How to Write a Cover Letter

Seeking your next job opportunity? Crafting a compelling cover letter can greatly enhance your chances of securing an interview. Let us guide you through creating a cover letter that captures an employer's interest.

30% higher chance of getting a job

42% higher response rate from recruiters

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a one-page business document that is submitted with a resume or a CV during the job application process. The purpose of a cover letter is to:

  1. Highlight your professional achievements in detail, showcasing specific successes and the impact you made in your previous roles.

  2. Articulate your motivations for wanting to join a prospective employer, emphasizing how their goals and values align with your career aspirations.

  3. Clarify any gaps in your resume, such as those caused by layoffs, by providing context and explaining how you remained productive or gained new skills during those periods.

When paired with a resume or CV, a cover letter serves as a valuable tool for introducing yourself to an employer and highlighting your skills, experience, and professional achievements. According to 83% of HR professionals, a compelling cover letter can secure you an interview, even if your resume is not exceptional. A well-crafted cover letter significantly increases the likelihood that employers will review your resume and invite you for an interview.

Crafting an Outstanding Cover Letter: Key Elements and Tips

Before we get started, let's take a look at what a great resume looks like when it includes the right sections

How to write a cover letter for a job application

Crafting a cover letter for a resume is straightforward. By following these steps, you can enhance your prospects of securing a job interview. Let's begin!

Step 1: Do your research

Wondering how to write a great cover letter? Preparation is key. Researching essential information before you start writing will save you time and ensure you put your best foot forward.

First, review the job description and compare it with your professional skills and qualifications. Create a checklist of areas where your skills match the job requirements, including:

  • Notable accomplishments from previous jobs.
  • Volunteer work where you gain relevant skills.
  • A mix of hard and soft skills that align with the job listing.
  • Educational qualifications, including certificates and licenses.
  • Relevant awards and honours.

Next, research the company to understand its culture and values. This will help you create a personalized cover letter that demonstrates your genuine interest in the company. Take notes on the following areas:

  • The company’s culture, mission, and values, so you can explain why you’re a great fit.
  • Recent news and press releases to congratulate key players on milestones or discuss how you can contribute to future goals.
  • The hiring manager’s name should be personally addressed in your cover letter.

Step 2: Choose a cover letter template

Looking to write a perfect cover letter? Start with a professionally designed template. Using a template ensures your cover letter is ATS-friendly and approved by career advice experts.

We offer hundreds of templates to get you started on the right track. Choose from modern, creative, or simple styles to match your CV or resume and create a professional cover letter in minutes. Not sure if a template is right for you? Try one for free!

Did you know that 45% of hiring managers read an applicant’s cover letter before their resume or CV?

Step 3: Add a professional header

Cover letter headers follow the standard business letter format. Typically, a cover letter header includes your name, address, phone number, and email address, placed at the top of the page and aligned to the left or center.

Include Your Contact Information

Place your name, city, state, ZIP code, phone number, and professional email address (e.g., [email protected]) in your cover letter header. Avoid using personal email addresses like [email protected]. If you have a LinkedIn profile or professional online portfolio, include links to them.

Include the Recipient’s Contact Information

First, write the current date, followed by a space. Then, include the hiring manager’s name and title, the company address, and the hiring manager’s email address. It should look like this:

Always follow the instructions in the job listing. If the job description directs you to address your cover letter to a human resources team member or the HR department, use the provided information for the recipient’s address.

Step 4: Greet the hiring manager

Greet the hiring manager by name whenever possible to establish a personal connection. If you are unsure of their gender, use their first and last name, for example: “Dear [hiring manager’s full name],”

If you are certain of the hiring manager’s gender, use “Mr.” or “Ms.” Avoid using “Mrs.” or “Miss,” as these titles assume marital status.

Avoid informal greetings like “Hello” or “Hi,” and outdated salutations like “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom it May Concern.”

If you cannot find the hiring manager’s name, use “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Hiring Team.”

Below are some acceptable and unacceptable salutations:

Acceptable:

  • Dear [hiring manager’s full name],
  • Dear Mr. [last name],
  • Dear Ms. [last name],
  • Dear Hiring Manager,
  • Dear Hiring Team,

Unacceptable:

  • Hello,
  • Hi,
  • Dear Sir or Madam,
  • To Whom it May Concern,

Step 5: Write a compelling introduction

The opening sentences of a cover letter serve as your elevator pitch, where you clearly and concisely explain why you are the best fit for the job.

But how do you start a cover letter in a way that captures the hiring manager’s interest and makes them want to read more?

Here are some examples to help you craft an attention-grabbing cover letter introduction:

Assert Your Interest in the Role or Company

Start with a compelling introduction that confidently expresses your enthusiasm for the position and the company.

Emphasize Your Skills and Experience

Begin with a brief explanation of your top skills and experiences that make you a strong candidate for the role.

Show You’ve Done Some Research

Mention an interesting fact or statistic from an article, news story, or the company’s website to demonstrate your knowledge and interest.

Highlight Measurable Accomplishments

Showcase your qualifications by highlighting an impressive award, honor, or measurable accomplishment from a previous role.

Tell Your Professional Story

Share a story about why you are applying. Discuss how your passion and motivation have driven your career choices and how they align with the position and company.

Mention a Shared Contact

If applicable, mention a mutual contact who referred you to the position. This can help establish a personal connection with the hiring manager and explain how you heard about the role.

Step 6: Write the body paragraphs

The body paragraphs of your cover letter should explain why you are the ideal candidate for the job. Follow these expert tips to write engaging and professional cover letter body paragraphs:

Highlight Your Work Accomplishments

If you have experience in your target role or industry, detail your accomplishments and use numbers to quantify your results.

Connect Personal Projects to the Job

If you’re applying for your first job, link the opportunity to a personal or school project, extracurricular activity, or internship.

Showcase Relevant Skills

Highlight skills from your work experience and clearly explain how they apply to the job you’re seeking.

Demonstrate Cultural Fit

If you believe you’re a great fit for the company’s culture, show it. For example, if you volunteer for social justice causes and are applying to a nonprofit focused on social justice, explain why the company’s mission resonates with you.

Emphasize Transferable Skills

If you’re changing careers, focus on your transferable skills. Career change cover letters that emphasize these skills are more effective because they show you can perform the work even without direct experience.

Did you know? 83% of hiring managers surveyed said they would hire a candidate who sent a strong cover letter, even if their resume wasn’t up to par.

Step 7: Write a closing paragraph

When crafting the closing statement of your cover letter, ensure you convey your enthusiasm for the opportunity to work with the employer and your confidence in your qualifications for the role.

Address the letter to a specific person and express gratitude for their time and consideration.

Encourage the recipient to follow up by including a call to action, such as, “I look forward to further discussing my qualifications with you.” This demonstrates to hiring managers that you are serious about the position and confident in your abilities.

Below are several examples of strong cover letter closing paragraphs.

 

Step 8: Sign off

Signing off a cover letter professionally is essential, as it reflects your attention to detail, professionalism, and respect for the hiring manager and the company.

A professional signoff also indicates that you are serious about the job and have invested effort into creating a thoughtful, well-written cover letter.

Refer to the guidelines below for proper cover letter signoffs and language to avoid.

Recommended:

  • Sincerely
  • Best regards
  • Kind regards
  • Thank you

To avoid:

  • Yours
  • Take care
  • Cheers
  • Thanks

Step 9: Proofread your cover letter

Writing a formal cover letter is just the beginning; proofreading it thoroughly before sending it to a potential employer is equally important. Typos and formatting mistakes can significantly reduce your chances of getting hired.

Once you’ve proofread your letter, have someone else review it to ensure it’s ready for submission. You can ask a trusted friend or family member, a former colleague, or a professional mentor to read your cover letter.

Be specific about the feedback you are seeking. For example, you might ask for constructive criticism in the following areas:

  • Relevance: Does your cover letter demonstrate how your skills and experience match the job requirements?
  • Clarity: Is your writing clear, concise, and easy to understand?
  • Tone: Is your tone professional and appropriate for the company and position you are applying for?
  • Grammar and spelling: Are there any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes that need to be corrected?
  • Formatting: Is your cover letter formatted properly with a clear and organized structure?
  • Overall impression: Does your cover letter make a strong impression and effectively communicate your enthusiasm and interest in the position?

Alternatively, you can seek advice from a career counsellor or professional resume writer who can review your cover letter and provide constructive feedback to help you improve your application.

Cover letter writing checklist
Now that you know how to write a compelling cover letter, we recommend running through this cover letter writing checklist to ensure that your document isn’t missing anything.
  • Did you choose a cover letter design that matches your resume?
  • Are your name, location, phone number and email address up to date and displayed at the top of your cover letter?
  • Did you add a link to your professional portfolio or website and your current LinkedIn profile (if you have them)?
  • Did you add the current date at the top of your cover letter?
  • Did you address your letter to the hiring manager by name and include their title, email address and the correct company address?
  • Did you greet the hiring manager, recruiter or HR associate by name or title?
  • Did you use a polite but formal greeting?
  • Are the first few sentences of your cover letter clear and compelling?
  • Do you convey enthusiasm for the job?
  • Did you effectively express how you can apply your skills, experience and achievements to the target job to help the company achieve its goals?
  • Did you highlight one or two things you like about the company, such as its values or culture and why?
  • Did you thank the reader for their time?
  • Did you end your cover letter with a call to action?
  • Did you use a proper, formal closure to end your letter?