How To Write a Cover Letter With Experience Under Your Belt

Woman with gray hair in a burgundy cardigan reclining in front of her laptop while holding glasses in her left hand

Overview

How To Show Off Your Brilliance in a Cover Letter With Experience

Are you an experienced professional looking for a fresh start in a different company? 

You’ve got all the required skills, the right level of experience, the proper knowledge, and the will to make a name for yourself. Your resume is brilliant, but there’s one major hurdle—you’re not sure what a cover letter with experience should look like.

You’re right to second-guess your approach. After all, companies can be sly, tricky creatures that doubt the credibility of everything you have stated in your cover letter. Simultaneously, they demand that you have space-bending abilities (with optional certificates in dragon-riding and mammoth-taming)!

So, how do you create a compelling cover letter as an experienced professional in the industry? In this article, we’ll answer that question, and more—you’ll discover:

How Much of an Impact a Cover Letter With Experience Can Have With Recruiters

Serious companies still require a cover letter along with your resume. They will use it to determine if you possess the right knowledge and experience for the role.

You know how experienced you are. You know how you’ve acquired that experience. But the recruiter—let’s call them Jamie—doesn’t. Jamie needs to be persuaded.

Your cover letter is how you’ll convince Jamie that you’re the dream candidate they’ve been looking for.

A resume is merely a marketing tool, but a cover letter allows you to elaborate on your qualifications and experience in the industry. And it’s not all about being skilled either—you can also use it to express your enthusiasm about the company. Persuade the hiring manager that your character and work ethics perfectly align with their company’s vision and values.

Employers value a can-do attitude, and a cover letter—especially one written from a position of experience—can make a stellar first impression that will dramatically increase your odds of landing an interview.

In short, a cover letter with experience has the power to show recruiters how your character and vast capabilities align to make you the perfect fit for the role!

Two hiring managers, a woman and man with glasses, laugh with a candidate during a job interview

Source: racorn

How To Compose a Cover Letter To Showcase Your Vast Experience

You might have a ton of different skills and considerable experience under your belt, but

it means nothing if you can’t formulate the cover letter in an easy-to-read manner. 

You might be the perfect candidate, but that counts for little if Jamie, the recruiter, can’t focus on it for longer than 6 seconds!

Your cover letter has to be skimmable for the recruiter, which means it must possess a certain outline. You can structure your cover letter with experience in different ways—the most common one is to divide it into six separate sections:

  1. Heading
  2. Formal introduction
  3. Opening paragraph
  4. Main paragraph
  5. Closing paragraph
  6. Farewell phrase and signature
Back-view of a white woman speaking to a Black female colleague

Source: Christina Morillo

What a Header Should Contain

The heading is placed at the very top of your cover letter and is the first section a recruiter will see. It contains technical details, such as:

  • Your first and last name
  • Your email address
  • Date of applying

You could add your phone number and home address too, but they’re usually not necessary. State them only if the job ad explicitly requires those details.

Include essential information about the organization you’re contacting, too. For example, state the recruiter’s full name and role title—but only if they are available on the company’s website. If they aren’t, don’t try to find out what they are by bothering company reps via email. They probably have their hands full dealing with tons of more important matters.

Why a Formal Introduction Still Matters

Even if you’re the undisputed master of your trade, it doesn’t mean you can skip the formalities. You still have to address the recruiter before you can get down to business. 

State their name if you happen to know it—that way, your cover letter will have a personal connotation to Jamie, the recruiter. But don’t forget to include both the first and last name. You’re not chatting with an acquaintance but sending a professional document that could determine the future of your career.

Some companies bend this rule and are generally more lax regarding traditional formalities. But you shouldn’t count on that—unless you explicitly know what the company culture is like.

If you know for a fact that the recruiter is female, don’t presume to know their marital status by using terms of address such as Mrs./Miss. This will come off as inconsiderate if you choose the wrong one (it’s also none of your business, really). And always add a comma, no matter which term of address you choose.

Here’s a table that shows how you should and shouldn’t address a recruiter:

AppropriateInappropriate
Dear Sir or Madam,
Dear Mr. [Name and Surname],
Dear Ms. [Name and Surname],
Dear Recruiter,
Dear Hiring Manager,
Dear Recruitment Coordinator,
Dear all,
Hello,
Yo,
Howdie Jamie,
Greetings,
I salute thee,
Praised be the day and the hour of our blessèd correspondence, milord,

How To Intrigue a Recruiter From the Outset

You should use the very first line of your cover letter to snatch the hiring manager’s attention. Briefly mention how you found out about the company and what made you interested in their brand. And don’t forget to include the exact name of their organization and the title of the role. This will convince recruiters that you’re not sending the same cover letter left, right, and center.

Most important of allstate that you are already familiar with the requirements and responsibilities of the role. If you have considerable industry-specific knowledge, there’s no harm in making a loud statement about it at the very beginning. Make sure it’s not quite so loud that they think you’re bragging.

View of a candidate signing a job contract as her new boss looks over

Source: Sora Shimazaki

How To Captivate the Recruiter With Your Skills and Experience

After you have hooked the recruiter in with an appealing opening paragraph, it’s time to enchant them with the breadth and depth of your experience!

In this paragraph, you should list all the technical skills, role-related certificates, and job credentials that make you suitable for the position.

Go into details and state what your abilities have helped you accomplish. Also, mention your education, especially if it’s a complimentary fit to all the other elements that make up your toolkit.

There’s no need to list every single minor accomplishment in your career. But you could include some noteworthy projects you’ve worked on, or even better—projects that the company might already be familiar with!

Although companies are usually more interested in your hard skills, you could highlight some of your soft skills too. Depending on the exact nature of the role, you could state that you possess:

  • Excellent leadership qualities
  • Superb communication skills
  • Time-management skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Ability to settle disputes

Bear in mind that you should always specify how these soft skills have helped you in practice. If you just say you’re a “team player,” for example, it doesn’t give Jamie much info to go on. Instead, state what you have accomplished as part of a team or how you’ve led your team to success.

How To Recapitulate Your Expertise and End on a Strong Note

In the closing paragraph, you should provide a short summary emphasizing your major strengths and experience in the industry.

To end on a strong note, you should also include a call to action. State how you’re highly interested in any possibility of future cooperation. Add that you’re looking forward to hearing back from them. But don’t make it seem as if they’re actually obliged to answer.

Instead, make them feel as if it will be in their best interest to hire you—because of your vast experience, skills, and qualifications. Don’t push that point in their face directly—let them arrive at that conclusion on their own.

Thank the hiring manager for their time, patience, and cooperation. All that’s left now is to hope for the best and wait until they reply.

How To Sign Off Properly

The last section of the cover letter includes a formal farewell along with your signature. This part can always be carried over from a template—just pick a conventional phrase and stick with it.

The table below shows you which farewell phrases are suitable and which aren’t:

SuitableNot Suitable
Kind regards,
Best regards,
With best regards,
Thank you in advance,
Thank you for your time,
Respectfully,
Sincerely,
All the best, (or abbreviations such as AtB)
Stay safe,
Bye-bye,
I’ll leave you to it, then,
Catch ya later,
Godspeed,

Since you’re not addressing a family member or a close and personal friend (and it’s not the 19th century), be careful to avoid intimate closing phrases starting with yours, such as Yours sincerely, Yours faithfully, or Yours ever lovingly.

Asian woman with wide-brimmed glasses in a black suit looks on as a hiring manager reviews her job application

Source: MART PRODUCTION

Why It’s Important To Personalize a Cover Letter With Experience

Knowing how to structure your cover letter is not enough—you also have to customize it extensively. This is because many companies rely on applicant tracking systems (ATSs) to shortlist their candidates. They are configured to scan your document and determine whether your cover letter is relevant for the position they’re offering.

To get past these systems, you have to carefully tailor your cover letter so that it includes many of the keywords mentioned in the job ad. These keywords are usually:

  • Various technical skills
  • Necessary qualifications
  • The company’s goals
  • Job responsibilities

By stating all these elements in the precise context the company used, you will increase the odds of your document passing the initial screening without a hitch.

A good all-purpose piece of advice is to make your cover letter as simple as possible. While over-the-top designs and creative flourishes may look pretty, they’re useless since an applicant tracking system will convert everything into plain text. That’s why you should avoid:

  • Pie charts
  • Diagrams
  • Tables
  • Images
  • Graphs

Why Proper Formatting Can Make or Break a Cover Letter

Optimizing your cover letter for an applicant tracking system (ATS) is all fine and dandy, but it isn’t enough. You still have to format your document in a way that’ll make it stand out to a human recruiter.

The table below displays the major components of good formatting:

ComponentAdvice
SpacingYou should single-space your document. And don’t forget to separate paragraphs by pressing enter after every couple of sentences. This makes the letter much easier to read 
AlignmentAlways align your text to the left. Studies show that readers spend 80% of their time on the leftmost edge of the document. Justified alignment looks OK, but hiring managers don’t like it since it makes the text harder to skim through
IndentationDon’t indent your document. While this may be a practice in handwritten communication, it’s not appropriate for a cover letter
FontUse a neat, easily readable font like Times New Roman, Tahoma, or Arial. Weird fonts like Old English might make your cover letter stand out, but not in a positive way.
Keep the font size between 10 and 12 pt, and make sure that you don’t use colored text
MarginsSet your margins to 1 inch from the left, right, top, and bottom. Don’t decrease them to stuff more text on a single page of your cover letter
LengthIdeally, your document should be one page long. You may write a longer two-page letter only if the job ad explicitly states so

What Common Mistakes Raise Major Red Flags

When writing a cover letter, experienced professionals are careful to avoid certain mistakes that could jeopardize their entire application. Before you send your document, it’s wise to go over it again to make sure no inadvertent errors slip by. For example, be careful that you:

  1. Enter the correct date—Don’t forget to date your document and be careful not to enter the wrong date; it will make your cover letter seem sloppy and unprofessional
  2. Tailor your document to the exact role you want to get—Always adjust a generic cover letter template according to the specifications of the role you’re applying for
  3. Mention only skills and competencies that are relevant for the position—Don’t dwell on inconsequential abilities that a company has no use for
  4. Proofread the document for grammatical, stylistic, and spelling mistakes—Make sure that your cover letter is grammatically impeccable. Typos, abbreviations (where there shouldn’t be any), and quirky turns of phrase are all big no-nos
  5. Don’t make the cover letter about your needs—Focus on what you’re bringing to the table and how your expertise can bring enormous value to the company
  6. Don’t condescend—Don’t make it seem as if the position is beneath you, or like you’re 100% sure you’ll get the role (even if you’ve got 10+ years of experience under your belt)
Over-the-shoulder view of a Black hiring manager watching a man sitting on a sofa and filling an application form

Source: RODNAE Productions

Why Job Hunting Is an Ordeal—Even if You’ve Got Work Experience!

Regardless of whether you’re writing an entry-level cover letter or a cover letter with experience, scoring a job is still an incredibly hard, grueling process. Studies have shown that 23% of unemployed job seekers applied for over 30 positions in 2021, on average!

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics assures us that the rate of unemployment is steadily dropping. But that’s no consolation for the 4,200,000 people who reported being out of a job for almost 30 weeks in 2021.

In such an economic climate, you need to use every tool at your disposal to increase the odds of landing an interview. Nothing is certain even then as some sources suggest that the probability of actually getting the job after the interview is about 36%!

So what can you possibly do to make your search for a job smoother and more efficient? You could sign up for Lensa!

Lensa is a unique AI-powered app that can help you get your career on track as it takes into consideration your experience, qualifications, education, preferred salary, and geographic location.

With Lensa, you’ll be able to:

  1. Browse through thousands of job ads from dozens of job boards in one place
  2. Learn a bit about your professional qualities by playing the Workstyle Game
  3. Get personalized job recommendations
  4. Receive notifications about recent job openings near you
  5. Filter out remote roles

How To Cut Your Troubles Short by Signing Up for Lensa!

Subscribing to Lensa is an easy process that you can complete in a matter of minutes. All you have to do is visit Lensa and:

  1. Enter your desired role and location
  2. Type in your email address
  3. Press the Search button

You can now begin to browse through job ads in search of that dream job. You could also postpone your job hunt for a second—and learn a bit about your professional strengths and weaknesses by playing the Workstyle Game!

To finalize your account, take the following steps:

  • Enter your cell phone number to receive SMS notifications about job vacancies
  • Add details about your level of experience and education
  • State your preferred salary range
  • Upload your resume

Once you have completed these steps, your job hunt can start in full swing! You’ll begin receiving job suggestions based on your location, work style, cultural preferences, and other professional needs!

Featured image source: DmitryPoch

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