How to write a cover letter: A simple explanation

How to write a cover letter
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It is an accepted fact that a well-written cover letter will greatly increase your chances of receiving job offers. But truth be told, even the most experienced writers sometimes struggle to compose the perfect cover letter. It can be a daunting task for sure. I want to show you how to write a cover letter. I have broken the process down into a few simple steps, if you follow these steps I am certain you will be able to write a perfect cover letter to include with your next job application.

Before you get started why don’t you quickly download one of my free cover letter templates. These templates are all in .docx format and very easy to edit with Microsoft word. By using one of these templates you will only need to concentrate on actually writing your cover letter, rather than having to worry about the design as well. Free CV templates are also available if you need one.

Right introduction done. Let’s discuss how to write a cover letter!

To make this easy I have broken the cover letter down into a number of sections. We will discuss each section separately, and when you write your cover letter you will focus on each section separately. Only move on to the next section when finished with the previous one. The sections are as follows;

1) The heading, with your personal information
2) Addressing the letter and the greeting.
3) The Opening paragraph
4) The Main Body
5) The Closing paragraph
6) The formal closing

That’s it! Sounds easy enough right? Well, let us discuss how to write a cover letter using these 6 simple sections.

Section 1: The heading, with your personal information.

The great news is we are starting with the easiest section. Especially if you have downloaded one of my free cover letter templates. All you need to do is fill in your name and contact information. Try to use only one phone number and E-mail address, even if you have multiple. Make sure that you will be contactable at all times on the details that you have provided. Also please make sure that the contact information you give on your cover letter matches the information that appears on your CV.

A note on E-Mails…

Use your personal E-Mail address and make sure that the email address you provide is professional. Do not use something like sexybeast123@gmail.com, this is going to reflect very poorly on you when the hiring manager reads it. It is not acceptable to use your current work E-Mail address for employment applications. It is disrespectful to your current employer.

Section 2: Addressing the letter and the greeting.

Always include the date on your cover letter. This sends the message that you have prepared this cover letter for this application (Which hopefully you have done)

Address the cover letter to the correct person. If you already know their name then this is very easy. If you do not know the name of the hiring manager then you need to do some research. Google the company and check if their name appears on the website, or just pick up the phone and ask the front desk for the name of the hiring manager, Remember you have nothing to hide so be completely upfront and honest. Simply tell them that you have seen the vacancy posted at the company and you would like to know who you can address your application to.

Here is an example of how to address your cover letter.

Attention:
Mr. Kevin Boornhouse
General Manager
Company XYZ

Dear Mr. Boornhouse,

If you are completely stumped and can not find the name of the hiring manager then you can use, “To whom it may concern.”

Section 3: The opening paragraph

This is arguably one of the most important sections when discussing how to write a cover letter. These first few sentences will determine if the hiring manager decides to read the rest of your letter or not. Your opening paragraph should be catchy and grab the reader’s attention.

Here are the three things that I suggest you try to include in your opening paragraph.

1) The position you are applying for.
2) Your excitement at the opportunity for working for the company
3) Brief mention of why you would suit the position

Here are examples of a professional opening paragraph you could use.

I was very excited to see your posting for the position of Service Advisor at Company XYZ. I have over 10 years of experience working as a service advisor and I am confident that I possess the skills and experience to succeed in the position.

or;

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My excitement was obvious when I saw your post for a Service Advisor at company XYZ. I have been an admirer of the work your company does for many years now and the opportunity to join your team is a dream turned reality. I have over 10 years of experience working as a service advisor and my knowledge of vehicle maintenance procedures is unrivaled.

Section 4: The Main Body

The main body of your cover letter should consist of two more paragraphs. In the first paragraph, you are going to want to convey two things. Firstly you want to show that you are an experienced professional in your industry, and secondly, you want to show how your previous experience is going to benefit your next employer.

Here is an example of how you could write your first paragraph of the main body.

In my current position at Company ABC, I have worked my way up from junior service advisor to the position of service advisor manager. I have implemented and supervised a number of training programs that have (1) ensured that the service advisor department at ABC has received the year-end award for best customer service two years running and (2) the staff are always kept ahead of the latest advancements in the industry. I look forward to containing these training programs at my next place of employment.

In the second paragraph of the main body, you need to explain why you want to work for their company. You need to point out why you want THIS job, not just any other job. There is a simple formula for doing this;

1) Mention a company fact, or upcoming project
2) Add why you find this interesting
3) Seal the deal by reiterating why your experience will ensure you succeed.

Here is an example of a second paragraph of the main body.

It is well known that Company XYZ has started implementing training programs for its service advisor staff members. This is the perfect opportunity for me to focus my skills and passion. I will start by (1) identifying the skills and service areas that need to be improved, in my previous experience these were the areas of customer retention and modern vehicle service techniques. (2) I will develop a training program to address these shortfalls. This training program would be leveraged by my previous experience and I would be confident of its success.

Section 5: The closing paragraph

When people are wondering how to write a cover letter, they are usually focused on the body section. And although this is a vital section your closing paragraph is just as important. You need to leave the reader excited about your application, especially as they will now be reading your CV. Keep your closing paragraph short but powerful. Basically tell the hiring manager that you look forward to meeting with them and reiterate that your previous experience can help their company reach its goals.

Here is an example of a basic but strong closing paragraph:

I would welcome the chance to meet with you in person to discuss your service advisor department’s goals and objectives. I also look forward to expanding on how my success at Company ABC can help your company meet these objectives.

Section 6: The formal closing

Ok, the hard part is over, now you just need to end your letter with a professional closing. This is easy, and I recommend you use the following sigh-off;

Sincerely,
Joan Snow

Of course, if you do not like “Sincerely” you could easily use any of the following;

  • Best Regards,
  • Kind Regards,
  • Thank you for your consideration,
  • Respectfully Yours,

Any of the above would be appropriate.

If you have been wondering how to write a cover letter I hope this has simplified the process. Remember once again, you are welcome to use any of my free cover letter templates if you need one. And as always if you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments below, I do make an effort to reply to each and every comment I receive from you guys. Thanks for taking the time to read this, best of luck with your job search.

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The information contained on this website is simply aimed at providing readers with guidance on labour law in South Africa. This information has not been provided to meet the individual requirements of a specific individual. Bizcraft will always suggest that legal advice be obtained to address a person’s unique circumstances. It is important to remember that the law is constantly changing and although Bizcraft strives to keep the information up to date and of high quality, it cannot be guaranteed that the information will be updated and/or be without errors or omissions. As a result, Bizcraft will under no circumstances accept liability or be held liable, for any innocent or negligent actions or omissions which may result in any harm or liability flowing from the use of or the inability to use the information provided.

3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Mustapha Danjuma
    June 23, 2020

    Good day and thanks for these great knowledge, please can I have a copy of a cover letter and CV please in my email below. Thanks..

    Reply
    1. Peter Breedveld
      Peter Breedveld
      June 23, 2020

      Hi Mustapha, thank you for the message. Please check out my free CV and Cover letter templates that are available for anyone to use. If you need any additional assistance please don’t hesitate to pop me a mail at any time.

      Reply
  2. Avatar
    Anelisa
    February 14, 2020

    Hi, what if you have no work experience and you’ve just come out of school what information do u use. Thank you

    Reply

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