A cover letter is a single-page letter that is attached to a curriculum vitae (CV) in a job application. The cover letter is made specifically for each company that an individual applies to.
A typical cover letter tells a little bit about yourself, how you heard about the company and job opening, and why you are interested in applying for this job. It is also your chance to briefly explain your skills and how they match with the job position that you applied for.
The cover letter plays a critical role in the job application process. Unfortunately, however, there is not much knowledge among young undergraduates and FSc students regarding the importance of cover letters, as well as how to write one.
Luckily, we have provided a comprehensive guideline to explain to you how to write an outstanding and effective cover letter, step-by-step.
Why You Should Include a Cover Letter in Your Job Application Process
Cover letters are important because they give you another chance to explain your qualifications and abilities, and can act as a form of assistance to your CV. While you might think that the curriculum vitae includes everything that the employer needs to know, the truth is that the cover letter gives context to the CV and makes your application seem more than one-dimensional.
Moreover, a cover letter is a great way to differentiate yourself from other job applicants who have similar qualifications, experience, and skills. It can be the determining factor that distinguishes you from the large pool of job applicants.
This is why you should always send a cover letter along with your curriculum vitae whenever you fill out a job application. That being said, there is a difference between throwing around a forgettable cover letter to every company you apply to, and taking the time to craft an impactful cover letter that is relevant to each individual company you apply to.
How to Write an Effective Cover Letter
While there is no one specific formula that must be used when writing a cover letter, there are some essential points that must be addressed for an effective cover letter. These essentials are:
- Contact Information
- Greeting and Introduction
- Where you heard about the job opening or vacancy from (referral)
- How your skills match the skills of the job you are interested in
- Why you are interested in working for that company
- Reminder or encouragement to read your CV
- Call to action
We will look into each section of the cover letter in more details.
A cover letter is a proper letter, and the contact information and address should be written like one. This means that you must include the contact information and address of the company that you are sending it to, as well as your own. Along with the address, be sure to write the name of the HR or hiring manager that you are sending the letter to, as well as their email ID. Also include your own contact information.
Greeting and Introduction
Begin with a greeting, as you would on a traditional letter. For example, you can start with “Dear Mr. XYZ”. Try to avoid using a generic and non-personal greeting such as “to whom it may concern”, as it is better to address your cover letter to a specific HR or hiring manager.
In the introduction, mention the purpose of you writing the letter, who you are and what you are currently doing. Within this introductory paragraph, you should also mention the job position that you are interested in applying for. The introduction should be written in such a way that grabs the attention of the reader.
“Dear Mr. Khan,
I am writing to you regarding ABC Company’s recent job opening for the position of “sales associate”. I have 2 years experience working in customer service…”
Where You Heard About the Job Opening
It is always important to include where you heard about the job opening from. For example, perhaps you saw an advertisement of the vacancy on the local newspaper, or from the company’s official website. Companies are always interested to know the source of your information, so be sure to mention it.
“…I heard about the vacancy for “Sales Associate” from the advertisement on Dawn Newspaper, published on August 15, 2019.”
How Your Skills Match The Job Position
The second paragraph, or body paragraph, should be used to explain how your particular skills would be an asset to the company and valuable for the job position you are applying for. Back this up with practical examples of how your skills have been previously useful, at your current job or during your schooling. If you are an FSc student with no prior job experience, then you should mention how your skills helped you throughout your education, with practical examples.
Also mention any achievements that are relevant to the job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for the job position of “sales associate” as in the previous example, then you can mention how you have been awarded “employee of the month” at your previous organization.
“…I will be able to apply my excellent communication and interpersonal skills in the position of “sales associate”. In my previous organization, these skills helped me to contribute to a 30% increase in overall sales. I hope to bring similar success to your company, if hired.”
Why You Are Interested in The Company
This is the part where research is required. Read the “about us” section of the company’s official website, and accordingly mention why you would be a good fit for that particular company. Including this in your cover letter will show the HR or hiring manager that you are actually interested in working for that company, and your knowledge of the company will be appreciated.
Keep in mind that you will have to do research and write different information on your cover letter for each particular company that you apply to. You cannot copy and paste the same information and send it to every company, as it will be irrelevant to the HR or hiring manager.
“…I am particularly interested in working for ABC Company as I believe that my skills and beliefs are firmly aligned with the core values of this organization. For example, the core value of providing customers with the best experience…”
Reminder to Read Your CV
In the final paragraph, you should wrap up your letter by reminding the HR or hiring manager to read your curriculum vitae. It is important to mention that the skills that you mentioned in your cover letter are reinforced by the CV. You should also highlight that your CV includes your entire work experience and will give the HR and hiring manager a more clear view of your qualifications.
“…I’m confident that reading my CV, which is enclosed with this letter, will give you a better idea of my qualifications and skills. This way, you will be able to see how I can be a good fit in your organization…”
Call to Action
End the paragraph with a call to action, or a prompt for the company to get in contact with you. Be sure that this is done in a respectful manner, without crossing any boundaries. For instance, you can request to arrange a meeting, or mention that you would be more than happy to get in touch with the HR or hiring manager for more information regarding the vacancy. Give your contact number and email ID to further prompt the reader to get in contact with you.
“…I look forward to getting in contact with you to discuss this opportunity further, and would be delighted to answer any more questions that you may have. I can be reached any time at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my mobile number 3331231234, at your convenience.”
Sign off with a closing sentence, regards, signing your name, and mentioning the date.
“I look forward to hearing from you soon.
If you are still confused regarding how to write a cover letter, there are many samples and templates that you can use to help you get started. If you are an FSc student with limited experience, do not worry about not having enough experience to mention on your cover letter. As long as you are able to explain your current skills, educational experience, and willingness to learn, you will be able to write an effective cover letter.