Advice and Tips
How to write a good cover letter
Although it requires you to work a little harder, in order to be invited to an interview, your cover letter must be written in a relevant way that highlights how you can contribute to a company. In short, you have to show that you can meet the employer’s needs. Your cover letter also reveals the level of your writing ability.
- Read the job advertisement carefully before writing your cover letter, analyzing the following:
- What kind of information are you getting about the organization?
- Take note of the keywords connected with the job.
- What are the tasks to be covered, and what level of responsibility is there?
- What kind of qualifications is the employer looking for? Remember that there’s a difference between desired qualifications and qualification requirements.
- How well do your qualifications match what the employer wants?
- Make sure to save the job ad. It can be taken down, and you’ll want it if you’re invited to an interview.
- Your cover letter should be tailored to what the employer’s looking for in the job description. Copies of old cover letters often aren’t tailored or relevant enough. Be specific and personal, demonstrating that you’ve done research on the company.
A CV and cover letter should complement one another – and not be copies of one another.
What elements must be included in a cover letter?
- Who you are (begin with your education if that’s most relevant), and a brief explanation of why you’re applying for the job (motivation).
- Your competency, work experience and other relevant experience. Stick to what’s relevant and describe it in more detail. You shouldn’t include everything you’ve ever done here. Begin with what you feel is most important for the job you’re applying for.
- Your personal characteristics and why you’re suitable for this particular job.
- Your motivation for applying for this particular job.
Address in the cover letter
If you send a paper copy or PDF, it should start with your/the employer’s correct contact information and the date.
Format this information in the following way:
- Company name
- Name listed with the job ad’s contact information
While your own contact information doesn’t need to have the same format, it must appear in your CV or cover letter.
If you send your cover letter by e-mail or upload it through an online portal, your contact information can be written underneath your signature.
The heading is the first thing the reader notices, so it must be clearly written and include the job you’re applying for.
A strong opening
Capture the reader’s attention with a sentence that makes them want to keep reading.
Tip: Skip over the obvious and go right for important details about who you are and why they need you. Maybe you can start out by giving a kind of pitch?
Generally speaking, what’s needed here: engagement, experience and results.
How can you stand out from the crowd?
Your application should be worded in a way that makes the employer want to meet you. So provide enough information to spark their curiosity while at the same time making them want to learn more about you.
A cover letter not only provides important information about your qualifications and motivation for a job, but in between the lines also tells the reader about how you structure information and present yourself. At the same time, it’s your chance to put your own personal touch on your application.
Everything in a cover letter must be relevant to the job description
It’s important that the experience, competency and skills you point out have direct relevant to the job you’re applying for. It’s been said that an employer on average spends about 20 seconds reading through a cover letter for the first time.
It can often be difficult to extract the essential of what you’ve done. Use your analysis of the job ad when writing your arguments.
In order to be able to write an excellent cover letter, it’s a good idea to gather more information about the job, employer and industry than what appears in the job ad. Go online, use your network, or call the contact person listed in the ad and ask them a few good, thoughtful questions about the job.
Justify why you’re qualified for–and interested in–the job
A job is often advertised because a company wants to fill a competency gap or solve a problem. A cover letter is your chance to show the employer that the solution is to hire you.
The employer is interested in learning how you can use the competency you have in the job you’re applying for. If you’re able to describe what you’ve learned and how you can put it to use, this will significantly increase the quality of your cover letter. Put emphasis on describing the skills you believe make you especially qualified for the job.
You have to justify why you’re applying for this particular job; what is it about this job that appeals to you? There are a lot of ways you can do this. But one approach is to highlight some keywords that appear in the job ad, along with connecting the job’s tasks to the interests and values that mean a lot to you.
How to capture the reader’s interest?
The more concrete and clear you can be when describing your accomplishments and results in your cover letter, the better. If you’ve been successful, you should provide examples to show this. Numbers stand out. They attract attention and interest; also, they take up little space.
The cover letter is a part of your total sales package, which also consists of a CV, certificates and diplomas (in addition to whatever they find on LinkedIn and other social media platforms). Our experience is that when you can communicate your story in a good way, your cover letter becomes more interesting to read. Try to achieve a high-quality but natural way of writing, and beware of using platitudes. Also, try to avoid writing overly long sentences with complicated wording.
Need feedback on your CV and cover letter? Tekna can help you!
Are you a Tekna member? If so, you can send your CV and/or cover letter to us, and we’ll give you feedback and tips.
Use brief examples
Make your examples as brief as possible, writing a maximum of three sentences each. Show how you solved a situation or how you got results that are relevant to a potential employer.
How to finish a cover letter?
The conclusion should be brief, positive and impactful. It’s a natural place to sum up arguments why you’re applying and why they should choose you.
Sign your letter «Best regards,» (remember the comma), followed by your name. While you can also use «Kind regards,» or «Sincerely,», «Best regards,» is the safest alternative.
You must remember to write your signature above your typed name on paper copies.
When you send your cover letter by e-mail or upload it, having your typed name at the bottom of the letter is sufficient.
Some good advice from us:
- Start off strong.
- Write in a forward-looking manner and try to show that you can fill your potential employer’s needs.
- Using examples that show positive results means a lot
- Focus on what you can do.
- Check for any spelling and grammatical mistakes.
- Don’t use the first person «I» too often.
- Be concise – keep it brief and to the point so that the reader won’t feel overwhelmed but will want to meet you and learn more about how you can be useful for his/her organization.
- Delete as much as needed – write a maximum of one page, or 300-350 words divided into three or four short paragraphs.
- Always be polite and respectful in your closing. Let them know how eager you are to be interviewed, but never make demands.
- If you haven’t heard back from the employer by two weeks after the application deadline’s passed, you can contact them and ask about where they’re at in the hiring process.
- As a general rule, a cover letter shouldn’t be over one page long.
- Choose a neutral font type like: Arial, Calibri, Georgia or Times New Roman.
- Font size:10-12 points
- 1-inch margins on the top, bottom and sides (if you’re having trouble getting everything on one page, you can try to reduce the top/bottom margins to ¾ inch)
- Remember to insert space between the address, header, paragraphs and signature.
- Align text left.
- If your cover letter is going to be placed in a digital search portal, it’s important to check how the text will be formatted there.
What is an open cover letter?
Are there any companies where you’d like to work? You can submit a cover letter even if the employer hasn’t advertised any job openings. This is called an open cover letter (also called a cold cover letter or letter of interest).
An open cover letter is like a regular cover letter, but make sure to be clear about why you want to work at that particular company.
Tekna’s career services
Need help writing a good CV and cover letter? Need help with a job interview? Need to have your employment contract reviewed? Tekna provides you with great services if you’re looking for a new job or want to develop your skills at your current one.