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How to Write a Cover Letter- Tips and Examples

How to Write a Cover Letter- Tips and Examples
A cover letter accompanies your resume when applying for jobs. It's an opportunity to introduce yourself and highlight your skills, abilities, and accomplishments that align with the job requirements. Keep it concise, typically 3-4 paragraphs, and use a conversational yet professional tone to convey your enthusiasm for the company. The goal is to entice the employer to read your resume and invite you for an interview.
In this article, we explain how to write a cover letter that makes a great first impression on potential employers.

1. Start with your header

As with any standard business letter header, you should include a few pieces of personal and role-specific information at the top of your cover letter to make it easier for a hiring manager or recruiter to follow up with you. If you'd like, you can center your name and address at the top of the page, mirroring how it looks on your resume.

  • Your name
  • Your city and ZIP code
  • Your phone number
  • Your email address
  • Date
  • Name of recipient
  • Title of recipient
  • Company name
  • Company address

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2. Include a greeting

In your research, try to find the name of the person reviewing applications for the job. Address your letter to this person with a common business greeting, such as "Dear [first and last name]" or "Dear [position title]." Avoid using "To whom it may concern."
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3. Write an opening paragraph

Should include:

  • Purpose of the letter
  • Name of the organization
  • Job title for which you are applying
  • Where you found the job advertisement
  • What makes you a fit for the organization?

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4. Add a second paragraph

Your second paragraph should be a brief overview of your background as it relates to the position. Include key achievements, skills and specialties that make you particularly suited to the position. Focus on one or two and provide specific details about your success, including measurable impacts you made.
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5. Add another story

Describe a second experience that is both impressive & relevant, highlight the skills this experience demonstrates.
If you're changing careers, this is a good opportunity to talk about transferable skills or relatable experiences from your career.
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6. Summarize

  • Summarize your skills/experiences
  • Reiterate your interest in the position
  • Reiterate the job title and organization
  • Include your email & phone number
  • Close with grace and appreciation

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7. End with a professional signoff

Use a professional closing and include your first and last name.
Some applicants include a digital signature
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Format notes

One page maximum, 11-12 point font
Choose “standard” fonts such as Calibri, Times New Roman, Arial, Georgia, Verdana
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General recommendations when writing a cover letter

Do your research first.

Before writing your cover letter, gather information about the company and the specific job you're applying for. Carefully read the job description, browse the company's website, and check the Twitter feeds of executives and employee profiles on LinkedIn. This research will help you personalize your cover letter and avoid sending a generic one. It will also help you determine the appropriate tone for your letter. Consider the company's culture. If it's a creative agency, you can be more creative in your approach. However, if it's a more traditional organization, like a bank, you should maintain a more formal tone.

If possible, connect with the hiring manager or someone you know at the company before writing your cover letter. Send an email or LinkedIn message asking a thoughtful question about the position. This allows you to reference the interaction in your cover letter. You could say something like, "Thank you for the insightful conversation we had last week" or "I recently spoke with [person's name] at your company." While it's not always possible to make contact or receive a response, it's worth trying.

Open strong.

Capture attention from the very first sentence. Begin with a powerful statement that conveys your enthusiasm for the position and your unique value proposition. For instance, you could write, "I'm an experienced environmental fundraising professional with over 15 years of expertise seeks an opportunity to apply skills in new ways. I'm thrilled to contribute my expertise and passion to your expanding development team." You can then add a brief overview of your background and relevant experience, but avoid repeating your resume verbatim.
Remember, the hiring manager or recruiter likely has a pile of cover letters to review, so make yours stand out. However, avoid forced humor or self-promotion. Stick to direct and impactful statements, such as "Allow me to highlight two key reasons why I'd be an asset to your team."
If you have a personal connection to the company or an employee, mention it in the opening lines. Always address your letter to a specific individual. With the prevalence of social media, finding the hiring manager's name is often straightforward.

Emphasize your personal value.

Employers seek individuals who can contribute to problem-solving. Leverage your research to demonstrate your understanding of the company's operations and challenges. While specifics are unnecessary, a general statement like "Many healthcare organizations struggle to provide high-quality care while ensuring staff health and safety" is sufficient. Next, explain how your experience has prepared you to address these challenges. Describe how you've solved similar problems in the past or share relevant accomplishments. Provide concrete evidence of your unique strengths.

Two essential skills in today's job market are adaptability and quick learning. Include brief examples showcasing these skills. For instance, if you supported your team's transition to remote work, describe how you did so and the skills you employed.
Remember, the goal is to convince the employer that you possess the problem-solving and adaptability skills they seek. By demonstrating your ability to address challenges and learn quickly, you can increase your chances of landing the job.

Convey enthusiasm.

Not getting hired is often not due to a lack of skills, but rather due to the employer's lack of belief in your motivation and understanding of the position. Employers tend to favor candidates who exude passion for the job. Therefore, make it evident why you desire this particular position. Enthusiasm conveys personality. Consider writing something along the lines of "I'd be thrilled to work for your organization. Who wouldn't? You're an industry leader, setting standards that others simply emulate." If you're not genuinely excited about some aspect of the company or role, don't bother applying.
Remember, hiring managers are looking for individuals who are not only qualified but also genuinely enthusiastic about the opportunity. By demonstrating your passion and understanding of the position, you can significantly increase your chances of landing the job.

Watch the tone.

While demonstrating your enthusiasm, avoid excessive flattery or insincere statements. Authenticity is paramount. Even if you've been unemployed for an extended period and are eager for any available position, maintain a professional and mature tone. Avoid sounding desperate, as it can undermine your message. A good practice is to imagine yourself as the hiring manager and consider the language they would use when interacting with customers. Assessing your own tone in writing can be challenging, so seek feedback from others (which is a good practice anyway). When reviewing cover letters, employers often discard those that convey a sense of desperation.

Keep it short.

Most advice recommends keeping your cover letter under one page, with shorter being even better. Aim for brevity, allowing the reader to scan it quickly. While you need to cover essential points, do so concisely. This is where seeking feedback from a friend, former colleague, or mentor can be beneficial. Request that they review your letter and identify areas for improvement.

When you can’t submit a cover letter.

Many companies now use online application systems that do not allow for a cover letter. In some cases, you may be able to find a way to include one in the same document as your resume, but this is not always possible, especially because some systems only allow for data to be entered into specific fields. In these cases, use the format provided to showcase your job qualifications and enthusiasm for the position. If possible, try to identify a contact person to whom you can send a brief follow-up email highlighting a few key points about your application.

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