You have perfected your resume and have found the perfect position for you?
That’s great, but just your resume is often not enough to get you the job. Whether it is mandatory or not, a cover letter is always a great way to boost up your chances of getting an interview.
There must be countless questions going through your head when you think about a cover letter. How to share your story with your cover letter? What should it include?
Don’t worry, writing a cover letter is easier than you think. Just make sure you do it properly, as hiring managers spend some significant time on cover letters.
To help you out, in this article we are going to answer the following questions:
- What is a cover letter?
- What to include on your cover letter?
- What to leave off your cover letter?
If you want to take a look at how other people have made winning cover letters, explore our cover letter examples and build yours!
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a concise, one-page document that is submitted alongside your resume when you are applying for a job. You can also see it called a coverling letter, letter of motivation, or a letter of introduction.
It is usually between 200 and 400 words long. Its main purpose is to show the hiring manager a little more of who you are.
A covering letter should highlight your most important work experience, achievements and skills, related to the job position you are applying for. Furthermore, a letter of introduction is meant to show a bit more of your personality, compared to a resume.
Your resume presents all your professional qualifications, so your cover letter should contribute with some personal touch.
An important note we should mention here is that you should write a unique cover letter for each job position you apply for. With that said, you can use a structure template to ensure everything is
The format of your cover letter is essential. It’s good to keep the design and tone of voice you use in your cover letter close to the industry and company you’re applying to.
A good cover letter can and should get the hiring manager’s attention and make them keep reading. If you choose to go with a more conversational tone while applying for a banking job, it may put them off.
A properly written cover letter should put you one step ahead of other candidates and make the hiring manager spend more time on your application documents.
What to include on your cover letter?
Okay, now you understand what is a cover letter and what purpose it serves. But how to write one, and do so the right way?
We’ve got you covered. We are going to explore everything your cover letter needs. From writing a non-cringy cover letter salutation to crafting a closing paragraph that urges the hiring manager to pick up the phone and invite you to an interview.
A covering letter should have an immaculate header.
A significant part of your cover letter is your header. Its purpose is similar to that of the contact section on your resume – it should give the hiring manager a way of them knowing your name and a way for them to get in touch with you at a glance.
What you would want to include in your header are:
- Your full name
- Phone number
- Email address
- Date of your application
- Name of the hiring manager and their position (if you have found that information)
- Name of the company you are applying for
There are also some more specific things you can include in your header, including:
- Social Media Profiles - that can be either LinkedIn, or GitHub (if you are a developer), or Medium (if you are a writer)
- Personal Website (if you have created one that could serve nicely for your application)
- Professional Portfolio (if you have one that would demonstrate your skill level)
Make sure you make it as professional and detailed as possible. A well written header on your cover letter makes it easier for the hiring manager to follow up with you about the position.
A proper cover letter greeting
When writing your greeting to the hiring manager, there is some work you need to have done already. Do your research on who the hiring manager for your position would be.
The easiest way to find that is through LinkedIn. Just search for your company there and find the person that is most likely to be responsible for the candidate selection.
Using their name would really impress them, as it shows that you have put in some extra work. Now that you have the name, just start with “Dear” as it is the best cover letter salutation out there.
If you are not sure about the gender of the hiring manager, don’t try to guess it. Just use both their names instead of Mr/Ms and you should be fine. However, if you can’t seem to find the hiring manager’s name, don’t give up on the position.
You can still open with “Dear Hiring Manager”.
Perfect cover letter introduction.
We are now at the most exciting part of your cover letter. But also the most crucial one.
The opening lines on your cover letter are what determines whether the hiring manager will continue reading. So make sure you make your introduction short, impactful and straight to the point.
With the hundreds of applications hiring managers receive, they don’t really have time to read every single one end to end. That’s the reason your introduction is so crucial.
If you want to make a great first impression, you can also include the name of the company and the position you are applying for in these opening lines. That would show that it is not just a template you use to send all across the country, but you wrote it for that particular job opening.
You need to immediately show the hiring manager why you are interested in the position, and give them a taste of your qualifications.
Show why you are the perfect candidate for the job.
Every word of your cover letter should show the hiring manager that you are a perfect fit for the job.
A handy trick to do this right is checking out the job listing.
Scan it for the most important skills that the hiring manager would be looking for in your application documents, and make sure you use keywords highlighting those skills.
But don’t just mention all the skills you can think of. That can be a bit too much. The best approach is to read through the job description and figure out exactly what the company is looking for. Make sure you highlight thoser skills and provide some proof to back them up.
Yet qualifications are not the only essential thing to show that you are the perfect candidate for the job. You should also show that you are passionate about it.
As many candidates are regularly switching jobs these days, the hiring manager would look especially for someone who would come to stay. Make sure you impress the hiring manager with achievements and hard numbers.
A good way to show your interest in the job is to present yourself as a person who has the same values as the company.
Explain why you are a good fit to the company.
Showing that you are a perfect candidate for the job position would usually not be enough. You can be the perfect candidate and still quit sooner than the company would want you to.
That’s why you should also show them that you are a good fit for the company. For that purpose, you should do your research. It might take quite a while, but it is absolutely worth it.
You would want to learn everything you can about the company, so that you can show that you are a perfect fit.
The most essential things you need to learn are:
- What’s the company’s business model?
- What’s the company product or service?
- What’s the company’s culture like?
Chances are you will find all that information by just googling. If you have some difficulties, you can also ask friends of yours who have worked, or are currently working at the company.
Once you are ready with your research, just think about all the things you like about the company and what you have learned about it. Simply turn that into text.
You wouldn’t want to lose the hiring manager’s attention.
Finish up with a call to action
If the hiring manager has got to the end of your cover letter, you have done some great job.
But you are not done yet. It is crucially important to know how to finish up your cover letter.
The end of your cover letter is the place to wrap up anything you didn’t have a chance to do so in the previous paragraphs. But more importantly - you need to end it with a call to action.
The last sentence of your cover letter should always prompt the hiring manager to take some sort of action. Make it polite and open-ended, showing them that you are excited to offer more information, and you are looking forward to getting in touch.
Have a professional closer.".
You are almost done. The only thing left is to end your cover letter professionally.
To do so, just use one of the most popular cover letter closers:
- Kind regards,
- Best regards,
- Thank you,
And just follow it up by your full name. A nice touch you can include is a handwritten signature, if you’re mailing the cover letter physically.
What to leave off your cover letter?
You already know what to include on your cover letter. But what about what you should leave off? We got you covered.
Any grammar or spelling mistakes.
Your cover letter does not just present your qualifications and your interest in the job. It can also show how detail-oriented you are.
Any little typos or grammar mistakes can be crucial to your application.
A step you can take to proofread your cover letter is to read it a couple of times yourself, and share it with a friend or family member for review.
If you’re still unsure, leave it for an hour or two and then proceed to read it aloud.
Anything that is not true.
You would want to be absolutely truthful on both your resume and cover letter. So no lies and no stretching the truth to unrealistic extents.
Make sure your cover letter accurately shows your qualifications for the job position. If you are caught with false information, you might lose your chances. After all, the hiring manager’s job is to find whether you are telling the truth.
Negative comments about current or past employers.
If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
That also applies to your past or current employers.
Your potential employer would consider a negative attitude towards other employers as a sign of attitude or performance problems.
And that can effectively kill your chances of getting the job.
Massive amount of text
Just like your resume, your cover letter should not be too long. After all, hiring managers are overwhelmed with job applications.
If you present them with a massive block of text, they are more likely to skip it. So make sure you keep your cover letter up to one page long.
We are all done. Now you know how to write an attention-grabbing cover letter. Don’t forget to:
- Go the extra mile when it comes to research.
- Match the tone of voice to that of the company/industry you’re applying to.
- Make sure your cover letter has a header, salutation, introduction, body that focuses on your accomplishments, a call to action that makes the hiring manager wants to call you, and a professional closer.
You are now ready to get the hiring manager’s attention and make them spend more time on your application.
Don’t forget – keep it professional and show the hiring manager why you are the perfect fit for the job and the company.
Make one that's truly you.