It’s time to lose the full-time student job and finally get a paying gig (job).
It’s time to find a job that uses your strengths, skills and natural talents.
You’re smart, you’re qualified, you’re well-spoken and you’re overflowing with personality.
You know tons of business idioms and you’ve excelled in your business classes.
But there’s still one hurdle (challenge) standing in the way.
Your cover letter.
Knowing how to write a cover letter is a practical skill that will help you out in your career — and not just during the job search. The principles of writing a cover letter are similar to the principles of writing any other kind of business letter.
Letters aren’t just written on pen and paper, they’re also sent electronically — via email. So, you will have to write strong, professional letters at some point in your life.
Once you know how to write a cover letter, you’ll be better able to write all kinds of business letters.
There are plenty more reasons why you might need to write and send some kind of business letter. For example, perhaps you’re already a successful working professional and your boss has asked you to send a letter to one of your suppliers to communicate with them about a problem you’re having with their product.
University doesn’t usually give you the opportunity to practice writing business English letters. So, you probably haven’t done any business letter writing before, and now you’re nervous about what to include and what to omit.
If that’s where you’re stuck now, it’s time for you and me to get down to business.
How to Write Amazing English Cover Letters in 4 Simple Steps
Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place.
Rest assured, once you get the hang of the basic cover letter outline, you’ll be stunned by how easy it can be to write these. Cover letters are supposed to be short, direct, simple and professional. There’s no need for flash, big vocabulary words or too much creative writing.
All you really have to do is answer the important questions.
Let me elaborate on these major points.
1. Know the Right Writing Style.
Keep it simple.
Cut to the chase! Cover letters aren’t the time to introduce every detail about yourself, your experiences or whatever the main issue might be. The cover letter is the space to just give your reader the essential facts. Specifically, just the facts they need to know.
For example, if you’re applying to work at a bank, tell them about your experience with math, finance and customer service. The manager doesn’t need to know about every temporary summer job you’ve had. Save any other important work experiences for your resume or for the interview you’ll definitely get after sending your impressive cover letter.
Same goes for any kind of business letter. Be sure to only include relevant information. If you’re satisfied or dissatisfied with a product, let the company know right away and let them know what needs to be done about that product.
Don’t flood your letter with too much information. If you write too much, your main points will drown in a sea of information.
Busy professionals don’t have time to read all that.
Your letter will likely be one of many letters in a pile to be read. It’s just one more of the countless duties the letter reader will have to perform that day. His or her time is of the essence, so respect it. Don’t waste it.
Write with strength.
How to write a strong cover letter?
One trick is to use active voice as opposed to passive voice.
Don’t write: “One summer my job was working at a bank where I was a teller.”
Instead, write: “I worked as a teller at a bank one summer.”
You’ve just cut down 14 words to 10 words. Active voice is usually more direct, concise and strong. It sounds a little stronger and more formal. It doesn’t sound like you’re telling a long story, it sounds like you’re delivering only the most important facts.
Your simple, straightforward letter will show that you know how to be brief. It’ll show that you understand what’s important for the other professional to know. All in all, this will help your letter stand out as a strong letter.
And a strong letter is an important letter that needs to be read.
This means that there’s a better chance that it’ll be read in its entirety, and your request has a better chance of being considered.
2. Know What Content to Include.
Be professional, not personal.
Keeping your letter professional will also help keep it simple and strong.
Know your audience. You probably don’t know the recipient personally, so there’s no need for personal details or casual writing.
Save the small talk.
Remove any impertinent (unnecessary) details. Only include what’s important for the interview or business meeting. Your letter should be narrowly focused on the reason you’re writing.
If you’re applying for a job, tell the recipient only about your relevant work experience and what you can offer to their organization as an employee. This isn’t a time to talk about your family, your hobbies or what you like and dislike.
Remember, it’s a business letter and it should only be about business.
However, don’t be too formal in your speech either. Don’t try to impress with big words or long sentences. Relax and write about yourself in a natural, but professional, way. This can be achieved with an active voice and fewer words.
Don’t write a sentence like this: “It is a true and genuine honor to be considered for employment by such a wonderful and distinguished company such as yourself.”
Instead, write: “I am thrilled at the thought of contributing to such a renowned company.”
It’s the same idea, just a little less formal and with a few less words.
Stick to “what,” why” and “how.”
If you focus on answering these 3 questions, then it should be easy to stay focused and keep the letter succinct (brief) and relevant.
- You’re mostly answering the question “what do you want?”
- Is it a job in finance? In marketing? Is it a major leadership role?
- You’re being direct. Not rude.
- Why do you want it? Why do you need it?
- Why are you qualified you for the job? Why does the product not work and why do you need a replacement? What was wrong with the first expense report and why do you need your colleague to rewrite it?
- How will you be an asset to this company?
- Give solutions and ideas in your cover letter.
- Be decisive and have strong ideas.
Be strong. Be assertive. Be straightforward. Offer solutions in hopes that these will expedite the whole process.
This shows that your time is important too.
Still not sure what to include in terms of answers? Here are some tips for what exactly to include in your letter.
3. Follow this Sample Cover Letter Format.
So, since we’re living in the age of the email, it’s more likely that your “letter” will be an email. Just in case you’re going to physically send a letter in the mail, it’s important to include the following. Keep in mind that you don’t need to indent (put space to the left of) these lines of text at all.
Your House Number and Street Name
Your City, State, Country, Zip Code
Number and Street Address
City, State, Country, Zip Code
*(If you’re writing an email, skip the addresses and start with the next line instead)*
Dear Mr. or Ms. (Recipient’s Last Name):
My name is (your first and last name) and I am writing because I want to work for your company.
First paragraph content:
- Your experience.
- What you want (which position).
- Why you like the company.
- Why you’re applying.
Second paragraph content:
- How you’re going to make the company better.
- How you’re going to bring value.
- How you’re going to excel in this position.
- Brag about your abilities.
- Help the company understand why they need you.
Closing statements content:
- Say thank you for the opportunity.
- Express your wish for an interview.
Sincerely / Warm regards / Regards,
(press the “return” button on your keyboard 4 times here to add space)
Your name (sign your name just above this printed line if you’re sending a physical letter)
4. Review Your Checklist of Cover Letter Content
Though cover letter writing isn’t necessarily the time for creative or colorful writing, it still requires quite a bit of thought and skill. Keep the following checklist in mind to review when you’re done with any business letter.
1. Clarity. If the recipient only read my first sentence, will they understand why I’m writing? Did I get to the point right away? Did I convey to the recipient within the first two sentences why I should be hired or what the issue is?
2. Focus. Did I only include relevant information focusing only on the topic of the letter?
3. Originality. Did I offer any solutions or new ideas?
4. Professionalism. Was I polite, straightforward and concise?
If the answer to all of the above questions is “yes,” then you’re ready to send your letter! Be sure to double check your spelling and grammar one last time before sending it out.
So, there you have it. You’re now fully equipped to take the business world by storm with your writing. Now, go win over some clients and close some deals. Good luck!
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