Are Cover Letters Really Needed? Tips for Writing a Strong Cover Letter

When you’re applying for jobs online, it can be easy to use the “spray and pray” tactic: you upload a resume and take full advantage of the auto-apply features on as many listings as possible. Online job search sites—like the one you so smartly are using now—can make it tempting to just apply for jobs ad nauseam without any personalization attached. 

However, statistics show that taking this approach will only make your job hunt longer. Although job search sites make finding and applying to listings easier, it still requires a healthy amount of thought and effort. The average online job listing receives 100-250 applications, that’s a ton of competition. If you are merely setting up an online account and just applying, you may spend months unemployed, or worse, find yourself job that you really didn’t want.

You Need to Take Job Hunting Personally

Applying for jobs online can seem like a lottery, but that’s the furthest from the truth. Just because it is more convenient to apply online doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat it any different than going into a business yourself and applying in person. 

Certain aspects of applying online put you at a disadvantage. For one, the competition is higher and if you’re just submitting a resume or an application, you turn into a number. So how do you increase your chance of standing out against the other applicants? The answer is to include a cover letter.

Do I Need a Cover Letter?

There are some job listings that make submitting a cover letter optional. But trust us, if you want the job, and the listing is online, submitting a cover letter is not an option anymore. Some people avoid submitting a cover letter because they may not know how to start, what to say, or how long it should be. Well, you’re one of those people who need a few cover letter pointers, you’re in the right place. Here are a few cover letter writing tips to help make your applications more personal.

Cover Letter Writing Tips

Follow A Cover Letter Template

There are many services that provide pre-made cover letter templates that can be used as a great guideline. These templates show you how to set up your header with your contact information, as well as proving you with some cover letter organization direction. 

In the header section, you want to be sure to include your full name and your contact information. It’s most likely that the hiring manager will be following up on your application through email or by phone, so it is very important to remember to include your email address and personal phone number.

Next, you will need to address who this letter is speaking to. If you know the name and title of the hiring manager, include that along with the company contact information. Then begin with Dear Mr./Ms. [last name]. If you aren’t sure who the letter will reach, open with “To Whom It May Concern,” and now you’re ready to start on the body of the letter.

Cover Letter Intro Paragraph

The most important thing you want to state in the opening of your cover letter is what position you are applying for, how you learned of the opening and the reason why you are applying. You want to be sure to convey your excitement about the opening and your interest in working for the organization. If you were recommended the job by someone currently in the organization, make sure they are aware of that. 

Cover Letter Body Paragraph 

Now it’s time to accentuate how your experience and professional skills will benefit the position and organization as a whole. However, you shouldn’t just restate the skills that are on your resume, include something about these skills will serve the position you are applying for. This is how you’re going to really stand out amongst the competition, so make sure you’re thorough in explaining how your skills are unique and will serve the organization.

Cover Letter Wrap Up Paragraph

Finally, it’s time to wrap your letter up in a succinct and impactful recap. Once again, you want to impart how interested you are about the position, how you think you would be a good fit for the organization, and leave it open to schedule an interview. Let them know your availability to discuss the position further. Then, you want to thank them for taking the time to consider you as a candidate, and then sign off the letter with a “Sincerely,” and your signature.

Congratulations! You have put together a strong cover letter!

In the Interest of Time…

Now, you may read around the internet that cover letters are going the way of the dinosaur. That since hiring managers sometimes have to sift through hundreds of applications, they don’t have time to read more than a few lines of a cover letter. Those are valid points. However, it is still better to air on the side of caution when applying to online job listings. If you are not sure if you should submit a cover letter, you can submit a sample from your professional portfolio or a link to your website.

You may be wondering if writing a cover letter for each job listing you find online will need a new cover letter. Creating a new cover letter for each job listing could be a huge time suck. However, if you outline your cover letter to be personal but adaptable, you can reuse the cover letter for more than one listing.

Take your cover letter, like the one outlined above, and highlight sections that can be adapted to several job listings quickly. For example, if you are applying to the same job position at a different organization, substitute the particulars of this new job listing and you can reuse the letter as many times as necessary. Remember, you want to make the letter succinct, don’t put in too much fluff, this may signal to the reader that you are not qualified.

So, now that you know what makes a good cover letter, get back to the job hunt! Show them that you are dedicated and a hard worker, and surely you will stand out amongst the rest. 

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