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Table of Contents
- How To Write a Cover Letter
- What is a cover letter?
- Why Do I Need a Cover Letter?
- The Structure of a Cover Letter and How To Write It
- 5 Key Cover Letter Writing Tips
- Create a Strong Resume to Pair with Your Cover Letter
- More Cover Letter Help
- Cover Letter Tips To Grab the Recruiter’s Attention
- FAQ: Cover Letters
How To Write a Cover Letter
If you really want to make a good and lasting impression on a hiring manager, a cover letter may be the determining factor. Whether you are writing your very first cover letter or you just want to refine your cover letter writing skills, this page will provide you with professional cover letter writing tips and examples to help you create a letter that will make you stand out among other applicants.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is submitted alongside your resume and job application. It is written in a much more conversational tone than your resume and gives you a chance to present yourself a full introduction to the company you’re interested in working with. A cover letter allows you to give potential employers a glimpse into who you are as a person, what you can do, and why you would be a good fit for the job. A hiring manager or recruiter needs to know more about you than what is listed on your resume. A resume cover letter can explain how your personality, work ethic and experience will fit in with the company’s environment.
Why Do I Need a Cover Letter?
While your resume provides a listed overview of your career, including your education, work history and skills, it’s not meant to give detailed information about your achievements and personality. A cover letter provides a more thoughtful, detailed introduction to what motivates you, your best qualities and how your qualifications, skills and passion match up with the industry and job you want.
Here are some advantages of submitting a cover letter with your job application:
- You can expand on your best skills and experiences in more details than can be communicated with a few qualifications on your resume.
- You can explain any gaps in your employment history or the reason for a career change.
- You have the perfect opportunity to further explain how you can specifically contribute to the company.
- You provide prospective employers with more insight to your personality and background.
Keep in mind that even if the job listing doesn’t require a cover letter, you should still take the time to write one and submit it along with your resume and job application. A hiring manager or recruiter will appreciate that you put in the extra effort to prepare a thoughtful cover letter.
The Structure of a Cover Letter and How To Write It
Are you ready to learn how to write a cover letter? The structure of a good cover letter is simple and allows you to get across all the important information you need to make your case as the right choice for a job. Here are the four things you need to include in your cover letter.
1. Contact and personal information
First, you need to include your contact information, which is typically placed as a header that sits at the top of the cover letter:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Physical address — city and state (this can be optional)
- Email address
- Any relevant links, such as a link to your LinkedIn profile
The greeting for your cover letter is more important than you might realize. This is partially because the greeting can tell a hiring manager how much work you’ve put into the cover letter and whether you may have just copied and pasted it to every job application you’ve submitted. Try to avoid a salutation that includes any of the following:
- To whom it may concern
- Dear sir or madam
- Dear hiring manager
These phrases are generic, which makes it seem as though you’ve sent the same letter to many managers or that you didn’t do any research on your potential employer before you applied to the job posting. Instead, you should use the hiring manager’s name. This indicates that you’ve personalized the letter.
3. Opening and body paragraphs
Your first paragraph is your introduction and your chance to make a good first impression. Start by detailing the position you’re applying for and why you’re interested in applying for the job. This opening paragraph is your opportunity to tell the potential employer why you’re excited about the possibility of working for them.
After this, you’ll move on to the body paragraphs, which will include all the information you really want the hiring manager to see. Tie your skill set into how you can benefit the company by providing details about specific work you’ve done in the past and the ways you can contribute to the new company. Make sure you make this section concise and easy to read. Bullet points may be a good option to point out specific pieces of information.
Your final paragraph should wrap up the letter by reemphasizing your interest in the job and giving thanks to the recruiter or hiring manager for considering you for the position. Finish the closing paragraph by stating that you look forward to the hiring manager calling you for an interview so the manager feels the desire to do so.
5 Key Cover Letter Writing Tips
Writing a good cover letter is more than just including your career history. Here are some tips to write an impressive, interesting and well-thought out letter, so you can stand out among the competition.
1. Research the job posting and company
In addition to reading the job posting carefully to ensure you match the requirements, select some necessary skills for the role and tailor your cover letter to match those skills. Also, learn more about the company and get a good understanding of the company’s goals, mission and culture.
You recently read about an award the company received for humanitarian efforts. Mention that accomplishment in your cover letter and how that ties in with your own ideals.
You misspell the company name or feature the wrong job title in your cover letter.
2. Think of your cover letter as a story
Tell your career story to the hiring manager or recruiter that is reading your cover letter. Explain why the role that you are applying for is a great opportunity for you and a win for the company that hires you, and be positive in your approach.
You tell an emotional story about how you spent a week in the hospital as a child, leading to your passion for the healthcare industry.
You negatively talk about how you received bad service from a server at a local restaurant, leading you to believe you can do a better job.
3. Focus on the future
Don’t just talk about your past and current experience, mention specifically about what you can offer the prospective employer and how you can add value to the company.
4. Keep it short and sweet
Typically, a cover letter is three-quarters of a page and only a few paragraphs long. It should be easy to read, with some bullet points to allow a busy job recruiter or hiring manager to quickly scan through it.
You summarize your career history and accomplishments within ¾ of a cover letter page, just enough for the hiring manager to see that you are highly qualified for the position.
You write a page and a half of career information and additional filler that is not relevant to the job. The hiring manager reads the first few paragraphs and tosses your cover letter to the side.
5. Proofread before you submit
An error on a cover letter will not show you in the best light. You need to re-read your cover letter numerous times to ensure you have not made silly typos or grammatical mistakes. It’s always a good idea to ask someone to read your cover letter and provide objective feedback.
Create a Strong Resume to Pair with Your Cover Letter
Now that you are ready to write your cover letter, be sure to put in the same effort to create the most effective resume to submit with your cover letter and job application. Just as our cover letter builder easily guides you through the cover letter process, so does our highly popular resume builder.
The resume builder is your ticket to a fast, professional and effective resume. Instead of creating a resume from scratch, our resume builder gives you an immediate jump start. You follow the builder process, taking one step at a time, with expert guidance to build a job-winning resume. Here’s why you should consider using the ResumeHelp resume builder:
- Get resume designs that complement our cover letter builder templates
- Choose from professional layouts that work best for your industry
- Ease of writing with expert job-specific resume wording suggestions
More Cover Letter Help
- Cover Letter Builder: Minutes is all it takes to craft a cover letter with ResumeHelp’s cover letter builder.
- Cover Letter Templates: ResumeHelp’s cover letter templates give you a fast start to writing a cover letter.
- Cover Letter Examples: Industry-specific cover letter examples give you wording ideas for the job role you are applying for.
- Cover Letter Format: Our experts will provide you with everything you need to know about cover letter formats, and help you create an organized layout for your letter.
- How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?: Learn the perfect cover letter length so you don’t make a cover letter too short or too long.
- What to Include in a Cover Letter: Following expert tips from ResumeHelp, you will know exactly what to include in your professional cover letter.
- Cover Letter Heading: Learn about what information is critical to include in your cover letter heading.
- Cover Letter Layout: Following the right cover letter layout will ensure that a hiring manager can read your letter with ease.
- Cover Letter Tips: Crafting the most effective cover letter could be the difference between landing a job interview or having your application be rejected.
- Email Cover Letter: Did you know that there are different rules to follow when submitting your resume by email?
Cover Letter Tips To Grab the Recruiter’s Attention
If you really want to make sure the hiring manager is paying attention to your cover letter, there are a few things you can do to make it really stand out.
- Always use spell check. Typos in your cover letter will immediately stand out and they’re one of the quickest ways to get rejected.
- Don’t just rehash your resume. Think of your letter as your chance to elaborate on the major skills and experiences that match up with what the company is looking for.
- Look at sample cover letters for similar jobs and industries before you write yours. Cover letter examples help you understand what employers are looking for.
- Start with a cover letter rough draft, then edit it to fit if needed. Remember, you want to be to-the-point and concise, no more than one page long.
- Make sure you’re sending your cover letter to the right person. There’s nothing like accidentally sending your letter to a person who isn’t even responsible for deciding whether or not to hire you.
FAQ: Cover Letters
Q: What is a cover letter for a job?
A cover letter is an important part of a job application. Employers who request a cover letter want to see an introduction to your background and strengths as a job candidate, and gives insight into your motivations, interests and personality. A good cover letter gives a hiring manager an idea of the person behind your resume, and explains why you’re the right fit for a job.
Q: What do I write in a cover letter?
In your cover letter for job application, summarize the detailed career highlights featured in your resume. Tell your career story, including your most impressive achievements, soft skills, hard skills and transferable skills. Explain exactly how those accomplishments and skills will be easily applied to the position that you are applying for. Describe your passion and excitement for the opportunity to join that specific company and industry. Your cover letter must match the qualifications and responsibilities listed in the job description so the employer sees that you are a good fit for the role.
Q: How do I write a simple cover letter for a job?
When writing a simple cover letter for a job, keep it basic. Only include information that is relevant for the job that you are applying for. A simple cover letter can still make a good and lasting impression on the prospective employer as long as you show that your qualifications match those of the job position. Show how your skills, enthusiasm and knowledge of the company makes you a worthy job candidate to interview. Keeping it simple will give the hiring manager just enough information to be interested in hearing more about you during the interview.
Q: What are the 5 parts of a cover letter?
Your cover letter format typically includes the following cover letter sections:
- Header: Be sure your contact Information is up-to-date.
- Salutation: Greet your cover letter to the hiring manager by name.
- First Paragraph: Introduce yourself to make a memorable impression.
- Middle paragraphs: Match your experience to the qualifications in the job description.
- Closing: Thank the reader and include a call to action like requesting an interview.
Q: How do you write a cover letter with no experience?
If you’re applying for an entry level job or changing careers, you may not have yet acquired ample work experience. However, you may have some other experience that can be transferable to the role. Perhaps you spent time volunteering for local or community organizations. Maybe you attended a class or seminar related to the industry that you are applying for. In your cover letter, include any types of relevant experience such as internships, training, volunteer work and other academic experience.
Q: Do I really need a cover letter?
Yes, you do really need a cover letter. Even if the job listing doesn’t state that you need to include a cover letter, you still need one. In today’s job market, unless you’re applying for an entry-level job or the employer specifically states you don’t need a cover letter, plan on writing them.
A cover letter gives hiring managers an idea of what you can do for the company. Remember, as a potential employee, you’re trying to present yourself as the candidate the company is looking for. The hiring manager is also trying to select the best option out of a pool of applicants. You want to rise to the top of the pool by differentiating yourself and a cover letter is one means of doing so.
Q: Do I need to write a new cover letter for every job application?
You also need to make sure that the cover letter you submit with every job application is unique. Although it can feel time-consuming to write a new cover letter for every job application, this will make sure that you’re presenting yourself to your best advantage to every potential employer. Plus, it’s important to tailor your letter to the specifics of a job description.
In fact, if you’re applying for similar jobs or jobs in the same field, you don’t have to rewrite the cover letter from scratch every time. Use your first cover letter as a template, adjusting and changing anything you need to match job opportunities at other locations. This way, you get a unique cover letter for every job application while also saving time on the letter-writing process.
Q: Is it a good idea to use a cover letter template?
A cover letter template can make a huge difference when it comes to writing your cover letter. Not only can the template help you avoid creating from scratch but it’s also a great way to see the best option for different industries and jobs. A cover letter template is a great tool to have in your pocket for this exact reason.
Remember that you should look for cover letter templates specific to the industry and even the job you’re applying for. Your cover letter is going to look much different if you’re a cosmetologist versus if you’re an IT professional. Look at our wide selection of cover letter templates to find a design that works for the job you’re applying for.
Q: What makes an effective cover letter?
An effective cover letter is one that compels a potential employer to call you in for an interview. In general, your cover letter will be more effective if it’s highly professional, effectively showcases your skills, and it gives hiring managers a good idea of your personality and how you will approach work. This can be the difference in getting favored over other job seekers.
Cover letters will vary depending on the job and your skills, but if you follow these steps, you’ll be more likely to get a callback from the jobs you apply to, making your job search more fruitful. Are you still wondering what is a cover letter for a job and how to stand out from the competition? To go the extra mile, use ResumeHelp’s cover letter builder and examples to create a cover letter that looks amazing and is professional.