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How To Write A Cover Letter

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a one-page document that accompanies your job application. It serves to:

          • Introduce yourself to the potential employer.
          • Provide a detailed explanation of your qualifications.
          • Highlight your enthusiasm and interest in the position.

Download one of our cover letter examples to see what a well-crafted cover letter looks like, and use our expertly-made templates as a guide to writing your own!

Why a Cover Letter is Important

A cover letter plays a crucial role in the job application process. While your resume provides a comprehensive overview of your professional experience and qualifications, the cover letter offers a more personalized introduction to your potential employer.

Here’s why a cover letter is essential:

          • Personal Connection: A cover letter allows you to address the hiring manager directly, creating a personal connection and demonstrating your genuine interest in the position and the company.
          • In-Depth Explanation: It gives you the opportunity to elaborate on specific experiences and skills that are most relevant to the job you are applying for, providing context and detail that a resume cannot.
          • Showcasing Your Fit: By aligning your qualifications with the job requirements, you can clearly articulate why you are the ideal candidate for the role. This tailored approach helps you stand out from other applicants who might have similar resumes.
          • Highlighting Enthusiasm: A cover letter is your chance to express your enthusiasm for the job and the company, showing that you have done your research and are excited about the opportunity.
          • Demonstrating Communication Skills: Writing a compelling cover letter demonstrates your communication skills, an essential attribute for most positions. It shows your ability to present information clearly and persuasively.
          • Addressing Gaps or Concerns: If there are any gaps in your employment history or other potential concerns in your resume, a cover letter provides a space to address them proactively and reassure the employer.
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A cover letter is an invaluable tool for making a strong first impression and boosting your chances of landing an interview.

Cover Letter Templates and Examples

Knowing how to write a cover letter can be much easier if you are working with a sample.

Our free and premium cover letter templates and cover letter examples can help you get started!

Preparing to Write Your Cover Letter

Before writing yourcover letter, do some preparation first. Follow these steps to make the cover letter writing process faster and easier.

  • Have your resume on hand. A cover letter should complement, not repeat your resume. Keep your resume nearby to ensure that you are not repeating its information in your letter.

    Use your cover letter to expand skills on your resume, especially those that could use narrative, like how you achieved record-breaking sales.

  • Research the company. Whether you’ve been interested for a while or just learned about the company through a job posting, always research the company before writing your cover letter.

    Visit their website, search for any news, and ask around. Beyond what they do, get an idea of their work culture and use that to set the tone of your letter.

  • Keep the job posting accessible. Don’t close that job ad tab yet. In it, you’ll find keywords of what the company is looking for in a candidate.

    Enthusiastic, teamwork, communication and data-driven are examples of keywords in a job ad that you could include in your cover letter.

  • Compile a list of skills that go hand in hand with the job description. Now that you have your resume and the job post, make a list of skills you could bring to this position, whether soft skills, like communication or teamwork, or hard skills, like marketing, writing and sales.

    If you need ideas on what skills you could add, look at our resume skills guide.

  • Pick a template. Your cover letter should match the design of your resume. This continuity is important in establishing your presence as a candidate.

    At the same time, your cover letter’s overall appearance needs to be professional, interesting, and easy to read. It also needs to be scannable by applicant tracking systems (ATS).

  • Get inspired with cover letter examples. Check out our cover letter examplesto get a better idea of how a cover letter should look and what it should include.

How to Write a Cover Letter

The process of writing a cover letter should cover the following four key components:

Write a Compelling Opening

Grabbing the reader’s attention from the start is crucial in a cover letter. A strong opening sets the tone for the rest of your letter and can make a lasting impression.

Here’s how to craft an engaging opening:

          • Personalize Your Greeting: Address the hiring manager by name if possible. Avoid generic salutations like “To Whom It May Concern.”
          • Hook the Reader: Start with a compelling statement or question that piques interest. This could be an intriguing fact about your career, a notable achievement, or a passionate reason for your interest in the role.
          • Express Enthusiasm: Show your excitement about the opportunity and the company. Genuine enthusiasm can be infectious and memorable.

Examples of Strong Opening Lines:

          • “As a passionate advocate for environmental sustainability with over five years of experience in project management, I was thrilled to discover the opening for a Project Manager at GreenEarth Solutions.”
          • “With a proven track record of increasing sales by 30% in under two years, I am excited about the opportunity to bring my expertise to the Sales Manager position at Tech Innovators Inc.”
          • “Ever since I learned about [Company Name]’s commitment to innovation and excellence, I have been eager to contribute to your team as a Marketing Specialist.”

Highlight Your Skills and Experience

To make a compelling case for why you are the ideal candidate, you need to align your skills and experiences with the job requirements.

Here’s how:

          • Match Qualifications to Job Requirements: Carefully read the job description and highlight the key qualifications. Then, match these with your own skills, such as technical skills, and experiences, providing concrete examples.
          • Use Specific Examples and Achievements: Instead of vague statements, provide specific examples of your accomplishments. Quantify your achievements where possible to demonstrate the impact of your contributions.

Example:

“In my previous role as a Digital Marketing Manager, I successfully led a team that increased website traffic by 50% through targeted content strategies and SEO optimization. This experience has equipped me with the skills to drive significant online engagement for [Company Name].”

Showcase Your Knowledge of the Company

Demonstrating that you’ve done your research on the company shows your genuine interest and helps you stand out.

Here’s how to effectively showcase your knowledge:

          • Research the Company: Learn about the company’s mission, values, culture, and recent achievements. Use this information to tailor your cover letter.
          • Align Your Values with the Company’s Mission: Show how your professional values and goals align with those of the company. This demonstrates that you’re not just looking for any job, but for a role where you can contribute meaningfully.

Example:

“I am particularly impressed by [Company Name]’s dedication to sustainability and innovation. My background in renewable energy solutions and my passion for eco-friendly technologies align perfectly with your mission to create a greener future.”

Close with Confidence

A strong conclusion reinforces your interest and leaves a positive impression.

Here’s how to close your cover letter with confidence:

          • Summarize Your Suitability: Briefly recap why you are an ideal fit for the role, touching on your key qualifications and enthusiasm.
          • Encourage the Next Step: Clearly state your desire for an interview and provide your contact information. Be proactive in expressing your eagerness to discuss how you can contribute to the company.

Example:

“I am excited about the opportunity to bring my expertise in project management and passion for sustainability to the Project Manager role at GreenEarth Solutions. I look forward to the possibility of discussing how my background and skills align with your needs in more detail. Please feel free to contact me at [Your Email] to schedule an interview. Thank you for considering my application.”

By following these guidelines, you can craft a cover letter that effectively captures the reader’s attention, highlights your strengths, and leaves a lasting impression.

Structure and Format of a Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter also includes understanding how the sections are structured. Using this traditional format will help ensure that you present your letter in a way that is easily read by hiring managers.

  • Contact Information

    Your contact information should be at the top of your cover letter. This includes your name, address, email, and phone number.

    Follow this with the date, and then the employer’s contact information, which includes the hiring manager’s name, the company name, and the company address.

    Example:

    Jane Doe, 123 Main Street, City, State, ZIP Code, jane.doe@email.com, (555) 555-5555

    June 10, 2024

    John Smith, XYZ Corporation, 456 Corporate Drive, City, State, ZIP Code

  • Salutation

    A personalized greeting sets a positive tone for your cover letter. It’s important to address the hiring manager by name if possible. This shows that you have taken the time to research the company and adds a personal touch to your application. If you cannot find the hiring manager’s name, use a professional greeting such as “Dear Hiring Manager.”

    Addressing the hiring manager by name can make your cover letter more engaging and help you stand out from other applicants. If you’re unsure of the hiring manager’s name, try to look it up on the company’s website, LinkedIn, or by calling the company’s main office.

    Example:

    Dear Mr. Smith,

    or if you don’t know the name:

    Dear Hiring Manager,

  • Opening Paragraph

    The opening paragraph of your cover letter is crucial for grabbing the reader’s attention and setting a positive tone for the rest of your letter. A strong opening statement can make a lasting impression and encourage the hiring manager to read further.

    Strong Opening Statement

    Start with a compelling sentence that highlights your enthusiasm for the position and the company. This statement should be tailored to the job you’re applying for and reflect your genuine interest.

    Brief Introduction and Purpose of the Letter

    Briefly introduce yourself and state the purpose of your letter. Mention the specific position you are applying for and where you found the job listing. This helps to establish the context and shows that your application is intentional and well-researched.

    Example:

    “I am excited to apply for the Marketing Specialist position at XYZ Corporation that I found on your website. With over five years of experience in digital marketing and a passion for innovative strategies, I am confident in my ability to contribute to your team.”

  • Body Paragraphs

    This is where you will provide engaging detail to your relevant qualifications and interest in the position, demonstrating your professional personality that clearly makes you a great candidate for the position.

    First Body Paragraph

    The first body paragraph should highlight your most relevant skills and experiences, directly matching them to the job requirements listed in the job description.

    This demonstrates that you have the qualifications the employer is seeking and shows how your background makes you a strong candidate for the position.

    Example:

    “In my previous role as a Digital Marketing Manager at ABC Corp, I successfully led a team that increased website traffic by 50% through targeted content strategies and SEO optimization. My ability to analyze market trends and develop effective campaigns aligns well with the requirements of this position. Additionally, my experience with data analytics tools such as Google Analytics and SEMrush will enable me to contribute immediately to your marketing goals.”

    Second Body Paragraph

    The second body paragraph should showcase your knowledge of the company and align your values with the company’s mission. This shows that you have done your research and are genuinely interested in the company, not just any job.

    Example:

    “I am particularly impressed by XYZ Corporation’s commitment to sustainability and innovation. Your recent initiative to reduce the company’s carbon footprint by 30% aligns with my personal and professional values. During my tenure at GreenTech Solutions, I led a project that implemented eco-friendly practices across the company, reducing waste by 20%. My dedication to sustainable practices will help support XYZ Corporation’s mission to create a greener future.”

    Third Body Paragraph

    The third body paragraph should provide additional relevant experiences or skills that make you a strong candidate. Emphasize how you can contribute to the company, bringing in specific examples to illustrate your points.

    Example:

    “Beyond my marketing expertise, I have a proven track record of leading cross-functional teams to deliver complex projects on time and within budget. At my last position, I coordinated efforts between the design, content, and development teams to launch a new product line, resulting in a 15% increase in sales. My strong communication and leadership skills ensure that I can effectively collaborate with colleagues and stakeholders to achieve XYZ Corporation’s objectives.”

    By structuring your body paragraphs in this way, you can clearly demonstrate your qualifications, show that you are a good fit for the company, and highlight additional skills that make you an outstanding candidate.

  • Closing Paragraph

    The closing paragraph should summarize your suitability for the role, express your enthusiasm, and include a call to action, such as requesting an interview.

    This final section reinforces your interest in the position and encourages the hiring manager to take the next step.

            • Recap of Your Suitability for the Role: Briefly restate why you are a strong candidate for the position by summarizing your key qualifications and experiences.
            • Expression of Enthusiasm: Convey your excitement about the opportunity and the potential to contribute to the company.
            • Call to Action (Request for an Interview): Politely suggest the next steps, such as scheduling an interview, and provide your contact information.

    Example:

    “I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to bring my digital marketing skills and passion for sustainability to the Marketing Specialist role at XYZ Corporation. My experience in developing successful marketing campaigns, combined with my commitment to eco-friendly practices, makes me a strong fit for your team. I look forward to the possibility of discussing how my background and skills align with your needs in more detail. Please feel free to contact me at jane.doe@email.com to schedule an interview. Thank you for considering my application.”

  • Signature

    End your cover letter with a formal closing. A professional closing leaves a positive final impression and ensures your letter is complete.

    Example

    Sincerely,

    Jane Doe

Addressing a Cover Letter

Importance of Personalization

Personalizing the salutation of your cover letter demonstrates your attention to detail and genuine interest in the position.

A personalized greeting can make a positive impression on the reader, showing that you have taken the time to research and tailor your application specifically for the job.

Research Tips to Find the Name

Before resorting to a generic greeting, try these research tips to find the hiring manager’s name:

          • Company Website and Team Pages: Check the company’s website for an “About Us” or “Team” section that lists staff members and their roles.
          • LinkedIn and Social Media: Use LinkedIn to search for the company and its employees. Look for individuals with titles related to hiring, such as HR Manager or Recruiter.
          • Calling the Company: If the name is not readily available online, consider calling the company’s main office. Politely ask the receptionist for the name of the person responsible for hiring for the position you are applying for.

Appropriate Alternatives

If your research does not yield a name, use a professional and respectful generic greeting. This ensures your cover letter remains formal and courteous.

 

Examples of acceptable generic greetings include:

          • Dear Hiring Manager,
          • Dear [Department] Team,
          • Dear [Department] Hiring Committee,

Avoiding Common Mistakes

When addressing a cover letter without a name, avoid overly generic or informal greetings that can seem impersonal or unprofessional.

Additionally, refrain from making assumptions about the recipient’s gender.

Common mistakes to avoid:

          • To Whom It May Concern,
          • Dear Sir or Madam,
          • Hi [Company Name] Team,

Cover Letter Writing Tips

Writing a good cover letter means being mindful of several best practices:

          • Tailor your cover letter specifically to the job you are applying for.
          • Use keywords from the job description to stand out with the ATS and reader.
          • Use the same font, margins, and template as your resume.
          • Font typeface should be professional, such as Arial or Times New Roman.
          • Use one-inch margins and single or 1.15 spacings.
          • Keep your language clear and concise.
          • Tell a story that demonstrates your value, skills, and achievements.
          • Keep your cover letter between 250 and 400 words.

Key Takeaways

  • Use a template for your cover letter to ensure consistency and readability.
  • Do your best to address your cover letter to a specific person.
  • Use quantifiable metrics to help you tell an engaging story.
  • Don’t just restate your resume.
  • Use keywords from the job description.
Pro Tip:

The salutation "To whom it may concern," is considered outdated and too formal by most recruiters and hiring managers.

Save Time With Our Cover Letter Builder

Still not quite sure how to write your cover letter? Let us save you valuable time and energy with our cover letter builder. Designed by career experts, our prompts and automated suggestions help you write the best cover letter possible in a matter of minutes. One of our users has this to say:

"Easy to use website to assist in developing a comprehensive resume. Was hired!"

Cover Letter FAQ

Updated: June 10, 2024

It is strongly recommended that you use a cover letter for every job application. A cover letter is your best chance to be unique among candidates. You have the opportunity to showcase not only your qualifications but your personality and passion for the job.

A cover letter should clearly communicate that you are the best candidate because you have the skills, experience, and enthusiasm to bring value to the position. Recruiters and hiring managers want to know why they should hire you over any other applicant.

Make the choice easy for them. They should hire you because you will bring the most success to the company.

 

A cover letter should be between 250 and 400 words. Refrain from writing too much in a cover letter. The reader is not going to spend much time on your letter.

Some things you may want to share or explain further can be saved for a potential interview. The cover letter should only be a preview of what you can offer. If you have engaged the reader properly, they will want to learn more about you.

Use a combination of engaging storytelling layered with quantifiable data that highlights your skills and achievements. This makes it easier for the reader to understand what your capabilities are and what you could potentially bring to the position.

The business letter format is the only format for cover letters. Its structure should include your contact information and the recipient’s information at the top left, followed by a salutation or greeting, an introductory paragraph, a body paragraph where you include the bulk of your skills and experience and a closing paragraph. Visit our cover letter formats page to learn more.

Absolutely. A cover letter template is simply a design that elevates your letter and draws the reader’s attention. To find a template that fits your style, browse our collection of cover letter styles.

A cover Letter Builder is a tool that helps you write a stellar job application letter. You must add information regarding your career, skills, and experience. Next, select a writing style that works best for you. Our builder makes it quick and easy to write the letter that will get you noticed by recruiters.

Using a cover letter builder will reduce the time spent writing and formatting your job application letter and help achieve the professional quality expected by hiring managers and recruiters. The builder helps you accomplish this in a matter of minutes.

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Conor McMahon, CPRW

Conor McMahon, CPRW

Content Writer

Conor is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) for Hloom.com. He has over three years of professional writing experience as well as experience in professional development training. As a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARWCC) Conor has written on career development topics ranging from resume and cover letter best practices, employer/employee communication, job seeking help, and more. He received his degree in Music Industry at Northeastern University and plays guitar in his free time.

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