As a fresh graduate, you may be concerned with drafting the perfect cover letter that would land you your first job. While this can seem like a herculean task, it’s quite simple, and you will get to know this as you read on.
First things first… what is a cover letter?
Some people consider a resume and a cover letter to be the same. However, they are not. Although they both share the common purpose of proving to the employer that you possess the skill set needed to excel at the job for which you are applying, there still exists a difference.
Unlike a resume, a cover letter highlights your specific interest and qualifications for the job for which you are applying. It can be said that a cover letter complements a resume as it provides the employer with additional information as to why you are an excellent candidate for the job. In a nutshell, a cover letter allows you to be more expressive in your application.
What To Include In Your Cover Letter
When writing a cover letter; you need to be sure to write succinctly. Just like a basic letter, it follows the same format: a salutation, several paragraphs, and a closing.
Below are the key points to include when writing your cover letter.
To begin, include both the employer’s and your contact information in this format;
Your contact information first including the information listed below, in that order.
- Your Name
- Your Address
- Your City, State, Zip Code
- Your Phone Number
- Your Email Address
Then the employer contact information
- City, State, Zip Code
It is expected that before addressing your cover letter, you should have done some research on the company you are applying to obtain the hiring manager’s name. You can do this by looking through the company’s website, LinkedIn page or even giving the company a call to make inquiries.
You don’t want to sound like someone from the past by addressing the reader as “Dear Sir or Madame?” or “To whom it may concern?”
In this paragraph, it is important to indicate the position you are applying for and how you learned about the opportunity. It is also important to highlight your qualifications and strengths as they relate to the requirements of the position.
In this paragraph, should respond directly to the job description written by the hiring manager i.e. Amplify the information contained in your resume (rather than merely repeating it) in such a way that it matches up with the requirements as advertised by the employer.
You do this by describing how your previous job experiences, skills, and abilities will allow you to meet the company’s needs. To make that easier, you can (and should) literally include the keywords or phrases used from the job description in your cover letters.
If you don’t know what an ATS is, well, summarily, Applicant Tracking Systems are used by employers to screen applications, sifting through keywords and key-phrases to statistically determine whether to let you through to the next stage.
You need to know that over 70% of jobs are filled via an applicant tracking system.
The final paragraph is called the “call to action.” Inform them that you’d love to get interviewed. Tell them that you’ll be in contact with them in a week if you don’t hear back. Thank them for spending the time to read your letter.
However, if the position was unadvertised and the cover letter is unsolicited, indicate that you will follow up in a few days. If you are responding to an advertised position, indicate you are looking forward to the opportunity to discuss how you can contribute to the success of the organization.
- Gavin has 15 years experience as a HR Manager and Leader within large and growing companies. During this time Gavin has seen thousands of resumes and conducted just as many interviews. Gavin has turned his knowledge and passion in this space into a full time profession and launched Jobs in Bradford his career advisory and consulting website.