How to Write a Cover Letter That Lands an Interview

In the modern job market, the cover letter has evolved from a formality to a strategic component of the job application process. Tailoring your cover letter to align perfectly with the job description and company culture is no longer just an advantage; standing out in a massive pool of applicants is necessary.

The key to achieving this is doing thorough research before writing. Understand the company’s vision, culture, and specific challenges it faces. This enables you to write a cover letter that resonates with the hiring manager and shows that you’re not just another applicant but a potential asset who can contribute to the company’s success.

If you’ve ever struggled with writing 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 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.

Why is a Cover Letter Important?

Think of a cover letter as a tool (separate from your resume) to market yourself. It 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. 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 read cover letters? The short answer is yes. We are often asked this question, and research shows it matters. 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. Still, their resumes didn’t have enough information, so the final decision was 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.

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.

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.

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 Captivate from the Start

Begin your cover letter with a dynamic and personalized introduction. If possible, address the hiring manager by name, showing that you’ve taken the time to personalize your application.

Whenever possible, use design elements similar to your resume, and the contact information shared in the headers of your resume and cover letter match. Include basic contact information, such as your full name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile, at the top of your cover letter. This ensures the reader can quickly register who you are and how to reach you.

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 “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.”

  1. Dear Recruiter/Hiring Manager
  2. Dear/Hello [Name of Person Who’d Be Your Boss]
  3. Dear [Name of the Head of the Department for Which You’re Applying]
  4. Dear [Name of Department for Which You’re Applying]
  5. Dear [Name of Recruiter]
  6. 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 for the job and why you want it.

Your opening sentence should be compelling, perhaps mentioning a recent company achievement or how your professional values align with the company’s. This approach not only shows that you’ve done your homework but also helps to capture the hiring manager’s attention right from the start.

In the body of your introduction, include who you are and 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. 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. 

Showcasing Achievements and Skills

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 help 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.

When highlighting your achievements and skills, focus on those most relevant to the job description. Use specific examples and quantify your accomplishments when possible. This helps create a vivid picture of your capabilities and how they apply to the job. Instead of merely repeating what’s on your resume, provide context and narrative that adds depth to your professional story.

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.

Articulating Your Unique Value Proposition as 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—how your skills, experience, and contributions can benefit the company and how your experience is relevant. Use your 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.

Your cover letter should succinctly articulate how you can solve specific problems or fulfill the company’s needs. To tailor your message, engage with the job description and the research you’ve conducted about the company. Mention specific skills or experiences that make you uniquely suited to address the company’s challenges. This shows your understanding of the role and your enthusiasm and preparedness to make a meaningful contribution.

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.

Concluding with Confidence

Now that you’ve reached the end of your cover letter, it’s time to finish strong with a call to action that gets results.

Conclude your cover letter on a strong note by directly stating your interest in proceeding to the interview stage. Express your eagerness to contribute to the team and reiterate how your skills and experiences align with the company’s goals. A confident and proactive closing, such as indicating that you will follow up within a week, can signal your serious interest in the role and prompt the hiring manager to take action.

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.

Putting it All Together: Cover Letter Template

Dear Hiring Manager,

I am writing to express my interest in the [Job Title] position on [Where You Found the Job Posting]. With a deep understanding of [mention a key aspect of the company’s mission or recent achievement], I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to [Company Name]’s continued success. After researching your company’s vision and culture, I am drawn to its commitment to [mention something specific about the company’s values or goals], and I am eager to bring my [specific skills] and [specific experiences] to your team.

In my previous role as [Your Last Position], I [describe a significant achievement or project relevant to the job description], resulting in [quantifiable outcome or impact]. This experience, coupled with my background in [relevant skills or field], has equipped me with a strong foundation to make a meaningful contribution to your [specific department or project] at [Company Name]. My ambition to [mention how you plan to contribute to the company or a specific company goal] aligns perfectly with your team’s objectives, positioning me as an ideal candidate to help drive your company forward.

I am particularly impressed by [Company Name]’s commitment to [mention something that impresses you about the company, e.g., innovation, community involvement, diversity initiatives]. I am highly motivated to support and advance these efforts.

In closing, I am eager to bring [mention a key skill or quality you haven’t emphasized yet, e.g., “innovative problem-solving skills” or “deep passion for customer service excellence”] to [Company Name], firmly believing that together, we can achieve remarkable outcomes. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at [your email] or [your phone number] to arrange an interview at your convenience. I look forward to discussing further how I can contribute to your team and help achieve [Company Name]’s goals. Thank you once again for considering my application. I hope to join your team and start making an impact from day one.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

Key Takeaways

Crafting a cover letter following these strategies can significantly increase your chances of making a positive impression. Remember, your cover letter is an opportunity to tell your professional story in a compelling, personal way that aligns directly with the company and the role you’re applying for. With careful research and a thoughtful approach, you can create a narrative that captures the attention of hiring managers and positions you as a desirable candidate poised to make a significant impact.

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