Table of Contents
Cover letters are oftentimes an overlooked part of the job search process. As a matter of fact, a survey showed that 47% of job seekers did not submit a cover letter with their current or most recent job application. Although many perceive cover letters as unnecessary, 53% of employers still prefer applicants who include one in their application. Thus, learning how to write a good cover letter with the right tone and language is an integral component of maximizing your job search journey’s success.
Apart from the resume, your cover letter is the first impression prospective employers will have of you. So, using the right tone and language is essential to make that first impression a good one. In this article, we will share a few cover letter tips and tricks to help you differentiate yourself from other candidates.
1. Write to the company’s voice
A cover letter is generally formatted like a business letter. For this reason, some applicants tend to think that the language and tone should be restrictively formal. However, this is not always the case. The language and tone should depend on your target company’s culture and environment.
To effectively convey your message, it is imperative to take the time to know your prospective employer. Is the organization straightforward, casual or formal? The best hints are typically found in the job post itself. You can also research the company’s website to obtain a better insight into their brand’s voice and values. Then, mirror their language and tone when you write your cover letter. As a result, you will be perceived as someone they would get along with and who can be a great fit in the team.
In addition to matching your target employer’s voice, we also highly recommend personalizing your cover letter to the company. Address the hiring manager by their name instead of saying “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager.” This will allow the recruiters to see that you took an effort to do your homework, increasing the likelihood of you standing out as a candidate.
2. Consider your target industry’s culture
Understanding how to speak your target industry’s culture and expectations are vital in your job hunt. To convince a hiring manager to make a decision to hire you, you need to present a compelling case for yourself by matching the industry’s language and tone. Here are some of the critical points to remember when writing your cover letter for a specific industry.
- Traditional industries such as Banking, Insurance, and Legal have a conservative culture. These sectors demand high standards of values and conduct to establish and maintain clients’ trust. Thereby, the tone should be highly professional, serious, and straightforward. Your message needs to come across as intelligent, critical and focused.
- Neutral industries such as Healthcare, Telco, and Retail are traditionally more flexible. They have a fast-paced work environment and thrive on challenging the status quo. This allows you to be more versatile in terms of your tone and communication style. However, you need to be strategic to ensure your message comes off as clear and professional while still showing a little personality.
- Companies in a progressive industry such as Marketing, Design, and Technology are characterized by having a creative and dynamic work environment. They are driven by targets, deadlines, and the need to get results. Showcase your complex problem-solving skills and inventive thinking by adapting a casual but serious and detail-oriented tone.
3. Maintain a positive and enthusiastic tone
The tone of your cover letter will convey your attitude as a candidate. It can affect how the reader perceives your intention and credibility. These perceptions, in turn, can influence the recruiter’s hiring decision. Hence, maintaining a professional, friendly, and optimistic tone is paramount to your application’s success.
An effective cover letter commonly focuses on relevant experience and accomplishments. While your cover letter is about you and your accomplishments, it is imperative to resist the tone of arrogance. Overusing words such as ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘my’ will make you appear egotistical – not a good first impression. Instead, focus on narrating how you added value to your previous employer and your motivation for applying. This will enable you to demonstrate humility while still conveying you are the best candidate for the job without actually saying it.
When writing your cover letter, authenticity is important. However, you need to be mindful of your tone. Even if you have been out of the workforce for a while and would be willing to take any job at this point, avoiding the sound of desperation is a must! Appearing too desperate for a job can turn off hiring managers and put your candidacy at risk. Rather, demonstrate your interest and motivation for applying as employers would typically prefer a candidate who genuinely wants the job.
4. Use writing best practices
A study found that recruiters can make up their minds about an applicant in only 7.4 seconds. Hence, your cover letter needs to convey its message quickly, clearly, and powerfully. This can be done by using best practices when writing your narrative. Here are some cover letter tips you can follow.
- Keep your sentences concise and succinct.
- Write in an active voice.
- Remove unnecessary superfluous words and phrases.
- Keep your cover letter to a maximum of one page.
- Use a maximum of five paragraphs consisting of three to five sentences each.
The main objective of your cover letter is to convince a prospective employer that you are the best candidate for the job. This will be conveyed through your choice of words and viewpoint and how you put them together. Thus, nailing your cover letter tone and language is imperative, regardless of the industry or position you are applying to.