In today’s competitive job market, a well-crafted cover letter can make all the difference in catching the attention of potential employers. The cover letter should be a carefully crafted document that not only introduces the job seeker, but also highlights their skills and qualifications that make them the best candidate for the job.
There are two types of cover letters: casual and formal. The casual cover letter is typically used for positions where the tone is informal and personal. Examples of casual positions include internships or part-time jobs. On the other hand, formal cover letters are more suitable for professional positions where the tone should be more serious and business-like.
In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to address both casual and formal cover letters. We will discuss the various components that should be included in each type of letter and provide tips on how to make the cover letter stand out from the rest.
The article is divided into several sections, including an overview of the importance of cover letters, the difference between casual and formal cover letters, advice on how to address the cover letter, and tips on how to proofread and edit the letter.
By the end of this article, job seekers will have a clear understanding of how to craft an effective cover letter that will capture the attention of potential employers and increase their chances of landing their dream job.
Understanding Your Audience
To craft an effective cover letter, it is crucial to understand your audience. This can be achieved by researching the company you are applying to, identifying the recipient of the cover letter, and determining their communication style.
Researching the company
Take the time to research the company you are applying to. This will give you a greater understanding of their culture, values, and mission statement. Look for information about their products or services, the industry they operate in, and any recent news or developments.
By understanding the company’s values and mission statement, you can align your own experiences and skills to show how you can contribute to their goals. You may also be able to incorporate some of the company’s language and buzzwords into your cover letter, showing that you understand and can speak their language.
Identifying the recipient of the cover letter
In some cases, this may be obvious. However, if you are not sure who will be reading your cover letter, it is important to do some digging. Scour the company’s website or LinkedIn page to find the appropriate contact person for the job you are applying for. This may be the hiring manager, recruiter, or another person within the company.
Addressing your cover letter to the appropriate person shows that you have done your research and are genuinely interested in the position. It can also help your cover letter stand out from the pile of generic letters that may have been sent to the HR department or addressed to “To Whom It May Concern”.
Identifying their communication style
Lastly, identify the recipient’s communication style. Is the company’s tone and language in their job posting formal or casual? Is the recipient’s LinkedIn profile more buttoned-up or laid-back? Based on these clues, tailor the tone and language of your cover letter to match their style.
For example, if the job posting uses formal language and is highly professional, your cover letter should also be written in a formal tone. On the other hand, if the company values a fun and casual work culture, your cover letter can be more relaxed and conversational.
By taking the time to identify the recipient’s communication style, you can create a cover letter that feels like a natural fit for the company and recipient. This can help you stand out from the competition and increase the chances of landing an interview.
Formatting Your Cover Letter
When it comes to formatting your cover letter, there are a few key design elements you should keep in mind. Specifically, you should consider your font and font size, the proper use of white space, and consistency between your letter and resume formatting.
Choosing an Appropriate Font and Font Size
First and foremost, you’ll want to choose a font and font size that are easy to read and professional-looking. Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman, and Verdana are all good choices, but avoid anything too unconventional or stylized. You want the recruiter or hiring manager to focus on your content, not your font.
In terms of font size, stick with something in the 10-12 point range. Depending on your font choice, you may need to adjust this slightly to ensure your letter is legible.
Proper Use of White Space
Avoid the temptation to cram a lot of information onto one page. Instead, use ample white space to make your cover letter easy to read and visually appealing. Start with a 1-inch margin on all sides and adjust as necessary to fit your content. Use single spacing within paragraphs, but double space between paragraphs.
Consistency Between Letter and Resume Formatting
It’s important to make sure your cover letter and resume look like they belong together. Use the same font, font size, and formatting style for both documents. If you’re submitting your application electronically, consider converting both files to PDF format to ensure the formatting remains intact.
By paying attention to these design elements, you can create a cover letter that is both professional and aesthetically pleasing. Remember, your cover letter is your first chance to make a good impression on a potential employer, so take the time to get it right.
In the header of a cover letter, it is crucial to provide the necessary contact information for both yourself and the recipient. This section should appear at the very top of the document, along with the date of submission.
Your name and contact information
Begin by including your full name, phone number, email address, and home address. You want to make it easy for the recruiter or employer to contact you if they need to get in touch.
Make sure the information you provide is up-to-date and professional. Avoid using nicknames or unprofessional email addresses.
Date of submission
Including the date of submission is important because it helps the employer keep track of when you sent your application. It also shows that you are organized and have taken the time to prepare your materials.
Always use the month-day-year format, and make sure the date is accurate before submitting your cover letter.
Recipient’s name and contact information
It is crucial to address your cover letter to the correct person, whether it’s the hiring manager or the recruiter. In some cases, the job posting may not include a specific name or title, in which case you can address it to the department or the company itself.
Make sure to do your research and find the correct name and title of the person who will be reading your cover letter. Addressing it to “To Whom It May Concern” can come across as impersonal and unprofessional.
By following these guidelines, you can create a clear and professional header for your cover letter. Taking the time to ensure your contact information is accurate and up-to-date shows that you are serious about the job opportunity and are committed to presenting yourself in the best possible light.
A cover letter is often the first thing a potential employer will see, making a good first impression paramount. One of the most important aspects of a cover letter is the greeting. A proper greeting sets the tone for the rest of the letter and helps establish a positive relationship with the recipient. Here are some things to keep in mind when addressing your cover letter:
The Importance of a Proper Greeting
A proper greeting can make all the difference in whether or not your cover letter is well received. It shows that you have taken the time to research the company and the person you are addressing. It also demonstrates your professionalism and attention to detail, which are important qualities in any job candidate.
On the other hand, a poor greeting can leave a negative impression and might even result in your application being rejected before it is even read. Avoid using generic or inappropriate greetings such as “To Whom It May Concern” or “Hey there.” Instead, take the time to find out who will be reading your letter and address them directly.
Formal Greetings (Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name)
If you are applying for a formal position or a job at a large corporation, it is likely that you should use a formal greeting such as “Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name”. This type of greeting shows respect and professionalism to the recipient.
When addressing someone with “Mr.” or “Ms.” in their title, be sure to use the appropriate title based on their gender identity. If you are unsure of someone’s gender identity, you can use “Mx.” as a gender-neutral alternative.
If you are unsure of the recipient’s name, try doing some research on the company website or LinkedIn. You can also call the company and ask for the name and title of the person reviewing cover letters.
Casual Greetings (Hello First Name)
If you are applying for a more creative, casual, or smaller company, a casual greeting such as “Hello First Name” might be more appropriate. This type of greeting can help establish a friendly and approachable tone for your letter.
However, it is important to note that even if you are using a casual greeting, you should still be respectful and professional in your tone and language. Avoid using overly informal language or slang, and focus on showing your enthusiasm for the position and why you are a strong candidate.
Your cover letter greeting is the first impression you make on a potential employer. By taking the time to research and use a proper greeting, you can demonstrate your professionalism and attention to detail, while also showing your enthusiasm and interest in the position. Whether you opt for a formal or casual greeting, be sure to tailor it to the company and position you are applying for.
The Body Paragraphs
When writing a cover letter, the body paragraph(s) is where you have the chance to make a compelling case for why you are the best candidate for the job. In this section, we’ll discuss how to structure the body of your letter, how to include specific examples and achievements, and how to avoid clichés and generic language.
Structuring the Body
To structure the body of your letter, follow the ‘CAR’ (context, action, results) method. First, provide context by explaining your experience and background that makes you a good fit for the specific job you’re applying for. Then, explain the actions you’ve taken in previous roles that demonstrate your skills and abilities. Finally, share the results of those actions, including specific achievements and outcomes. This structure will not only help you organize your thoughts, but will also help the employer see the value you can bring to their organization.
Including Specific Examples and Achievements
It’s important to include specific examples and achievements in your cover letter to demonstrate your skills and experience. Use metrics and data where possible to quantify your achievements, such as “increased sales by 20%” or “implemented a new project management system that reduced project completion time by 50%”. This will make your accomplishments more concrete and impressive to the employer.
Avoiding Clichés and Generic Language
Avoiding clichés and generic language is crucial to ensuring your cover letter stands out from the pile. Steer clear of overused phrases, such as “hard-working team player” or “results-oriented professional”, as they do little to differentiate you from other applicants. Instead, focus on describing specific skills and experiences that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. Additionally, avoid using overly casual language, even if you’re applying for a more casual workplace. Keep the tone professional and articulate, and be sure to proofread your letter carefully for any errors or typos.
By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to craft a body paragraph that effectively showcases your strengths and accomplishments, while avoiding common mistakes and generic language. With a strong body, you’ll have a much better chance of landing the job you want.
Highlighting Your Skills and Qualifications
When writing a cover letter, it is essential to highlight your relevant skills and qualifications that align with the job responsibilities. This section allows you to showcase yourself and demonstrate how you can add value to the company. You should focus on relevant skills and qualifications that are listed in the job description.
What skills and qualifications should be included
When listing your skills, ensure that they match the job requirements. Avoid mentioning skills that are not relevant to the job or that you are not proficient in. For instance, if the job requires excellent communication skills, make sure to list your experience in this area. Highlight your top skills, especially those that make you stand out. If you are not sure what skills to include, review the job description and tailor your skills to match the requirements.
Qualifications include education, certifications, and years of experience. Start by listing your highest education, such as a degree or certificate. If you do not have any formal education, provide any relevant training or courses you have taken. Also, include certifications that highlight your expertise in specific areas. Lastly, mention the number of years of experience you have in the field.
How to relate them to the job responsibilities
When writing this section, connect your skills and qualifications to the job responsibilities. You can structure this section by listing the job responsibilities and matching them to your skills and qualifications. For example, if the job requires managing projects, list your experience managing projects and the skills you possess that qualify you for the role.
Make sure to use keywords in your skills and qualifications that match the job descriptions. This will make it easier for the hiring manager to see how you are the perfect candidate for the job. Remember to be specific and provide examples of how you used your skills and qualifications in previous roles.
Adding value to the company
The goal of this section is to demonstrate how you can add value to the company. Hiring managers are looking for candidates who can help them achieve their goals. In this section, highlight any achievements you have made in previous roles that relate to the job responsibilities. For example, if the job requires increasing sales revenue, mention a time when you helped increase sales revenue in your previous job.
Show your enthusiasm for the company by mentioning how your skills and qualifications can be implemented to benefit the company. Research the company values and culture and align your skills and qualifications to them.
Highlighting your skills and qualifications is an essential part of writing a cover letter. It is an opportunity to showcase yourself and demonstrate how you can add value to the company. Focus on relevant skills and qualifications, connect them to the job responsibilities, and show how you can add value to the company. Remember to tailor your skills and qualifications to the job description and use keywords that match the job requirements.
The Call to Action
A call to action (CTA) is the element in your cover letter that motivates the reader to take action. Without a well-crafted CTA, your cover letter will be incomplete and ineffective.
Here are some essential elements to include in your CTA:
Clear and concise language: Use clear and concise language that tells the reader exactly what action they need to take.
Sense of urgency: Create a sense of urgency that motivates the reader to take immediate action. Let the reader know that you are eager to hear from them.
Relevance to the reader: Make sure that your CTA is relevant to the reader’s interests and needs.
Contact information: Provide your contact information so that the reader can know how to reach you in case they have any questions.
To encourage the reader to take action, it is vital to be assertive but not pushy. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Use a polite and professional tone throughout your cover letter, so your CTA doesn’t come across as aggressive or demanding.
Provide a clear and logical reason why the reader should take action. For example, highlight the skills and experiences that make you a strong candidate for the job.
Express gratitude for the reader’s time and consideration throughout your cover letter, including in your CTA.
Be brief and to the point. A lengthy or complicated CTA can be overwhelming and off-putting.
By following these principles, you can create a compelling CTA that encourages the reader to take action and sets you apart from other applicants. Remember, your cover letter is your first impression with a potential employer – make it count!
After putting in so much effort in writing a well-crafted cover letter, it’s equally important to close it on the right note. The closing of your letter should leave a lasting impression on your reader and make them eager to learn more about you.
Here are some different ways to close your letter:
Closing with “Sincerely” is an age-old tradition and is considered the most appropriate way to end a formal letter. It’s simple, professional, and shows that you’re respectful towards the reader.
2. Best regards
“Best regards” is a bit more casual than “Sincerely” but still respectable. It’s an easy way to express your good wishes towards the reader and it’s suitable for both formal and semi-formal letters.
3. Thank you for your time
If you want to express your gratitude towards the reader, you can close by saying “Thank you for your time”. This is a great way to show that you appreciate the reader’s time and effort spent in going through your letter.
4. Looking forward to hearing from you
Closing with “Looking forward to hearing from you” is ideal if you’re sending a cover letter as a follow-up email. It shows that you’re enthusiastic about hearing back from the reader and it creates a positive impression.
After you’ve chosen your closing, it’s essential to include your signature and contact information. Here’s how you can do it:
Including your signature
If you’re sending a digital cover letter, you can create an electronic signature. It’s a unique way to sign off and adds a personal touch to your letter. You can use online signature generators like DocuSign, Adobe Sign, or SignNow to create a professional-looking signature.
If you’re sending a physical letter, leave some space below your closing to sign your name.
Including your contact information
Make sure to include your contact information, including your name, address, phone number, and email address. It’s essential to make it easy for the reader to contact you. You can add your contact information below your signature, in the header or footer, or at the end of your letter.
The closing of your cover letter is just as important as the introduction. Choose the right closing that fits the tone of your letter and make sure to include your signature and contact information to make it easy for the reader to get in touch with you.
Examples of Formal Cover Letters (Sample)
Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],
I am writing to apply for the [Position Title] opening at [Company Name]. With [Number of Years] years of experience in [Relevant Skill/Industry], I am confident in my ability to contribute to your team.
As a [Current/Previous Position] at [Current/Previous Company], I have honed my skills in [Relevant Skills]. I am excited about the opportunity to apply these skills to the challenges facing [Company Name] in the [Industry/Market]. I am particularly drawn to your company’s commitment to [Company Value/Initiative], as I strongly believe in [Personal Value/Initiative].
In addition to my experience and skills, I possess [Education/Certification] and have completed [Training/Project]. These experiences have helped me to develop my [Skill/Ability], which I believe will be valuable in the [Position] role.
Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss my qualifications further. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any additional information.
Walkthrough of What Makes the Letter Effective
This example of a formal cover letter is effective for several reasons. Firstly, it is addressed directly to the hiring manager by name, which shows that the applicant has done their research and taken the time to personalize their application.
The letter then goes on to introduce the applicant’s experience and relevant skills, highlighting how they will be an asset to the company. They also demonstrate their knowledge of the company by referencing a specific value or initiative that they are drawn to.
Additionally, the applicant includes information about their education and any additional training or projects they have completed. This helps to further validate their qualifications and demonstrate their commitment to their field.
Finally, the letter ends with a clear message of interest and availability, along with an invitation for the hiring manager to contact them for further information.
This example of a formal cover letter successfully conveys the applicant’s qualifications, demonstrates their knowledge of the company, and shows their enthusiasm for the position.
Examples of Casual Cover Letters (Sample)
In this section, we’ll provide you a real-life example of a casual cover letter and a walkthrough of what makes the letter effective.
A real-life example of a casual letter
Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],
I’m writing this letter express my interest in the [Job Title] role at [Company Name]. I came across this position on [Job Board or Referral] and was immediately drawn to [Company Name]’s mission and values.
As a [related experience], I believe I would be a great fit for this role. I thrive in collaborative environments, and I’m confident that my skills in [Skill 1], [Skill 2], and [Skill 3] would make a valuable contribution to [Company Name]’s team.
I’d love the opportunity to discuss my qualifications further and learn more about this exciting opportunity. Please find my resume attached for your consideration. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Walkthrough of what makes the letter effective
This casual cover letter example effectively communicates the candidate’s interest in the job, showcases their relevant experience and skills, and shows their enthusiasm for the opportunity. Here’s what makes it effective.
- Opening line: The letter begins with a personalized greeting using the hiring manager’s name, which shows the candidate has put in effort to research the company and the recipient.
- Introduction and hook: The candidate immediately states their interest in the position and mentions what drew them to the company, which creates a positive impression with the reader.
- Relevant skills and experience: The candidate highlights their skills and experience that make them a great fit for the role, and mentions their ability to work collaboratively which fits in with the company’s values.
- Closing: The letter ends confidently and politely, requesting the opportunity to discuss further and attaching their resume for consideration.
This casual cover letter is concise, to-the-point, and effectively communicates the candidate’s interest in the job and their fit for the role. It’s a great example of how to address a cover letter in a casual tone while still conveying your qualifications and enthusiasm.