How to Write a Cover Letter

Want to write a cover letter but don't know where to start? Here you will find the step-by-step guide and tips on how to make it work in your favor.

Want to write a cover letter but don't know where to start? Here you will find the step-by-step guide and tips on how to make it work in your favor.

How to Write a Cover Letter What is a cover letter? Types of Cover Letters for a Resume What to Include in Your Cover Letter for a Job Application What to Avoid in Your Professional Cover Letter Instructions for Writing an Effective Cover Letter for a Job How to Edit a Cover Letter for Job Search Perfect Cover Letter Examples Wrap Up
How to Write a Cover Letter What is a cover letter? Types of Cover Letters for a Resume What to Include in Your Cover Letter for a Job Application What to Avoid in Your Professional Cover Letter Instructions for Writing an Effective Cover Letter for a Job How to Edit a Cover Letter for Job Search Perfect Cover Letter Examples Wrap Up
01

They say that the CV and cover letter are a blast from the past and there is no point in spending time writing them. There are numerous articles on the internet claiming that recruiters and hiring executives don’t even read candidates’ cover letters, but that’s not completely true.

What if we told you there was something you could do to increase your chances of landing that dream job by about 95%? Well, there is. It’s the cover letter which is crucially important. If you don’t have an impressive cover letter for your resume, few recruiting executives are even going to open your CV.

A compelling cover letter may play a pivotal role in landing the job of your dreams instead of having your resume set aside.

In this article, you will find valuable information on how to write a cover letter for a job posting, what to include in it, how to format it, and much more.

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What is a cover letter?

Before you get down to writing a cover letter, you should be aware of what this document is and what purpose it fulfills.

Essentially, a cover letter is a piece of documentation which serves as an add-on complementing your CV. Since a CV (or resume) is all about facts, its add-on is intended to provide extra information in a more conversational tone, make a good first impression, and communicate the applicant’s personality, enthusiasm, and professional skills to the prospective employer. The objective of a cover letter is to make the reader, the hiring executive, curious enough to read your resume.

Simply put, a cover letter is an advertisement, and what you’re trying to sell is your professional skills, strengths, and experience for the target job.

An effective cover letter:

  • Tells the employer who you are
  • Highlights the important parts of your resume
  • Demonstrates your writing skills
  • Shows how your background, professional skills, and experience are relevant to the position
  • Draws attention to your achievements
  • Tells the employer how to get in touch with you by email, phone, mail, etc.

Recruiters and HR staff are busy people; they receive dozens of job applications every day. Imagine how much time they need to spend reading each application in great detail. Most recruiters will first look at your cover letter and read it for about 30-40 seconds. If they are impressed with what they read, they will move on to your resume. If not, your application ends up in the trash can.

Now imagine a situation. There are three candidates for the job. They have well-written resumes, rich experience, academic background, etc. What would you do if you were an employer? Call all of them in for an interview? A wise employer knows the value of time, and they would read the candidates’ cover letters in detail, and choose the one that perfectly fits the organization’s needs and requirements.

An impressive cover letter for a CV is your chance to move the needle.

"A good cover letter followed by a good resume, that’s like brains and beauty."
Don Charlton, founder and CEO of The Resumator

What makes a cover letter stand out from the others? Don’t just submit any old cover letter. There is a good reason to craft one, even though the process is time-consuming. Keep in mind that in most cases, as soon as a prospective employer gets the sense that they are reading a one-size-fits-all template, they give its author no chance.

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Types of Cover Letters for a Resume

To start off, let’s define the main types of cover letters. There are three of them: application cover letter, prospecting letter, and networking letter. Now, let’s figure out what each type is needed for.

Application cover letter

An application cover letter is sent with your CV to apply for a specific job opening.

Prospecting letter

A prospecting letter or “letter of interest”, inquires about possible job openings.

Your dream company may not be advertising a job opening, but it is likely that they’re always looking for talented and skilled people like you.

Networking letter

This type of cover letter serves as a request for job search advice and assistance. Networking letters are usually sent to colleagues, people you met at conferences, professional meetups, or to people from your LinkedIn network. A networking letter is a powerful tool in finding the job you want.

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04

What to Include in Your Cover Letter for a Job Application

As we said earlier, the purpose of a cover letter is to extend your CV contents without duplicating or rehashing information. What should a proper cover letter for a job application include and what shouldn’t? Let’s make things clear.

Your name and contact details

Start your cover letter with your name and contact information. Write your full name, fill in the date of your application, your postal address (street, city, state, zip), your contact phone number and email address.

Be professional in every detail. The email you specify in the contact section of your letter should make a professional impression. Avoid using your all-purpose boozehoundjoe44@email.com or email addresses to that effect in the cover letter for a job application.
Just imagine a cover letter that starts like:
Joseph Sinclair01.01.2019
13 East Street, New York, NY 10128 | (212) 348-2828 | Boozehoundjoe44email.com
(ANY REFERENCE TO A LIVING PERSON IS PURELY COINCIDENTAL)

Agree, this is now how the professional email address should look like. If you don’t have a professional email, hurry up and create one with one of free email services. Make it straightforward and simple – your first and last name, for example.

Recipient’s name and contact details

Next, include the name of the recipient of your application, the name of their company, postal address of the company (street, city, state, zip), and their contact details (contact phone number and email address).

Try to address your cover letter to the particular person responsible for hiring. If necessary, conduct some online research to find the person responsible for the hiring process.

Search on Google, Linkedin, or on the official Website of the company/organization (Contacts/About Us sections).

If you’re having trouble finding the needed information, call the HR office and ask for the hiring manager’s name.

Try not to use “To whom it may concern” in the beginning of your cover letter; it sounds like “Whoever” and shows your disinterest in the job right off the bat.

Specify the title of the job you’re applying for

You should include the title of the job you’re going for. It is viable to include the job title on a separate line at the start of your cover letter (e.g. “Regarding: Application for Sales Executive position”), or in the opening paragraph (e.g. “I am writing to apply for the Sales Executive position”).

Indicate your relevant skills and experience

Highlight your skills and experience without rehashing the descriptions in your CV. A short list is a perfect idea for this. Be sure to use measurable metrics (if possible) to support your statements.

Summarize why you’re right for the job

Keep in mind that if you mention any skill or experience, you’ve got to match your actions to those words. Mention jobs where you’ve used the skills and experiences that you list. Explain to the prospective employer why you are a perfect fit for the position. Be specific and honest; don’t exaggerate your accomplishments.

Try to think not about what the employer and organization can do for you, but what you can do for the organization and the employer. Try to identify the issues of the company — the problems that they need a person they hire to solve. Emphasize your relevant skills and experiences that will actually help the employer. Think over solutions to some particular challenging issues of the organization. Impress the prospective hirer with your readiness and willingness to make a contribution to the development of their company.

Use the right tone

The tone you use will change depending on the company to whom you send your application. Some companies appreciate a creative approach, while others favor a strict and formal way of negotiation.

Make sure you know what the company’s “voice” is like. To find out the tone of the company’s voice, read materials on their official website – that should be just enough.

Being excessively formal is no good. It makes you seem insincere, unfriendly, and somewhat robotic. Even when you’re applying for a high-ranking position at IBM or Microsoft, there is room to express yourself in an easy conversational way.

Conclude with strong finishing lines

Your closing lines should be a call to action. Use an adequate closeout for the letter, conveying an appropriate amount of respect to the recipient and asking them to contact you.

Never close the cover letter with the following:
  • Cheers
  • Later
  • Text me back when you get a chance
  • With love
  • Any sort of abbreviations
  • Any emoticons
Here are some standard ways to sign off:
  • Sincerely yours
  • Best regards
  • Kind regards
  • Thank you for your consideration

Visit GetCoverLetter pages with free CV and cover letter samples to learn how to include particular sections to your covering letter or resume.

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What to Avoid in Your Professional Cover Letter

Don’t let grammar mistakes and typos slip through

It’s difficult noticing mistakes and typos in our own writing because you are emerged in it. Ask your friends and/or relatives to read your cover letter carefully and review your letter for typos. Also, there are different web services like grammarly.com, built-in “Spelling and grammar” tools in word processors, various extensions and third-party tools which help catch errors in your writing.

Always check the spelling of the company name, the job title, the recipient’s name and the position several times.

Don’t copy paste

We’ve already highlighted that a cover letter is an add-on or extension for the CV. It is intended to communicate dry facts from the resume in a conversational way. Rephrase those facts rather than copy pasting them.

Remember, a good CV is the brain, and a good cover letter for it is beauty.

Don’t use too many “I”s

Do not overuse “I” in any form while crafting your cover letter. A cover letter is not a memoir or an autobiography “I, me, myself”; it is not about you, but about the employer and how you can help them.

Don’t make jokes and inappropriate jests

Humor is highly subjective and can be simply misunderstood. Nevertheless, using your wit and creativity is not prohibited. Be yourself and don’t force things.

Don’t mention your other job applications

Your aim here is to convince the employer that you want this particular job at this particular organization. It’s obvious that you’re applying for several jobs hoping to land one of them. There is no good reason to tell employers that you’ve sent applications to a row of other companies.

Don’t mention your previous salary or salary expectation

It is just unethical and amateurish. Don’t mention salary and your expectations unless you are asked.

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Instructions for Writing an Effective Cover Letter for a Job

The standard structure of a professional cover letter looks like this:

  1. 1. Header: contact section
  2. 2. Salutation
  3. 3. Introduction
  4. 4. Body
  5. 5. Closing
  6. 6. Signature

Let’s demonstrate this structure in action.

[Your Full Name]

[Date]

[Street, City, State, Zip]

[Phone Number]

[Email]

[Recipient’s Full Name]

[Recipient’s Company Name]

[Street, City, State, Zip]

[Recipient’s Phone]

[Recipient’s Email]

Dear [Recipient],

Draw the reader’s attention with your opening paragraph. Introduce yourself, explain why you are contacting the employer, mention how you learned about the organization or job posting, and explain why you aspire to work for the organization.

Emphasize why you want to work with the employer. Explain your interest in the organization, its reputation, area of specialty, or public service. Describe what you can bring to the role, and provide examples of skills you’ve developed and the achievements you’ve enjoyed that are relevant to the job description. Be specific and honest –don’t exaggerate your accomplishments. Highlight your experience without rehashing the descriptions in your CV. List out your achievements using “first”, “second”, “third”, etc. if need be. Tell the prospective employer why you’re specifically attracted to them and their work, and show that you’ve done the research and understand both the organization's mission and how it carries out its work. Identify the key issues facing the company — the problems that they need a person they hire to solve. Emphasize your relevant skills and experiences that will actually help the employer. Show genuine and informed enthusiasm for the position.

Mention that you've enclosed your CV and look forward to hearing from the firm. Thank the employer for taking the time to consider your application and sign off:

Yours sincerely,

[Your Name]

Additional tips for writing a winning cover letter for employment

  1. 1. Keep your letter short. Do not exceed one page or 300 words total. Be concise — you aren’t writing a memoir;
  2. 2. Be organized – list out your strengths one-by-one;
  3. 3. Support your stated skills and experience with numbers;
  4. 4. Avoid cliches;
  5. 5. Format the cover letter for employment application properly. Use reasonably sized fonts like Times New Roman, Cambria, Georgia, Arial, Calibri, or Verdana— they are easy on the eyes;
  6. 6. Use power verbs, or as they are also called, “doing words”, to charge your cover letter. Words like Managed, Increased, Negotiated, Resolved, Improved, etc. show your proactivity and efficacy. But remember: do not oversell yourself by exaggerating your accomplishments. Be wise and honest.

How to Edit a Cover Letter for Job Search

To avoid writing a new cover letter for every organization from scratch, create a “master cover letter” with relevant static information. By static we mean things like your personal and contact info, your skills, and closing words. Depending on the organization and job opening, you edit it appropriately. This approach saves time and nerves.

For example, the templatized “master cover letter” might look like this:

[Your Full Name]

[Date]

[Street, City, State, Zip]

[Phone Number]

[Email]

[Recipient’s Full Name]

[Recipient’s Company Name]

[Street, City, State, Zip]

[Recipient’s Phone]

[Recipient’s Email]

Dear [Recipient],

I am writing to express my excitement about the [Insert Job Title Here] position at [Insert Company Name Here]. I am convinced that it was fate that I found the position posted on [Insert Source Here]. [Custom text about how you admire the company and the way it does its business]

I’d be a great [Job Title] because:

1. [Your relevant skill/competency 1] + [Explanation with numbers]

2. [Your relevant skill/competency 2] + [Explanation with numbers]

3. [Your relevant skill/competency 3] + [Explanation with numbers]

[The bottom line concluding why you’re the right person for the position]

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the [Insert Job Title Here] position and show you how my success and set of relevant skills can translate into growth for [Insert Company Name Here]. You may contact me at any time!

Yours sincerely,

[Your Name]

Your qualifications, well-presented by our online editor, will prove your professionalism effortlessly.

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Perfect Cover Letter Examples

Here are examples of perfect cover letters built with the help of GetCoverLetter service. Get inspiration or use these examples as a template for your own application letter — at your choice.

Go to templates

Wrap Up

A well-elaborated cover letter may drastically influence the outcome of your job application. We’ve gathered the most relevant and useful information for you to succeed in writing a perfect cover letter for your job search.

If you’re still hesitant about your capability to write a great cover letter, ask for professional assistance. According to a recent survey from TheLadders.com, professionally written resumes are 70% more effective compared to letters written by applicants.

There are several proven online services that offer professional help in building ultimate CVs and cover letters, and GetCoverLetter is, objectively, one of the best among them. Our expert writers know their onions. They know how to write a cover letter that impresses a prospective employer every time.

Investing a couple of minutes of your time working with the Get Cover Letter service, you get a professional covering letter written by experts in the field of academic writing. Your letter will be well-organized, keyword rich, properly formatted, uniquely branded and ready to impress hiring executives. Still have questions on how to write a cover letter for a job application or need a professional advice? Feel free to contact us.

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