for and write from this perspective. You should introduce yourself by briefly stating your name, current position (if you have one), and how you learned of the open position.
Small details such as these give your reader a cursory idea of who you are so that personal context grounds the rest of your letter.
3. Align yourself with company ideas
As you are reading the job posting, you might notice there are recurring themes—innovation, honesty, or collaboration, for example. Companies use job postings to advertise open positions, but they often also advertise their values. You should skim the ad again to identify any expressed values or ideals so that you can integrate these into your cover letter. Aligning yourself with the ideals of the company shows that you are perceptive and likely to be a good fit for the job.
4. Explain your motivation and interest
Simply mentioning that you identify with the company values is not sufficient justification for seeking a job. You should explain in further detail why you are personally interested in the position. You may mention that it aligns with your career goals, that it offers an opportunity to build specific skills, or that it is in a field you would like to pursue.
This information helps a recruiter understand why you are applying to the position and whether your motivations make you a good fit. Be honest and detailed here, but also keep in mind how your interest sets you apart from other candidates.
5. Outline your qualifications
Your interest and knowledge are certainly important, but at the end of the day, recruiters need to know that you are qualified for the position. You should next outline some of your most important qualifications by briefly mentioning your prior experience and how it relates to the position you are pursuing.
If you have worked in similar position before, you should discuss this. If the position is a new endeavor, you should explain how your prior experience has prepared you to enter a new field. Be sure that you are not simply repeating the information found on your resume.
6. Make the case for yourself
You are your own best advocate, and a cover letter is the place to put that into practice. Do not be shy when it comes to arguing for your fitness for the job. Be upfront about your accomplishments. Let your reader know that you have been successful and will continue to be successful.
Rather than simply telling this, though, you should show it—this is how to create a cover letter effectively. Identify specific instances of success from your prior positions and describe how you exceeded expectations. Examples such as these let a recruiter know you have taken the initiative in the past and will continue to do so.
7. Organize your thoughts coherently
Your cover letter might contain all the right information, but it will not do any good if you organize it incoherently. Be sure to present your thoughts in a clear and straightforward manner. Do not immediately launch into your accomplishments, for example—introduce yourself, discuss your interest in the job, and then move to more in-depth information.
If you need to, follow a simple formula such as this one to ensure that your letter is accessible and engaging. Organizing your ideas effectively is just as important as what you say, so be sure to maintain a deliberate and straightforward structure throughout the letter.
8. Close with your contact information
The end of your letter is just as important as the beginning and middle. As you come to a close, you should ensure that you convey respect, gratitude, and enthusiasm. Sign your letter “thank you” or “sincerely,” and include your contact information. You should mention that you are interested in learning more and discussing the opportunity further so that the recruiter understands your enthusiasm.
This is an example of a cover letter. Notice its clear organization and enthusiastic tone.
I am writing in response to the ad posted for an open position at Sunware Software. The posting indicates that you are seeking a webmaster and designer, and I am very interested in applying for the position. My name is James Mark, and I recently graduated from Corpus Christi College with a B.S. in Computer Science. This is just one reason I believe the job would be a great fit.
During my time as a student, I worked for our college’s information technology sector and learned many of the skills that the position requires. I managed our college website, updated it daily, and helped troubleshoot issues that students, staff, and faculty encountered.
In this position, I decreased open ticket time by 28% and improved satisfaction with the IT department’s service by 19%. This success reflects my commitment to excellence. More importantly, however, it reflects how I have honed the skills that have motivated me to pursue a career in information technology and computer science. Sunware Software is the perfect place, I believe, to continue developing these skills.
I am not interested in the webmaster and designer position simply for the sake of furthering my own career, however. I am thrilled at the opportunity to contribute to Sunware’s success as well. I know that your company places a strong emphasis on collaborative innovation, and this is something I value highly in my work, too.
I am looking to join a team that values each member’s contributions and thrives on the intersection of diverse perspectives. The idea of contributing to such a company is truly thrilling, and I am confident that my skills would be valuable to the projects and endeavors Sunware is dedicated to.
Thank you so much for taking the time to review my cover letter, resume, and application. I would be thrilled to discuss the webmaster and designer position with you further as soon as you are available. You can reach out to me at 555-555-5555 or via email at [email protected].