Your cover letter format will help Canadian employers notice you! And importantly, your cover letter may determine whether or not a recruiter contacts you for an interview. While there is some debate over the need for a cover letter, it’s absolutely essential. Your cover letter format can help you to stand out among other candidates and give you a key advantage.
Hiring managers will notice a compelling story about your skills and achievements. On the other hand, a poorly written cover letter reflects a casual attitude that may affect your ability to land a job.
Often, newcomers spend much time and energy writing a strong resume but not enough time on writing a persuasive cover letter. This approach can often lead to nowhere. Without a compelling cover letter, it’s easy to get caught in a spiral of rejection from employers or settle for a job that isn’t well suited to you.
While it can be time-consuming to write a letter that is worthy of notice, you’ll find that it’s time well spent. Many Canadian employers will agree that a great letter can make all the difference when selecting who they will interview. However, if the job posting clearly states that a cover letter is not required, you can avoid it. This will also show that you can follow instructions. So if you’re wondering if you need a cover letter to include with your resume the answer is yes!
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What is a Cover Letter?
It’s an important element when you apply for a job in Canada. A proper cover letter format allows you to share information about yourself that goes beyond what’s on your resume or CV.
A strong cover letter uses clear and concise language and states what is relevant to the job posting. It’s like a sales pitch to convince an employer that you are the right candidate for the position.
The Cover Letter Format
While you can find many generic cover letter samples to use, it’s best to write your own cover letter. And tailor your letter for the specific job and company that you are applying to.
No doubt, tailoring a cover letter for each job is time-consuming. However, it’s time well spent.
Do your research to identify why you want to work at that company. Take the time to express it in every cover letter that you write. If you can’t express why you want to work for the company in your cover letter, you’ll struggle to answer that question in an interview. As well, thorough research will help you to identify if your past experience, career goals, and values align with that of the company and the position.
Your research will also help you to identify what you admire about the company. For example, has the company successfully expanded in the marketplace? Has the company won a coveted award? Or it is an industry leader in an area that you are passionate about?
Cover Letter Sample
This cover letter sample includes six main sections:
Section 1: Contact Information:
- phone or cell phone number
- email address
- LinkedIn Address
Section 2: Employer Contact Information
Include this address format for the employer:
- Name of the contact (if you have it)
- Title of the contact
- Company name
- Company address
Section 3: Salutation (or greeting)
If the job description mentions the name of the hiring manager, begin with Dear Ms. (or Mr.) followed by their surname. If you’re unsure of the person’s gender, it’s best to use Dear followed by their first and last names.
If a name isn’t provided in the job description, you could try to find their name on the company website or through LinkedIn.
Alternatively, it’s appropriate to address it to Dear Hiring Manager. But, do make an effort to find a name. It’s that much more personal and your effort will show.
Avoid using “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”.
Section 4: Introduction
A great cover letter format will grab the hiring manager’s eye with a compelling opening statement. Explain why you are interested in the position. Show that you want to work for that specific organization. Convey that you’re excited about the role. Employers love to hear that you’re excited about the company and that you have done your research.
Answer these questions:
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- What excites you about the opportunity?
Section 5: Body
Describe what you can offer the employer. Draw on your past experience and results that relate directly to the job. And help the reader to see why you’re the best candidate.
Make it easy for the reader to connect the dots. For example, your ability to speak multiple languages makes you an ideal candidate for a customer service role. Describe what makes you different from every other qualified applicant. Ideally, this section should be one to two paragraphs.
Answer these questions:
- What challenges or pain points is the hiring manager or company facing?
- How have you solved similar challenges in the past?
- How are you qualified and why are you the right person to solve their challenges?
- What are three to five qualities that you would bring to this employer or job? For example are you creative, collaborative, innovative?
Asking yourself these questions will help you to build a foundation for your cover letter format and make it easier to write it.
There are many personality assessments that can help you to identify your strengths. For example, you can complete our free Drake P3® Assessment. Highlight the strengths that are directly related to the role and convey your passion.
To read more about discovering your strengths, check out this post: Self-Awareness is Key to Your Job Search. When you know your strengths, you show confidence in your unique ability to succeed in the role.
Section 6: Closing
This final section is more than just closing your letter. It’s about opening the door to further contact. This is where you state what your next action will be. For example, you could state that you will phone or email the reader to follow up or arrange a time to meet.
It’s also a great opportunity to express your genuine excitement for the role along with your initiative.
Cover Letter Do’s and Dont’s
- Research the company before you write your cover letter
- Grab the reader’s attention within the first few sentences
- Personalize your letter for each job you apply for
- Explain how you can help the company achieve its goals
- Be concise and clear
- Keep your letter to a half-page or two-thirds of a page to keep the reader’s attention
- Proofread your letter to avoid spelling and grammar errors.
- Use a generic cover letter
- Repeat what’s on your resume
- Cut and paste the job description into your cover letter
- Provide unnecessary details (i.e. recent struggles, or why you were laid off from a job).
Writing a great cover letter format is a time-consuming process, but the reward it pays is worth your effort. As a result, a well-written cover letter will pave the way for more job interviews and give you a greater chance to secure a job in Canada that’s perfect for you!
For more helpful information, free resources, and tools to help you resume your career in Canada, visit our Finding a Job in Canada resource page. Get the help you need to achieve your career goals!