A good cover letter should include:
- Your name, email address and contact number either at the top of the application or in the signature
- The contact person’s name and company address along the left margin
- A reference line specifying which job position you’re applying to (e.g., “Re: Application for Front Desk Manager position”)
- An address to the reader directly if you know the person (e.g., “Dear Mr. John”) or a generic “Dear Sir”. Avoid using addresses like “To whom it may concern”.
- An opening statement that briefly introduces you, your work experience and academic qualifications to the reader
- A main body that highlights your qualities and characteristics relevant to the job
- A closing paragraph asking to arrange an interview
If you don’t have any formal work experience, you can mention in your cover letter other things like:
- General skills that help you work in a team and as part of an organization
- Personal attributes that will compliment your work requirements
- Key strengths and contributions that show you are a valuable applicant
- Any volunteer work or coursework experience that demonstrates your strengths and traits
- Any hobbies or interests that are relevant to the job
Important sections in a Cover Letter
The Contact Section
This section is required only if you are posting your application physically. This information is provided for hiring managers to know how to contact you, the date when you mailed the application and to whom it is addressed. On the other hand, if you are emailing your application, then omit this section and add it to your Signature. No need to specify the date of posting since emails are received in real-time. Also, don’t write the recruiter’s address because you are anyway sending the application directly to the intended recipient’s email address.
This block includes your full name, residing address, phone number and email address for employers to contact you.
Date of Application
This section contains the date of sending the application in any accepting format like 15-May-2017, 15.05.2017 etc. Only relevant in hard copy applications because the date of sending and date of receiving.
Include this block only if you have the details of the hiring manager. Else, skip this section entirely. This section should contain the name or designation of the recruiter and company address.
The Salutation Section
Your cover letter is addressed to the hiring manager. Hence, include an appropriate salutation with the right personal title like Mr., Ms., Mrs. Etc. or official title like Dr., Prof. etc. If you do not know the gender of the recruiter, you may address using the person’s full name. Again, if you fail to find out the name of the hiring manager, either skip the salutation altogether and proceed straight away to the cover letter content or use a generic salutation like Dear Sir/Madam or Dear Hiring Manager. Some of the universally accepted salutation formats are:
- Dear [Mr./Mrs./Ms.] [Last Name]
- Dear [Full Name]
- Dear Hiring Manager
- Dear Sir or Madam
The Body Section
Now, this section is the meat part and where you will communicate with the hiring manager. You need to make sure that you use this opportunity effectively and communicate clearly and precisely what you have to offer and how you are a strong candidate for the position. This section is further divided into several paragraphs. Read on to know about the purpose of each.
The first paragraph of your cover letter should mention your motive of sending the email. Specify which position you are interested in, your highest professional or educational qualification whichever is relevant in your case and how you came to know of the job opening. If you were referred by someone, mention the person’s name also here.
In the following paragraphs, elaborate on your qualifications and skills and how they would cater to the requirement of the job position. However, remember not to use this section to brag about all the skills and expertise you possess. Instead, speak about only those that are absolutely related to the job. Remember to always try and link them to the requirements in the job listing so that the employer knows how you can contribute to the position.
Also, include keywords related to the job position in this section and highlight them in bold wherever possible. This will enable hiring managers to see how closely you match the job requirements even in a quick glance.
Close the letter appropriately. Include details of your enclosures like your CV or resume and anything else that was specifically requested by the recruiter in this section. Also mention how you are keen to meet and discuss further about the job position.
And do not forget to express your gratitude to the employer for his/her time and consideration. A thank you sentence in one line will be enough before you close.
The Signature Section
Sign off your letter professionally. Don’t use casual greetings like ‘Cheers’ or ‘Yours’. Use closures like ‘Yours sincerely’, ‘Yours faithfully’, ‘Thanks and regards’ etc. If you are sending an email application, you may use a typed signature that includes your name, contact information and optionally, your official or social media profile link like that of LinkedIn. Alternatively, if it is a hard copy application, sign off the letter using a handwritten signature with your full name below it. You contact details are not necessary in that case as you’ve already provided it in the Contact section at the beginning.
Spacing sections in a Cover Letter
As a matter of fact, separate each section from the other with an empty line. That is, a line break should be added after the contact section and before the date section. Similarly, insert a line break before and after the salutation and so on. This rule applies to each paragraph in the body section also. This practice will enhance the overall layout and presentation of the letter. It will aid in the easy reading of the letter.