Over the years, the purpose of the cover letter has undergone significant changes to adapt to the evolving dynamics of the job market and recruitment practices.
Let’s take a look at how the cover letter has changed and what job seekers should include in theirs when applying for a job.
what is a cover letter and why is it important?
Think of a cover letter as a sales pitch for yourself. It is your professional introduction to a potential employer that complements your resume that highlights your key skills, qualifications and experiences explaining why you're the ideal candidate for the job.
In the past, a cover letter’s primary function was to give a more intimate introduction of the candidate behind the resume. It served as a personal introduction that provided a glimpse into their personality, character and motivations, which added a human touch to the otherwise factual resume.
In recent times, the form and content of cover letters have evolved to fit the preferences of employers. Cover letters are now much shorter and concise, focusing on information, achievements and relevant experience to show the value that the applicant can deliver.
The cover letter has also taken the format of an email body or LinkedIn message instead of a separate document.
Through the years, the fundamental purpose of a cover letter remains the same: to get the employer to consider an applicant’s resume. A well-written cover letter can effectively pique the hiring manager’s interest to delve deeper into your profile.
Let’s now go through the steps to writing an effective cover letter that will get you one step closer to your dream job!
are cover letters still necessary?
Even though a cover letter is not a must during the job application process, there is still an expectation to submit it with the resume, especially for employers who receive hundreds of applications in a day.
As a job applicant, you need to understand how a well-crafted cover letter can work in your favour. According to Forbes, cover letters are best used to address potential hurdles such as career gaps, transitions, lack of experience or to gain a competitive edge.
6 key elements of a compelling cover letter
Before we jump into writing one, it is important to first prepare the information you need to include in it.
A strong cover letter should be concise, tailored to the specific job, highlight your most relevant qualifications and include your contact details for further communication.
As a rule of thumb, your cover letter content should be approximately 300 words long to capture the employer’s attention. A concise letter can help you seize the opportunity to highlight your qualifications without losing the reader’s interest.
The most important information and key elements to include in your cover letter are:
- introduction about yourself
- impactful achievements to show that you can deliver on expectations
- relevant skills that would be useful for the employer
- how can you bring value to the company
- your availability to arrange for a job interview
- your contact details
Avoid the temptation to include every detail of your career as your full experience should already be included in your resume. Instead, focus on impactful accomplishments and skills that showcase your suitability for the position.
By strategically tailoring your cover letter to address specific needs mentioned in the job description, you demonstrate your strengths and understanding of the role and position yourself as the ideal candidate.
4 simple steps on how to create a strong cover letter
Writing a good cover letter requires research and a thorough understanding about the job role and company. Familiarise yourself with their goals, objectives and culture to tailor your application effectively.
Here are some steps you can take to craft a perfect cover letter for any job:
1. make use of a suitable greeting
First impressions are important, even on paper.
Start off on the right foot by addressing the hiring manager directly by their name. Avoid titles such as “Mr.” and “Mrs.” unless you are certain of how they prefer to be addressed. It reflects a level of sensitivity and respect that you have for individual identities.
If the hiring manager’s name is not known to you, avoid informal language like “Hello” or “Hi” as well as outdated salutations like "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To Whom it May Concern". Instead, you should use formal greetings such as “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Hiring Team”.
Choosing the right and respectful salutation showcases your professionalism and sets the tone for the rest of your correspondence with them.
dos and don’ts of how to start your cover letter
2. get the hiring manager’s attention
To write an impressive cover letter, start with a punchline. A strong opening statement is very much like an elevator pitch.
Right off the bat, effectively convey who you are and the position that you are applying for. You should also demonstrate your understanding of the company’s hiring needs and your ability to fulfil these requirements by highlighting your relevant skills and experience.
Below are 3 examples of cover letter opening paragraphs and how you can show your interest to the company:
- “With a passion for [Industry] and a proven track record in my current position as reflected in my resume, I am confident about the prospect of contributing my professional skills and expertise to [Company X].”
- “With my [Number] years of experience in [Industry] and a proven track record of success in [Specific Accomplishments], I am confident that I have the skills and expertise to make a significant contribution to your team.”
- “As a highly motivated and results-oriented [Your Job Title] with a deep passion for [Industry], I am eager to apply my skills and experience to the [Job Title] role. I am particularly drawn to your company's reputation for [Company Achievements], and I believe my personal values and professional aspirations align perfectly with your organisation's goals.”
3. emphasise your value on why you deserve the position
Your next step is to lay out a compelling and brief proposition on what makes you qualified for the position that you are applying for and how it makes you the perfect candidate.
Whether it’s a particular expertise or a history of achieving impressive results, be sure to connect these experiences directly to the role’s requirements. Here's a sample way to develop your previous experiences into the body paragraph:
"As the Senior Data Analyst, I've played a pivotal role in orchestrating various aspects of data-driven initiatives when working for my previous employers. My responsibilities encompassed data management, from comprehensive data analysis and interpretation to the development and implementation of effective data strategies.”
Doing extensive research into the organisation such as its ongoing projects or business initiatives shows your potential employer that you’ve done your research about the company and job requirements, as well as your excitement about joining them.
4. create a cover letter closing paragraphs
Wrap up your cover letter by reiterating your interest in the role and offer to continue the conversation in more depth through a job interview. Provide either your email address or mobile number for them to contact you for a discussion.
End your cover letter on a professional note, using a formal closure such as ‘Sincerely’ or ‘Best regards.’ While this may seem like a small gesture, it is an essential part of maintaining the professional tone of the letter and showing respect to the hiring manager’s time.
Here are 3 samples of a cover letter closing paragraphs:
- "Thank you for considering my application for the [Job Title] position at [Company X]. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss my application further in the interview.
- “Thank you for reviewing my application. I am eager to learn more about this position and how my skills and experience can contribute to [Company X]'s continued growth and innovation.
- “Thank you for your time. I am excited about the prospect of joining [Company X]'s dynamic and innovative team discussing how my qualifications and passion for [Industry] can align with your organisation's strategic goals.
example of a cover letter
Bearing the details above in mind, here’s an example of a professional cover letter template when applying for any job:
I am writing to express my interest in applying for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name] as advertised on [where you found the job posting].
I am confident in my skills and proven track record with the requirements outlined in the job description. In my previous roles, I developed my skill sets in [mention specific skills] that have helped me achieve accomplishments such as [mention specific achievements].
I am particularly keen to contribute to [company’s ongoing projects or initiatives].
You can find my resume attached to this email, which provides additional details about my professional background. I would also like to further discuss how my skills and experiences make me a strong fit for this role during a job interview. I can be contacted at email@example.com.
Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to speaking to you soon.
[Your full name]
send your cover letters and resumes to randstad recruiters
Your journey towards a rewarding career begins with us at Randstad. Our team of experienced and specialised recruiters are committed to assisting you in crafting a standout cover letter and resume that will leave a lasting impression on your prospective employers.
To kickstart your job search, simply set up your myRandstad account and share your cover letter and updated resume with us. You can also head over to our job portal where you can explore new and diverse job opportunities that are perfect fit for your skills and experience.
With Randstad as your partner, you can confidently navigate the job market towards a fulfilling and rewarding professional journey.