Having a cover letter that stands out from the crowd is a great way to catch the attention of any hiring manager. I know, I know. Writing a cover letter is something most jobseekers dread, and everyone admits that they just hate writing them. But not having one on your application would be a huge mistake. After all, it’s your chance to distinguish yourself from the competition. While it’s not always required to have one, a lot of recruiters still need them to determine an applicant’s skills, background experience, and overall fit to the company.
So what is the key to writing an effective cover letter? I’ll tell you what. You need to communicate how you and your experience fit the role and the company you are applying for. Below, I made a simple guide for you to follow so that you can write a cover letter which will generate a great first impression! I’ll take you through the strategy, and I’ll give you examples of how to format a cover letter. Let’s get started!
What exactly is a Cover Letter?
“A cover letter is a written document commonly submitted with a job application outlining the applicant’s credentials and interest in the open position. Since a cover letter is often one of only two documents sent to a potential employer, a well- or poorly-written letter can impact whether the applicant is called for an interview.” – Investopedia
Well, I couldn’t have said it better myself. But let’s get into more detail, shall we? A cover letter is also known as an application letter. It gives you a chance to express your interest in the position and the company, and why you would be a good fit. You should, on just one page, connect your skills and experience to the job. This is your chance to impress the employer, and to distinguish yourself from the rest. See it as a more in-depth CV, based on research you made about the company and the position.
Now, let’s talk strategy.
Cover Letter Strategy
As I already mentioned, a cover letter is a one-page document outlining why you are the best fit for the job. One page gives you about 4 paragraphs to convince the employer that they should choose you. Which is why I’ll introduce you to the AIDA model. This model is a classic marketing model, used to trace the buying process of a consumer. The structure of your cover letter can be based on the AIDA model, with each letter representing a paragraph. Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. The model will help you to market yourself to the employer, by making them “purchase” your services. Let me take you through the model, letter by letter.
The first paragraph will be the Attention, or Awareness part of your cover letter. This is the first thing the employer will read, and it will also determine if they want to keep reading. Which is why the goal is to catch the attention of the reader, making them want to read further. Starting your cover letter by telling them about where you found the job, will not excite the reader. You need to introduce yourself with a bang! Instead, tell them who you are, why you’re awesome, and what you can bring to the table.
After getting the employers attention, you need to keep them interested. So in your second paragraph, focus on the employer. They don’t care about what you want, they care about what they need. While still selling yourself, appeal to their needs, growth, goals, you name it. So, instead of writing about your skills, write about their needs in the company and how your skills can solve those needs. See the employer as a potential customer, and sell your services based on their needs.
Now that you got both their attention and their interest, you need to create a desire for your skills. The third paragraph should therefore highlight why your skills are the best fit for what they are looking for. Research the company and the job description. What are the main points the employer is writing about in the job description? Then match those with examples of your accomplishments in previous work.
You got the employers attention, you managed to keep their interest, and you made them desire your services. Which means the last paragraph needs to seal the deal by taking action to get in touch with you! Wrap up your cover letter, and put the decision in their hands. Here you can provide options for contacting you. Without being too demanding, but still showing them that you are looking forward to being in touch.
Now that you have a strategy for writing, let’s talk format.
Cover Letter Format
Apart from the 4 paragraphs, a cover letter includes several other sections and should be formatted like a business letter. Here is a general overview of the sections:
- Header with the date and your contact information
- Salutation or greeting
- Opening paragraph (Attention)
- Middle paragraphs (Interest & Desire)
- Closing paragraph (Action)
- Letter ending and signature
As I already mentioned, these sections should fit on one page. Use a simple and professional font which is easy to read, like Arial. Depending on how much text you have, use between 10 to 12 points in size with at least single line spacing. Preferably, you will use the same formatting as you did in your CV so that the two documents match. I’ll explain the different sections in a bit more detail below, along with an example of a Cover Letter.
Cover Letter Sections
In the header, include personal information and role specific information. Included should be your contact information, the date of application, and if you wish – the recipient’s contact information. If you can, mirror your CV by putting the information in the same place on the page. It doesn’t have to be at the top, it can also be on the side or at the bottom. By having a professional header, recruiters will have an easier time contacting you.
Your city and zipcode
Your phone number
Your email address
Name of recipient
Title of recipient
Here you write the 4 paragraphs according to the AIDA model which I explained at the beginning of this post. If possible, include a personal greeting at the beginning to the person receiving the application. Or, if you can’t find the exact person, “Dear Hiring Manager at Company XY” also works. At the end of the letter, include your signature at the bottom to make it look more professional. I’ll provide you with some further templates below to help you in your writing.
First of all, I hope you found this post useful in your cover letter writing. There are several webpages which offer templates for both CV and Cover letters. Lebenslauf, Novoresume and Europapass for example have templates for writing a CV or cover letter. And if you want to get a bit more creative, Canva is also a great designing tool. And for more graphical jobs, Format offer website templates so that you can easily create your own portfolio.
Looking for a job in Germany? Check out this blog post on how to write a CV for German companies. Moyyn is an AI based recruiting platform that will match companies to highly skilled professionals across the globe. Join our talent pool for free and let our AI find you the perfect job! Candidates apply once to the platform, submit their CV and get verified. No cover letter needed! Selected candidates will be shared with the partner companies and they contact the candidates for interviews directly.