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Cover letter: The Basics

Cover letter: The Basics

An essential component of the application and hiring process is a cover letter. Not all employers tend to make it the obligatory requirement so far, but for many, it really matters. “Why would they?” you may ask since your resume is actually aimed to provide all the necessary information about your professional background. The secret is – a cover letter is capable of catching your potential employer’s attention at times more than just hard facts in your resume. When writing a cover letter, an applicant is not only listing their strengths but is also free to share their thoughts and feelings regarding what exactly contribution they are able to make and why their candidacy might be the best fit for the company. If formulated properly, this message is highly likely to reach out to the hiring manager and help you stand out among others. If you have never dealt with writing cover letters, we are here to help you! Keep reading our guide on how a cover letter should be crafted to achieve its highest efficiency for you.

Step 1: General Formatting

Luckily, there is no ultimate approach to how to write a cover letter; however, there are some basic formatting principles every applicant should know about. Firstly, make your cover letter well-organized. It means that it still should look like a formal document, not a composition-reasoning “Why I am the best candidate for your opening”. Stick to laconism, clarity, and informativeness rules not to make the reader get bored and stop reading in the middle – hiring managers are usually very reasonable about their time. So, no more than one page of text including the following:

  1. Date: MM DD, YYYY
  2. Your Name
  3. Your Contact Info
  4. Hiring Manager’s Name
  5. Department Info
  6. Company Address
  7. Formal Greeting
  8. Opening Paragraph
  9. Body Paragraph(s)
  10. Closing Paragraph
  11. Salutation,
  12. Your Signature

A closer look at each of the cover letter sections

Your name and contact information

In order to make the best impression, the information you put in our cover letter has to be as mindful as possible.

  • Specific information. A standard list of information about the candidate includes the date, name, city, state, phone number, and email. Currently, the majority of people would apply online and submit a digital cover letter, so there might be no need to include your full address; however, your LinkedIn URL will play into your hands. You may also consider including your full address in case of the necessity of providing a physical copy of your letter – companies ask for it from time to time.
  • Beware of unprofessional emails. You should remember a golden rule for good – your email is a combination of your first and last names. If you’ve decided to step aside from it, at least make sure it’s simple and doesn’t contain any of the following: inside jokes, hobbies, swearing, politics, or vulgarity of any kind. It’s a common practice to create a separate email for professional reasons – and there is no need to say a heartbreaking “goodbye” to your favorite iampinkitytrinkity@gmail.com.
  • Formatting once again. Traditionally, the date and contact info sections are located at the top left corner of the page. When submitting digitally, you may also include your contact info below your signature.

Hiring manager’s information

Similar to your full address, the hiring manager’s name and contact information should be normally included in your cover letter, no matter if you submit it via mail or in person. When applying online, including this information makes no sense at all.

Step 2: Hiring Manager Contact Information Formatting

Hiring Manager’s Name

GM Industries – IT Dept. 

123 Peachtree St. 

Atlanta, GA. 80028 

Cover Letter Greetings

We highly recommend you avoid such salutations as “To Whom It May Concern,” and, “Dear Sir/ Madam,”. Firstly, they’re outdated; secondly, they’re generic; thirdly, they demonstrate the little effort you made when researching the company. You should always greet the hiring manager by their name – allow some time and visit the company’s website or LinkedIn webpage. Don’t be too shy to contact them directly, but if still no luck, use “Dear Hiring Manager,” or, “Dear IT Department,”. Be mindful regarding choosing their gender as well – the best option will be to avoid using “Mr.” and “Ms.”

Introductory Paragraph

If you want to command attention, work really hard on the introductory paragraph. Make the hiring manager intrigued and compelled to meet you! You’ll definitely triumph if you include the following information listed below:

  • Title of the position. Having greeted the manager and introduced yourself, make it clear which position you’re applying for. Mention how you found it or drop the name of the person who referred you.
  • Company name. The more personalized approach you use, the faster you’ll make the hiring manager’s heart melt. They strive to feel that you don’t send the same generic cover letters to dozens of companies at the same time. So don’t hesitate to use the company’s name several times – you won’t seem repetitive.
  • Enthusiasm. Demonstrating your excitement towards somebody or something connected with them is contagious! Let the hiring manager feel how inspired and motivated you are by the idea of working on them – they will definitely share your emotions.
  • Provide reasons. People tend to make faster decisions if the information they get from outside is clear and understandable for them. Just list the qualifications you consider to be the most valuable and helpful for the position you’re applying for, to make your professional image as full as possible.

Example:  Sustaining secure cyberspace with [Company Name], dealing with cyber criminals, and increasing people’s awareness in cyberspace are all dreams of mine. That’s why applying for your open Cyberintelligence Specialist position thrills me. As a Cyberintelligence Intern at [Past or Current Company], I’m responsible for finding and improving multiple network security vulnerabilities, developing automation or researching threats, and helping to design and implement successful security solutions. In one year, I’ve improved the security of the company’s site by over 70 percent.

2-3 body paragraphs

To demonstrate that you completely understand and share the company’s values and mission, include the following information:

  • Complementary skills and experiences. Try to highlight that you meet some of the job qualifications in the listing with your skills, talents, or experiences.
  • More examples from real life. Instead of telling how responsible and loyal you are, tell a real story that clearly demonstrates these virtues.
  • Statistics and data. Don’t be afraid to seem boastful – employers appreciate real figures. Whether it’s the number of innovations you introduced, the amount of money you saved for the company, or the revenue you increased – these are valuable accomplishments. Just find KPIs for your position and focus on what you can offer.

Example: In my current position as a Cyberintelligence Intern, I develop and implement new security strategies, work on prompt vulnerability detection, and conduct comprehensive cyberspace threat research. I thrive in a fast-paced environment and am passionate about making a contribution to the safety of cyberspace for the next generations. Aside from common duties, I am adept at disassembling and debugging malicious software. In the last 10 months, I have maintained accurate, up-to-date debugging for 1000+ vendors.

Closing paragraph

First of all, if the reader has reached this section in your cover letter, you have to show your appreciation for their time and interest. Second, demonstrate your interest in moving on to the next step in the application process. Finally, encourage them to contact you if any clarifications are still required.

Signature

Stick to the polite and professional tone till the very end, but don’t be afraid to seem friendly as well. We recommend you consider any of the following:

  • Respectfully
  • Best
  • Thank you for your consideration/time
  • Sincerely
  • Best/Kind regards

Double-check your letter one more time, you may also ask somebody else to do it for you, somebody with a fresh eye. If there is nobody who could help you at the moment, re-read your letter again a bit later. To boost your skill in writing cover letters for the future – try writing numerous custom cover letters for various positions.

Date: 30 November 2022
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