The first thing you need to determine when deciding how to write your cover letter is if it will be submitted by email or as an attachment/ in print. While a printed cover letter should be no more than a page, a cover letter pasted in the body of an email should be even shorter. The general rule for email cover letters is that the receiver should be able to read the email with as little scrolling as possible.
Therefore, a cover letter submitted in the body of an email should adopt the following format: opening, paragraph or bulleted body, and closing. Examples of how to write each of these sections is detailed below:
The subject line of your email should address the job opening you are interested in. However, you still need to introduce yourself briefly to the reader in the opening paragraph of your email. You need to be succinct and to the point so that you do not lose the reader’s attention. Try the following:
“Hi there! I am writing you today to express my interest in your open position of Sales Manager. Leveraging 10 years of experience as a Store Manager for two different retail locations, I believe I am an ideal candidate for this position. Please consider: …”
“I was made aware of your open position of Engineer Manager through our mutual acquaintance, John Smith. John tells me you need a manager who can lead your engineering team through several important initiatives in the coming months. I believe I am well suited to help you with this objective. My qualifications include: …”
Body/ Qualifications/ Highlights
Once you have introduced yourself to the reader, you need to include either three or four short bullets to gain your reader’s interest or a short paragraph to serve the same purpose. Whichever format you choose, be sure to cover some requirements from the job ad you are responding to. Consider:
“Throughout my career, I have consistently delivered on all sales quotas/ objectives. In the most recent sales cycle, I delivered 115% of quota and was named to the President’s Club. Additionally, I mentored my sales team to achieve their individual objectives in terms of sales, new customer acquisition, client retention, and service levels. As a group, the team moved from 5 of 32 nationwide to first place in all performance categories.”
* Oversaw a 20-member engineering team in equipment design and upgrades for a factory producing 20,000 units per month.
* Ensured compliance to all safety requirements, cutting reportable incidents from two to zero.
* Drove preventative maintenance efforts that resulted in a 10% cost savings.
Finally, a cover letter should always have what we refer to as a “call to action.” We include this in a cover letter because it singles that you want the reader to take an action. Many people feel this approach can be a little too bold. However, industry best practices tell us that a “call to action” is the best way to transition a cover letter and resume into an interview. Try any of the following:
“I would love to meet with you to learn more about your upcoming goals. I will make myself available at your convenience and look forward to your call.”
“Confident I am the ideal candidate for this role, I have attached my resume to this email. I hope to meet with you soon to discuss this opportunity in greater detail. Please call me at the number listed below.”
“I would like to request a personal meeting to discuss your goals for this position and how I can help you achieve them. I look forward to your call to schedule a time. Thank you for your consideration.”
Next time you send an email application, follow the above suggested format. Further, since a hiring manager needs accurate contact information to schedule an interview with you, and for convenience, make sure you include your phone number below your email signature.