A cover letter is a very important document to include along with your resume when applying for a job. Its purpose is to showcase your skills while making a lasting impression on the hiring manager. A cover letter is your chance to show a clear link between your knowledge, experience and abilities and the needs of the employer and requirements of the job description.
Nearly half of HR managers say that they will reject an application if there is no cover letter included.
Writing a first-time or no-experience cover letters is not as complicated as you think. Most importantly, a cover letter expresses your personality in a way that your resume can’t. The tone gives insight into the kind of traits that could add value to their team.
Here are three steps to help guide the creation of your first cover letter:
Address and Introduction
- Put your personal information and the employers in the header area, aligned to the left, center or right
- Avoid including social media links, website URLs and portfolio information as you did on your resume
- Key tip: Do some research if needed to address the specific name of the HR director to make it feel more personalized and assures the hiring manager that they are reading a dedicated cover letter
- The introduction clearly states what position you are applying for and is “the grab” that gets your reader’s attention; also include the name of the company
- Explain why you are the best candidate by describing a few core strengths that demonstrate your suitability for the position, for example “I am responsible and trustworthy as can be demonstrated by the fact that I was given responsibilities to closing and locking the store”
- Even if you do not have any work-related experience, think of experiences that has helped you grow by setting goals and seeing achieved results
- As the old saying goes, every good relationship should be a two-way street. Be sure to include how the company interested and the entry-level position is the best choice for you and that you are eager to learn
- Show that you did research on the company and know something about the business. This can help you and the recruiter see connections on how you can contribute to the company mission.
Having a solid closing on a cover letter is just as critical as an attention-grabbing beginning.
- Summarize what you would bring to the position and suggest next steps to move on to your resume and potentially an interview
- Finish your letter with a formal closing
On a resume, you could use fragmented sentences and clipped phrases. Whereas a cover letter should follow a formal structure and show your writing style. This allows you to write with flexibility, creativity, and style. A tailored and compelling cover letter shows your personality and proves that you have taken the time to research and understand the employer and the organization’s needs and job requirements.
In case you need a final checklist to make sure you have everything included in your cover letter, here is a bulleted list:
- your name, professional title, and contact details
- the address of the company
- a salutation using the hiring manager's name
- an introduction paragraph
- why you are a good fit for this particular company
- why this particular entry-level position is suited for you
- a closing statement that seals the deal
- a closing sentiment and your name