A cover letter is a form of professional letter that accompanies your resume as part of a job application. The purpose of a cover letter is to convince a hiring manager or recruiter that you are the best candidate for a job. More than this, it’s a way to introduce yourself and provide additional information that could not fit into a traditional single-page resume. A cover letter should be written with the same standards as any other business or professional letter. Consider these business letter samples if you want to get a general sense of how professional correspondences should be structured and composed.
When writing your cover letter, there are a few elements that should always be present. Whether you follow highly specific cover letter examples or a generic cover letter sample, you should include the following:
Header and introduction
Every cover letter should have a header and introductory first paragraph. Your header should contain your full name and contact information like your phone number and email address. You can also include elements like your LinkedIn profile or the details of other professional social media accounts.
Once you have perfected your header you should choose an appropriate salutation. Don’t opt for things like “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To Whom It May Concern,” but instead use the hiring manager’s name. Of course, a generic salutation is appropriate if you have no way of knowing who will read your cover letter and resume.
Introduce yourself in the first paragraph of your cover letter and give hiring managers an idea of who you are and why they should hire you. This should be an attention-grabbing opener that gives a glimpse of your personality as well as your skills and certifications.
Here are two good examples of attention-grabbing opening first paragraphs:
“I was excited to see the editorial assistant role advertised online. As an individual with three years of editorial experience and an enduring passion for journalism, I would be a valuable and motivated member of the team and would appreciate your consideration for this position.”
“I am writing to express my interest in the job opening for an early years teacher. I received high marks in all aspects of my training and have five years of teaching young children. I am a highly capable teacher who always strives to provide the best learning environment for the children in my class.”
Why you want to work for the company
Once you have discussed yourself, it’s time to focus on the company or institution that you are applying to. Use the company name and indicate why you want to work for them and show you have an interest in the company. This section is best taken care of in your cover letter’s second paragraph.
For example, someone applying to work for a local business might write:
“XYZ is an important part of this community; after seeing your involvement in [local event], I have been intensely interested in working with XYZ and taking part in these important activities.”
The skills you’ll bring to the table
A good cover letter does more than state what job you have applied to and why you want to be hired. It should also discuss what makes you capable of filling the role. This can include your work experience, certifications and hobbies if they are relevant. More importantly, you should also give hiring managers a reason to choose you over one of the other applicants.
For example, the applicant from the editorial example might write:
“As well as holding a BA in elementary education, I minored in Modern Languages, focusing on French, and have volunteered with KLM, a charity that provides supplementary teaching for children with special needs and requirements.”
A call to action
Your final paragraph should be a closing statement that ties together the points you have made in your cover letter. This closing paragraph should also act as a call to action, prompting the hiring manager to keep you in mind and invite you for a job interview. Also be sure to take a moment to thank the hiring manager for their time.
An example of an effective closing paragraph could be:
“I hope to bring my experience and skills to [ABC] in the near future. I believe that I can be a valuable team member and that I would fill this role well, fitting in with the overall culture of the company. Thank you for your consideration in this matter. I hope to hear from you soon.”
Once you have written your final paragraph, you should sign off formally with something like “Yours Sincerely” or “Regards”.
If you include these elements in your own cover letter, you will have a good chance of showing that you are the best person for the job. Remember to personalize your cover letter to suit the job and be sure to proofread your cover letter once you are done. Typos are one of the quickest ways to undermine all your hard work.
If you want to write the best cover letter for your job search, you need to consider the job requirements in the job ad and communicate clearly that you are the right person for this specific job. Read the listing carefully and compare required skills to your own skill set. Where do they overlap? Highlight the skills and experiences that are relevant to the job listing as well as other key skills. For example, if you are looking at roles in media, communication skills may not be listed in the job ad, but they are nonetheless likely to be important. Finally, you can consider example cover letters that are relevant to your industry. You can also make use of these cover letter templates to create a strong and effective cover letter base that you can further customize when you need to.
Yes, a resume alone will not be sufficient to interest most hiring managers. In fact, failing to provide a cover letter may reduce the chance of a recruiter actually reading your resume to begin with.
When you send a cover letter and resume to a potential employer it is important to be concise. Your cover letter and resume should each be around one page in length unless there is crucial information to add.
The only time you should address issues from your resume in your cover letter is if there is a glaring issue that requires an explanation. This is the case when a job seeker has a large employment gap in the “experience” section of the resume. If not, it is more beneficial for your cover letter to focus on making a good first impression and adding supplementary information.