Many of the cover letters I receive don’t get forwarded because there simply isn’t enough information to forward. Originally posted for Prototypr Medium, I explain 6 key parts to a bare minimum but, complete cover letter.
Cover Letter : The bare minimum
☑ ️6 check marks for a complete cover letter
The digital age we’re living in is speeding everything up. We want our news in a headline, our education in bullet points, and our courtships in a swipe. Cover letters have gotten minimal too, a habit that doesn’t always work to our advantage. Candidates omit essential bits of information that could have been the very reason to get hired. This article will explain 6 key parts to a bare minimum but, complete cover letter.
Throughout my years of freelancing I have had the opportunity to create a wide professional network, which has occasionally positioned me into becoming a recruiter. I will often post jobs for fellow colleagues. Many of the cover letters I receive don’t get forwarded because there simply isn’t enough information to forward. Your cover letter doesn’t have to be an essay. Concise and straight to the point is often much appreciated. However, there are a few details you’d be crazy not mention.
If you are able to deliver a well-rounded picture of yourself in a few short paragraphs, your letter gets a much higher chance of being forwarded to the employer. If it turns out that you’re not the best fit for this particular job, the information you provide will still be stored for future opportunities. Think of your cover letter as an investment. If it’s well done, it will get you a good return in the future.
The 6 check marks
What is the bare minimum you need to include in a cover letter? Let’s pretend you are Sandra, writing to me, (El) about a job opportunity.
Here’s your check list:
1. Name who you are writing to.
2. What do you want?
3. Who are you?
4. Why you?
5. How do I reach you?
6. Sign your name.
Let’s start writing!
If there’s a name to write to, use it.
Before applying for a job, read the job post. The job post will often tell you who to address your letter to. By ignoring such a simple piece of information you’re telling me, you couldn’t be bothered reading my post thoroughly. Alarm rings! If you don’t care about the project’s needs, you’re probably not going to fulfill them either.
I get emails from designers who misspell my name, or leave it out all together. My name has TWO letters in it, how do you mess that up? Although this could be a shallow assumption, my first thought it that you might not care so much about this job. If you haven’t re-read your cover letter at least 3 times, you aren’t very dedicated to this job.
eg: Hi El,
☑ 1. Oh hi! You are showing me respect, I will respect you back by paying attention to you now.
QUICK! WHAT do you want from me?
Are you offering me a job? Are you selling something? Are you my great aunt’s long lost sister that wants to know what happened to my step-brother’s cat, Whiskers? Don’t keep me guessing! What do you want from me?!
People get their inboxes filled with mail daily. Get to the point quickly. In one sentence tell me: what do you want from me.
eg: I am writing to inquire about a possible job opportunity at Fantastic-Amazing-Company.
☑ 2 .Great! You are writing about something I am interested in. I’ll keep reading your letter.
Who are you? PROVE IT!
Now that I know what you want from me. Tell me about yourself. What’s your name? What do you do? Show me what you’re talking about.
eg: My name is Sandra. I graduated from Cool-School with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Some of my most recent work includes social media graphics I designed and animated for Super-Film while working at A-Company, http://www.[linktoyourwork].com
☑ 3. Nice to meet you. I am starting to have a better picture of you and the type of work experience you’ve had. Looks like you might have the skills I am looking for. I’m going to keep reading.
Why you? What’s so special about you?
After everything you’ve told me about yourself, why are you a good fit for this job? Is it because you’ve already worked on a similar project? Is is because you are passionate about the topic? Is it because your style matches what I am looking for? What can you offer to the project?
☑ 4. Very good, looks like you do have the skills and dedication to this particular field I am focusing on. I would love to continue this conversation with you.
I want to learn more about you, how do I reach you?
I am intrigued by your cover letter. How do I learn more about you? Send me your website, email, phone number. This is where you get to choose how I see you. Point me to what best represents your work.
The internet is making it so easy to have all your work in one organized place. You have Behance, Cargo Collective, WordPress and a sea of other portfolio friendly websites. Pre-made templates are often free and easy to use so, you really have no excuse not to post your work up!
*remember, just because you don’t get this job, doesn’t mean I won’t keep you in mind for the next so, show me what you got!*
eg: My portfolio can be found at sandra-fab-work.com. I can be reached by email at email@example.com
☑ 5. I have your website, and I know what method of communication you prefer. I now have easy access to your contact info and can easily reach you in the future.
6. Sign your name
What’s your name?
Don’t leave without telling me your name. I don’t want to spend time going through your links trying to figure out if you prefer Sandee, Sandi, Sandie, Sandy or, are you actually an Alexandra???
☑ 6. Thank you! I now know how to address you in my reply.
We have a cover letter!
Here’s your compact bare minimum cover letter.
(1) Hi El,
(2) I am writing to inquire about a possible job opportunity at Fantastic-Amazing-Company.
(3) My name is Sandra. I graduated from Cool-School with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Some of my most recent work includes social media graphics I designed and animated for Super-Film while working at A-Company, http://www.[linktoyourwork].com
(5) My portfolio can be found at sandra-fab-work.com. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now it’s up to you to add your personal bells and whistles — or, balloons or, dragons or, explosions or, an extremely boring monotonous tone, whatever screams “You”. It’s always a plus to add a little more personality and detail. Has your work been displayed somewhere? Have you won awards? Do you have an interesting hobby? Do you know another language?
You want your cover letter to leave a good and strong enough impression so, that the employer/recruiter will save your information for upcoming gigs. When you write a cover letter you are not just applying for that specific job, you are applying for a spot on a list for future considerations too.
Nonetheless, if you are writing your 12th cover letter today and you are all out of personality, by including the bare minimum you are giving yourself the fair chance of being acknowledged.
Good luck on seizing your opportunities!
* Don’t forget to read the job posts thoroughly. Employers may ask for specific information which overwrites anything written above.*