Cover Letter Tips that Will Help You Land the Job Interview

cover letter tips
Cover Letter Tips

A cover letter is much like a marketing tool that helps sell yourself to prospective hiring managers. It often includes further details of your experience and skill sets that align with the role, what you can do, and why you are a perfect fit. It allows recruiters to see a bigger picture of candidates outside the resume. 

The ultimate purpose of a cover letter is to earn you an interview, therefore the keys to writing a good cover letter lie in how the cover letter helps present candidates as potential individuals for the open position. In this article, we include details of cover letter tips when writing and some examples for your practice!

Basic Cover Letter Tips

An effective cover letter helps connect fragmented pieces of information in your resume while providing extra details about your compatibility with the job. Below we cover some basic cover letter tips when writing one.

Tailor each cover letter for each application

One of the top tips for cover letters is you should avoid using one cover letter all over again. You should spend time working out the specific requirements for each position, to make a compelling and relevant cover letter.

However, it's not recommended to include every detail you find in the job description. You can mention crossover parts where your skill set and work experience fit the job description criteria, not the other way around. 

Keep your cover letter short and concise

In most cases, there are no requirements for a cover letter's minimum length but keeping your cover letter succinct is necessary. When deciding on the length of your cover letter, pay attention to details that highlight your ability in a complimenting way. You should read your job description closely while identifying what’s in your resume you want to go the extra mile for.

Choosing one or two bullet points from your resume and matching them to the job requirements are keys to a good cover letter. Your cover letter should focus on elaborating how you achieved/acquired those bullet points, using one or two detailed sentences only. 

Always stick to the complete cover letter format

One of the useful cover letter format tips is to follow a certain format so there's no information missing during the writing process. Here are the necessary parts of every cover letter:

  • Header with contact information of both the sender and receiver
  • Greeting
  • Opening paragraph (or the hook)
  • Body paragraph(s)
  • Closing paragraph with Call to action
  • Letter ending and sign off

Address the hiring manager directly

Addressing and mentioning the receiver directly helps make your CV and cover letter sound more effective and relevant to the hiring manager. With greeting criteria being clear and direct, you should avoid using generic terms in your salutation such as “To whom it may concern". 

Normally, there's information on the hiring manager's contact in the job posting. If it’s not included, you can go on the company's Linkedin profile or any social media presence of the company for such information. 

Use a suitable language tone for your status and job

Your cover letter tone of voice often dictates your attitude and personality as a candidate. It leaves an impact on how the recruiter perceives your application intention and qualifications. One of the application letter tips is to implement a tone of voice that helps indicate your status and job.

For a more comprehensive understanding of how to adopt a suitable tone of voice, here're two examples of the opening paragraph in two different tones of voice:

Example of language tone for a student cover letter:

Dear [Mr./Mx./Ms.] [Manager’s Name],

I’m writing to you regarding the administrative assistant position that opened up recently. I came across the job listing on [Website Name] and was delighted to know that my academic accomplishments meet all of the listed requirements. I cannot be more eager for such a challenging but rewarding internship, which is why I decided to apply for this exciting role.

Example of language tone for a professional cover letter:

Dear [Mr./Mx./Ms.] [Manager’s Name],

I’m writing to express my interest in your open position of Digital Marketing Manager that was listed on Indeed recently. As a dynamic marketing specialist with over two years of professional experience executing market research, analyzing consumer data, and three years of managing marketing campaigns, I strongly believe that I would be a contributing member of your team at Westfield.

Double-check your attachments

Always double-check your CV and cover letter before you hit the sending button. You need to ensure that all of the necessary attachments are already included in your email because sometimes there’ll be a situation when you forget to attach your resume along with your cover letter. 

Proofread your cover letter before sending

It’s important to check for mistakes such as typos, word expressions, and indents in your cover letter before sending it. Employers can be extra selective when looking for their ideal candidates, therefore even the smallest typo or unsuitable choices of words can result in your disqualification.

Cover Letter Writing Tips

In this part, we’ll dive deeper into how to draft your cover letter content with some useful application letter tips and examples. 

✍🏻 Elaborate on the contents of your resume and add extra information.

The main paragraphs of your cover letter are keys to writing a good cover letter when they provide extra details of your work history and qualifications. Including background stories of past projects and situations is a way to give employers insights into your contribution and impact on past achievements.

In addition to describing your experiences, you can try to communicate how your experiences match the job requirements and how you benefit the company as a potential candidate. This allows employers to have a better understanding and evaluation of you considering the vacancy.

✍🏻 Show off your personality & communication skills through your writing.

Consider your cover letter as a tool to tell your story, it’s the best chance for you to present your personality and skills. Top tips for cover letters include reserving one or two sentences in the second main paragraph to showcase your communication skills. You should also think of a specific situation to provide a certain context for your communication skill showcase.

Below are two examples of both bad and good paragraphs where you showcase yourself.

Bad example:

I read your job posting for the assistant position and would like to apply. As my resume has presented to you, I have many great experiences and impressive achievements that your company desires. And, this job is exactly what I want!

Good example:

Previously, as a paralegal for Johny & Partners Law Firm, I have been recognized for my positive attitude and my support of the legal team. I have also initialized and implemented a digital procedure for storing old files and data which resulted in a 25% increase in working efficiency and legal proceedings.

✍🏻 Avoid overused buzzwords.

If possible, avoid using buzzwords such as:

  • Quick learner
  • Team player
  • Proactive
  • Motivated
  • Responsible
  • Detail-oriented
  • Problem-solver
  • Go-getter

What’s more important than using buzzwords is how you elaborate in detail on your abilities and achievement. Showing the recruiters how you achieve certain goals or develop specific skills adds more volume to your cover letter than simply telling them what you’ve got.

✍🏻 Use strong verbs and adjectives.

Adopting strong verbs and adjectives is another key to a good cover letter. These words help with the demonstration of your experience and achievements. Here’re a few verbs and adjectives for your reference:

  • Verbs: Analyzed, Initiated, Integrated, Delegated, Researched
  • Adjectives: Organized, Efficient, Dedicated, Determined, Thorough

✍🏻 Illustrate achievements and skills with quantified results.

Demonstrating your achievements and skills without quantifying your performance doesn't provide employers with concrete proof of your abilities. One of the tips for writing an application letter is to include quantified results to present your value and highlight your accomplishments in your past jobs. 

When you quantify your accomplishments and skills, you read through the job description to identify criteria where you have similar experiences or compatible skill sets. With such information, you can use more precise numbers that offer a more strategic representation of the value that you provide.

Read below for some examples:

  • In my recent role as a project manager, I have completed a total of 5 large-scaled marketing campaigns under budget by 200$ with an ROI increase of 17%
  • In addition to being a student on the Dean’s List, I have enrolled in two upper-level courses which allowed me to work as a technical assistant for a nonprofit organization in London, helping them improve testing efficiency by 21%
  • Recently I have been working for a B2B beauty brand for which I’m in charge of the social campaign execution. My strategic implementation has resulted in a 25% increase in social media followers and a 64% of engagement rate across all platforms.

✍🏻 Bring attention to your key achievements by listing them in bullet points.

A cover letter is often presented in long-written paragraphs, and sometimes when hiring managers have a large number of cover letters to review, they will likely skim through your cover letter. Therefore, listing only what you want the reader to focus on and using bullet points help with cv and cover letter. 

✍🏻 Avoid abbreviations and acronyms.

Unless abbreviations and acronyms are widely-accepted ones, you should avoid using abbreviations and acronyms. When implementing such words in your cover letter, you're unconsciously creating understanding barriers for employers. 

By avoiding the use of acronyms and abbreviating words, the context of word expression itself or phrase becomes clearer and easier to comprehend which rewards an effective content delivery of your cover letter.

✍🏻 Use appropriate complimentary closes.

Appropriate complimentary closes you should include:

  • Best regards,
  • Respectfully,
  • Sincerely,
  • All the best,
  • Best wishes,

Avoid casual and intimate closing phrases such as:

  • Yours,
  • Take care,
  • Cheers,
  • Yours truly,
  • Thanks,

✍🏻 Include a signature.

If you're sending a cover letter, you must include a signature at the end. In most cases, you'll be sending an electronic version of your cover letter, your signature then will simply be your full name written underneath the complimentary closes (i.e Best Regards) with your contact information.

✍🏻 Get feedback on your writing from other people.

To further ensure that your cover letter is error-free and nicely written, you can always ask for extra help from other people. You can start asking colleagues you trust, former managers, and friends for different perspectives on how you can improve your cover letter. 

✍🏻 Make sure your cover letter has all the application requirements.

Sometimes the job posting indicates specific requirements that should be included in the candidate's requirements, therefore you should make sure that you elaborate well on those details in your cover letter. Here're some possible requirements you may encounter.

  • State relevant experiences: As your resume doesn't have enough space for you to communicate how relevant your past experiences are to the job requirements, you'll need to provide further details of such experiences in your cover letter. Remember to make it the most relevant to the requirements.
  • State why you're a perfect fit for the role: A hiring manager sometimes requires you to persuade him as to why you are a perfect fit for the role. You'll have to explain in detail how your achievement, skill sets, and future goal make you the most ideal candidate for the position.

Cover Letter Format Tips

When you're ready with all the content, you should spend time working on your cover letter layout. Below are a few cover letter format tips you need to pay attention to.

💡 Adopt a simple and readable font.

The point of a whole cover letter is to deliver content, therefore there's no need to go for a decorative yet hard-to-read font. You should stick with common and readable fonts such as Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial, Georgia, or Roboto. 

💡 Choose default font sizes.

10 pt to 12 pt is the default font size used on most document processing softwares, and it's also the font size range that you should adopt. A cover letter with a font size of less than 10 pt will it hard for employers to read and a font size of more than 12 pt will take up too much space in your cover letter.

💡 Adjust a suitable margin for your content presentation.

Leaving an ideal space of approximately 1 inch on all sides is among many important cover letter format tips. The left and right margins should be 1 inch and the top and bottom margins should also be 1 inch.

💡 Prepare a suitable file delivery.

You need to read thoroughly to know whether you can send your cover letter and resume via the hiring manager’s email address. In some cases, you’ll be asked to fill in the application form where you have to attach both your cover letter and resume in the form of PDF attachments. Whatever the situation may be, you should prepare well in advance the types of files as required.

💡 Keep your content within one page.

Although there’s often no specific requirement for the cover letter’s length, you should keep your content presentation within one page. Keeping it short and to the point allows readers to focus on what’s most important without dragging them on a lengthy and tiring reading. 

Internship Cover Letter Tips

Internships are pretty common among students and fresh graduates, but with a lack of experience, sometimes you’ll find it difficult to write a convincing cover letter. In this part, we will list down some internship cover letter tips that you can implement in your writing.

Research the position requirements and company culture.

To showcase your most relevant achievements and matching skill sets, you'll need to understand well the position requirements and company culture. Doing prior research on your application helps you prepare not only an on-point cover letter but also a competitive resume.

Show your passion for the industry.

A passionate attitude is important, especially for someone lacking hands-on experience in the industry. From the hiring managers’ perspective, they understand that many candidates just apply for several different internships with the hope to secure one. Therefore, you need to show why you're interested in this particular position and company. 

Show your motivation for the position.

A convincing motivation is a crucial pitching point to employers as they need to see how your goals and expectations align with the company’s vision. Reserve one or two sentences in your cover letter to express reasons why you're so passionate about applying for the position as a way to address your motivation. 

Start with an engaging opening.

The opening paragraph is often the most important part of a cover letter where readers decide if they want to know more about candidates. Start your opening part with clear information about yourself while managing to state briefly why you are applying for the internship. 

Employers know that most internship candidates do not have experience, so they’re expecting to see any relevant skills and qualifications you have.

Close with an enthusiastic closing.

This part aims to state why you believe that you are the perfect choice for the internship and to reaffirm your interest. For many employers, knowing that you are truly passionate about the prospect of working for their organization is one of the most important factors.

Remember to thank the reader for their time.

Showing gratitude is an integral part of professional interaction. Thanking a recruiter for his time helps you express your gratitude towards him, and this is what many employers appreciate during the recruiting process.

With CakeResume, you can easily create a resume online, free download your resume’s PDF formats, and utilize ATS-compliant templates to create a resume. Land your dream job, create your resume online (free download) now!

— Originally written by May Luong —

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