What Not To Miss In A Cover Letter Template
Composing a cover letter almost always proves to be challenging, particularly if one doesn’t know what to include – and exclude – in a cover letter template.
Do companies still require applicants to submit a cover letter, aka application letter, or does a résumé, aka curriculum vitae or CV for short, suffice?
Do you have any idea how much time a recruiter spends on one applicant’s résumé?
A New York-based job website’s answer to that might shock job seekers.
In a 2018 study conducted by Ladders, the average time a recruiter spends skimming a résumé was 7.4 seconds!
How do you think recruiters review cover letters? Do they even read it thoroughly or do they just skim, too? Even if applicants submit a decently composed copy, one with the right cover letter template used, do application letters still matter to companies these days?
For most companies, the answer would be yes, according to Michael Tomaszewski, a Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW).
Scotland-based Tomaszewski, a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARWCC) headquartered in Florida, based his “real, definitive answer” from a survey result.
The survey he was referring to, with U.S.-based recruitment professionals as respondents, was sponsored by ResumeLab, an online résumé builder and résumé advice site from Warsaw.
In his 2021 article for ResumeLab, Tomaszewski wrote that 83% of the respondents agreed on the cover letter’s importance. According to them, an impressive cover letter submitted along with a not-so-great résumé can make an applicant be considered for an interview.
To encourage applicants to learn how to create a great cover letter template, here are more results from the said survey:
- 74% of recruitment professionals like applicants to submit a cover letter.
- If a cover letter is not required, 77% of recruitment professionals will prioritize applicants who submitted a cover letter, with 72% of them expecting to receive one.
- The instance for a job application process to involve a cover letter is 64%.
- 61% of recruiters from online job boards ask applicants for a cover letter.
Numbers don’t lie, as they say. Now that a cover letter’s relevance has been established, it’s high time to know how to create a cover letter template. It might be an applicant’s ticket to that elusive interview – even to getting hired.
The right place to start learning what comprises a basic cover letter template is to first understand what a cover letter is.
A cover letter is a written document containing condensed details of an applicant’s educational and work-related qualifications and accomplishments plus other professional credentials and traits. All given information is deemed relevant by the applicant in relation to the vacant position he/she is applying for.
A cover letter is submitted together with a résumé when applying for a job, though it could be optional (but don’t forget what Tomaszewski revealed).
Here are the eight main parts that an applicant should include in a cover letter template:
- Employer’s Contact Information
- Salutation or Greeting
- Introduction or Opening Paragraph
- Middle Paragraph
- Second Middle Paragraph
Each main part of a cover letter template will be discussed in detail in the ensuing sections of this article.
The first four parts could be the easiest to do when creating a cover letter template because they involve information that is easily obtainable.
This is the part of the cover letter template that contains the applicant’s contact information, namely (and in the following order):
- Full name:
- Given Name
- Middle Initial
- Family Name
- Post-nominal initial or title (if applicable), for example:
- [Your Name], CPA
- [Your Name], CPRW
- [Your Name], MBA
- [Your Name], Ph.D.
- Home address
- include country if the company is based abroad
- Phone number (include appropriate area or country code)
- landline number
- mobile number
- Email address
- Make sure it’s a professional one (don’t go for that email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Never ever use your work email.
- If you can, create a new email account to be used exclusively for job applications.
- Online profile
- link to any relevant social media accounts, such as LinkedIn
- link to your website or online portfolio, especially if you happen to be a graphic designer, freelance writer, or photographer
Note: Only include online profile links if necessary for the job you’re applying for.
- Write the date when you submit the cover letter.
- The format should be: Month (in words; don’t abbreviate), Day, Year (in full).
- January 1, 2021
The section of the cover letter template that indicates the contact information of the employer, namely (and in the following order):
- Name of the recipient/employer/contact person
- Job title of the recipient/employer/contact person
- Company name
- Company address
- Address the recipient of the cover letter by his/her surname:
- Dear Ms. Miller
- Dear Mr. Johnson
- If the name is not available, simply write:
- Dear Recruitment/Hiring/Personnel Manager
- Dear HR Team
- Never add “Mr./Mrs./Ms.” before the job title.
- Dear Ms. Recruitment Manager – Wrong!
- Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Recruitment Manager – Wrong!
- Don’t use “To Whom It May Concern.”
Below is a sample format for the header and salutation of a cover letter template:
[Your Complete Address]
[Your Phone Number]
[Link to an Online Profile, if you have one]
[Contact Person’s Name]
[Contact Person’s Job Title]
Dear [Contact Person’s Surname preceded by “Mr.” or “Ms./Mrs.”]:
If the contact person remains unknown:
[Personnel Manager] or [Recruitment Team]
Dear [Personnel Manager]:
Dear [HR Team]:
A specific sample format:
Jennifer C. Williams, M.A., M.Sc.
120 Clark Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
October 20, 2021
Ms. Lourdes Cuesta
Assistant Principal, College Office
Brooklyn Technical High School
29 Fort Greene Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Dear Ms. Cuesta:
That’s it! As mentioned earlier, it could be quite easy to do the first four parts of a cover letter template. You won’t even break a sweat.
Now comes the juicy – and challenging – parts of a cover letter template. Let’s continue!
The Introduction or Opening Paragraph of a cover letter template is where the applicant will inform the employer about his/her purpose of writing.
This is also the part where the applicant will briefly introduce him/herself to the employer.
The Introduction part of the cover letter template must include the following information:
- The particular position that the applicant is aiming for.
- On how did the applicant learn about the job vacancy.
- If the ad appears online or in a newspaper or magazine, mention the:
- name of the website or online job board or the print publication
- date when the ad/job vacancy announcement got published or posted
- complete name of the person and his/her job title in case a current or former company worker informed the applicant about the open position
- A self-introduction that is brief but attention-grabbing or interesting.
Below is a sample introduction and let’s start with the salutation part of a cover letter template:
Dear Ms. Cuesta:
- I am applying for the position of [Job Title or Position] as advertised through [Name of Publication] on [Complete Date].
- I am applying for the position of Adjunct Professor in American History as advertised through the Job Market section of the Brooklyn Daily News on October 10, 2021.
- I am applying for the position of [Job Title or Position] as posted at [Name of Website/Online Resource] on [Complete Date].
- I am applying for the position of Adjunct Professor in American History as posted at Indeed.com on October 10, 2021.
The following is a sample one that could be used to follow the previous sentence:
I am [tell how interested you are about your application] to inform you that my [mention the years of relevant experience] fit(s) the kind of teacher that [name of school] is looking for.
- I am happy to inform you that my 5-year experience teaching American history at the tertiary level and 2-year stint as a social studies high school teacher fit the kind of teacher that Brooklyn Technical High School is looking for.
The next part of the cover letter template will be longer and will involve more information.
The Middle Paragraph – there could be two paragraphs – of a cover letter template will make the applicant sell him/herself but without being self-patronizing or arrogant.
No wonder Samuel Johns, CPRW, calls this the “hard sell” paragraph in his article for Resume Genius. The University of Colorado Boulder, on the other hand, refers to the middle paragraph of a cover letter template as the “sales pitch” part.
An important reminder, though, from the University of Colorado Boulder: “do not restate everything” found on your résumé.
The Middle Paragraph(s) should contain the following information:
- how much the applicant is familiar with (what he/she knows about) the company
- the reason the applicant is applying and the qualifications that back him/her up
- include relevant measurable results
- use the job descriptions mentioned in the ad as a guide in “selling” one’s self
- what the applicant can do for or contribute to the company.
In addition, remember to consistently use the following in the cover letter template:
- active voice
- active voice: “I facilitated the fundraising event, where I raised $5,000 during the first 24 hours.”
- passive voice: “The fundraising event was facilitated by me, where $5,000 were raised by me…”
- action verbs
- planned and organized
The last paragraph of a cover letter template is the call-to-action (CTA) part.
The Conclusion part is where the applicant:
- summarizes whatever he/she can contribute to the company
- This could be done in one clear sentence.
- says thank you to the employer for the time spent on his/her cover letter or credentials and getting considered for the role/position
- tells the employer that he/she is interested to discuss more about the job
- informs the employer that he/she is keen on being interviewed for the position
- lets the employer know that he/she will make a follow up
- Better do it, of course!
- After 1-2 weeks, it’s OK for an applicant to follow up on his/her application.
As the applicant begins the cover letter with his/her name, the last part of a cover letter template will also include his/her name.
For the Signature part of a cover letter template, the following words or closing phrases (followed by a comma) can be used:
- With best regards
- Best regards
- Kind regards
- Respectfully yours
- With thanks
Applicants should mention key measurable results – an applicant’s accomplishments that can be measured – when they make a cover letter template.
The measurable results one can mention in a cover letter template depend on the profession of the applicant. For example, teachers could mention the number of their published dissertations or the number of books they edited, solely written, or co-authored. Social media managers could talk about the percentage of daily engagements they were responsible for.
Some general examples of measurable results include:
- number of recognitions or awards received
- number of trainings and workshops attended or conducted
- number of people who attended your talks, clinics/sports camps, seminars, etc.
- number of times the company sent you to represent it in local and international events
- amount of money raised
- amount of money earned in any investment or profit-oriented project of the company
- amount or percentage of money saved for a particular project, event, situation
- percentage of the increase in work performance or work efficiency of the team you handled/supervised
- amount of money you handled as a budget for a particular project/event
- number of workers you directly supervised
- percentage of the increase in sales/purchases, customers, foot traffic, viewers, subscribers, etc. that you were directly responsible
- total amount or number of contracts won or bids you snapped for the company
If applicants can’t come up with the exact amount or precise percentage, Jacob Share, in his article for LiveCareer, recommended that they use certain terms as replacement. Applicants can use these terms in their cover letter template to avoid coming up with the wrong – or, worse, making up – figures and percentages.
Share, the founder and senior vice president of the Israel-based market consultancy firm Share Select Media, suggested the following words:
Applicants should remember that when making a cover letter template, they should refrain from using unnecessary words.
It’s one way to trim down their cover letter and make it concise and readable.
The editorial teams of the top American job websites Glassdoor and Indeed agreed that a cover letter should ideally be composed of “250 to 400 words” only. Other online sources would propose 350 words, which is still within the range suggested by Glassdoor and Indeed.
In her Glassdoor article, Amy Elisa Jackson, the senior marketing director for hair-care brand Pattern Beauty, enumerated some of the words and phrases to avoid. Jackson compiled those mentioned by experts and HR professionals.
The said article won’t recommend, in general, the following to be mentioned in a cover letter template:
- insider jargon, also called:
- industry-specific jargon
- internal jargon
- workplace jargon
Specifically, Jackson’s article identified the following words and phrases:
- think/thinking outside of the box
For the experts and HR professionals, Jackson wrote that it would be better to be specific in telling a piece of information that would, for example:
- show how dynamic or detail-oriented the applicant is at work
- reveal how much of a game-changer or forward-thinker the applicant is
- tell that the applicant is the self-starter type of employee
All that without the applicant explicitly using the aforementioned words in a cover letter template.
The bottom line is that knowing the right parts of a cover letter template and the right information to put could increase an applicant’s chance to get that job.