Cover letters can be tricky! Why do employers want them, what do you write, how do you put your skills and your desire to work there into words? The list of questions goes on.
A cover letter is one of the important parts of your job search. It is how you can really show employers who you are and why you are, a good fit for a job. Here are our tips to help you write an effective cover letter.
First, make sure everything formatted well. Put your contact information on the page header- similar to your resume. Write the date of the application underneath and then the employer’s contact information. Typically, there are three parts to a cover letter: the introduction, the body, and the closing.
Address the letter to the contact person indicated in the job ad. If there is no mention of a name, address it to the ‘Hiring Manager’. In the introduction, introduce yourself, state your interest in the position, how you found out about the job, why you are applying. This paragraph is typically two to three sentences long.
The body is where you will talk about your skills, experience, and achievements. Describe how you meet the qualifications for this position. Include two to four specific examples; one to two sentences long, of how your qualifications suit the job. This is usually the longest paragraph in a cover letter. If the body gets too long, break it into two paragraphs.
End the letter by reaffirming your interest and thanking the employer for their time. This paragraph is also typically two to three sentences long. Both the introduction and closing paragraphs should be brief. Finally, sign your name at the end.
Always tailor each of your cover letter to the job you are applying. Look at the job requirements and make sure you address them in the cover letter. Ensure all work examples are brief and relevant. Highlight yourself in a positive way.
Now you have your basic cover letter, what is next? Always tailor each of your cover letter to the job you are applying. What this means is that besides changing the contact information and the introduction, you should focus on the body of the letter. This area is where you target the job ad. Look at the job requirements and make sure you address them in the cover letter. Ensure all work examples are brief and relevant. Highlight yourself in a positive way. Show the employer why they should hire you.
A cover letter should not be more than one page. Make sure that the page margins are set for easy reading.
Last but not the least, a cover letter helps sell yourself as the best candidate to an employer. Study each job posting you are applying for and make sure your cover letter targets it effectively. Do not be afraid to advertise your knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm. Research company information and their values and write about how you can support them. Do they have programs that impress you? Do they have exciting projects that you are excited to participate? Are they doing community programs that show an impressive company culture? Are they working on exciting projects that your role will also have a part in? Show passion and interest in them.
And remember to take your time! Cover letters are meant to be tailored to each job!
Prepared by: Kristy-Lu Desrosiers, JSS Facilitator, Ontario
Kristy-Lu is with the Catholic Centre for Immigrants where she runs one of the Job Search Strategies courses. With a background in employment counselling and social work, she knows just tough hard it can be to find a job. She is passionate about ensuring clients are prepared and have the resources they need to succeed.