It will suffice, first and foremost, to say that a cover letter, also referred to as a covering letter or motivation letter, is a letter of introduction that succinctly summarizes its accompanying attachments which are usually resumes or other similar documents.
While most cover letters are usually associated with applications for employment or internship, there are other categories such as the prospecting and the networking letters. Based on the uniqueness of the divergent purposes of creating an outstanding cover letter given the differences in the job characteristics, it is worthy to note that covering letter come in varying forms and structures.
This fact notwithstanding, it must be clearly stated that irrespective of the purpose of the cover letters some general principles must be adhered to. These principles are based on proven and effective templates.
Cover letters undoubtedly form a major core of the nucleus of getting employed. The indispensability of this document therefore buttresses the need for the prospective employee to pay undivided attention and exhibit professionalism when writing these important motivational documents.
There are general guidelines that go a long way in helping potential employees to write a compelling cover letter. The statement above holds sway given the fact that upon an insightful dissection of most exceptional cover letters, it is evident to note that this document can be subdivided into 7 different sections.
These sections are presented below as follows;
This is as required for every professional/ formal letter. The header should essentially include the following;
- Your name
- Your address
- Your email address
- Your telephone number
- The date
- The name of the hiring manager along with his/her professional title
- The name and address of the company you are applying to
As the name implies, this refers to the person to whom you are addressing the cover letter. It is advisable to make appropriate enquiries in order to determine the name of the hiring manager. If efforts geared towards obtaining the hiring manager’s name prove abortive, the salutation could be stated as any of the following.
- Dear Hiring Manager
- Dear ABC Company Team
3. Opening Paragraph
This acts as a topic sentence for the whole write-up. It should be concise and straight to the point. The opening paragraph should be strong and persuasive enough to evoke the interest of the hiring manager and compel him/her to read on.
The opening paragraph is basically the section wherein the potential employee succinctly presents the reason for which he/she is contacting the hiring manager or company as the case may be.
4. Second Paragraph
This is where the potential employee describes why he/she feels that he/she is the perfect candidate for the job. The onus is on the potential employee at this point to convince the hiring manager of his/her suitability for the vacancy if considered. Previous similar work experiences as well as educational qualifications should be compendiously provided in this section.
5. Third Paragraph
The potential employee uses this third paragraph to address the question, ‘Why is this company a good fit for you?’. This is where the prospective employee can summarily outline the benefits his/her addition to the workforce can contribute if employed. The hiring manager must be convinced that the potential employee can add meaningfully to the overall productivity of the company.
6. Closing Paragraph
This should be a strong conclusion to the cover letter. Subtle emphasis on cogent point already raised hitherto should be briefly reiterated. This is also a good time for the potential employee to indicate his/her willingness in meeting with the recruitment manager for a possible interview.
7. Formal Closing
This is essentially signing off the cover letter with a number of complimentary closes such as Sincerely, Best regards and Kind regards among others.
This is followed by the potential employee’s full name. Affixing a handwritten signature is optional in most cases.