How do I write a cover letter?

Cover letters are often required when you’re applying for a job. They allow you to explain why you’d be a good fit for the role.

What is a cover letter?

Resumes are meant to give an overview of your work history and education relevant to the job you are applying to. Resumes consist of lists and bullet points. On the other hand, cover letters are written in paragraph form and showcase your professionalism and ability to write well and focus on the skills and experience most relevant to the position.

As a newcomer youth, you may not have a lot of full-time or Canadian professional work experience. However, you can highlight your education, volunteer experience, internships, and part-time work to show why you’re qualified for the role.

Every job you apply for will be different, so it’s important to customize your cover letter according to what the employer is looking for. 

How should I prepare to write a cover letter?

Start by researching the company. Look at their “About Us” section on their website. Sometimes, organizations share reports or post blogs, and it’s a good idea to read them to get a sense of their work, outputs, and workplace culture. 

After you get a sense of the employer, find out what they’re looking for in a new hire by carefully reading the job description. Highlight the qualifications that match your abilities and the responsibilities you think you would excel at. This will help you tailor your resume and cover letter.

Finally, list any relevant skills and experience you have that speak to what the company is looking for. You can expand later, but write them down first so you can reference them later when preparing your application. 

What are some tips for drafting a good cover letter?

  • Include your contact information at the top, either centred in the header or aligned to the left of the page.
  • Address the letter to a specific person if you can find out who the hiring manager is. If you can’t, address the letter to the hiring manager, recruiter or human resources department.
  • Start your opening paragraph by expressing your interest in the position and company, where you heard about the job, and why you’d be a good fit.
  • Use keywords from the job description and the industry you’re applying to.
  • Share specific experiences from your academic, professional, and voluntary work that demonstrate your qualifications.
  • Quantify! Use numbers and concrete achievements as evidence, like how many sales you made, how much online engagement you had, how many clients you served, if you oversaw a project from start to finish, etc.
  • Conclude by asking for an interview and showing confidence in your ability to do the job.
  • Keep it to one page, with 1” margins and using a standard font between 11 and 12 points.
  • Most important of all, don’t forget to PROOFREAD! Ask someone to read it over and offer suggestions before submitting your application. 

If you need one-on-one assistance with your cover letter, make an appointment with an employment centre, settlement agency or your school’s career services if you are in post-secondary. Contact 211 to find services near you. 

How do I follow up after submitting my job application?

After applying for the job, wait a little while (about a week or two after the application due date) and then email the hiring manager to ask if they’ve had time to review your application and if there’s any additional information you can provide. 

If they don’t respond, don’t take it personally. Some positions get many applications, and employers only reach out to a few candidates. Keep trying! 

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