Your resume has been whipped into shape and it’s ready to go to the top of every recruiter’s pile.
Hold up! There’s something else you can’t neglect to include when you send off the application for your ideal job.
It’s your cover letter.
Your first thought is likely — are cover letters necessary nowadays?
In a word — yes.
You get a whole 6 seconds to grab the recruiter’s attention when they read your resume. Sending off a cover letter shows you’ve done just a little more and could well be the differentiator you need.
Knowing the potential to impress with a cover letter, we’re going to share everything you need to know to write a perfect cover letter that should get you invited for an interview.
You’ll get the details about:
Let’s start from the very beginning...
Usually, a cover letter is no longer than A4 document that you enclose with your resume to give extra details about your skills and experience.
A cover letter...
This isn’t where you repeat everything you said on your resume.
Instead, a cover letter should add to your resume and show that you’ve put in a little more effort than others to get the job you want.
Done properly, a cover letter serves to give a great first impression. To get that first impression spot on, you can use a well-formatted, visually appealing template. We’ve got a range of ready-made cover letter examples so you can choose the one you need.
We’ve also created a useful guide that’ll help you to understand more about the differences between a resume and a cover letter.
Pro-TipDo your research on the company you’re applying to before you put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard. Understand the company’s challenges and what value you can bring to ease them. Give this detail in your cover letter.
As you sit at your computer, poised to write a winning cover letter, questions start to cross your mind.
What needs to be included in my cover letter? How do I phrase what I want to say?
Fret not, we’ve got the answers coming straight up.
First of all, remember…
You should be preparing a new cover letter for every role you’re going to apply to.
Yet, you can still use a standard winning formula that will give your cover letter an edge.
Let’s start with the look of it.
How to format cover letter?
To write your cover letter, follow this outline:
Want more details? Let’s keep going...
At the very top of the page, you add your cover letter header.
In this part, you add your name and contact details, plus who you’re addressing — the hiring manager, including their professional title.
Next comes the date you’re writing the letter and the company, along with it's name and business address.
Right at the top of the page of your cover letter should be:
After your personal details, next comes:
To make it easy, here’s an example for you to check out:
Follow this up with your opening line.
Addressing a cover letter correctly is really important. Do some digging and find the name of the person who’s going to get your cover letter and resume on their desk.
"To whom it may concern" is pretty archaic. It makes your cover letter look generic and shows that you’re probably preparing 20 of the same thing to send to everyone you’re applying to.
Make sure you personalize your cover letter from the get-go.
Some ideas for how you can address your letter include:
Are you thinking "Is the first name of a hiring manager enough?"
It’ll all depend on the company.
When the position you’re applying to is with a cool, chilled company then stick with the first name of the hiring manager.
Applying to a corporation or a serious company? Stick with the title and last name of the recruiter.
What if you can’t find the recruiter’s name? How to address a cover letter when you don’t know who’ll be reading it?
In the case that you can’t track down the hiring manager, you should address your cover letter to the department you’ve included in the address section a little earlier or use a generic salutation.
For instance, you can write:
Because you don't know who will read your cover letter it's important to make sure the salutation is gender-neutral. For that, don't use old-fashioned "Sir" or "Madam".
Now, we come to the really important part…
It’s your opening paragraph about why you’re applying for the job.
Keep your opener short and sweet, and be sure that you add in these three details:
What’s key here is giving value to the hiring manager and offering them concrete examples to back up what you say.
The whole point of the opening paragraph of your cover letter is to:
Sometimes we need to see a bad example to really understand something.
Here’s what you shouldn’t do in the opening paragraph of your cover letter:
What do you notice immediately? Or rather, what do you not notice?
There’s no mention of any achievements. There’s no passion, zero enthusiasm.
Not exactly filling you with confidence to hire the person...
The above example doesn’t talk about adding value or even offer any details at all.
After we’ve shown you how not to write your opening paragraph, here’s a good example of a cover letter opening paragraph:
A whole world of difference, right?
With this paragraph, the recruiter is familiar with the applicant’s biggest professional achievements and they’ve got the feeling that they’re aimed to bring their company success.
There is no doubt the second example wins over the first.
Of course, you’d hire the applicant who shows some passion and industry knowledge along with some measurable achievements.
First part: done.
It’s time to move on to the juicy details — the central paragraph of your cover letter.
Pro-TipResearch really is key to a successful cover letter. You need to know who’s going to be reading your letter, what skills are required in the job description, and what the company culture looks and feels like.
In the next couple of paragraphs, you need to be giving an overview of the skills and experience you have that are directly related to the position.
You’re going to be talking about:
When making your body paragraphs, the aim is to:
Want to know what not to do?
Here’s a bad example for the body of your cover letter:
Sad to say, but this text is just taking up space in a cover letter, and adding nothing of substance.
There’s no details, no KPIs, and nothing that says why the applicant would be good for the specific role being recruited for.
Let’s check out what a winning cover letter body paragraph looks like:
Here, we see tangible examples and results that will impress any hiring manager.
Even better, there’s a solid reason why the applicant can fill the role in the advert.
There’s clear evidence in these two paragraphs that our applicant is an expert at what they do.
Following on from this, you should cover information about your previous work and how it connects to the plans of your next boss.
You need to:
Something like this will be effective:
Harness your recent experience and the facts and figures to show that you’ve got the skills to achieve the company aims.
Pro-TipEnthusiasm is great, but don’t get too involved with the ego massaging, it can seem false. Be authentic in your praise, you’re not talking about your teenaged love for Britney anymore.
When you need to write a cover letter with no experience, you can include:
An example of a cover letter body text for someone with no work experience could read like this:
Your resume power words also come into play when crafting your cover letter, these will add extra punch to your text.
Coming to the end of your cover letter, it’s time to close things off with a strong and powerful call to action.
At the end of your cover letter is your closing, which should be polite, confident, and one last sentence that sells your candidacy.
The following details are all-important:
Done properly, your closing paragraph will have the recruiter keen to move on to reading your resume next.
What does a good cover letter ending look like?
You want to tell the hiring manager that you’re excited to meet them in person to have a full discussion about your knowledge, background, and what you can do for them.
Looking for one more example?
Here you go:
This part of your cover letter should be brief and to the point.
Lastly, it’s time to sign off with a professional closing phrase, like:
To wrap it all up, add two line breaks after closing phrase and add your full name.
Using this guide will help you come up with a simple and powerful cover letter to demonstrate to employers that you’re the exact right person to fill the vacancy they have.
Let’s do a rundown of the key takeaways you’ve got from this post.
Remember how long should a cover letter be? Your perfect cover letter should fill one side of A4 paper.
On that page, you need to have:
Doing research about the company, person, and the role before starting creating your cover letter will be really helpful.
With your research, you can personalize your cover letter and use the name of the exact person who will read it. You can also target the experience you highlight based on what the company actually needs.
Your cover letter should have regular references to the company ethos and to specific projects that appeal to you.
Doing this will give a clear signal to the recruiter that you’ve taken time to learn about the company and you’ve got a genuine interest in the job.
Another key element to note is to back up everything you claim with facts, numbers, and examples, giving business results and problems you’ve solved.
Your cover letter should be short and to the point, letting your skills shine through.
Winning cover letters and perfect resumes can be a challenge. We can help you take them head-on — register now and you get professional quality templates that will boost your chances of landing your dream job.