As a career coach, I often get asked whether work from home cover letters are even important anymore. Do hiring managers actually read them? Are they a waste of time in a world of online applications?
You might not like the answer, but honestly, as a remote job seeker, your cover letter is REALLY important.
Since remote hiring often takes place virtually via phone calls, online chats, emails, or video meetings, you don’t always get a chance to let your personality shine like you would in real life. That’s where a work from home cover letter can really come in handy.
A well written work from home cover letter can:
- Position you as the perfect fit for a posted job
- Show how you align with the company’s goals, missions, and/or values
- Highlight experiences that you want to show off
- Explain any gaps in employment on your resume or any other situations that require an explanation
- Give you a chance to ask for an interview
Keep in mind, a cover letter isn’t just a letter saying you want a job you saw online. It’s an opportunity for you to introduce yourself to a hiring manager.
When the first set of eyes find their way to your cover letter, it’s to gain some insight into your personality and way of thinking on the job. This helps them visualize whether or not they can ‘see’ you fitting into the company and particular role you’re applying for.
If they see you as a match, woohoo, you get that interview you’re after. If not, you’re cast into the ‘no’ pile, never to be heard from again. Your cover letter is your first impression. Make it count.
Gather Your Cover Letter Content
I work with a lot of job seekers who simply cannot stand writing a cover letter. It’s time consuming. They second guess what content to include. There’s worry whether they’re writing it too formal or perhaps too casual.
I get it. Cover letters are tricky. But, that doesn’t mean you should rush through writing one. Remember, a cover letter written in haste is wasted if it doesn’t clearly explain why your skills, experiences, and mindset are the perfect fit for this particular job.
That’s why, before you get down to writing, you need to review the job ad. As you read it and re-read it, jot down instances where your work experience align with the job responsibilities in the ad.
Now, it’s time to do a little research. Fire up Google and navigate your way to the company’s website. You’re on a mission to find the company’s mission statement, brand statement, values, vision, and/or goals.
For example, one of my favorite remote-friendly companies is Buffer. This social media automation company regularly hires telecommuters for various roles. Let’s pretend you’re applying to one of their openings.
Example Cover Letter for Remote Job Seekers
First things first, navigate to the Buffer website. From there, scroll to the bottom of the homepage. Be on the look out for helpful links that will help you learn more about the company culture. Most companies use their footer to help you find what you’re looking for! Always, always, scroll to the bottom first to see what’s there.
As luck would have it, Buffer has a link titled “Our Values” in the footer. Click on that link. On this page, you can see Buffer’s company core values. There’s even another link to an entire “culture blog” with weekly workplace related articles. Once you’ve read through everything, you’ll get a pretty good feel of what Buffer, as a company, is all about.
You’ll even develop a sense of what it would be like to work there. With this new insight in mind, jot down a couple of reasons why Buffer’s mission, culture, goals, and values are important to you. Eventually, you’ll use this information to create the content for your cover letter! Easy, right?
Find The Right Information Fast
While Buffer offers a lot of information on their website about their missions and values, not all companies do. That’s okay too. If a company doesn’t readily display their company values and missions statement, you can usually find what you’re looking for in the footer. Links titled “About Us,” “Press,” or “News” can be helpful.
While these pages may not explicitly spell out a mission statement or company goals, they will help you determine a company’s core business concerns. Again, you can reference this information in your cover letter to illustrate you’re a perfect candidate to join the ranks of the company. As a bonus, you’ll score brownie points for doing your homework!
Formatting Your Work From Home Cover Letter
Now that you’ve got your research compiled, it’s time to get down to writing your cover letter. I like to keep it simple and straightforward with a 5-paragraph layout. Each paragraph addresses a specific point and end up working together to create the perfect pitch for you as a remote job seeker.
This first paragraph packs a lot of punch. Tell the hiring manager why you want to work for the company in this particular role. Here’s where you’ll put your research to use by emphasizing your personal commitment to the company’s unique vision, goals, missions, and values. Close the paragraph with what you could contribute once you join the team.
As a fan of all things social media coupled with my enthusiasm for automation and task management, I want to help others more effectively handle their social queues as a customer service representative at Buffer. Transparency, reflection, and mindfulness are part of my daily routine and practices I appreciate when working remotely with a company. As a customer service representative, I can bring positivity to my teammates while helping Buffer users reach their social media goals, even if it requires some out-of-the-box thinking. I strive to be a lifelong learner and often reflect on particular customer service issues that arise to help improve my responses in the future.
Here’s where you highlight your previous work experience as they relate to the job at hand. Don’t be afraid to include similar experiences that aren’t an exact match. If you’re an entry-level job seeker, don’t worry. This paragraph can tie your college coursework, volunteer experience, internships, or even a brief training program to the job you’re applying for. Remember, you should have read and re-read the job announcement while jotting down instances where your experience falls in line with the job responsibilities. This is where you will place that information.
In my most recent role as a customer service representative, I worked to resolve email inquiries from users ranging from tech support and troubleshooting to general product questions and sales. Whether I was dealing with current customers or prospective ones, my end goal was to use my product knowledge to educate and inform users until we reached a happy outcome. Sometimes this would require a little more digging or taking the road less traveled, but the extra effort was worth it when the end result was a customer well served.
Now it’s time to revisit your research about the company missions, values, and goals. In this paragraph, highlight your personal habits and work personality to show how you’ll easily transition into the open role at their company. Make sure to identify how your personality traits will allow you to contribute value to the company from Day 1.
I consider myself a lifelong learner and always strive to make progress in life, both personally and professionally. Like Buffer’s “Improve Consistently” Core Value, I regularly take on a growth mindset to make small improvements every day. While at work, I’m fully engaged in the task at hand and am eager to learn new programs, processes, and procedures through daily practice.
Use this paragraph to explain unique situations like an employment gap. If you’ve been employed consistently, aren’t taking a major pay cut or making a major career change, you don’t need to write a fourth paragraph. Move on ahead to the closing paragraph 🙂
Although it’s been several years since I’ve been in the workforce, I’ve used my time as a stay-at-home parent to keep active in my community. My customer service skills have been put to good use as a volunteer coordinator for my local PTA.
This is your closer! You’re in the home stretch now. Use this paragraph to summarize what you’ve already talked about. Be sure to explain your commitment to the position AND ask for the interview! Any good sales person will tell you to close with “an ask.” In this case, you’re selling yourself and the ultimate “sale” is an interview. Don’t be shy and ask for it!
As a multi-tasking, stay-at-home parent in recent years combined with my real world corporate customer service experience, I can blend my years of practical and personal experience to jump right into remote work. I’m eager to bring my unique work history to a company, like Buffer, that values teamwork and self-improvement. I welcome the opportunity to interview for this position at your earliest convenience.
Additional Thoughts On Cover Letter Content
That’s it. Not so bad, right? Trust me, once you’ve mastered the basic structure of a work from home cover letter, you’ll find it’s easy to write them. In fact, you’ll spend most of your time reading the job ad and researching the company. Once you have that information, the cover letter practically writes itself!
When you use this basic 5-paragraph organization when writing your work from home cover letters, you can consistently position yourself as the perfect hire. Just remember, never send the same exact cover letter for different jobs you apply to.
Always tweak your letter’s content to highlight your experiences as they relate to the different work from home jobs you apply to. At the end of the day, your cover letter’s purpose should remain the same: Introduce yourself and position yourself as the perfect hire.
When To Be Formal And When Not To Be
Another common concern with cover letters is formality. As a career coach, I find the majority of companies respond well to this professional-focused four-to-five paragraph structure we’ve gone over. After all, it’s a pretty straightforward way to outline your experiences as they relate to the job at hand, which is your ultimate goal. Often, there’s no need to get overly creative, quirky, or humorous. But sometimes, you do.
How do you know?
The job ad itself is a good clue. If it’s formal, your cover letter needs to be too. If it’s casual and infused with a bit of humor, your work from home cover letter needs to be on the quirkier side. Similarly, your research will give you a good indication whether the company is all business or enjoys word play and a bit of fun. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to get witty. You can write your cover letter in a more conversational tone that comes off as more casual than formal.
Always remember, your cover letter’s tone should match that of the company’s.
Important Tips For Your Work From Home Cover Letter
Now that we have a running structure for how to organize your cover letter and what to include, it’s time to talk about must-have tips for all cover letters, whether quirky and clever or straightforward and proper.
- Read and re-read your cover letter to make sure you’ve got the company name correct! It’s easy to miss this, especially if you’re rewording the same cover letter over and over again.
- Save your cover letter as your First Name, Last Name, and Cover Letter. For me, that would be Ashlee Anderson Cover Letter. Make sure to save it as PDF and not a word or Pages file.
- Sign your letter! Use a free esigning service, like Smallpdf, to upload a PDF copy of your cover letter. Then you can sign it electronically before you submit it to a potential employer. This gives it a polished and clean look that is sure to impress.
- Make sure your cover letter stays on topic and focuses on your experiences as they relate to the job. Only get personal in paragraph 4, if you need to explain something like a gap in employment!
- Don’t ever include information about why you left or are leaving your current or previous position. This is territory best traveled during an interview, not a cover letter.
- Make sure to carefully read the job ad! Employers will often include specific instructions for cover letters, follow them to a T.
- Try your best to keep your cover letter to a single page. Nobody wants to read a novel.
- Keep it clear and concise. Overly long and wordy sentences are distracting and often left unread.
- Don’t get fancy with font. Classic choices for cover letters include Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri.
- Proofread yourself! There’s nothing worse than submitting a cover letter with an obvious spelling or grammar mistake. Try reading your cover letter out loud or backward to help catch tiny mistakes. Or, better yet, have a fresh set of eyes proofread for you.
Perfect Your Work From Home Cover Letter
At the end of the day, your cover letter needs to clearly explain how your work experience and training directly relates to the job you’re applying for. If you can do that, you’re going to give yourself a good chance of getting an interview. The best way to do this is to turn to the job announcement.
Remember, unless the company has a reputation for being quirky or clever, you should avoid using cutesy comments or gimmicks in your writing. Be clear, direct, and concise to get your point across effectively. And, before you send it, give it a re-read. An error in your writing can sink even the best written work from home cover letter.
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