Cover letters are key to getting an interview for any job position. That is why it’s important to clarify any questions you may have before writing one. A resume is intended to be straight-forward, because of this, resumes provide no insight into your personality. This is where a cover letter comes in handy, it becomes the storyteller of your resume.
Telling a great captivating story can be difficult. Especially, if you want to catch the reader’s attention in the first five seconds. To do this, it is important to get all the basic cover letter questions out of the way. In this post, I will clarify five of the most asked cover letter questions many applicants have.
1. What is the purpose of a resume?
- Explain your resume by telling a story
- Highlight the most notable aspects of your career
- Showcase the research you have done on the company
- Demonstrate your personality and character
- Spark enough interest to get recruiters to read your resume
2. What goes into a cover letter?
A cover letter generally consists of 7 parts:
- Heading – The header to every professional cover letter should include these basic parts:
- Your name
- Personal telephone number
- Your email address
- The date
- The name of the hiring manager and their professional title
- The name and address of the company to which you’re applying
If possible you can also add:
- Your professional title
- Your home address
- Links to your professional websites
- Your social media accounts (LinkedIn, Twitter)
- Your city of residence
- Salutation – Address the letter directly to the person that is responsible of the company’s recruiting, this, in turn, will grab their attention. Never use the generic salutations like, “To Whom it May Concern,” because you will run the risk of getting your letter tossed right away. You want your letter to sound personal. If you don’t know who the hiring manager is you have to do some research. This includes going to the company’s website or doing some Linkedin stocking or even your last resort would be to call the company to ask for it.
- Opening paragraph – These few sentences in the opening paragraph are crucial because they will determine if the hiring manager will read on. Get them hooked by introducing yourself using a catchy statement. You can do this by either highlighting your achievements, showing how well you know your prospective employer’s needs or demonstrating your enthusiasm.
- Second paragraph – This is where you really sell yourself to the employer. In other words, you need to explain why you’re the perfect candidate. How? By giving the hiring manager exactly what he/she is looking for. You have to demonstrate that, if hired, you are going to fulfill the company’s specific needs. I would suggest that you state how you are an expert in your field, which you are applying for. And build on how your past experiences will help your future employer succeed with their plans. Bullet points are an excellent tool to use when explaining past successes.
- Third paragraph – You should tell the hiring manager why you want the job. Employers want to hire candidates that will actually enjoy working for them. Because happy employees will want to work for the company for a long period of time. How can you showcase this? One way is by stating a company fact or project, mention why you find it interesting, and reiterate that your experience will help them succeed with the company project.
- Closing paragraph – Make the offer in the closing paragraph. Thank the reader for their time. Specifically, mention that you want an interview and then let them know that you will be contacting them in a certain amount of days to schedule it.
3. How long should a cover letter be?
An effective cover letter should be around 3/4 to a page in length.
4. Can I use the same cover letter for every job I am applying?
The answer is definitely no. If you want to be the most qualified for the job, you need to tailor your skills/experiences to what each employer is looking for. This will allow you to implement the prior research you have done into your cover letter. An employer wants to feel like you want to work specifically for them.
5. What is the best way to send a cover letter?
When e-mailing your cover letter to an employer, make sure, both, your cover letter and resume are in PDF format. You want the hiring manager to see your documents exactly how you wrote them. This will encourage the hiring manager to start reading your cover letter and resume right away as soon as they open the e-mail.
To conclude, it is important to review the answers to these questions carefully. Once you fully understand the essence of what an effective cover letter should look like, you can start writing your captivating story. Congratulations! You are one step closer to landing that interview.