Cover Letters

"I consider it a good rule for letter-writing to leave unmentioned what the recipient already knows, and instead tell him something new."  

                                                                   Sigmund Freud

 

Cover Letters

 

Industry decision-makers tell us over and over that the cover letter is the key to the first stage of a hiring process. While a resume lists skills and attributes, the letter conveys personality and reveals whether the applicant is sincerely interested in their company in particular. They tend to look for two main components in a cover letter:

1) The applicant has clearly researched their company (this is evident through references to projects, etc.)

2) The applicant has a keen interest in their industry (this is often demonstrated through personal projects and endeavours the applicant undertakes on their own time - blogs, social media dedicated to sharing particular interests, volunteer activities, etc.)

Note: Errors with spelling and grammar errors disqualify applicants immediately, regardless of qualifications and content.

 

 

Quick Tips

 

Developed effectively, a cover letter conveys some personality, illuminates your education, skills and experiences, and showcases your skill in written communication.

  • Cover letters are intended to highlight the specific skills, experience and attributes you have that match with the needs of a given employer.

 

  • Do not simply repeat the content of your resume! Instead, build on the relevant skills and experiences for the particular company/opportunity.

 

  • Conduct  research on a company and compare the position of interest with your current values, interests, and qualifications (like educational background and relevant experiences.) Putting this information in a table format may be helpful.

 

  • Show your personality and your communication skills!

 

 

On This Page
 

Tailor Your Cover Letter

Your Cover Letter is the Key to Getting an Interview

 

The cover letter is the key to making it to the interview stage of the hiring process. It shows your skills with written communication, conveys personality, and reveals whether you’re sincerely interested in that company in particular. Hiring managers tend to look for two main components in a cover letter:

 

1) The applicant has clearly researched their company (this is evident through references to projects, etc.)

 

2) The applicant has a keen interest in their industry (this is demonstrated through personal projects and endeavours the applicant undertakes on their own time - blogs, social media dedicated to sharing particular interests, volunteer activities, etc.)

 

Note: Spelling and grammar errors will disqualify an applicant immediately, regardless of qualifications and content.


 

Before you begin

 

  • As with your resume, target your key points to a job posting (or an example of a job posting). To do this, make a list of the skills and responsibilities associated with the job. Then make a list of your specific skills, achievements and experiences that relate to the job description. 

 

  • Research the company! Find out about their major projects, events, clients, etc. You may want to reference something they've done to show you did your homework and are serious about the position.

 

  • Are you passionate about the target's industry? Do you have examples of your involvement/interest in the sector (eg. do you write a blog, tweet constantly about the industry, have an Instagram account dedicated to the area, volunteer with related festivals/events..?) Include this!


 

In the body of the cover letter

You should include two main paragraphs in the body of the letter. One paragraph should address how you meet the requirements for the role. The other should emphasize why you want to work with them in particular.

  • Give examples and evidence of your key qualifications through the use of accomplishments, to illustrate how you can benefit the prospective employer/company (i.e., reduce operational inefficiencies, etc.)

 

  • Quantify your statements (i.e., how many phone calls did you receive in a 1 hour period? How many clients did you support?)

 

  • Don’t forget to add your personal interests  (for example your interest in the industry as evidenced through your blog) 


 

In your final paragraph

 

Ask for action (i.e., follow-up over the telephone, etc.) and include the sentiment that you appreciate the consideration of your application

 

Cover Letter Layout - Sample

(skip 2 lines)

(date)

Your name and address

Company contact name and address

(skip 2 lines)

(skip 2 lines)

 

Cover Letter Format and Layout



 

Layout

 

  • Your letter should be 1 page with 3-5 paragraph maximum.

  • Text should be aligned to the left and should be a legible font size.

  • The font and overall style of your cover letter heading should match your resume contact header.

 

Your Contact Information

 

  • The header should contain your name, phone number, and Ryerson email address (physical address is optional)


 

Date

 

  • Include the date a couple of spaces below your contact information. 

 

Recipient Contact Information

 

  • Commonly written in standard business format, the recipient contact information appears a couple of spaces below the date.

 

Try to Include

 

  • Full Name of Recipient and Position/Title

  • Company Name

 

Greeting

 

  • Use "Dear Ms. Smith" or "Dear Angella". Do NOT use both first and last name (Dear Ms Angella Smith).

  • In the event that you are unable to secure the name, title, mailing address, telephone number and email address of a contact, you can phone the organization to speak with Reception or Human Resources to request this data.

  • If you are still unable to generate such information, you can use:

        “Dear Hiring Manager”

        “Dear Human Resources…”

    

 

Introductory Paragraph

 

  • The key to this section is outlining why you are writing a cover letter in the first place.

  • If applying to a particular opportunity, discuss the opportunity.

  • Mention how you found out about the position; if someone referred you, include their name.

  • If your cover letter is not for a specific job, identify the specific industry, department and role you are actively pursuing; inquire here about organizational information and job descriptions.

 

Body Paragraph

 

  • This area of the cover letter highlights the reasons you are an excellent candidate for an upcoming position/company as well as your interest in the opportunity.

  • Avoid simply repeating the components of your resume here. However, do mention and elaborate on points that you have noticed are a job requirement or are important to the employer/organization.

  • Start with choosing key components of your educational and work background, your skills, competencies and values. It is essential to draw connections between your prior experiences and the upcoming opportunity. Also add valuable data concerning the upcoming role/organization/employer throughout.

 

Concluding Paragraph

 

  • Finish your cover letter with an overview concerning your motivation to attend an upcoming interview, your interest in the particular role (if applicable) and employer/company.

  • Include your plans to follow-up. A word of caution: if you specify a follow-up date, be sure to act on it!

  • Lastly, thank the employer/organization for their consideration of your interest in an upcoming opportunity.

 

Closing and signature

 

  • Finish your letter with a sign-off:

    • “Sincerely…”

    • “Kind Regards…”

    • “Yours Truly…”

  • Type your full name below the sign-off and if possible, sign below your typed name.

 

Proofreading

 

  • Prior to sending your cover letter (or any self-marketing job search documents, for that matter), check for spelling, grammatical and formatting errors. It can be helpful to have a friend, relative, or additional contact review this material as well.

 

Sending your Letter

 

  • Include a short, professional email stating that your cover letter (and additional documentation as needed) is attached.

 

Tips and Common Errors

Tips:

 

Limit your cover letter to a 3 to 5 paragraph maximum

 

When using email, your cover letter may be shorter.

 

Match your resume font and header

 

Use the same font on both your resume and cover letter. It is also helpful to include your resume contact header on your cover letter for document continuity.

 

Address your cover letter to a specific contact

 

Company websites and social media platforms, (i.e., LinkedIn) can help you to identify a key individual who has not been listed. If you are unable to locate a contact, you can use the terms: “Dear Hiring Manager…”, “Dear Hiring Committee…”, etc.

 

Keep it simple

 

Avoid using overly complicated, flowery language on your cover letter.

 

Ensure your cover letter is written with clarity and detail.

 

Outline the point and objective of your cover letter within the first paragraph

Why are you writing this self-marketing document in the first place? Why are you interested in an upcoming opportunity (advertised or not)?


 

Common Errors in Cover Letters

 

Greeting

Use “Dear Angella” or “Dear Ms Smith” but NOT “Dear Angella Smith”

One Size Fits All Mindset

 

Resist the temptation to send the same cover letter in response to different opportunities. The person reading the letter can usually spot this type of letter immediately and may assume you’re not interested enough to take the time to craft a tailored version. Conduct preparatory research and customize the letter to fit the job description.


 

Too Much/Not Enough Length

 

Cover letters that are too short or lengthy miss the point of the document, which is intended to concisely represent your interest in a given opportunity as well as your background, qualifications and skills. Keep your cover letter target at a maximum of 3-5 paragraphs.


 

Unremarkable Openings

 

Ideally, the first paragraph of your cover letter serves to intrigue potential employers (i.e., like a movie trailer). Instead of cutting to your objective right away, include a thoughtful opening and information about your unique background to leave a lasting impression.

 

Repeating Your Resume

 

Do not copy and paste elements of your resume into your cover letter. This document is your opportunity to provide the prospective employer with more background information about yourself, including your goals, ambitions and value.

 

Over-Reference to Me, Myself and I

 

While cover letters are commonly composed using the first person stance, try not to over-populate your document with “me, myself and I.” If you notice more than 5 of these references, take another look and see if you can include more information about the prospective employer.


 

Under-Promoting Yourself

 

In a nutshell, your cover letter can provide an employer with the motivation to reach out to you. Market your selling points and achievements accordingly.

 

Leaving Out Your Contact Information

 

Resumes and cover letters can become separated. Mirroring your resume, ensure that you include accurate contact information.

 

Forgetting to Spell Check & Grammar Check

 

Prior to sending your cover letter, it is essential to check the content for spelling and grammatical errors. It is also highly recommended that you have friends, family members and other important contacts review your letter for mistakes, consistency and flow.

 

Thank-You Letters

 

Purpose

 

  • Thank-you notes should be written after any contact you have with a potential employer, information interview or network contact, whether by phone, email or in-personA thank-you letter is intended to acknowledge the time someone has given you in your job search or information gathering

  • It reminds people of who you are, what your skills are and tells them that you appreciate how they have helped you

  • They demonstrate that you have good social skills and can be counted on to follow up

  • Because many people do not take the time to write a thank-you, it will set you apart from your competitors


 

Include

 

  • A salutation

  • What you are thanking them for

  • A reminder of something you talked about / the interview topic you enjoyed / your skills / your interest in the position 

  • Your full name as signature

  • A relevant and formal subject line (if sending an email)

  • Do Not use emoticons

  • Check for spelling and grammar before you hit send. Errors in spelling and grammar send the message that you aren't that interested in details


 

Tips

 

  • Send your thank-you within 24 hours

  • Use the opportunity to not only thank the person for their time, but to also remind them of your relevant skills and your interest in the position (if you are thanking them for a job interview)

  • Proofread your letter to ensure it is free of errors

  • Make mention of a topic or point that you discussed to make a personal connection

  • Even if you do not intend to pursue work with that company at present, a well thought out thank you letter can open doors and help people in your field remember who you are

  • You can send your thank-you in the form of a card, letter or e-mail

  • Make sure you thank everyone who assists you

  • If you had a panel interview, send a separate letter to each person on the panel

  • If you are sending a thank-you letter to a network contact, be sure to offer to reciprocate the favour

  • Try to send it during business hours ( 9 am - 6 pm)

 

 

 

Sample Thank-you Note (Email Format)

 

Subject: Thank you

 

Dear Ms. Jetson,

 

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for taking  the time to interview me on Monday October 11. It was a pleasure to  meet you face-to-face and I enjoyed discussing the many challenges that this new sales position would offer. 

 

I was especially intrigued by your mention of  RolCo's new Innovative Sales Initiative. I  am certain that with my proven track record for increasing sales (over 20% in my last position) and my experience with contributing creative marketing strategies I could be an asset to your team.

 

It is with great anticipation that I wait to hear your decision as it would be a privilege to work with you and your team.

 

Regards,

 

Judith Stevens

"Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot."  

Hansa Proverb

 

Emailing Your Application

You've tailored your resume and cover letter in response to the job posting and you're ready to send it in. Are you about to copy your cover letter into the body of the email and hit send? Wait!

 

Attach the resume and cover letter with your name in file name (for example, Greenwood_resume.pdf). In the body of your email create a short note that: 

  • specifies the position you're applying for

  • includes a few points relating to why you are a good candidate for the job

  • indicates that your cover letter and resume are attached.


 

Sending professional emails

 

  • When sending attachments, send them as pdf files with your name in the file name  (eg. saidler_alex_resume.pdf)

  • Try to find a contact name rather than  To Whom It May Concern

  • Use a formal subject line

  • Check spelling and grammar before you send. Seriously.

  • If in doubt, err on the side of formal in tone

  • If this email is to follow up on  a professional contact, send it the next day to continue the relationship

  • Try to send it during business hours ( 9 am - 6 pm)

  • Include: a salutation

  • Include: what you are thanking them for/the position you are applying for 

  • For networking, include: a reminder of something you talked about / your skills / your interest in the position (whatever is relevant)

  • Your full name as signature

  • NO emoticons

 

 

Sample Cover Letter - Traditional

 

Ima Student

1245 Victoria St

Toronto, ON M5V 3B6

imastudent@ryerson.ca

 

 

 July 1, 2015

 

 

Ms Ali Smith

Dreamwords & Associates 

303 Toronto St. 

Suite 5012 

Toronto, ON M6J 2E2

 

 

Dear Ms Smith: 

 

I recently learned of a Market Research Associate internship with Dreamwords & Associates. I believe my experiences and skills would enable me to make an immediate contribution to your growing firm.

 

Through my degree, a B.A. with a focus on music and film, and through a variety of roles in business and non-profit arts organizations, I have acquired excellent time management, written and oral communication skills. I am extremely goal driven and motivated, as evidenced by pursuing my degree while holding full-time employment over the past several years.

 

In a previous role, I gained experience interviewing clients and compiling data. For Company X I conducted over 200 interviews, in person and by phone, and compiled a detailed customer database. This project resulted in a 25% increase in sales for the year.  In another role,  I demonstrated leadership and communication skills through the successful management of a 12 person orientation group. The daily updates I provided were later published by the University.

 

 

I welcome the opportunity to discuss further how my qualifications, energy, enthusiasm and willingness to learn can help me to make a considerable contribution to Dreamfest & Associates.

 

Sincerely, 

 

 

Ima Student

imastudent@ryerson.ca

enclosure 

 

Sample Cover Letter -

VERY non-traditional, big personality

For Design/Media/Content Producer

hi suzanne.
 

My name is Sam Sanatan, and I want to be Sid Lee’s next intern.

This December, I had the pleasure of visiting the Sid Lee offices to deliver client

holiday presents from KISS 98 Toronto, where I have been interning for the past

four months. And while fulfilling my Christmas elf duties, I developed a major crush

on Sid Lee.

Since then I’ve done some research, which has been mainly creeping the Sid Lee

Canada website, (which could use a tearjerker warning for the SickKids, Air Canada,

and Tim Horton’s ads). I have also been pelting Emily Mack with questions about

your work, clients, and campaigns. Ultimately, I want to work for an agency that

produces content so good that can make me cry in the Ryerson Library. True story.

I think we should meet. Here’s why:

- As a full-time student at Ryerson University, I am legally allowed to intern.

- My major is Creative Industries, which is a fancy way of saying “I want to be in

advertising”.

- I am fun, work hard, and I really care about Sid Lee Canada.

Need more information?

I’ve attached my resume for your consideration.

Even more information?

Call David Du at KISS 98.

Yours,

Sam Sanatan

ssan@ryerson.ca

Sample Cover Letter 

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