Writing Cover Letters
Concrete results will always be the metric of success for employers. Oftentimes individuals don’t know the exact purpose of the cover letter. It isn’t there purely to provide an introduction or a summary of your ability, but rather to synthesize and communicate the points which encapsulate you as an applicant. Before even reading the resume, through the cover letter employers should have a clear idea of the contributions you can make in the workplace.
What is the purpose of a cover letter?
A cover letter serves multiple purposes. It allows you to:
- Market yourself as the best candidate for the job
- Back up, or further explore, information that is in your resume
- Flex your storytelling muscles
- Demonstrate excellent communication skills
- Show that you’re willing to go the extra mile with a job application (many applicants skip writing a cover letter)
The letter must not only provide information on what you have done, but on what you plan on doing. It should convey ambition, dedication and resourcefulness in a more straightforward manner than the resume. The following page and retail samples provide the necessary information and real-life examples of how to accomplish this.
Balancing Structure & Content in the Cover Letter
There are general precepts to follow regarding the content of each paragraph and the expectations of the employer.
What do you write in a cover letter?
Here are the components of a cover letter:
- An opening greeting (preferably, to a specific person)
- A brief introductory paragraph
- One or two body paragraphs (no more than two)
- A brief closing paragraph
- A closing salutation (with your contact information included)
A more in-depth outline of the purpose of each paragraph is as follows:
A) Introduction: Relay the most important information on academic and professional experience. Tell employers the reason you’re applying, and what contributions you can make to the team and working processes.
B) Body Paragraph: Go in-depth on the types of work experience you have, and the expertise and retail sales techniques you’ve developed. Most importantly, include measurable indicators of success such as feedback or sales numbers.
C) Conclusion: Thank the employer for the opportunity, give a closing argument on what separates you as a candidate, and express hope and optimism for the future. It’s important to remember that the cover letter isn’t merely a document intended to inform, but convince. Much like the resume, you’re selling yourself in the cover letter, so any way you can quantify the specific contributions you can make or distinguish yourself, seize it. With a clear understanding of each paragraph’s purpose, it’s then a matter of determining how best to create a comprehensive profile within these limitations.
5 Best Practices for Writing Cover Letters
Because of the variation in industries, positions and employer expectations, there are no simple fixes or outright rules to follow in the cover letter writing process. However, there are general principles of writing the retail cover letter which can be applied universally. It’s vitally important to:
- Give employers a legitimate reason for why you’re applying: go beyond cliches or formulaic responses and express genuine interest in the company or work.
- Highlight and expand on the most important elements of the resume. This doesn’t mean repeating things, but finding new ways to express them.
- Express a wide range of ability in the retail industry: communicate product knowledge, customer research and familiarity with the market.
- Include specific numbers which indicate your sales performance or ability.
- Maintain a professional decorum, providing the proper expression of gratitude and establishing a connection with the employer.
Distinguishing Yourself with the Cover Letter
The ultimate aim of any job application document is always to catch the employers eye and separate yourself from the masses. This is much easier said than done, however.
What is in a cover letter for a job application?
All of the essential cover letter ingredients—opening greeting, introductory paragraph, one or two body paragraphs, closing paragraph, and closing salutation—go into a cover letter for a job application. The key to success is making the letter as tailored as possible to the job advertisement requirements. Also, display basic knowledge of the company in your cover letter.
Most people are content to settle for a mediocre or average cover letter, so the impact of an effective letter can be that much greater. In an industry like retail distinguishing yourself is mostly a matter of providing a proven track record, but if you create a profile which is engaging and effective it can win an employer over. An excellent place to start the writing process is with a retail cover letter template. This allows you to build from a strong foundation and a clear understanding of the content and structure of the cover letter. From there, by following best practices and ensuring that each paragraph fulfills its express function, the letter will prove your professionalism and convince employers of your ability.