Wikipedia Cover Letter

What is a Letter of Application?

Tips for Writing a Letter of Application With Examples

A letter of application, also known as a cover letter, is a job application document sent with your resume to provide additional information about your skills and experience.

The letter of application is intended to provide detailed information on why are you are a qualified candidate for the job you are applying for. Effective application letters explain the reasons for your interest in the specific organization and identify your most relevant skills or experiences.

Your application letter should let the employer know what position you are applying for, what makes you a strong candidate, why they should select you for an interview, and how you will follow up.

Letter of Application Tips

  • Always write one. Unless a job posting specifically says not to send a letter of application or cover letter, you should always send one. Even if the company does not request a letter of application, it never hurts to include one. If they do ask you to send a letter, make sure to follow the directions exactly (for example, they might ask you to send the letter as an email attachment, or type it directly into their online application system). Following application directions is the first step to getting selected for an interview.
  • Use business letter format. Use an official business letter format when writing your letter. Include your contact information at the top, the date, and the employer’s contact information. Be sure to provide a salutation at the beginning, and your signature at the end.
  • Sell yourself. Throughout the letter, focus on how you would benefit the company. Provide specific examples of times when you demonstrated skills or abilities that would be useful for the job, especially those listed in the job posting or description. If possible, include examples of times when you added value to a company. Numerical values offer concrete evidence of your skills and accomplishments.
  • Use keywords. Reread the job listing, circling any keywords (such as skills or abilities that are emphasized in the listing). Try to include some of those words in your cover letter. This will help the employer see that you are a strong fit for the job.
  • Keep it brief. Keep your letter under a page long, with no more than about four paragraphs. An employer is more likely to read a concise letter.
  • Edit, edit, edit. Employers are likely to overlook an application with a lot of errors. Therefore, read through your cover letter, and if possible ask a friend or career counselor to review the letter. Proofread for any grammar or spelling errors.

More Tips: Guidelines for Writing Employment Application Letters

Writing a Letter of Application: Step-by-Step

2. Heading (for a business letter)

Your heading should include your name, address, city, state, and zip code, followed by your phone number and email. The date should be on the next line. Then you should list the name of the company contact, their title, the company address and city, state, and zip code. If you are sending your letter via email as an attached document, title the document with your name and the job title.

2.Subject(for an email letter)

List the job you are applying for and your name in the subject line of your email message, so the employer is clear as to what job you are interested in and who you are.

3.Greeting

Begin your letter greeting with "Dr./Mr./Ms. Lastname." If you do not know the employer's last name, simply write "Dear Hiring Manager" or leave the greeting off the letter and start with the first paragraph.

4. Body of Letter

  • First Paragraph: Explain why you are writing - mention the job you are applying for and where you found the listing.
  • Middle Paragraph(s): State what you have to offer the employer - mention why your skills and experiences are a good fit for the job. For each skill or quality you mention, provide a specific example.
  • Last Paragraph: Say thank you to the hiring manager for considering you and note how you will follow up.

5.Signature

End your letter with a polite closing, such as “Sincerely” or “Regards”, and  your signature (handwritten if you are sending it by post), followed by your typed name. If this is an email, simply include your typed name, followed by your contact information.

Read More: Job Application Letter Examples

Related:Guidelines for Writing Application Letters | Sample Resumes

What is a 'Cover Letter'

A cover letter is a written document submitted with a job application explaining 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 (or email) can impact whether the applicant will be called for an interview.

Breaking Down a Good 'Cover Letter'

A good cover letter complements a resume by expanding on resume items relevant to the job, and in essence, makes a sales pitch for why the applicant is the best person for the position. Career experts advise job seekers to spend time customizing each cover letter for the particular position, rather than using a generic missive. Although this requires extra effort, it can be very helpful in allowing an applicant to stand out above the competition.

Common Cover Letter Mistakes

A perfect resume is often sabotaged by a poorly thought-out or mistake-heavy cover letter. Whether you are including the letter as per required submission guidelines, or you simply want to emphasize your interest in the job, make sure that you avoid making these seven blunders. (For more, see 10 Resume Red Flags.)

  1. Getting Names Wrong
    Although you are probably applying to a number of different jobs in your search, you obviously don't want to share this information with hiring managers; you want them to think their position is The One. But nothing screams "form letter" than to have the wrong company name or position on the cover letter, probably because you forgot to change it from the last job you applied for. This bit of carelessness is not only sloppy – it's probably the surest way to not get an interview.
  2. Restating Your Resume
    The purpose of the cover letter is to identify your skills and explain how your previous experience is applicable to the desired position. Simply restating all of the facts on your resume, without going into an explanation of why your expertise and background are pertinent, defeats the purpose, and in fact makes it redundant. The cover letter has to build on the information presented on the resume, not just summarize it.
  3. Unreasonable Length
    Keep your letter tight. Although you may have much useful information to offer, keep in mind that recruiters will often go through hundreds of applications. They simply do not have time to read through a three-page missive, even if you feel all of the information is important. The absolute maximum length for a cover letter, including the headings, should be one page. Typically, it should be shorter. (What changes when you're looking for a job online? Find out in 5 Tips For Finding Your Perfect Job Online.)
  4. Adding Unnecessary Information                                                                                                                                                                                   One trick to keeping the letter succinct: Focus on your relevant qualifications to the role. If applying for an accounting position, the fact that you have graphic-design skills should not be prime focal point. It's also best to leave off positive but personal things like your IQ – while undoubtedly important for any role, adding it to your cover letter is just plain weird. And recreational accomplishments, interests and hobbies are rarely worth mentioning, unless they relate in some way to the job or company: If applying to a sporting goods manufacturer, for example, saying that you're an avid golfer could add an interesting personal touch. 
  5. Identifying Weaknesses
    Speaking of unnecessary information: Talking about your shortcomings is not only complete waste of space, but also counterproductive. While "What are your greatest weaknesses?" is a common interview question, there's no reason to bring them up ahead of time. Your cover letter is all about identifying the strengths that make you so right for the role.
  6. Sounding Arrogant
    Although you're trumpeting your strengths, try to ensure that your cover letter does not portray you as arrogant. Excessive overuse of the words "I", "me" or "my" can make you sound conceited (not to mention having a limited vocabulary and poor writing skills). Yes, the cover letter is ultimately about you and your accomplishments, but you have to find a way of saying "I'm the best" without actually saying it. (For more, see Top 8 Ways To Get Your Resume Thrown Out.)
  7. Spelling and Grammar Mistakes                                                                                                                                                     Typos and grammatical errors are a key issue, signaling you didn't even bother to proofread your own letter. And no, you can't rely on your computer's spelling and grammar checks – because it won't catch words that are correctly spelled, but incorrectly used (like "it's" and "its"). Also unprofessional-looking: typographical inconsistencies, like conveying a dash with "--" in one place and with "—" in another. This lack of attention to detail is frowned on, no matter what your field.

How to Write a Great Cover Letter

Your cover letter provides information to a prospective employer on who you are professionally. This includes your job interests, professional goals, knowledge and skills gained over the years, career goals, and achievements. The cover letter should be a one-page document that provides clear and concise details as to why you want the job. To create a great cover letter that will grab the reader’s attention, be sure to follow the following rules:

  1. Personalize Letter for Each Role
    For each role that you apply to, whether within the same company or with different companies, personalize your letter to the advertised role. Your cover letter should not be generic. Not only include your strengths and skills, but also explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job position. This means that for each job that you apply to, you have to write a new cover letter. The company wants to believe that you took the time to read about and understand the role. It may be tedious and time consuming to write multiple letters, but it will be worth it in the end.
  2. Include Contact Information
    Ensure that your cover letter has the name of the individual hiring a candidate for the role. It could be a department manager or the HR lead. In any case, make sure you have information on who the hiring manager is by either checking the company’s website or calling in. This way, you can open the letter with a proper greeting. Be sure to add your contact information on your cover letter, even though it may already be included in your resume.
  3. Use Simple Words
    You want to clearly communicate your worth and why you should be considered for the job position that you’re applying to. Using complex words and sentences would most certainly fail to convey your intentions with the company. If the manager or HR representative reading the letter cannot decipher your ‘big’ words, s/he will probably not bother with the rest of your application.
  4. Quantify Accomplishments
    Remember that the cover letter should not rehash your resume, rather it should provide more information on areas on your resume that are relevant to the job that you are applying for. For these areas, be sure to quantify your accomplishments. For example, while your resume may state that you used a marketing analytics tool to drive more clients to sign up for your employer’s services, a cover letter will expatiate on this by adding that your strategy brought in an additional 200 clients monthly and increased revenue to $10,000. This way you can set yourself apart from the other job candidates with vague accomplishments.
  5. Proofread
    After you’ve written the letter, proofread it multiple times to ensure that there are no typos or grammatical errors. Also, ask a trustworthy person to proofread as well and recommend any areas that should be added or excluded from the letter.

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