How to Write a Cover Letter

As the first point of contact between you and a potential employer, a cover letter is more than just a formality—it’s your chance to make a lasting impression. Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking to climb the career ladder or a recent graduate taking your first steps into the professional world, mastering the art of crafting an effective cover letter is essential.

In this guide, we’ll break down the steps to help you write a cover letter that stands out. We’ll keep it simple and easy to understand, exploring the secrets to making your letter grab the boss’s attention. From knowing what to say to matching your letter to the job you want, we’ll guide you through the process. Get ready to turn your cover letter into a superhero that shows off your skills, personality, and excitement about the job!

How to write a standout cover letter:

What Is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a document typically submitted alongside a job application, resume, or CV (curriculum vitae). It serves as an introduction to your qualifications and a personal statement that highlights your suitability for the position you’re applying for. The primary purpose of a cover letter is to persuade the employer to review your resume and ultimately invite you for an interview.

A well-crafted cover letter should complement your resume and provide additional context to your qualifications. It allows you to showcase your personality, explain any gaps in employment, and demonstrate your understanding of the company and the specific job you are applying for. Customize each cover letter for the specific position and company to which you are applying.

Free cover letter templates

7 Reasons Why You Need a Cover Letter

A cover letter serves several important purposes in the job application process. In summary, a cover letter complements your resume by providing a more in-depth and personalized perspective on your qualifications. It serves as a powerful tool to make a compelling case for why you are the ideal candidate for the job.

Here are some key reasons why a cover letter is often considered essential:

1. Introduction and Personalization

A cover letter introduces you to the employer and provides a more personalized touch to your application. It allows you to address the hiring manager by name and express your interest in the specific position and company.

2. Highlighting Key Qualifications

While a resume provides a summary of your work history, a cover letter allows you to expand on your qualifications and experiences. You can use it to emphasize specific skills and achievements that make you a strong fit for the job.

3. Addressing Gaps or Special Circumstances

If you have gaps in your employment history, are changing careers, or have special circumstances to explain, a cover letter provides an opportunity to address these aspects in a proactive and positive manner.

4. Showcasing Personality and Communication Skills

A cover letter allows you to showcase your communication skills and provide a glimpse of your personality. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate how well you can express yourself in writing, which is an important skill in many professional roles.

5. Expressing Enthusiasm and Cultural Fit

A cover letter lets you convey your enthusiasm for the position and the company. It provides a platform to explain why you are interested in working for that specific organization and how your values align with theirs.

6. Customization for Each Application

A cover letter should be tailored to each job application. It enables you to address the specific requirements of the job and demonstrate that you’ve done your research on the company.

6. Differentiation from Other Candidates

While resumes may follow a standardized format, a well-crafted cover letter allows you to stand out from other applicants. It’s a chance to make a memorable impression and showcase what makes you unique.

7. Requesting an Interview

The closing of a cover letter typically includes an invitation for an interview. This shows your proactive approach and eagerness to discuss your qualifications further.

The Structure of a Cover Letter – How to Create a Cover Letter

Writing a strong cover letter body is essential to making a good impression on employers. Below you can see what to include in your cover letter and the cover letter anatomy.

Cover letter anatomy

Format the Cover Letter Template

Formatting your cover letter is crucial to make it look professional and easy to read. You can find plenty of free cover letters for Word and Google Docs cover letter templates on our website. Here are some modern templates for your cover letter:

How to Write a Cover Letter in 6 Easy Steps

Wondering about cover letters and if they really matter? They do! Your resume tells what you did, but the cover letter explains how you did it. So, it’s pretty important.

Now, to make your cover letter awesome, you should talk about your job experiences and all the cool stuff you achieved. If you’re still not sure how to write a cover letter, don’t worry. We’re breaking it down into simple parts to help you start. Let’s see how to write a cover letter:

Salutation

A thoughtful and well-crafted salutation sets the stage for a positive first impression in your cover letter.

Use a Specific Name
Whenever possible, address the hiring manager or recruiter by their name. Avoid generic greetings like “To Whom It May Concern.” If the job posting doesn’t include a name, research online or contact the company’s HR department to find out who will be reviewing applications.

Use a Formal Title
If you can’t find a specific name, use a formal title like “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear [Department] Hiring Team.” Steer clear of generic or informal greetings such as “Dear Sir/Madam” or “Hello.” They can make your cover letter seem less personalized. Ensure that you spell the name correctly. Misspelling a name can create a negative impression.

Use Professional Titles
If the hiring manager has a professional title (e.g., Dr., Professor), include it in the salutation for added formality.

Address Multiple Recipients
If you’re sending the cover letter to multiple people, use a general salutation like “Dear Hiring Team” or “To the [Company Name] Hiring Committee.”

Examples:

  • Dear Mr. Smith,
  • Dear Ms. Johnson,
  • Dear Hiring Manager,
  • Dear Prof. Doe
  • Dear [Department] Hiring Team,
  • To the [Company Name] Hiring Committee,

Opening Paragraph: Introduction

The first part that grabs or loses the attention of the hiring manager is the opening paragraph. Making this part of your cover letter interesting is super important because it decides if the manager will keep reading. So, nailing this bit is crucial.

In the intro, you want to catch the reader’s interest in just three sentences. A sentence that:

  1. Shows you know about the company
  2. Talks about your experience in a detailed way
  3. Tells the value you can bring to the company

For example, let’s check out a not-so-great intro:

“Hi, I’m Cailee Keys. I’m applying for the digital marketing job I saw on LinkedIn. I think I’m a good fit because of my digital marketing and social media skills.”

That intro? Kind of a snoozer. It doesn’t say much other than “I want a job.” When you’re writing an intro, ask yourself what cool and useful info you’re really giving the hiring manager.

Now, let’s look at a much better intro paragraph:

“I’ve been a big fan of [Company name] since they started making waves in [Industry]. So, when I saw a Brand Strategist job, I got excited. I’ve spent three years shaping and spreading the message for [current employer] using social media and targeted CEO. I’d love to tell your amazing story to everyone.”

This one’s way better. It starts with a compliment, which usually gets people interested. When something starts positive, we’re more likely to keep going. It also says where you’re working now and what tools you use, showing off your skills. Finally, it wraps up with your plans for the future, telling the hiring manager you’ve thought about how you’d do the job. Smooth, right?

Second Paragraph: Why You’re The Person They Need

Once you’re done with the intro, you can feel more confident about writing the rest of your cover letter. The intro didn’t just say who you are and what you can do—it set the stage for you to tell more about yourself. Think of your resume as a quick summary of your work history, experiences, jobs, and when you worked.

Now, in the second part of the cover letter, you get to talk more about:

  1. Big projects where you made a difference
  2. Times you took charge and helped things grow
  3. How you handled changes or got promoted
  4. What your main job duties were
  5. Skills that make you awesome

Focus on these things instead of going into tons of detail about your everyday tasks. Let’s make this paragraph really show why you’re the perfect fit.

Your second paragraph could look like this:

In my previous role at XYZ Company, I played a crucial role in a major project that boosted our online presence by 30%. Taking the lead in this initiative not only showcased my ability to drive results but also highlighted my strategic thinking and problem-solving skills. As the team leader for several growth initiatives, I successfully implemented strategies that increased customer engagement and contributed to a 20% revenue growth over the course of a year.

Adapting to changing roles is something I excel at—I’ve consistently taken on additional responsibilities, leading to two promotions in the past three years. Initially hired as a Social Media Coordinator, I quickly rose to the role of Senior Marketing Specialist, where I spearheaded comprehensive digital marketing campaigns. This upward trajectory speaks to my commitment, adaptability, and continuous pursuit of professional growth.

Third Paragraph: Why You Feel The Company Is Your Perfect Fit

Now that you’ve shared who you are and what you’ve achieved, let’s talk about why this company is the one for you.

Do you really like this company? Have you been a fan for a while? Maybe you’ve used their products or read about them in the news. Share what makes you interested and impressed with the company in general. Then, explain what you can do for them. Maybe you have a cool idea that could help them, and you can give a little hint about it. This will make the hiring manager curious and wonder if you have some really good knowledge that can benefit the company.

It could sound something like this:

I’ve admired ABC Company for a long time. I’ve been following their journey, and I’m genuinely impressed with how they innovate in the industry. Using their products has also given me a firsthand experience of their commitment to quality and user satisfaction.

Closing Paragraph

if your cover letter feels a bit like a three-paragraph essay, that’s on purpose. The closing part brings everything together. It recaps what you said earlier, keeps it short, and wraps it all up neatly.

Now, here’s where you say, “Hey, I’m here for you.” Tell the hiring manager that you’re excited about the job and would be thrilled to be considered. Connect back to something you mentioned earlier, maybe a cool idea or a skill you have. Say you’d love to chat more about how you can help because of your past experience. This is your chance to show you’re ready to bring your skills to their team.

  • Summarize your strengths and express your interest.
  • Invite the employer to contact you for an interview.
  • Thank them for considering your application.

Here’s an example:

I’m really enthusiastic about the [Job Title] position, and I’d love the chance to contribute to [Company Name]. Remember how I talked about my experience boosting online presence in my last job? I’d be thrilled to discuss how those skills could benefit your team even more.

Postscript (optional)

Don’t forget to add a little extra with a postscript (P.S.) in your cover letter. All the parts we talked about earlier are super important, but this P.S. is like a secret weapon. Why is it special? It’s like a spotlight for the hiring manager that says, “Hey, check this out!”

In your cover letter P.S., share something cool about your career, even if it’s not exactly tied to the job you’re applying for. Maybe it’s an impressive achievement or a unique skill you have. Then, let them know you’re happy to share more details if they want to know more. It’s a sneaky way to make sure they notice something awesome about you before they finish reading.

Cover letter postscript sample:

P.S. During my previous role at XYZ Corp, I led a team that successfully implemented a new project management system, streamlining processes and boosting team efficiency by 30%. Although it’s not directly related to the current opening, I believe this experience reflects my proactive problem-solving skills. I’d be delighted to discuss how this expertise could bring added value to [Company Name] and contribute to its success.

So, now you’ve got the know-how to write a cover letter. Breaking it into different parts makes it easy to put together.

How to write a cover letter in 5 steps

Cover Letter Writing FAQ

What should you title your cover letter?

The title of your cover letter should be simple and to the point. Use a clear and professional format, such as “Cover Letter – [Your Full Name]” or “Application for [Job Title] – [Your Full Name]”. This helps the hiring manager quickly identify the purpose of the document and connect it to your application. Avoid generic titles and ensure that your name and the job title are prominently featured for easy reference.

Why is a cover letter important?

A cover letter introduces you to employers, providing a personalized touch to your application. It allows you to highlight your qualifications, express your interest in the position, and demonstrate your suitability for the role.

What should be included in a cover letter?

A cover letter typically includes your contact information, a salutation, an introduction, body paragraphs highlighting your qualifications, a closing paragraph expressing interest, and a professional closing.

How long should a cover letter be?

Ideally, a cover letter should be concise and not exceed one page. Aim for three to four paragraphs, keeping it focused on key qualifications and experiences.

How do I address the cover letter if I don’t know the hiring manager’s name?

If the name is unknown, use a general salutation like “Dear Hiring Manager”.

Should I tailor my cover letter for each job application?

Yes, tailoring your cover letter for each application is important. Customize it to match the specific job requirements and highlight how your skills align with the company’s needs.

What’s the best way to start a cover letter?

Begin with a strong and personalized introduction. Express your interest in the position, mention how you heard about it, and provide a brief overview of your qualifications.

How can I make my cover letter stand out?

To stand out, use specific examples to illustrate your achievements, focus on your unique skills, and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position and company. Avoid generic language and clichés.

Should I include a postscript (P.S.) in my cover letter?

Including a postscript is optional but can be effective. Use it to share an impressive career detail or accomplishment, even if it’s not directly related to the job, and express your willingness to provide more details if needed.

Is it necessary to include references in a cover letter?

No, references are typically not included in a cover letter. Save them for a separate document or provide them when specifically requested during the application process.

How do I close a cover letter?

Close your cover letter by expressing your enthusiasm for the position, reiterating your interest, and inviting the employer to contact you for further discussion. Use a professional closing, such as “Sincerely” or “Best Regards.”