Don’t Just Rehash Your Resume
What’s the first thing to know about how to write a cover letter? Your words should do more than restate salient details from your resume. Check out this brief checklist of important functions of a cover letter:
- Draw attention to specific skills and experience that make you an ideal candidate.
- Mention other relevant skills your resume may not illustrate.
- Explain why you would love to have the job in question.
- Show you’ve done research on the company, its mission and key leadership.
Exploring The Cover Letter Format
While the basic structure of most cover letters will be similar, there are a myriad of nuances in how to format a cover letter. We will explore the cover letter format in great detail together over the remainder of the blog, but to start with, here is an example of a cover letter format that has been broken into individual components:
Professional Cover Letter Example
The restaurant manager cover letter below should give you an idea about what it takes to impress the employers at your next company.
Whether youre a mid-level manager or a job seeker hoping to write a cover letter that highlights your professionalism, this example will demonstrate exactly how you should structure your cover letter.
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The Middle Part Of A Cover Letter
After you have written a powerful opening introduction, you have the freedom to explore the aspects of your career story that you feel are most relevant for the role in the middle part of your cover letter .
Base the middle paragraphs of your cover letter around the role requirements and describe how hiring you would make a difference. Use examples to back up your claims and be confident in your assertions.
These couple of paragraphs will be viewed as the central part of your application, so choose your examples and words carefully. Using bullet points in this section can create a powerful impact and it allows you to address different achievements in a short section of the page. Feel free to use bold fonts in certain header sections to draw the eye.
1. Explore your motivations for why you want the role.
My passion remains helping psychiatrically diagnosed adults to transition from long-term hospitalization and reintegrating into the community. As someone whose mother suffered with mild schizophrenia all her life, this is close to my heart.
Offer solutions to employer pain points
You are being hired to solve a problem. Maybe a number of problems. Show in your cover letter that you understand the issues at stake and talk about how you will make the difference, preferably right in the middle paragraphs of your application letter. Do your research, develop an opinion about what you might change and show why you are the best person for the job.
Case Study #: Catch Their Attention
Over the past four years, Emily Sernaker applied for multiple positions at the International Rescue Committee . She never gave up. With each application, she sent a personalized cover letter. I wanted my cover letter to highlight my qualifications, creative thinking, and genuine respect for the organization, she says.
Sarah Vania, the organizations regional HR director, says that Emilys letters caught her attention, especially because they included several video links that showed the results of Emilys advocacy and fundraising work at other organizations. Emily explains, I had prior experience advocating for former child soldiers, human trafficking survivors, vulnerable women, and displaced persons. Its one thing to make statements in a cover letter, like I can make a pitch, I am a creative person, I am thoughtful, but showing these qualities seemed like a better way of convincing the recruiter that the statements were true.
This is what Emily wrote to Sarah about the video:
Here is a short video about my story with activism. The nonprofit organization Invisible Children made it for a youth conference I spoke at this year. It is about four minutes.
As youll see from the video, Ive had a lot of success as a student fundraiser, raising over $200,000 for Invisible Children. Ive since gone on to work as a consultant for Wellspring International and have recently concluded my studies as a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar.
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Write An Effective Subject Line Its The First Thing Theyre Going To See
Sure, the subject line is just a tiny part of the whole email. However, its also the very first thing the recruiter is going to see. Thats why you want the subject line of your resume email to be absolutely spot on.
First of all, check the job posting for instructions regarding the submission. There may be a preferred subject format the company uses. If thats the case, then you need to stick to it.
If there are no instructions, you should stick to the standard format for subject lines:
- Subject: Job application Job title, Job ID Your Name
- Example: Job application Office Manager, Job ID #1553 Ian Lumberjack
- Example : Referral from John Wick: Job application Graphic Designer, Job ID #1554 Nina Hughes
If someone recommended you for the job, definitely make this clear in the subject line. You can add your title or qualification if you wish but remember, keep the subject line succinct.
Case Study #: Demonstrate An Understanding Of What The Company Needs
Michele Sommers, the vice president of HR for the Boys & Girls Village, a nonprofit in Connecticut, recently posted a job for a recruiting and training specialist. I was looking for someone with a strong recruiting background who could do everything from sourcing candidates to onboarding new hires, she says. She also wanted the person to hit the ground running. Were a small team and I cant afford to train someone, she says.
More than 100 candidates applied for the job. The organizations online application system doesnt allow for cover letter attachments but one of the applicants, Heidi , sent a follow-up email after submitting her résumé. And its a good thing she did because she wouldve been weeded out otherwise, Michele says.
Heidis résumé made her look like a job hopper very short stints at each previous employer. Michele assumed she was a poor performer who kept getting fired. She was also the only candidate who didnt have a four-year college degree.
But Heidis email caught Micheles eye. First off, it was professional. Heidi stated clearly that she was writing to double-check that her application had been received. She went on to explain how she had gotten Micheles name and information and her personal connection to Boys & Girls Village .
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Example #: If Youre Relocating To The City Where The Job Opportunity Is Located
Subject Line: Expressing Interest and Relocating Near Litigation Secretary Position
Dear Hiring Manager,
Im writing to express my interest in the Litigation Secretary position listed on Monster.com. My resume is attached for your review and consideration.
I am a fast learner, very dependable, organized, and computer savvy. I have extensive experience assisting firm attorneys and multiple paralegals, as well as supervising and managing an office. While I currently reside in Los Angeles, I will be moving to San Francisco at the end of the month.
I look forward to the opportunity to meet with you to learn more about your firm, its plans and goals, and how I might contribute to its continued success. I can be your ideal candidate if given this opportunity. Thank you.
What Should A Great Cover Letter Say
A perfect cover letter for your resume is made of the following four parts:
The cover letter example below describes how to write each of these key sections:
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Explain How You Discovered The Job Opening
If you have a reference at the company you want to work at, your cover letter introduction is the place to mention that reference. Employee referrals are considered one of the best sources of good hires by employers, so why not start off by using this proven strategy?
Even if you dont know anyone at the company, still let the employer know where you discovered the job listing. Hiring people takes energy, and hiring managers appreciate you letting them know which avenues led you to apply at their company.
Address Your Cover Letter
Your cover letter and resume are a package, so you’ll want them to match. Start your cover letter with your name along with your contact information.
When you search for cover letter templates online, you might find ones where you’ll fill in a company’s contact information. That was relevant when cover letters were sent via snail mail, but these days, you can just leave it off. A hiring manager doesn’t need to see the address of their office building.
Below your contact information, add the date you’re applying and address your cover letter to its intended recipient. If the job description doesn’t include the name of a hiring manager or team leader, here’s how to find this information:
If the job listing has an email address, use it to search for a name on Google or through an online company directory.
If the job listing is on LinkedIn, see if you can track down the original poster.
If the job description mentions who the job reports to, search for that individual or position title in a company directory.
If you still can’t find a name to address your cover letter to, avoid phrases like To whom it may concern,Hey, or Dear Sir/Madam these are hated cover letter cliches. Instead, address it to the department that’s hiring or the team manager .
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How To Email A Resume And Cover Letter Attachment
Ashley Nicole DeLeon / The Balance
Do you need to email your resume and cover letter? Depending on the job for which you’re applying, you may need to email your resume and cover letter to the hiring manager. That’s often the case with smaller employers.
Networking contacts who are helping you with your job search may also ask you to email your application materials so they can review them and share your resume with prospective employers. If you’ve asked someone to give you a reference, they may want a copy of your resume to review prior to writing a recommendation.
Send a test message, and email your resume and cover letter to yourself before you send it to the employer. That way, you’ll know your documents are attached correctly.
What’s the easiest way to attach your resume and cover letter to an email message? When you’re asked to send a resume or cover letter via email, follow these steps to ensure you have correctly attached your documents, written an email explaining what you are sending and why, added your signature to the email, and included a subject line that will get your message opened and read by the recipient.
Mention Youve Attached Your Application Materials
Actually writing out please find attached my resume or something similar in your email body reminds the hiring manager not to overlook your resume.
If you use Gmail, typing attached or attachment into the body of your email causes a pop-up to appear if you forget to attach a file.
Sending your email without attaching your application documents is embarrassing and makes you appear disorganized.
With most hiring managers seeking employees who have great organizational skills, coming off as disorganized doesnt bode well for your chances of getting hired.
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A Note About Sending Cover Letters
Most of the time, you will be sending cover letters by e-mail. When submitting a letter or application in this manner, put your cover letter in the body of the e-mail and attach your resume as a .pdf document. Be sure to follow an employers instructions when filling in the subject line. If an employer does not specify subject line instructions for submitting applications, write the word Application, the position you are applying for/inquiring about, a dash – and your name.
Subj: Application: Northwestern Mutual Financial Representative Kang
The subject line is extremely important when sending a job application or prospecting letter through e-mail. The subject line determines whether your e-mail will be opened and ultimately, considered. Be sure to follow employer guidelines exactly where specified.
When sending a cover letter by mail, affix a hand written signature above your printed name. Be sure the letter is postmarked before any application dates. Note the differences in formatting in the Cover Letter format page. Be sure to include all necessary documents in your envelope. It is recommended that you print your resume and cover letter on professional resume paper .
Signature On Email Cover Letter
Without a signature at the end of your email cover letter, you could be missing out on incredible potential job opportunities. This quick snippet of your contact information makes it easy for recruiters and hiring managers alike to contact you.
When it comes to deciding between a physical signature and a name sign-off, there are benefits to either option. With a name sign-off, you can use a digital signature service like Eversign and RightSignature to give your cover letter that personal touch.
If youd prefer to include just a regular email signature, make sure to include your full name, email and phone number. You can also consider adding a LinkedIn button so the hiring manager can have more insight on your experience and skill set.
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Emailing Your Cover Letter And Resume
When sending your cover letter and resume electronically, try to find out if the employer would prefer them as attachments or in the body of your email. If you can’t determine a preference, send them both ways in a single message.Although not usually required, you may want to follow up the email with hard copies of your cover letter and resume, unless specifically asked not to. When submitting copies by mail, it’s preferable not to fold them. It’s also a good idea to bring copies of your cover letter and resume to any interview.
How To Format A Cover Letter
When youre applying for a job, its common for employers to request both a resume and a cover letter. In around three paragraphs, your cover letter should highlight what makes you a great fit for the job and motivate the hiring manager to set up an interview.
Below, weve broken down everything you need to know about formatting a winning cover letterplus cover letter examples to help you create your own.
Need resume help? Get custom, professional feedback on your resume with our resume feedback questionnaire.
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Keep It Short And To The Point
Unless specified in the job description, there is no required length for a cover letter. When determining how long a cover letter should be, focus on the details that are most important for the job. Read the job description closely to identify the best opportunities to illustrate your qualifications.
What professional achievements are you the proudest of? Choose one or two and map them directly to the desired experience or qualifications the hiring manager is looking for, using just a few detailed but concise sentences. What attributes is the job description calling for in a candidate? Consider using the cover letter itself as a way of demonstrating those traits.
Dont reiterate everything thats on your resume. You want to focus on one or two anecdotes, expanding on how you achieved something specific.
Composing Your Cover Letter
Most cover letters involve three steps: explain why youre writing, refer to your qualifications, and close with a suggested plan of action.
As a general rule, only one paragraph would be required for steps 1 and 3, while step 2 might involve two or more paragraphs. The letter itself should not exceed one page. This sample cover letter uses four paragraphs.
Heres a slightly shorter version of the same letter in e-mail format. An e-mail cover letter must do the same job as the regular cover letter. However, since its likely to be read online, its important to be brief.
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Should You Combine Your Cover Letter And Resume Into One Document
4 min read
The internet has impacted virtually every area of life, including the job search process. Gone are the days when a job-seeker would simply hand an employer a cover letter and resume in paper form. Today, more companies than ever accept digital copies of those job search documents.
In fact, many companies now only accept emailed digital cover letters and resumes. Unfortunately, thereâs been little effort to standardize submission processes, and that can make it a little confusing for the average job seeker.
For example, how should you submit your emailed resume and cover letter?
Should you send them separately, or combine them into one document?
In this post, weâll examine both options and offer the advice you need to make the best decision.