Let’s get to the point — cover letter writing is an art, and I am here to break it down for you, with examples of my own cover letter. We’ll start with my most recent cover letter to Transferwise.
About Transferwise: TransferWise is a money transfer company supporting more than 750 currency routes across the world including GBP, USD, EUR, AUD and CAD, and provides multi-currency accounts. I joined TransferWise as customer support associate (CS) but it didn’t take me long to move from a team of 700 CS agents to a team of 20 verification agents. I now work with a small and dedicated team of KYC agents for South Asia region.
If you want to send money abroad in a convenient, cheapest and transparent way, I have a free transfer for you. Just use this link to create your TransferWise account and send your first transfer of upto 500 GBP for free.
In any cover letter, the first paragraph sentence is the key. It determines if the reader is interested in reading further. Here’s how I started my letter.
Dear Mr. Allan,
Please fill up your coffee cup; this is going to be a long cover letter. I am Umair Ali, and I am writing to apply for the Customer Support Associate position at TransferWise (TW).
Cover letters shouldn’t be long. But if they are, make sure you made the recruiter read the whole letter. That’s what I did here – engaging opening followed by a clear purpose of the letter.
You can use something from the job description, or something creative depending on the letter’s purpose. Few examples: “I’ll be honest — when I read the job description….” or “I am sitting here (location), thinking how….” etc.
Don’t use generic “Dear HR Manager”, or “To whom it may concern” opening. Spend some time to find out who is going to read your letter. Call the company if need be, but make sure you have a name.
What most of the candidates do is write about themself throughout the letter – don’t make this mistake. You have your resume for that. A cover letter is like a love letter. You need to make it personal and let the reader know why you have selected their company/institutions. Don’t just advertise yourself, connect to the company. They should know that this letter was written for them only.
Have a look at my 2nd Paragraph:
Let me start by mentioning how TransferWise has inspired me. I came to know about TW when I had to send money to my home country, and since then, I have absolutely loved it. What was started by two friends has now become the must-have platform for millions of people. It’s incredible to observe how transparent is the company with its culture compass always pointed in the right direction. Hidden behind the simplicity of design and operations is a sophisticated algorithm of trust, and I always see TW committed to maintaining it. Since I have come to know about TransferWise, it never felt like a company – it is a community that is successfully making an irreversible impact on people’s life. I have recommended TransferWise to many of my friends and haven’t got a single negative review.
I did thorough research to add some keywords mostly known to the internal team of TransferWise. For example, culture compass is a document explaining all the values of the company, so I added “…culture compass always pointed in the right direction.” Similarly, radical transparency, utmost simplicity and having an irreversible impact are key points of the company, and I made sure to play with words to mention them.
Now that we’ve captured the reader’s attention with our research skills and beautiful articulation of thoughts, it’s time to talk about ourself. However, you need to remember that you’re not repeating your resume here. Build connections. Focus on “why” and “how” rather than just “what”. Use keywords from job description and link your relevant experience.
We are answering “why they should select you” in this paragraph.
I am a graduate of Tallinn University in the Educational Innovation and Leadership Program. Along with an incredible academic experience, my stay at Tallinn University was made more valuable by my work as a student ambassador. As an ambassador, I work with local and international students and guide them in their queries. During the last year, I have advised countless students in their academic pursuit and have helped many of them secure admissions and scholarships. My phone is always buzzing with new emails and messages, and I feel immense pleasure to be a positive support. One of the best feelings is when a person comes to me to tell me that I am the reason that they are studying in the right institution. This phenomenon has increased ten-folds after I have uploaded a study guide video on YouTube. My work as an ambassador also includes writing blogs, creating study guides, describing personal experiences, and conducting different interviews. I have established myself as a competent content creator in the department, and I am often contacted whenever there’s a need for any technical and non-technical content. I recently wrote an article that will be included in the 100th-anniversary special edition of Tallinn University magazine of teacher training school. The article was translated into Estonian; you can access it here (page 17). I have also written materials to be included in the International student guide and university website. You can see some of my work here, and here.
As you can already see that I have started by including my relevant work experience first. I didn’t just say that “I am good at writing” or “I’ve written for university”, I provided evidence – tangible evidence. It’s not always possible to provide such evidence. In that case, make sure you’re as specific as possible. More about it in the next paragraph.
Since I was not limited by the number of words for this cover letter, I built on my previous paragraph and explained how my work experience makes me the perfect candidate for the job. We are still on the answer to “why they should select you.”
Let’s continue reading.
To be a great customer support person, working closely and efficiently with the other team members is essential. My work experience with one of Pakistan’s finest educational institutes, Lahore Grammar School (LGS), has taught me the very skill. I worked as a teacher and Coordinator of Robotics. Field of Coding and Robotics was not one of my direct areas of expertise, but all it took to grasp this subject’s concepts was a robotics kit, Internet, and about 30 cups of tea. A week later, I was giving Robotics workshops to the teachers of the school. Following the teachers’ feedback, I was asked to work as a coordinator to supervise all the activities related to robotics clubs. I helped teachers create lesson plans for the sessions and integrated robotics as a tool for creative learning in the class. I also organized different robotics competitions and ensured that all the robotics and programming clubs were running smoothly. Since teachers were not familiar with the coding and robotics, I created simplified guides for them. I voluntarily wrote monthly progress reports for the principle and was categorically praised for these reports’ comprehensiveness in my recommendation letter.
Again, I kept the letter informal, while telling the reader that I am a quick learner, and I don’t shy away from learning new things. Check for example, “…field of Coding and Robotics was not one of my direct areas of expertise, but all it took to grasp the concepts of this subject was a robotics kit, Internet, and about 30 cups of tea.
Getting the point? Let’s continue further.
Just keep in mind that this letter is comparatively longer. You have to consider where you’re applying and adjust your letter accordingly.
Since I was passionate about working with TransferWise (and I still am), I continued with the same subject of “why I am the best fit for the job”, again backed by learnings or outcomes in measurable numbers. This paragraph also answers, “ok! we’ve selected you, what value would your bring?”
Here’s how my next paragraph reads:
I am a people’s person. When I was in 2nd year of my bachelor’s in Civil Engineering at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Lahore, I figured out that I am interested in “people” rather than “things.” Hence, I decided to change my career from engineering to education – the most challenging decision I have ever taken. My stay at UET was also productive due to my extracurricular activities. During my studies at UET Lahore, I worked as a general secretary of Pakistan Students’ welfare Organization (PSWO), an organization working for the education of underprivileged children, which includes financial support, career counselling sessions, visits to orphanages and old homes. I promoted the organization in my department by organizing informative lectures, resulting in 200 new general members. Seeing my passion, I was first appointed as executive finance, then Director Finance, and after that, I took the responsibilities as General Secretary of the organization. During my period as GS (Feb 2016 – March 2017), I supervised 6 teams of about 50 members to carry out 3 main projects of PSWO. At UET, I was also selected as a UET literary society member – a society to revive the culture of literature. From the platform of UET literary society, I won two categories of writing in an intra-university competition. I also have the privilege to get published in the annual magazine of the university. My work with PSWO and Literary society has enhanced my creative skills and made me a lifelong learner. I not only learned to be productive in a team but also improved my skills as an individual. During the same time, I was also working as a personal tutor with three different students, which gave me a challenging environment to polish my time and stress management skills, along with making me a multitasker.
Focus on how I am linking my work experience with skills. Another thing to consider is the use of proper punctuation. Write short sentences. Engage. And when you feel that the reader is invested, present complex ideas with a long sentence, a sentence that carries your message and your energy and passion with it. Don’t just write words — make them jump out of the page with excitement.
These days, companies don’t want code monkeys or 9-5 work people. They want creative people; people who have a life outside of work; people who know how to balance their professional and personal lives; people who show growth — both personal and professional. So, don’t forget to mention your extracurricular activities and hobbies.
Here’s how I did that:
My hobbies and interests have also been aligned with my work experience. I love to read, write, and create. In July 2019, I biked across 7 countries of Europe, covering 3000 km, and nowadays, I am covering the euro bike trip in the form of blogs and vlogs on my website, which you can access at https://www.umairalee.com. I created this website without any prior experience in web development, which indicates how much I love learning new skills. I also have a YouTube channel to share my videos. https://www.youtube.com/c/umairaliyoutube
Keep your expectations realistic. Don’t over-promise. Don’t say you can do anything and everything. However, do show confidence that you have what it takes to be an ideal fit for the job, but do it humbly.
My this paragraph gives you a pretty good idea of doing it:
I have a pretty decent idea about the amount of work required to be a Customer Support Associate with a growing company. Given the positive and creative culture at TransferWise, I am more than sure to blend-in in a way that creates a positive and robust learning environment. I am also aware that there might be things that will be new for me, and, as always, I am super ready to learn and challenge myself.
Close your letter on a personal and light note, especially if you’re writing a long one. Try to bring a smile on the reader’s face.
Here’s my favourite closing:
Going through all these applications must be a challenging task, and some crazy people who write a two-page long cover letter (oh, that would probably be me) make it even more cumbersome. Thank you for your time and all the best for this hiring process. I am excited to hear from you. If you find any shortcomings in my application, I would love to discuss it in the interview.
So now you have read the whole cover letter. I don’t think I need to write anything further. Let me know what you think about it in the comments. You can download the full letter in PDF here.
Next, I will be breaking down my cover letter for Tallinn University’s Master Program! Want to get it in your inbox, subscribe on the form below.