How to Write a Cover Letter for Job Application - Practical Tips, Cover Letter Outline & Insights
1. Personal Info & Greeting
- Name, job title, contact data - make sure all is well-formatted like in your resume.
- Use attention-grabbing sentences and ditch the old “To whom it may concern”.
- Tell your story, add a bit of personality, outline 3 problems of the company and how you can solve them.
4. Call to action
- Thank the interviewer for reading your cover letter and inform them of your availability and eagerness to start.
You might have heard that ‘’cover letters are dead’’ before. This idea isn’t without some merit. Around 55% of hiring managers don’t read cover letters according to a study conducted by Jobvite. More than a half of recruiters consider cover letters unnecessary and give higher importance to a resume or the very first email you send through.
One of the greatest pitfalls of people’s cover letters is the disconnect between their resume and their cover letter. That is, people tend to spend a long time deciding on the resume font they use, the resume paper they print it on, the sections to include, but quickly throw together a cover letter without a thought.
Your cover letter should match the same look and feel as your resume. Luckily, you can ensure this is the case using Enhancv’s resume and cover letter builder. Choose from our three cover letter templates that come with the same design choices as your Enhancv resume.
PRO TIPKey to a successful cover letter is an informative header. Ensure to update your contact information, including your voicemail (yes I know what year it is)!
Cover letters are a test
In his research, Rick Gills explains that cover letters ‘’are a test’’. He states that if a company requires you to send a cover letter together with your resume, you have to do it. Otherwise, they’ll move on to another candidate without having to devote almost any energy to evaluating your application. You didn’t pass the first test and you made yourself easy to reject.
No doubt having to do something unnecessary is annoying. But we need to get over it sometimes. As the well-known saying by Jodi Picoult goes, ‘’Sometimes when you want to get what you want the most, you have to do what you want the least.’’ In other words, do the unnecessary.
How to write a great cover letter
These 6 simple tips will help your cover letter to stand out from others and grab the attention of your employer-to-be.
Before you start thinking about the opening sentence of your cover letter, think about the format and the layout. Wouldn’t it be great to have a similar layout as the one of your resume?
It is important to keep in mind that a good cover letter shouldn’t be 5 pages long. Great cover letters have a few things in common and one of them is having the relevant information in a brief format. Also be sure to space it up, a technique many influencers and writers use. It relaxes the eye and gets the reader to scan the whole document.
“Whitespace isn’t just a tool to give the reader’s eye a break. It’s actually a cue. Designers have used it forever to draw their users’ attention to the most important elements in their design.”
- Neil Patel
2. Opening of a cover letter
What should be the opening sentence of a good cover letter? Recruiting managers agree on the fact that the usual ‘’To whom it may concern’’ or the old ‘’I saw the job offer on [website] and thought I’m perfect for the job’’ will not do the trick. Such sentences are overused and hint that you haven’t done your research and are not putting any effort into thinking a bit more.
Here are some examples of the opening for a cover letter you should consider next time to catch the hiring manager’s attention from the very beginning:
Computer games have always fascinated me. I think I played my very first one in 6th grade when I discovered my love for code and passion for becoming a Programmer. That’s why I believe I’d be great for the [position] at [company].
During my [X] years at the [company], I’ve written [amount] of articles and increased the conversion rate of the blog by [percentage]. By now I know I’m only great at two things: writing great content and converting new customers from it. That’s why I decided to apply for the position of a copywriter at your company.
3. The main body
Here, I don’t mean only the regular: I am great at [skill], [skill], [skill] because of [the reason]. Rather research the company properly and outline what you think the top three main problems they should solve are. Then show off your skills by addressing the problem, explaining that you’ve experienced the same problem in your previous role and offer the possible solution to it.
As the Career Specialist J.T. O’Donnel explains, the difference between a cover letter and resume is that "cover letters tell stories, resumes showcase facts." Tell a story with your cover letter and don’t forget to splash bits of your personality into it. Doing this will help you distinguish yourself from others.
Good body language can help you win an interview. It’s a good idea to mirror the interviewer – something similar you should take into account when writing your cover letter. Pick up the voice of the company itself, the kind of language they use and then mirror that voice into your cover letter. Personalize your cover letter to the company as much as possible. Mention their departments, the most recent PR stunt they used or a project they were involved in.
PRO TIPYou can get a hint of the company’s voice by browsing through their blog, the about page, in their social media posts or responses to their customers.
5. Typos and grammar mistakes
Grammar mistakes, typos or incorrect information are unacceptable in your cover letter as much as they are on your resume.
PRO TIPYou can avoid typographical errors by reading your content backwards, or printing it out and viewing your cover letter on a different medium. Check out our post on resume spelling and proofreading strategies to learn more!
Hiring managers don’t expect to read the exact same achievements and skills you’ve already mentioned in your resume.
Have you ever written a personal essay for a competition, university admission or a grant? Remember how you felt and what language you used back then? Cover letter creation has a lot of similarities here.
Think about any unusual hobbies that have led you to this career path you are on right now. Anything particularly interesting from your past that made you apply for that company and that specific role?
You can find more examples of a perfect cover letter content here.
Resume, Skills & Cover Letter Examples & Templates for Any Job
All cover letter examples you see here are written by real people for job applications, just like you. They’ve been anonymized due to privacy reasons, however, the contents of the cover letters follows best practices in the separate industries.
You can use those cover letter samples as a base for your own application - take advantage of the mentioned keywords and phrases, and replace with your own achievements and personal information.
Get more inspiration
No spam, just information that will help you build a resume that makes you feel relevant and well represented.