3.10 Cover Letter Tips
Lindsay Bortot and Employment Support Centre, Algonquin College
- Customize it.
The employers want to see you demonstrate your knowledge of the company, show how you could benefit their team, and provide compelling reasons why you would like to work for them. Emphasize and expand on several key points related to the employer’s needs and highlight asset points, such as the ability to work flex hours, willingness to relocate, etc.
- Do your research.
Read through the “About Us” page on the company’s website, their mission statement, and social media sites to get more information and insight into the company before you start writing. Your goal is to make the company believe that they are the one and only place you want to work. This is also good preparation for the common questions that will often be asked, such as: “What do you know about our company/organization and why do you want to work for us?”
- Personalize it.
Whenever possible, personalize your greeting and address your cover letter to the appropriate individual(s). For some Hiring Managers this small detail can make the difference between screening you in or out. Also, if you heard about the position from someone you know, or someone you met at an employer event or career fair, make sure to mention their name(s) in your introduction.
- Be creative.
Avoid using the same cookie-cutter introductory lines like everyone else. Show your uniqueness and come up with a creative hook line to capture your reader’s attention. Consider stating an accomplishment, highlighting your passion, mentioning your love for the company, or something interesting you heard about the company in the news. For example, avoid the standard, “I would like to apply for the position of…, but try something more like, “Are you looking for someone who finds inefficiencies, identifies ways to streamline them, and consistently strives to boost the productivity of the team? Well, being that person has earned me two promotions in the last year at my current company, and it’s what I know I can do for you.”
- Be consistent with your format and presentation.
Write your cover letter in a business letter format, you will see this reflected in the template provided in the following section. Use the same font type and size as your resume. Stick to plain paper and avoid graphics.
- Follow instructions.
Pay attention to the application instructions, many job postings require
you to quote a job number in your cover letter to be considered altogether. The posting may also indicate what preferred file format to submit your document in as well. Furthermore, there are some trend-setting companies that are challenging the more conventional cover letter formats. Should you be applying to these companies, make sure to closely read the instructions that are provided on the job posting and write your cover letter accordingly.
- Don’t duplicate your resume.
Avoid presenting information not covered in the resume, but at the same time do not restate your resume word for word. Rather, summarize your most relevant skills and experiences as they relate to the employer’s needs.
- Be concise.
A three to four-paragraph, one-page cover letter is perfectly acceptable. Remembering the volume of applications employers receive, ensuring that your cover letter is concise and to the point will increase its likelihood of being read. You can use point form when describing your qualifications, but do not turn the whole cover letter into point form format as you risk not including enough of an explanation.
- Be aware of organization and flow.
A disorganized and poorly written cover letter can be tiresome for an employer to read. Ensure that the content of your letter flows well and that you are not bouncing back between ideas. Secondly, limit the amount of “I” sentences and run-on sentences; focus on using transition words like, “additionally and furthermore” to make your writing flow more easily.
Have a second set of eyes read through your cover letter for mistakes. One grammatical error may mean that your application will not be considered. Furthermore, pay close attention to your details. If you tend to build off of previously saved cover letters, ensure that you have changed all the pertinent information before sending. Submitting a cover letter with the wrong date or employer name on the application may cause an employer to have a negative first impression.