PSA: Cover Your Bases

Welcome back, Reader!

If you’ve been following recent posts, then you may have an idea of what we will be discussing today. I am happy to sit down with you (metaphorically, of course) and discuss how to build your very own cover letter.

What Is A Cover Letter?

What is a cover letter, exactly? Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a cover letter as a letter that gives more information about something. This can apply to a lot of things. However, in the working world, a cover letter is this: a letter explaining your interest in a certain job position and an expansion of your resume. If you are unaware of what a resume is or how to construct one, see my post on building resumes.

Additionally, a cover letter should be more specific than a resume because it is tailored to the position you are currently looking to apply to. This means that if you are applying to multiple positions at one time, you must have multiple cover letters – each tailored for the unique, individual position.

How Do I Organize My Cover Letter?

I’ll share a secret with you, Reader. I have my very own template that I made to help me write cover letters, and I’m happy to share it with you.

Photo Courtesy of Ava St. Laurent

It is critical that your cover letter includes all parts that you see in the sample above – your current address and contact information, the date, the employer’s name and business address, a greeting, the content of your letter, and salutations. Sometimes, students will mention their academic institution and area of interest/study.  

The above sample cover letter includes each of the parts listed to help the person reviewing it get to know the applicant in greater depth than a resume would allow.

Now you know how a cover letter should be formatted. To help you understand what exactly goes into a cover letter, let’s discuss more below.

What Goes in A Cover Letter?

Just like when writing a resume, it is important to remember your audience when writing your cover letter. You must think of the job position you are applying for, the company at large, and their mission statement.

Addresses and Contact Information

It is important to include both your own and the business’s address and current contact information – full names, phone numbers, job titles, and home/business and email addresses should be included. This helps employers to know how to reach you if they’d like to interview you for a position. Having the information for the person who reviews your application (a) shows that you researched your potential employer and (b) ensures that the letter goes to the intended recipient.

Greeting

Speaking of addresses – ha-ha – you must remember to open your letter with a greeting. You can include something like “Dear So-and-so,” “Hello, So-and-so,” or “To Whom It May Concern” (if you do not know who the specific recipient is). Other examples of professional greetings for cover letters – or any letters really – can be found on The Balance Career’s “How to Start A Letter With Professional Greeting Examples.” You should choose the greeting most appropriate for the situation and professional position.

First Paragraph

In your first paragraph, you should include a short introduction of yourself. Describe what your current job position is and your business’s mission/line of work. If you are a student, you may feel free to include the name of your academic institution and area of interest.

You should also include your main goal – or the reason you are writing the letter. Usually, this is you explaining you are interested in applying to a certain job position.

Skills

In your skills section, you should include a brief overview of any transferrable skills you may have. Ask yourself this: What skills do you have that are applicable to this position? You should also mention how these skills were used in your past job experience(s).

What Can You Bring to the Table?

In this next section, Reader, please, look to describe how your skills and thoughts align with the company’s goals. This will require a bit of research. What can you include in the letter that is important about the company and position? You may have to look into their mission statement – otherwise known as their reason for business. You should study their mission statement and reason why you would be a good fit for the job position and company at large.

Thank You

Most importantly, don’t forget to thank the recipient for taking the time to read your cover letter. Remember, employers go through plenty of cover letters along with resumes each day, so thanking them is crucial and may help you stick in the minds of the readers.

Salutations

Lastly, you must close your letter with some sort of salutation or variation of saying goodbye. Like the greeting, you should choose your salutation to match the appropriate situation. In most circumstances, applicants use “sincerely.”  You may refer to different forms of salutation on The Balance Career’s “How to End a Letter With Closing Examples.”

How Do I Edit My Cover Letter?

Again, much like your resume, it is important to know that not everything that can go into a cover letter should go into a cover letter. Like before, remember your audience! Employers reviewing your cover letter are not likely to keep interest if you stray from your main point or topic.

As a reminder, your cover letter should be tailored to the position you are applying for. Please, try to keep your cover letter to about one page, so that your employer is not overwhelmed with information. You’ll want to highlight the most important points. Keep in mind, should all go well, you will be able to expand on key points in an interview.

Additionally, you’ll want to look at your letter to make sure grammar is correct, language used is appropriate, and that there are no typos in the content. If you are writing multiple cover letters, Reader, you’ll want to check to make sure you didn’t put information for one job position into another’s letter.

Much like when writing a resume, some good places to start looking for templates are Microsoft Word and Canva.

Share Your Thoughts!

Do you feel there was anything I’ve missed or should highlight more? Was the sample I provided helpful? Of course, every cover letter will be different because each person and his or her experiences are different. What is your experience in writing or evaluating cover letters? Do you have any tips for me?

Thanks, again, for visiting my page, and feel free to follow this blog and Instagram @thereadywriter.blog and leave your thoughts below!

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