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When applying for a job, the most important part of one’s application is the resume. Your resume might not be enough to get an interview, so you’ll also need a great cover letter. A well-written cover letter can make the difference between getting an interview and getting ignored or rejected.
While writing a great cover letter can be tricky. There are a lot of dos and don’ts to keep in mind, and even if one mistake is made, it could cost you the job.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide to the dos and don’ts of writing a cover letter. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about what to include in your letter, how to format it, and how to make sure that it gets you noticed.
What To Include in Your Letter?
Your cover letter should be very similar to your resume. It should include information about your education, work history, and skills that would make you a good candidate for the job. But there are some things you’ll want to include in your letter that won’t go on your resume.
Here are some things you’ll want to include in your cover letter:
At the beginning of your cover letter, your first and last name, along with your mailing address, email address, and phone number should be included. Listing the city where you currently live can be helpful if the company is located near multiple cities. Also, if you are emailing your cover letter, you should include “Email” instead of your phone number.
The Position You’re Applying For
At the beginning of your cover letter, it’s a good idea to mention the position that you’re applying for and how you learned about it. For example, “I am writing in response to the Graphic Designer position that was recently posted on digprom.com. I saw your posting on the CareerBuilder job board, and I’m very interested in applying for this role.” If you’re not sure what position you’re applying for, then it’s a good idea to call the company and find out.
The Skills You Have That Fit With the Requirements of the Job
You should mention the skills you have that make you a good candidate for the job. In your cover letter, tell them how your skills match up with what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate. If you don’t know exactly what kind of skills they’re looking for, it’s better not to assume. Instead, you can say something like, “I believe I have the necessary skills to successfully complete this job. Please take a look at my attached resume for more details.”
The opening paragraph of your cover letter should be very similar to the opening paragraph in your resume, but it should be less formal. The point of your cover letter is to introduce yourself and explain why you’re a good candidate, so the tone should be more conversational. For example, instead of “I am writing to apply for the position as a graphic designer,” you could say, “Hi! My name is Alabi John and I’m a graphic designer looking for new opportunities.”
The closing paragraph of your cover letter should summarize your interest in the position, and it should also thank the reader for taking the time to consider your application.
In addition to including information about yourself, you should also include information about how you can help them with their company. Think of this as your “pitch” — what are some projects that you think you could do for this company? What can you do for them that other candidates cannot?
What Not to Include in Your Cover Letter
Your cover letter should be focused. Don’t include anything irrelevant to the job you’re applying for. For example, if an employer is looking for a candidate with strong graphic design skills, then don’t include anything about your love of cooking.
Your cover letter should not be longer than one page. If you’re having trouble fitting everything on one page, it is advisable to cut down some sections, such as your work history.
Finally, here are a few things that you definitely should not include in your cover letter:
- Spelling and grammatical errors
- An inappropriate email address, such as a joke or a slang word
- A reference to a previous employer
- References to your personal life, such as the fact that you’re currently unemployed. If hiring managers see this, they might assume that you have been consistently unemployed for quite some time. Even if this is not the case, this is information that does not belong in your cover letter.
If you think your cover letter might need some work before it’s ready to be posted online, then you should ask a friend to give it a read and provide feedback. Spelling or grammatical errors can be pointed out, as well as suggestions on what needs to change.
Now that appropriate changes have been made, it’s time to post your cover letter and resume online. Using keywords that are related to the job that you’re applying for helps optimize your search results when hiring managers use a search engine to find candidates.
Hiring managers will often view an application if they receive a resume and cover letter from a candidate that they like. This is why writing a good cover letter can significantly improve your chances of landing an interview and getting the job, even if you’re not at the top of their list in terms of qualifications.