If you’ve ever struggled with how to write a cover letter, deeming it unnecessary or time-consuming, you’re not alone. Contrary to popular belief, a cover letter is not merely a document summarizing your resume. It’s a separate tool that allows you to showcase your personality and organizational/culture fit and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position. A polished resume supported by a well-crafted cover letter can make all the difference in landing an interview.
A good cover letter can make a difference between getting your foot in the door and being passed over for an interview. So, how can you write the perfect cover letter to impress potential employers and land an interview? The key is to focus on how you can add value to the company and what you can bring to the table.
A cover letter is a great tool that helps establish a personal connection with the company while convincing them that you are the best candidate for the position. It’s important to make a strong impression by writing clearly, concisely, and professionally, avoiding clichés or overly flowery language, and sticking to facts. After all, a well-written cover letter showcases your communication skills, and this article will guide you on how to write an effective cover letter that lands an interview.
Why is a Cover Letter Important?
Think of a cover letter as a tool (separate from your resume) to market yourself that allows you to explain your motivations, strengths, and goals. While a resume is objective, stating facts – who, what, when, and how, a cover letter is subjective and conversational by nature, providing a compelling reason why you are qualified for the job.
A cover letter allows you to sell yourself to a potential employer and explain why you are the best candidate for the job. They also help to fill in any gaps in your resume and highlight your strengths and accomplishments. In addition, a good cover letter shows that you are knowledgeable about the company and have done your research. So, if you’re looking for a job, don’t neglect this important step. Take the time to tailor a well-written cover letter to help you stand out from the competition.
Does anyone actually read cover letters? The short answer is yes. We get asked this question often, and research shows it matters a lot. According to a recent survey by ResumeLab, cover letters are still an important component of the decision-making process among 83% of hiring managers, recruiters, and HR staff. Additionally, a poll from Robert Half found that 90% of executives consider cover letters invaluable when assessing candidates.
The truth is that recruiters and hiring managers read cover letters. Once, a recruiter in our network described her experience reviewing the resumes of two equally qualified candidates, but their resumes didn’t have enough information, so the final decision came down to reviewing the cover letter. Shame on anyone who tells job candidates that cover letters are unnecessary because a well-written cover letter can make the difference between getting your foot in the door or relegating to the “no” pile.
Research Before Writing a Cover Letter
These questions will help you tailor your cover letter to fit their company culture so you can clearly understand their goals and how you can contribute to the company.
- What does the company stand for?
- What kind of culture does the company have?
- What skills and experience do you have that would be an asset to the hiring team?
- How can you make an impact?
Don’t be afraid to show some personality in your cover letter. It’s an opportunity to introduce yourself and give the reader a sense of who you are as a person.
Be specific and confident in your language and tone. Don’t forget to be genuine, positive, and enthusiastic, and let your unique voice shine.
How to Write a Cover Letter – The Greeting
At the top of your cover letter, include basic contact information such as full name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile. This ensures the reader can quickly register who you are and how to reach you.
Whenever possible, use design elements similar to your resume, and the contact information shared in the headers of your resume and cover letter match.
Next, you want to start with your greeting by addressing a specific person—especially if you’re applying to a large company. If you can connect with the person in charge of interviewing and hiring, your cover letter is more likely to be read and seriously considered.
The more specific you can be in your greeting, the better. If you do not know who you are addressing, you can start your letter with something like, “Dear Hiring Manager.”
If you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, below are some ideas that will be ideal rather than addressing it to a generic “To Whom It May Concern.”
- Dear Recruiter/Hiring Manager
- Dear/Hello [Name of Person Who’d Be Your Boss]
- Dear [Name of the Head of the Department for Which You’re Applying]
- Dear [Name of Department for Which You’re Applying]
- Dear [Name of Recruiter]
- Dear [Whatever This Company Calls Their Recruiting Team or Department]
Cover Letter Opening – Introduction
The first paragraph is your formal introduction with a strong opening that clarifies why you’re the right person and why you want the job. In the body of your introduction, include who you are, why you are writing, and mention the job title you’re applying for.
If you’ve met the person who will be reading your letter, it is a good idea to remind them about your encounter, or if you know other people in the organization, you can mention that you’ve networked with them. You can use this paragraph to compel the reader to keep reading—you want them to want to know more.
State the Reasons for Applying and What Drew You
Your second paragraph will briefly explain why your values and goals align with the company and how you will benefit them. One of the most important things to remember is to focus on how you can benefit the company.
The employer wants to know what skills and experience you have that will help them achieve their business goals. Be specific about how your qualifications match the job requirements and outline how you would be an asset to the company.
If you’re changing careers, tell them why in this paragraph. Use this as an opportunity to share how valuable your skills are and why you’re a good fit. This paragraph will also set you up for your next section—your argument.
The third paragraph of your cover letter lets you persuade the hiring manager why you are a good fit for the company and the role. Carefully choose what to include in your argument.
Focus on what you bring to the table – how your skills, experience, and contributions can benefit the company and how your past experience is relevant. Use the research on the company so that you can tailor your letter to their needs. For example, if you are applying for a sales position, focus on how your skills will help increase their profits.
You want your argument to be as powerful as possible without clouding your main points with excessive information. In addition, refer to your resume as a resource for them to learn more about your experiences and skills.
Now that you’ve made it to the end of your cover letter, it’s time to finish strong with a call to action that gets results.
The goal of this section is to get the reader to take action. Tell them what you want and how you will follow up with them. Give a specific ask. For example, ask them for an interview. Thank the employer for their time and mention that you look forward to hearing from them soon.
With these tips in mind, you’re well on your way to writing a cover letter that will grab their attention and help you land the job you want.