Welcome to Part 2 of “Getting the Job” Series!
This whole series is about helping you get the job you want. In this part of the “Getting a Job” series, I am going to go over the 9 important details you need to know about when writing your cover letter. As with everything when you are trying to get a job, you need to be prepared. That usually means taking a little more time when completing a job application.
These small or big details can be the difference between you landing the interview or having your application thrown in the trash. Cover letters provide you a great chance to add more to your resume. While they are not always required, it always a good idea to submit a one with your resume.
First off, what is the point of having a cover letter?
I mean doesn’t you resume already tell the employer everything about your work history? The answer is no.
A cover letter gives you the chance to show these potential employers what kind of skills you will bring to the job. It will give a better picture of what you are capable of. An important thing to note is that a cover letter is NOT a repeat of your resume but instead an addition to it.
Before I get into more details about your cover letter, I want you to know that in this post I assume you have a basic understanding of what to write. This post focuses more on the little details that might be overlooked which could then lead to your cover letter not being read.
If you need to have a better understanding of how to write a cover letter then checkout this blog post.
What is a cover letter?
Like most things in life, having an understanding of what you are doing will make that task so much easier. It helps to know what you are writing and what you should include in it. So, a basic description of a cover letter is that it is a letter that accompanies your resume. But let’s dig a little deeper.
The best way to think about a cover letter is that it provides you the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to a potential employer and explain why you are qualified for the job listing. A fun example is that your resume is the cake and your cover letter is the icing. The icing makes the cake stand out and give it a little more flavor.
So when you are writing your cover letter, it should have specific examples of how you helped a project succeed rather than stating the type of projects you worked on.
The differences between a cover letter and a resume.
Like I said above, your resume is the cake and the cover letter is the icing, but what exactly are the differences? The first thing to note is that these two documents are not the same thing. Okay I know that is a given, but it is a really important concept to know. Most people run into trouble with cover letters because they are repeating the resume.
The biggest differences are the structure and intent. While the information in each can be similar, a resume focuses more on the facts of your work experience while a cover letter focuses more on how skills helped a specific task or project.
In a cover letter, you are allowed to have more personality and write in first-person, though be careful to not do it too much. This is compared to a resume where you should avoid using first-person and instead use statements. The best thing to remember about cover letters is that they are there to support your resume.
Time to dive into those 9 details.
I know this might seem like a no brainer, but people are trying to find any way that allows there job application to stand out. And the fonts are very easy and visible. The best advice I can give you is to only use serif and sans serif fonts. Here is a list of the best professional fonts that are great to use on both resumes and cover letters.
2. FONT SIZE
Stick to the standard size you always see associated with reports or emails. The body text should be either 10- or 12-point font size and the header with your name should be between 16- and 32-font size. Adjust the header font if you need to make room for more text in your cover letter.
3. PAGE LENGTH
It should only be one-page and that’s it. Don’t let it go longer. The bulk of your letter will be giving examples of your work experience, so make sure to only choose ones that will show you are the perfect fit for the job. You can give more details at the interview.
Remember, you don’t want it to take the hiring manager a long time to read it because they don’t have a lot of time to spend on one singular job application. There are probably a hundred people applying for the same job, so make it easy to choose you.
4. HIRING MANAGER’S NAME
This is something I bet not a lot of people think about (I know I didn’t until recently), but it is very important. A lot of companies like to see that you have taken the initiative and found the name of the person who will be reading your letter. This shows that you are very interested in the job and that you are willing to take the time to have all the correct components for your application. Include the hiring manager’s name in the header and salutation portions of the cover letter.
But this can be tricky. It is not always easy to find and you might have to do a little digging. The first step would be to look at the job application. See if there is someone associated with it. From there you can look on LinkedIn or the company’s website. If you do find a name but are unsure if that person is the one who will be reviewing the job applications, then give the company a call to confirm. You are only making yourself look good by going the extra step.
Now, what if you can’t find their name online?
Well, then your next step is to call the company. Let whoever you are speaking to know that you are applying for a job at the company and would like to have the hiring manager’s name for the cover letter. If the company has one, try to speak with someone in the human resources department. There will companies though that do not want you to know the contact information of the hiring manager. And in that instance, there is nothing you can do, but at least you tried.
5. USING THE CORRECT GREETING AND CLOSING
This is a simple detail that can be easily overlooked. Cover letters allow you to have more personality, so sometimes people fall into the trap where they are more casual in the greetings and closing. For example, they might use “Hello” or “Love”. With both, you want it to be professional. There is a sweet spot for which greeting/closing you should use.
When choosing a greeting, you don’t want to be too casual (like you are talking to a friend) but you also don’t want to be too generic. The best greetings to use are:
- Dear John Johnson
- Dear Professor Johnson
- Dear Dr. Johnson
If you were unable to find the hiring manager’s name then use:
- Dear Hiring Manager
- Dear [Department] Team
- Dear [Company Name] Recruiter
- Dear Sir or Madam
Now onto the best closings that you should use. This is just like the greetings where you don’t want it to be too casual or too generic. Stick to the professional closings like:
- Best regards
- Best wishes
- Cordially yours
- Respectfully yours
- Sincerely yours
- Thank you
My personal favorites that I have used with both applying for jobs and when emailing clients are “Best Regards”, “Regards”, and “Sincerely”. These are always professional options to choose from.
6. CALL TO ACTION
In your closing paragraph, you want to finish with a call to action (CTA). Your CTA should do two things:
1. Be direct
2. Shows your excitement to work at the company
This statement gives the hiring manager one final push and allows you another chance to stand out.
Here are two great examples of CTAs that you can use:
- I am excited for the opportunity to speak with you further about this position and tell you why I am the best person for the job.
- I believe with my previous experience and expertise that I will be a great addition to the [insert company name] and would love to meet with you to discuss how I can contribute to the success of the company.
All the CTAs listed below are considered passive and do not motivate the potential employer to contact you.
- I look forward to hearing from you
- I would really love to work for your company
- I can interview at your convenience
- I’d love to interview at [company name]
These CTAs above can also sound pushy to the person reading it and might create a negative reaction to your job application. Which is what we don’t want.
7. SAY THANK YOU
You want to show your appreciation that this person took the time to read your letter. It’s a small but thoughtful way to conclude everything.
- Thank you for reviewing my application.
- Thank you for taking the time to review my resume.
- Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
8. SIGNATURE FORMAT
You have made it to the end of your letter, but you are not done yet. Don’t end your cover letter on a low note. Make sure you are using the correct and professional format. There are two signature formats to be aware of: the printed cover letter and the email cover letter.
When figuring out how many lines spaces you need between text, there is a difference between a printed letter format verse an email message. With the printed letter format you will want to have four spaces between the professional close and your printed name. That space should give you enough room for a written signature.
With an email message, you only need one line space between the professional close and your printed name. If you choose to use an email format, then it is acceptable to use an email signature.
What is an email signature?
There are a variety of ways that you can write your email signature. The basic information that should be in every email signature is your first and last name, email address, and phone number. Other information you can include is your LinkedIn URL and your current company information. If you need to see some examples, then check out this blog post.
9. DON’T REPEAT YOUR RESUME
I saved the best for last because this is extremely important. Don’t just take what you have on your resume and put it in your cover letter. Otherwise, what is the point? You have then submitted two items that pretty much say the same thing.
When a potential employer is taking the time to read the cover letter, they want to see how you believe your work experience makes you qualified for the position. That means giving examples of how you have succeeded in your previous job(s).
These details could be the difference between getting you the interview and your application being trashed.
I hope this has helped you elevate your cover letters to the next level and will get you the job opportunity you are dreaming of. Take the time you need to create an amazing cover letter. It is okay to have a basic template for jobs that are very similar but don’t forget that every job listing is a little different and so should your cover letter.
Have these tips help you in refining your cover letter? Did they get you to the interview? Are there any important details you think I left off? Let me know in the comments below!
If you liked this blog post, then check out these similar ones:
- 5 Sections You Need To Have On Your Resume
- How to Prepare Your Work For Your Maternity Leave
- A Beginner’s Guide for Working Moms
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Hi, I'm CaitieJ!
Welcome to Blogging Through Life. I am a lifestyle mom blogger who writes to help the busy modern mom. Being a mom is no easy task, so let me help whether it is in motherhood or building your career!
A little about me: I am married to the love of my life and together we have two amazing little boys. I love to travel, anything Disney, enjoy a rainy day and drink a soothing cup of tea. Click my picture if you want to read more about who I am and what my blog is about.