Finding a job can be so challenging, not to mention all the documents and paperwork that you must submit with each application. Writing the dreaded cover letter is a daunting task, but today we will be sharing some tips from top experts that should make the process so much simpler! Keep scrolling to read how to write the perfect cover letter, courtesy career counselor Alizeh Atif and CEO Dr. Madeha Malik:
Purpose Of A Cover Letter
The purpose of a cover letter is to go into more detail about your skills and experience. Dr. Malik advises applicants to use this space to introduce themselves, elaborate on points from their CV and give a deeper insight into their skill set. Alizeh mentions that companies want to get to know you better to find out if you are a good fit for the role and the company. There are often so many applications for each position and not enough time to get through them all in depth. This is why the cover letter should be crisp, concise and clear.
When Is A Cover Letter Necessary?
Sometimes companies will include “cover letter optional” in their job description and you may wonder whether it is worth it to include one. This answer can vary across departments, industries and regions of the world. Alizeh mentions an important point — there is no harm in sending a cover letter. The purpose of the cover letter is to add to your application. While it is not mandatory, it can allow you to stand out from other applicants. When companies make this portion optional, they may be looking to see which applicants are willing to take that extra step and submit one anyway. Without the cover letter, you only have your resume to speak for you. When in doubt, send a cover letter.
Can I Use The Same Cover Letter For Every Job Application?
Using the same cover letter for every job application is one of the biggest mistakes applicants make, says Dr. Malik. This piece shows companies how interested you are in them, therefore, should have a tagline addressing them directly. Alizeh recommends that applicants always tailor and personalize their cover letter to the job description. The point of the cover letter is to show the company that you are the right fit. Connect your skills and experience back to the original job description and show them why you are the perfect fit.
What To Include In A Cover Letter
Make sure the cover letter is formatted professionally and includes your name, contact information, the date and your signature at the end. It should be broken down into short paragraphs, making it easy to read. Be sure to include the following points:
- Summary of your academic and professional background
- Mention of what role and department you are applying for
- Why are you interested in this role
- What makes you the right fit (mention relevant work experience and demonstrate the required skillset)
- Thank them for taking the time to review your application
Formatting The Cover Letter
Both Alizeh and Dr. Malik agree that a cover letter should almost never be longer than one page. It is important to break up the information into paragraphs and make sure each one has a clear and short message. Choose a clean font such as Calibri, Times New Roman, or Arial. Space it out evenly and always include your name, date and contact information.
How To differentiate The Cover Letter From The Resume
A cover letter and resume are two very different documents. Your resume typically includes bullet points and briefly mentions everything about your experience and education. The cover letter is where you can go into detail on certain relevant skills and experience that you wish to highlight — it gives you a chance to explain why you are the right candidate for the job.
Addressing Your Cover Letter
Alizeh advises you to include the name of the person who overseeing the hiring, if you know it — you can always try emailing the company to find out this information as well. Dr. Malik mentions that if you do not know the hiring manager’s name, you can address the Human Resources department. This will demonstrate you understand the organization’s hierarchy.
Addressing Lack Of Experience In A Cover Letter
According to Dr. Malik, it is not about quantity, it is about quality. Highlighting what skill set makes you unique and how you filled these gaps can go a long way. If you do not have as much typical experience, you can fill those gaps through certifications, workshops, online courses, learning software, community service, internships and so much more. Alizeh adds that you can use university presentations and group projects to demonstrate your abilities. The takeaway from this is that how you present your experience can be just as important as having the experience. As Dr. Malik said, “recruiters do not expect those that have just graduated to have a heavy CV as they are just starting out in their careers.”
Standing Out To Recruiters
Good research of the requirements and expectations of the role and company culture can really impress recruiters, Alizeh says. For example, connecting the company’s mission statement back to your personal and career goals will highlight why you are a good fit for the role. Look at the role you are applying for and include things that are important to recruiters when hiring for that role. For example, when applying for a product manager position, mention how many products you have developed over the years, different regulatory requirements and so on. This portion varies based on the position.
Avoiding The Most Common Mistakes
Dr. Malik warns against using plagiarized templates that are downloaded from google. While it can be helpful to structure your cover letter based on a template, it should never be word for word copy and pasted. Do not try to fill up the cover letter with superfluous language or try to make it longer with unnecessary sentences. If you are hired at this position, you will be spending at least eight hours a day there almost every day. This is why it is important you do not portray yourself as something you are not. Alizeh also advises that you always check for typos, grammatical errors and be sure the company’s name is mentioned correctly.
Portraying Your True Self
In the end, the Cover Letter should portray your best and truest self. No one part of the cover letter deserves any less attention and careful consideration. Aim for four short and specific paragraphs with professional language, good spacing and a physical signature added next to your name. Also, do not forget to proofread for grammatical and spelling mistakes. These little things can go a long way to make your application stand out!