Everything You Should Include in a Cover Letter in This Year

A cover letter is a crucial part of your job application. What do you need to include in your cover letter for best results?

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What Is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a supplementary document that you submit with a resume or CV in support of a job application. The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to the hiring managers and briefly summarize your professional background. The idea is to make your job application as enticing as possible and convince the recruiters that you are the right person for the job. These documents should be written and formatted in much the same way as any professional or business correspondence. If you need an example of this style ResumeHelp has a range of business letter samples to consider.

Everything To Include in Your Cover Letter

When writing your cover letter you should consider the job description as well as the resume you will submit. You should not repeat the exact information from your resume in your cover letter but rather expand on key highlights from your resume and add information that can support the information in your resume. This includes things like:

  • Your biggest achievements
  • The reasons you will benefit the company
  • Specific things you can do to help the company grow, expand or improve
  • Why you feel working for the company is the right choice for you

These are the kinds of things that a hiring manager will want to know about applicants, so providing the information upfront could increase your chances of getting invited for an interview. Of course, being able to write and structure your cover letter well is incredibly important to ensuring the success of your job search.


The Structure of a Cover Letter

There is a basic structure that every cover letter should follow in order to give job seekers a good chance of getting called in for an interview for a specific job posting. There are five basic elements that should be found in every cover letter, they are:

  1. Header and salutation

At the very top of your cover letter, you should have a header containing crucial information such as your full name, professional social media links (such as your LinkedIn profile) and contact information. Be sure to include your phone number and email to make it easy for recruiters to contact you if they wish to.

After this, you should include a salutation or address to the hiring manager or recruiter. Ideally, you should find the name of a specific person who is going to be undertaking the hiring process. If you know this person’s name you should use it. If you absolutely cannot find the name of the hiring manager or recruiter, or if the hiring process is being handled by a team, it can be acceptable to use, “Dear hiring manager” or “To whom it may concern.” These salutations are generic but professional, which means they are an acceptable fallback if you cannot find a specific name to use.

  • Introduction
  • In your first paragraph, you should introduce yourself and note the company name and specific position that you are applying for to make it easier for hiring managers who are looking to fill many roles. Your introduction should give a snapshot of you as a candidate in order to make a good first impression and catch the hiring manager’s attention.

    For example, if you are applying for a role in a well-known restaurant, you might write:
    “[XYZ] is one of the most respected establishments in [ABC], and as a sous chef at [E], I have been a longtime admirer of the excellent menu and specials. With over a decade of supporting and leading kitchens, I know that I can be a valuable asset to the [XYZ] team.” 

    A catchy introduction like this gives a hiring manager all they need to make a decision about whether to spend more time on the application. You will expand upon the information in this opening paragraph later in your cover letter.

    1. The reasons you are perfect for the role

    In your second paragraph, you should try to expand upon the things that you noted in your introduction. Reiterate the reason you think you are the right person for the job and then give additional information. If you have a lot of work experience, for example, you should give a few examples of your achievements. For example, you might write something like:
    “In my first year as a sous chef at [XYZ], I created a dessert item that quickly became one of the most popular items on the dinner menu, being ordered by an average of [X%] of tables. This item was also beneficial for the company, with a profit margin of [X%] on each plate.” 
    This is a way to give hiring managers some proof that you will be a beneficial choice to interview for the specific job title that you have applied for. 

    1. The reasons you will fit into the company culture

    The third paragraph is your opportunity to enhance your case. The best cover letter is one that makes sure hiring managers and recruiters sit up and take notice of your job application. In this middle paragraph, you should show what kind of employee you will be, how you will fit into the company culture, and what unique insights you can bring. For example, the chef from the previous examples might write:
    “Becoming sous chef at [XYZ] would be a dream come true for me because of the quality of the menu on offer and the skilled coworkers I would be able to work with. Current Head Chef [name] is someone whose work I truly admire, and the chance to work by their side is something I would love.”
    This kind of statement shows that you have passion for the job you are applying for and that will make a good impression.

    1. Call to action and closing

    The final paragraph and sign-off of your cover letter are very important; even a generic cover letter can be elevated if it has a strong call to action. Encourage the hiring manager to contact you for further information if they wish to and reiterate that your contact information is located in the header. Finish your closing paragraph with either “Regards” or “Yours sincerely” to ensure that you finish on a professional note.
    If you follow this basic structure and personalize the contents of your cover letter with relevant experience and skills, you have a good chance of creating a great cover letter that will grab and keep the attention of any hiring manager that read it.

    FAQ: What to Include in a Cover Letter

    Q: Is there anything I shouldn’t include in my cover letter?

    Your cover letter should be a supplementary document, which means you should not repeat the information found in your resume in your cover letter. If you have gaps in your resume, however, or you want to give additional information about certain achievements or job titles, you can do so in your cover letter. Otherwise, focus on giving the hiring manager a reason to consider your job application seriously. Unless specifically requested, you should also hold back from discussing job benefits or salary in your letter.

    Q: How can I prove my skills in my cover letter?

    Your cover letter offers a great opportunity to convince a recruiter that the skills you mention in your resume are legitimate. You can do this by being specific about your achievements, e.g., “I improved efficiency by 15%” rather than simply saying, “I improved efficiency.” Likewise, give examples of times when you have used soft skills, such as conflict resolution, or hard skills, such as knowledge of graphic design software.

    Q: How long should my cover letter be?

    Your cover letter, like your resume, should ideally be one page or less in length. In the case of a cover letter, if you can limit it to half a page, that would be even better.ResumeHelp’s cover letter builder can help you to create a high-quality, customizable cover letter that you can personalize for each job application.

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