Are you finding it difficult to write a cover letter?
If so, you’ve got company. Every week, we get dozens of questions about writing cover letters from our clients, so we’ve thought of coming up with a list of the most frequently asked cover letter questions, with answers to guide you.
Do I need a cover letter?
Cover letter is important in the sense that it entices the Hiring Manager or Recruiter to proceed in reading your resume. There’s no doubt that a good cover letter can spell the difference in between getting noticed or passed over. Also, a cover letter is necessary, not just important, in the following cases:
- If the job ad requires a cover letter;
- If the potential employer, Hiring Manager, or Recruiter requests one;
- If you’re applying directly to someone who you know;
- If someone has referred you for the role;
- If you know something about the job and role; and
- If you aren’t sure if there are available jobs in your target company.
But – cover letters are not always required. For instance, you might not need a cover letter when you’re applying online. Some applicant tracking software don’t allow candidates to send their cover letters. In this case, don’t worry. Just upload your resume or fill out the online form.
Should a cover letter always be on page?
It depends. A one-page cover letter is typically true for roughly 90% of job applicants. Your objective is to intrigue the reader, and get him to closely read the information you sent across. In most situations, you can accomplish this goal on one page.
There may be situations though when two-page letters are recommended particularly for the following types of job seekers:
- Career or Industry Changers
- C-Level Executives
- Scientists and Technologists
- Individuals seeking government, university, or academic appointments
What if I don’t know the addressee’s name?
If you intend to send your cover letter to a company and you don’t have the name of a person to whom you can address the letter, take some time to find out who the appropriate contact is before deciding to use a generic salutation. Using a generic salutation (example: Dear Sir/Madam, To Whom It May Concern) can create unfavourable impressions and may imply that you’re not too resourceful to research who the Hiring Manager or Recruiter is for the role. Try calling the company and explain to their representative that you don’t want to send your cover letter without a specific name.
However, if you cant find a person to whom you can address the cover letter despite considerable research, be specific in your generic salutation. Direct the cover letter either to the Hiring Manager or Recruiter accountable for the position, and then include the position name so it’s apparent what you’re applying for when someone opens your mail and reviews your cover letter. For instance, use: ‘Hiring Manager for Sales Manager Position’ or ‘HR Recruiter for Administrative Assistant Position.’ This will help your cover letter be directed to the right person as immediately as possible.
Do I have to mention why I’m currently in the job market?
It’s absolutely not a requirement for you to explain this in your cover letter, unless you are specifically asked to do so. When asked, use the reason why you’re currently looking for a new job as a way to sell yourself to a company’s selection team (example: “I want to further my career by acquiring new skills and experience.”) Avoid stating that you want to leave your current company because you’re unhappy with your daily commute or the number of hours you have to work as these could make you appear negative.
Should I include my salary requirement?
Only supply your salary information when responding to an advertisement that specifically requested your salary history or requirements. Failing to include this information shows lack of attention to detail or inability to follow specific instructions. If salary information is requested, our advice is to always use a range to give yourself a little bit of breathing room. Giving a salary range could also tell the Hiring Manager that you require a little more information (which is usually provided during the interview) before you give them a definite answer.
Should my cover letter be an attachment of just the body of email?
Either, but not both. Don’t think about replicating the cover letter in both the email and the attachment.
Though ideally, our advice is to copy the content of your cover letter and paste it as body of the email. This will give you the opportunity to make a strong first impression the moment the reviewer opens his inbox. You can draw someone in with a compelling opening line, and then demonstrate the ways in which you could contribute to the potential employer.
If, instead, you decide to attach your cover letter together with your resume, your email should be brief and direct the reader to open the attachments. See example below:
- “I’ve learned that you are looking for a Senior Sales Manager with strong business-to-business experience and knowledge of Cloud. That’s me. My attached resume and cover letter outline my relevant qualifications for the role. Thank you very much for your consideration, and I hope to hear from you.”
Keep this very brief if you go this route, so those on the receiving end won’t have difficulties in plowing through long email and all your attachments.
Make sure your cover letter, resume, and other job search materials look the same. Choose a standard presentation (font style, size, heading, format) for your documents, and stick with it.
Want to stand out in a sea of highly qualified job seekers? Do you need assistance in writing a cover letter to attract the interest and get employers to read your resume? Click here to ask us how. Or avail your new cover letter now.