Starting your first job search can be intimidating: there’s a lot to consider, like targeting employers, buying interview clothes, writing your resume, and writing your cover letter. If you’ve never written one before, you may be unsure of what to include, or how to structure your letter. Never fear: the tips below will help you get a good start on a compelling cover letter that can help get you the job you need to launch your career!
Why Do You Need a Cover Letter?
Writing a cover letter is a great way to put your best foot forward when applying for a job. Stand out from the crowd by customizing your letter specifically to each employer–and telling them exactly why you want to work there. Be aware that many times a cover letter is listed as optional when it’s still expected. Not including one can harm your opportunity to even be interviewed for your dream job!
How to Start Your First Ever Cover Letter
Many word processing programs have templates for writing a business letter, so you can use them if you are unsure how to do your own formatting. LiveCareer’s Cover Letter Builder has dozens of templates to choose from, and is a great place to start. Choose one that is simple, without excessive embellishment, and professional looking. Include your name, address, and contact information at the top of the page. Begin by addressing the hiring party, if known, or use a professional standard greeting. It is always best to address an actual person whenever possible.
The first paragraph of your cover letter should be about you and the job for which you are applying. You want to avoid beginning with “I am applying for the position of teacher posted on the board of education’s website.” A better starting point would be, “A proven record for demonstrated growth in the classroom makes me an excellent candidate for the teaching position listed on the district’s website.” Continue with your general accomplishments and skills that will make you stand out as a candidate.
Here’s where you can get more specific. It is permissible to change the formatting of this paragraph to break up the letter and highlight your skills. Make your abilities and willingness to perform duties clear. Use a bulleted list or a table to make it easy to read and really point out your skills. Begin by saying something along the lines of “After reviewing the job posting, I have the training and education to meet the following requirements.” Take the requirements directly from the job posting and explain how you meet them. This will give employers exactly what they need to know about you and your ability to do the job.
The last paragraph of your cover letter should sum up the argument for why you would be the perfect candidate. Close by thanking the reader for his or her time and let them know you will call in a week to discuss your application and hope to meet in person to discuss your unique skills and qualities.
Using these tips, you will feel confident that writing your first ever cover letter will give you the leading edge in the job hunt. If writing your first ever cover letter still seems too daunting, try using LiveCareer’s Cover Letter Builder. Cover letters always make a great first impression and help you to land your dream job!
More Articles about How to Write Your First Ever Cover Letter
We've told you how to write a good cover letter but now you might be wondering "What on Earth should it look like?". If you're applying for your first job and have no experience, it can be hard to figure out how to structure it.
Well, luckily for you, we've come up with a helpful cover letter template to get you inspired. Remember, a good cover letter is unique to you and each job you apply for, so use our example for inspiration but follow the tips below to write your own.
OK, let’s get started. It’s probably best to print off our cover letter template so you can have it alongside you while you write your own. To do this:
- Right click the image.
- Select “Open image in new tab” – a new tab should open automatically.
- Press Ctrl and P on your keyboard, and follow the steps to print out the cover letter example.
How to use our cover letter template
Now you’re going to have a go at writing a really good cover letter by following the structure of ours!
1. Letter-writing basics
As you can see, we include the following bits of information in our cover letter example:
- Employer's address top left: This is where you include the address of the person you're writing to in any letter.
- Applicant's address and details top right: Whenever you write a letter, always include your own address at the top right, opposite the address of the person you're writing to. Also include your phone number, and your email address too if you have one.
- Date under your address: We haven't included it here, but to really spruce up your letter, include the date underneath your contact details.
Saying hello: As in our example, start off with "Dear" followed by the name of the person you're writing to (this is called a salutation). Use their name if you know it (it might even be worth a phone call to the employer to find out). If you don't know and can't find out, address it to the "Hiring Manager".
Saying goodbye: There are lots of ways to end a letter, and sometimes the rules can be confusing. We suggest you stick with “Sincerely” – while it’s polite, it doesn’t sound unnatural like “Faithfully” or “Yours truly”.
2. Starting off: Introduce yourself
We begin the example by referencing the job title, where the job was advertised, and saying a little bit about the applicant and why they’re applying for the job. As you can see, you don’t need much – just a few lines – but this is the way to begin any good cover letter.
But don’t just make it all about you – think about why the employer should hire you. And remember, they could be busy – you need to give them a reason to carry on reading your application!
3. The meat: Why you’re a good fit
In our template, you can see that we go into a bit more detail about why the applicant wants the job. Now’s your chance to show the employer why you care about the role, and why this means you’d make a good member of the team.
Next, we talk about why the applicant’s experience proves that they would be good at the job. Here, you can talk about any transferable skills you might have picked up in lessons, or in a club or society you take part in outside of school.
Don’t just list your skills: keep it brief and remember to make this relevant to the role – in our cover letter example, we focus on communications and teamwork skills which are useful in a customer service job.
If you’re struggling, here are some examples of where you might have picked up different kinds of skills:
- In lessons: Presenting, teamwork, communication, independent working.
- In a sports club: Teamwork, strategy, planning, leadership and people skills.
- At drama society: Public speaking, teamwork, remembering information.
- In a part-time job at the corner shop: Punctuality, reliability, customer service, people skills.
4. Rounding off: Thank the reader
In our template, we finish up by thanking the hiring manager for taking the time to read the application. This is courteous and shows that you care about the role.
We close our example by giving the hiring manager a reason to get in touch – by reminding them that our skills are relevant to the job. But make sure you’ve already listed these skills earlier on.
Find out about the different bits of a good cover letter in more detail.
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