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A cover letter is a one-page document that serves as an introduction of yourself to the hiring manager. The cover letter comes with your resume when applying for a job. A successful cover letter will lead to an interview, inching your way closer to your desired job. That’s why you need your cover letter to show that you’re a strong candidate. Think of a cover letter as your elevator pitch, preferably even shorter than that.
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Steps in Writing a Cover Letter
For most people, writing cover letters is difficult. How can you get the attention of hiring managers and “sell” yourself without focusing on the information that’s already in your resume? With so many cover letters hiring managers need to browse through, how can you make yours stand out?
Here are some of the things that you need to know about cover letters and how to write a good one:
#1 Do your research
Before writing your cover letter, make sure that you know who will be receiving and reading your cover letter, the job requirements, company culture and values, and the latest industry trends. Knowing a bit more about the position, company, and industry will greatly help you customize your cover letter and demonstrate your passion and interest in the job.
#2 Use the preferred format
Writing a cover letter follows a specific format, but it can be customized to match the specific position that you’re applying for. In general, your cover letter should have these details:
The position that you want and why it interests you
Relevant skills and work experience
What you can contribute to the company
#3 Include all relevant details
The body of a cover letter is divided into three, four, or even five paragraphs. Here are some guidelines on what to include in each paragraph:
This part should entice the reader to continue reading and state why you are sending a cover letter. Include the position you’re applying for. If you were referred to the company, include the name of your referrer as well.
In this part, give more information about your educational background and skills that are relevant to the position. Try not to reiterate what is on your resume. Instead, expand more on what couldn’t be fully explained in the short statements on your resume. Explain more about your specific accomplishments. Show how they can be useful for the company and how they apply to the position you are applying for.
This is your opportunity to highlight your knowledge about the company and the industry. Explain why you’re interested in working at the company and what you can contribute to its success.
Alternatively, you can also focus on why you think you will fit into the culture and values of the company. Companies often have soft skills and personality traits they are looking for listed on the job description. Pick a story from one of your experiences and use that to show how you fit the soft skills mentioned.
Make sure to tie in and relate your conclusion with your introduction to finish up your story. Express your gratitude for the company considering you for the position. Add details on how you will follow up. If you will ask for an update through the phone, make sure to call. Also, it would be great to inform the hiring manager of your availability for a callback. But if you plan to wait for a response, end your letter with something like “I look forward to hearing from you.”
End your letter with a professional closing such as “Sincerely, [Name]”, then your signature. If you will send your cover letter through email, your typed name will serve as your signature.
#4 Include keywords
Make sure to add relevant keywords when sending your resume online. Many hiring managers use an applicant tracking system to pinpoint which resumes and cover letters share the keywords related to the job requirements.
#5 Add your contact information
Since your aim is to be called for a job interview, make sure to include your contact details in your cover letter, either at the top of your letter or below your signature.
Thank you for reading CFI’s guide on how to write a cover letter. CFI is the official provider of the global Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® certification program, designed to help anyone become a world-class financial analyst. To keep advancing your career, the additional resources below will be useful:
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