A job search for a data analyst position is unlike many others. And an outstanding data analyst cover letter can be your guide and ambassador in this quest. At the cross-section of technology, statistics and business sense, you have to somehow convince prospective employers that you’re the right person for the data-wizard position being sought. Paired with a well-crafted resume, your cover letter can give you the winning edge.
If you’re a data analyst on a job search, the prospects are excellent. But with this being one of the most explosive growth sectors, you’re not alone. For the best jobs you’ll have to compete with other candidates who may have more experience and education.
To distinguish yourself and rise above the crowd in the eyes of hiring managers, you need a job-search strategy that starts with a superior resume and cover letter. That’s just two pages of information you have to prepare, and you’re already an expert at condensing large amounts of data into concise reports. But these two pages — one each for your resume and cover letter — need to be virtually flawless.
Resume.io is a global leader in providing professional templates for resumes and cover letters, as well as profession-specific advice on how to prepare them. To help you craft the perfect resume, take a few minutes to review our informative resume guide and example for data analysts .
Now let’s shift our focus to the other essential part of your job application. In this cover letter guide, along with the corresponding data analyst cover letter example, we’ll talk about:
- Why a cover letter is a critical component of a data analyst job application
- The approach to take when writing your cover letter
- The best format for structuring a cover letter into key sections
- How to maximize the effect of each cover letter paragraph: header, greeting, introduction, body and conclusion
- The psychology of writing a persuasive cover letter
- Cover letter layout and design tips
- Common mistakes you want to avoid.
Job outlook: why the world needs data analysts
We live in an era of “big data.” Unimaginable amounts of information — think rivers and floods — are right at our fingertips, if only we knew how to use them.
One oft-cited statistic is that 90 percent of the data in the world today was created in the past two years. In 2019, the Information Overload Research Group estimated that 2.5 quintillion bytes of information are generated globally every day. A quintillion is "1" followed by 18 zeros.
How do we make sense of such a mind-boggling amount of data? Who can guide us to use it productively, for instance, in making our businesses more efficient, cost-effective and profitable?
Enter the data analyst. Sometimes called data scientists, data analysts are experts at collecting, sorting, analyzing and making sense of all this data so that it’s useful.
Data analysis is a booming field, and the job outlook is excellent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — which, by the way, specializes in data analysis — uses the term “operations research analysts” rather than “data analysts,” but it’s essentially the same job.
The BLS projects that demand for operations research analysts will grow by 25% from 2019 through 2029, much faster than the 4% average for all occupations. The median annual pay in this field in the U.S. was $86,200 in May 2020.
Here are the top industries that employ operations research analysts, and their median annual wages as of May 2020:
Federal government $119,720
Management of companies and enterprises $91,000
Finance and insurance $86,280
Professional, scientific and technical services $85,950
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Why a data analyst needs a cover letter
Suppose you’re a hiring manager seeking an expert data analyst. You receive an email with no subject line and no text, just an attached resume. Wouldn’t that strike you as kind of rude? If someone wants to ask for a job, can’t they at least ... well, ask?
If you don’t include a cover letter with your resume, a hiring manager has every right to wonder why. Is it because you’re too lazy to write a one-page letter? Is it because you’re a bad writer? Is it because this job isn’t very important to you? Is it because you feel so entitled to the job that you don’t believe a personal note is even necessary? Is it because you’re spamming 100 employers with your resume and you don’t have time to write personalized letters?
It goes without saying that you don’t want hiring managers to be asking any of these questions. This is why you should always include a cover letter with a resume. There’s only exception that makes sense — the rare instance when a company specifically requests that you send a resume only.
If you happened to meet this hiring manager in person, you would obviously introduce yourself before handing him or her your resume. A cover letter is the proper way to introduce yourself in an effort to establish a personal connection to someone who has the power to offer you a job. It’s a matter of simple etiquette and professionalism.
Sure, your resume will cover a tiny bit of the same ground as your cover letter, including your work experience and job skills. But a cover letter also gives you the opportunity to showcase your personality, passion and enthusiasm, and to address the specific needs of the company you’re targeting.
Even more important is the opportunity a cover letter gives you to explain certain things that may be unclear in your resume. You can cover some of the bases that a CV doesn’t allow for, leaving the hiring manager with no doubts or misunderstandings that might damage your chances.
Best format for a data analyst cover letter
A cover letter should always be a one-page document, no more than 400 words, structured with following sections:
- Middle section (body)
- Conclusion / call to action
- Signature / sign-off.
Cover letter header
The top of your data analyst cover letter should feature an attractively designed header that contains your name, occupation, address, phone number and email. There should be no mystery about how a prospective employer can reach you.
The header is also an important design element on the page, allowing for creative use of color, typography, layout and white space.
Because attractive headers are not easy for everyone to create, we recommend using a cover letter template . The cover letter header will already be designed for you.
Align document styles
It’s advisable, and not difficult, to give your resume and cover letter a similar look by using the same fonts and formatting styles. Make it obvious that these two documents were prepared as a package deal, and that you aren’t just pulling an old resume out of your files and sending it off with a new cover letter.
Aim of the cover letter header: Readily identifies you as the job applicant, with vital contact information. The attractive, professional look shows effort and attention to detail.
Cover letter greeting
Although the era of email has relaxed some of the business letter writing rules, the traditional cover letter greeting — a simple “Dear Mr. [or Ms.] Last Name” — is still your best bet
Using the first name is probably acceptable if you happen to know the recipient. And if you’re writing to an employer known to have a more casual communication style, the “Dear” can perhaps be replaced by a more informal word like “Greetings.”
Always try to address your cover letter by name to the individual in charge of hiring. People like to read their own names, and it shows you’ve made an effort to find out who the hiring manager is and connect directly with that person. If you don’t know the person’s name, do some research online. Failing that source, it may be worth calling the company to find out.
Aim of the cover letter greeting: Starts off on the right note by forming a direct personal connection with the hiring manager if possible. Reflects the degree of formality in the organization’s communication style.
Cover letter introduction
The cover letter introduction should identify your job objective and briefly highlight your qualifications, including years of experience in the field. The language should be lively and sincere, though respectful, in catching the reader’s attention with motivations to read more.
Think like a fisherman: You need to be sure the fish is hooked before you try reeling it into the boat. Write in a style that’s enthusiastic and bold, yet never arrogant or overconfident.
Aim of the cover letter introduction: An enthusiastic launching point that sets the stage for the reader to learn more about why you are right for this job.
Body of the letter
The heart of your letter must make a compelling case that you’re a viable candidate for the job you’re seeking. It should highlight your experience as a data analyst, naming some of the places you’ve worked and highlighting your accomplishments in those jobs.
Be specific about your achievements, using facts and figures where possible. This is where you can elaborate on the bullet points in your resume about what you did for past employers. you can and should include anecdotes about specific challenges you faced, the action you took to resolve them and the results you achieved.
You may also mention your college degrees and any relevant certifications. And in a technical field like data analysis, you should highlight your expertise in using applicable computer software.
Ideally, you are aware of your target employer’s specific data analysis needs. By all means, point out how your potential contributions in addressing those issues if hired. Always remember that your cover letter should not be about how much you deserve a job, but about how you can help the company solve its problems.
Aim of the cover letter body: Substantiate your case for being an excellent candidate by focusing on the past successes you could replicate for this future employer.
Conclusion / call to action
Wrap up your cover letter with a quick recap, a thank-you and a call to action. Make it clear that you’re eager to hear back from the employer to set up an interview. You may want to note that you’re always reachable at the phone or email you’ve provided. Express confidence that you would be a real asset to the company, and demonstrate your enthusiasm for working there.
Once again, try to find the balance between coming across as confident and respectful towards the employer, and specifically the person reading your cover letter.
Aim of the cover letter conclusion: End on a confident but respectful note with a call to action that motivates the employer to follow up
Signature / sign-off
This part is simple. Close with a “Sincerely,” “Best regards,” “Cordially,” or the like. Add a space below that, and type your full name. Some writers choose to insert their actual scanned signature, though this is not considered necessary in electronic communication.
Cover letter design and formatting
Your cover letter should look good at a glance, before anyone reads the first word. If it’s visually unappealing, you’ve lost your chance at making a good first impression, and then you’re fighting an uphill battle already.
Follow these guidelines for proper cover letter formatting and design.
- Fonts: Choose an attractive, easy-to-read, familiar font, nothing exotic or splashy. You want the reader to focus on your content and not the strange-looking text. The most widely recommended fonts for cover letters ensure readability and clean design: Verdana, Georgia, Arial, Open Sans, Helvetica, Roboto, Garamond or PT Sans. Choose one that suits you based on writing tone and visuals.
- Font size: Use a font size of 10 to 12 points. Resist the urge to cram too many words of cover letter text onto one page by shrinking the font size. Focus on trimming and tightening your text instead.
- Text alignment: Text formatting should be left-aligned, NOT justified from margin to margin. The correct text alignment looks just like what you’re reading now — there's a little space after the last word in each line. It’s much easier for the eye to navigate, and keeps your letter from having a dense, blocky look.
- Paragraphs: Separate paragraphs with a space in between, but do not indent. Avoid paragraphs that are too long.
- Margins: Use a 1-inch margin on the top, bottom, right and left.
- White space: Leave room for white space on the page that contains nothing at all. This will give your letter an eye-pleasing appearance and keep it from looking too jam-packed. Notice that all the preceding advice on good header design, left-aligned text, spaces between paragraphs and adequate margins will contribute to a balanced page design with an appropriate amount of white space.
- Save as a PDF: In almost all cases, you should save your letter as a PDF file. This preserves all the formatting so that it looks the same on your reader’s computer as it does on yours. The only exception to this rule is for employers who specifically request another file type, such as a Word document.
- Use a template: You don’t have to worry about any of the above if you use a professionally designed cover letter template like those at resume.io. A good template has already taken care of all the formatting for you, so you can focus on what your letter says and not on how it looks.
Psychology, tips and tactics
You may have read up on applicant tracking systems (ATS) — electronic gatekeepers that filter resumes according to their usage of keywords that describe critical job qualifications.
While it is vital to pass through the filters of these computer crawlers, it’s also important to remember that ultimately it’s a human being your cover letter need to persuade. So you need to write like a real person who’s initiating a conversation with another person, and not just recite facts like a robot.
Try to get inside your reader’s head, anticipating what’s important to the one making or influencing hiring decisions. Don’t just write the letter you want to write, but write the letter you want that person to receive.
You’re undoubtedly aware that there’s a difference between business letters and friendly letters. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that a business letter shouldn’t say anything personal. In fact, the main point of a cover letter is to establish a personal connection with the recipient, so don’t shy away from personal, even emotional language. Your letter should appeal to the heart as well as the head.
Does your letter make it sound like you’re someone who’s easy to like? No employers want to hire a job candidate they don’t like. Is your letter full of fluffy clichés about how you’re a self-starter and a team player who thinks outside the box? Trite, hackneyed language that you lifted from somewhere else will not endear you to anyone, nor will it give your reader any meaningful information about you.
Does your letter mention hobbies and interests that have nothing to do with the job you’re seeking? Remove all irrelevant info from your letter and replace it with expressions of what specifically makes you good at your job.
Above all, make sure your letter is devoid of typos, misspellings or bad grammar. Surveys of hiring managers have found that such mistakes are the number one reason resumes and cover letters are rejected. If English is not your forte, find a good editor to review and correct your letter.
Mistakes to avoid in your cover letter
These are some of the most common mistakes that job applicants make in preparing resumes and cover letters:
- As mentioned above, clichés, irrelevant content and errors in English usage can all sink your chances of making a positive impression on a hiring manager. Adhering to basic good grammar and avoiding typos are essential rules of thumb, so choose an online resume builder that has a spell-check function. You don’t want to worry about trivialities when you’re thinking about job search strategy.
- A mass-produced cover letter that you send to dozens of employers is a non-starter. Every cover letter you write should be unique and targeted to a specific employer.
- Lazy, unfocused writing that doesn’t make a compelling case for your candidacy is a detriment to your cause.
- Bad formatting, unattractive design and/or a page crowded with too much text are all turn-offs that give the recipient an easy excuse to discard your letter.
- Data analysts are highly paid and in demand, and the job outlook for the years ahead is good. But to compete for the best jobs, you need to rise above the crowd with a superior resume and cover letter.
- A good cover letter is crucial because it’s the proper way to introduce yourself to a prospective employer and to establish a personal connection to a hiring manager.
- From the header to the sign-off, you need to follow proper cover letter structure to make sure you’ve included everything that’s essential.
- Proper formatting is no less important, so make sure your letter adheres to the basic guidelines for good cover letter design.
- Imagine that you’re the one receiving this letter, and write in a professional but personal style that speaks to the heart as well as the head.
- To avoid common errors, use a professionally designed cover letter template that is already formatted correctly.
If you’re ready to get started, review resume.io’s free cover letter templates. Choose a design you like, and simply replace the existing text with your own. Our step-by-step builder tool makes this easy and fast, and you’ll be using a field-tested framework, approved by recruiters and hiring managers!
If you’re looking for additional inspiration for cover letter writing, you can check out our related Information Technology cover letter examples.