A Guide to Writing Your Next Cover Letter

A Guide to Writing Your Next Cover Letter

June 8, 2021 -

Imagine you are applying for a job, and you nailed your resume, but then you notice a cover letter is required with the application. You think about how much time you spent on your resume and are dreading having to write this seemingly useless cover letter. Think again. Cover letters are great tools to make you stand out from other candidates and give an excellent first impression.

While your resume is meant to be a functional description of your skills, your letter can provide hiring managers with a taste of your personality. Remember that your cover letter isn’t a replacement rather an extension of your resume. In your letter, you can give further context on any accomplishments, future goals and why you are the best candidate for the role.

It can be challenging to decide what to include in the body of your cover letter. After all, you only have one page to prove why you deserve an interview. So let’s look at how to make your letter count.


Have a strong opening

When starting your letter, have a unique and exciting opening. You need to grab the reader’s attention immediately. Hiring managers can be reading dozens if not hundreds of these letters—first impressions matter. Your opening sentence can be the end all be all for whether your application gets moved to the interview stage. There is no need to be funny or silly since it can be taken the wrong way. Be direct but don’t be generic. A typical example of how most people start their letter is “I’m applying for the computer programmer position that I found through Indeed.” The hard truth is that this is boring. A more compelling opening might sound like this: “I am a web developer who has over ten years of experience looking to branch out in my career further. I saw this exciting opportunity and would love to work with your accomplished team while getting to apply my knowledge of coding languages.” A simple change in your introduction can make a world of difference.

Examples of skills

Your resume is a list of your skills, so use this space to explain how you apply them. Everyone loves a good story. Without repeating your resume, use concrete examples to show how you have applied relevant skills. If you are changing careers, focus on transferable or soft skills. The goal is to lay out for the employer how your skillset matches that of the job description.

Why you are interested in the company?

Not only are hiring managers looking for someone with the right qualifications, but they are also looking for someone who will fit in with the company culture. Look at projects the company has worked and write what you admire about the company’s accomplishments. The key to this is to be specific. How does the company stand out from others that drew you in? Be enthusiastic. If you aren’t already excited about the job, you probably shouldn’t be applying.

Prove your worth 

In other words, why are you the right person for the job? This is where you need to have a grasp of the job description. Before you even start writing:

  1. Take some time and research.
  2. Look at the job listing and narrow it down to only the most critical skills.
  3. From here, think back to your past positions and what achievements you have made throughout your career.

You have already explained why you want the job. The next step is to explain what makes you an asset to the company. This is where you want to create a bridge from your past to your future. Use your past experiences as evidence of how you can benefit the company in the future. Next, list some goals you would like to accomplish with the company and how you plan to achieve them. Ultimately, this is your time to showcase what makes you different from other candidates.

End with a call to action

Wrap up your letter with a call to action. This should be a simple statement reminding the hiring manager to take some sort of action. This statement can look like “Thank you for your time. I look forward to further discussing this opportunity with you”. Think of this as a final reminder of your interest in the job.

Now that you know what to include in your letter, here are some additional writing tips:

Be unique and specific to the job

As easy as it is to reuse cover letters for multiple applications

– don’t. For every application, you need to write a new cover letter. You want to cater your resume and be specific to the job you are applying for. It’s obvious to hiring managers when a candidate has done their due diligence and when they haven’t.

Choose appropriate tone

Write using your own words but be aware of the company you are applying for. The language you want to use can vary depending on the industry.

Read instructions

Carefully read through the job listing as it can sometimes have instructions for what you should include in your cover letter. You might be asked to answer specific questions or to include any other particular information they want you to highlight. Ignoring these instructions could cost you an interview.

Visual presentation

The visual presentation of your letter is just as important as the actual words. Make it eye-catching, but be sure it is still professional. Understanding the company can help to indicate what creative liberties you can take. If you aren’t overly creative, stick to a simple but clean layout.

Go above and beyond

Even if a job posting doesn’t ask for a cover letter, submit one anyway. Show that you care by going above and beyond. Submitting a letter without requirement is an excellent start to proving how you can be an asset to the company.



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