How to Write a Cover Letter

Complete guide on how to write a cover letter that gets you a job interview.

How to Write a Cover Letter

August 26th, 2020

A cover letter is a short document that accompanies your resume or CV when applying for a job. It provides a more detailed account of your experience, skills, and overall suitability for the position. Use our template and guide below to create the perfect cover letter for your next job application.

Cover Letter Template

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Cover Letter Example:

[Full Name]

[Physical Address]

[Telephone Number]

[Email Address]

[Date]

Application for the position of [insert position name]

Dear [recipient’s title and last name]

I would like to apply for the position of [insert position name] as advertised [mention where you saw the advertisement.] My experience and ability to [#1 skill] and [#2 skill] perfectly fit the advertised position's requirements. I am confident that my skills combined with my industry knowledge will be invaluable to [insert company name.]

I received my [qualification] from [institution and location,] and have [insert number] of years' experience in [mention relevant field.] In my attached resume you will notice that I have [mention certifications, skills, and competencies] that answer directly to the requirements of your job posting.

In my [current or previous role] at [insert company name,] I [was/am] responsible for [discuss your core responsibilities.] Most recently, I was [talk about your major accomplishments.]

As an experienced [your job title,] I am impressed with [mention notable characteristics or milestones you appreciate about the company] and feel that my talent for [mention your strengths] would be of great benefit to your company.

Please find my resume attached. Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions you would like to discuss.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my application. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

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How to Write a Cover Letter:

1. Add your contact details.

Start your cover letter by adding your contact information. Include your full name, contact number, physical address, and email address. If you have a professional website or LinkedIn account, add the links to this section. If you are applying for a job out of state, either leave out your physical address or mention that you will be willing to relocate.

2. Address the recipient by title and name.

Before your opening paragraph, add a greeting that directly addresses the recipient by their formal title and last name, such as, "Dear Ms. Humbolt." If you do not know their name, start with "Dear Hiring Manager." Avoid using generic greetings, such as, "To whom it may concern."

3. Start with a brief introduction.

Your opening paragraph should grab the reader's attention and let them know why you are writing. State which position you are applying for to avoid any confusion. Also mention where you saw the advertisement and why you would be suitable for the role.

Using descriptive words and action verbs mention that your skills and experience match those listed in the job description. Remember to keep your intro paragraph to three sentences or less.

4. Focus on your skills, qualifications, and experience.

The second paragraph of your cover letter should detail your qualifications and experience. Mention your highest qualification with the institution name and any other certifications that are relevant to the field. Then briefly describe your work experience, mentioning only your most recent and relevant positions.

5. Discuss your most recent role and responsibilities.

In the next paragraph, describe your responsibilities in your current or former job, focusing on those that pertain to the job description posting. Add any major achievements that set you apart from other candidates. Try to add statistics or numerical data to bolster your achievements. The more precise the information, the better.

6. Celebrate the organization.

In the final paragraph of your cover letter, take the opportunity to point out a few things you admire about the company you are applying to. This could include major industry achievements, favorable employee feedback, community involvement, corporate culture, etc.

7. End with a call to action.

State that you've attached your resume for their consideration and invite the reader to contact you if they have any further questions.

8. Close your letter.

Close your cover letter by thanking the reader for their time. Add "Sincerely" and sign off with your full name.

💡 A cover letter should complement a well-written resume or CV, and a new one should be written for each job application.

What is the purpose of a Cover Letter?

A Cover Letter gives the hiring manager a better idea of who you are as a job applicant. It provides a platform where you can elaborate on the experience and accomplishments you've mentioned in your Resume, and it also gives you a chance to explain how your skillset would benefit the company.

Even if the hiring manager merely glances over your Cover Letter, it will still demonstrate your communication skills, attention to detail, work ethic, meticulousness, and your overall interest in the job and the company or institution.

Researching and planning your Cover Letter.

Your Cover Letter may be a page or less, but it still requires extensive research and planning. Before you tell the employer why you're the best person for the job, there are a few aspects of the job and the company or institution you need to understand.

A job posting will give you some idea of the type of work you'll be doing, but it's up to you to conduct further research in order to write a winning cover letter.

Questions to consider when doing company research:

  1. What is the purpose of this company or institution?
  2. What can I contribute to this company or institution?
  3. Will I be able to fit in with the company or institution's culture?
  4. What are the company or institution's core values and do they align with mine?
  5. What are the company or institution's goals and can I help them achieve these goals?
  6. What kind of opportunities can this company or institution offer me?
  7. Do I like this company or institution?
  8. Will I fit in with the current employees at this company or institution?
  9. Why is the advertised position appealing to me? Why do I want it?
  10. Will I be happy and fulfilled at this company or institution?

You'll find the answers to these questions once you start researching the company or institution. Use our questionnaire below to stay on track.

Cover Letter Research Questionnaire in PDF Format

Use our Cover Letter Research Questionnaire to craft a winning Cover Letter.

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FAQs:

What should a Cover Letter include?

  • Your personal contact details.
  • A formal salutation.
  • An introductory paragraph.
  • 2 - 3 paragraphs in the body of the letter.
  • A conclusion with a call to action.
  • A formal closing.

What is a basic Cover Letter?

A basic cover letter is also known as an application letter. It contains details about a prospective employee and can be used to apply for jobs and internships.

How do you sell yourself in a cover letter?

You have to tailor your cover letter for each job or position you apply for. Do the following to craft a winning Cover Letter:

  • Perform company research.
  • Analyze the job posting.
  • Be honest and sincere.
  • Aim for a flawless presentation.
  • Submit the correct documents alongside your Cover Letter.

What should not be included in a cover letter?

  • Slang.
  • Emojis.
  • Text abbreviations.
  • Jokes.
  • Overly personal details.
  • All capital letters or all lowercase letters.
  • Informal greetings or familiar language.

How long is a cover letter?

A cover letter should be between half a page and a page. Try to be as concise as possible.

What types of cover letters are there?

  • The application letter.
  • The referral cover letter.
  • The motivation letter.
  • The letter of Intent or the prospecting letter.

How do you describe yourself in a cover letter?

You'll want to focus on your strengths and positive attributes when you describe yourself in your cover letter. Do not highlight your shortcomings, but be as honest and as sincere as possible.

Do Cover Letters matter?

Some believe that resume objectives and career summary statements have replaced the cover letter, but Hiring Managers can still request one from you. Those applying to jobs with CVs often require cover letters. Knowing how to write one is a coveted skill.

Why is a cover letter important?

cover letters are tools that help you provide Hiring Managers with valuable details about your career that you may not be able to include in your CV or resume. Take time to write your cover letter, as it adds a personal touch to your application.

How do I start a cover letter?

You begin your cover letter with a formal salutation to the Hiring Manager or Department Head, or by addressing the recipient by their first name.

Do recruiters read cover letters?

It varies. Some recruiters merely glance over your cover letter without reading it, but the presentation and layout alone speak volumes about the type of applicant they are dealing with. So be meticulous when writing your cover letter.

How do I shorten a Cover Letter?

Include your personal details in the header and highlight only your most important skills and experiences in the cover letter. Do not attempt to summarize your entire career in the Cover Letter.

How do I end a cover letter?

End your cover letter with a call to action. You can take a look at our templates for prompts on how to end each type of cover letter.

How important is a cover letter when applying online?

It varies. Some Hiring Managers still ask for a cover letter, while others don't. Be sure to read the job posting's guidelines carefully.

What is an effective cover letter?

An effective cover letter should be concise, well-written, and show evidence of your research, skills, and interest in the company or institution.

Does a cover letter increase your chances of employment?

A well-written cover letter could set you apart from other candidates, especially if you mention an industry professional who gave you a referral in the cover letter.

Should you always include a cover letter with an application?

If the job posting asks for a cover letter, always submit one along with your application. If they do not ask for a Cover Letter, but you feel that it can't hurt your chances to include one, then you can do so.

What do recruiters look for in a cover letter?

Recruiters try to get a sense of who you are from your cover letter, so it's important that it does not sound generic. They can also use your cover letter to gauge your attention to detail, so make sure it's error-free before submitting it.

Are cover letters obsolete?

No. Some Hiring Managers still request them.

Is a page too long for a cover letter?

Try to limit your cover letter length to between half a page and a page.

Are you supposed to sign a cover letter?

It's not necessary that you sign a cover letter. It's fine to just type your name in the sign-off.

What is the appropriate tone for a cover letter?

The appropriate tone of the cover letter will be determined by the type of position and the type of company or institution you're applying to. Be sure to conduct thorough research and use our company research questionnaire to help you.

What is the difference between an application letter and a cover letter?

A cover letter is another name for an application letter. It's the same document.

What is the difference between a motivation letter and a cover letter?

A cover letter is used by candidates applying for jobs or internships. A motivation letter is used by students applying to college or university, or by those applying to volunteer programs.

What is the difference between a letter of intent and a cover letter?

A Letter of Intent is sent out to companies or institutions to find out more about potential job openings, while a Cover Letter is sent to apply for existing job openings.

Should I include education in my cover letter?

You can, but only if it's relevant. Don't simply list your qualifications.

Should you attach your cover letter or put it in the body of an email?

Always attach your cover letter to the email. Follow our guide on How to Email the Hiring Manager to learn more.