A cover letter is an integral part of your application. Depending on its quality, it can either help you get more interviews or turn your job search into a fiasco.
Luckily, if you are wondering how to write a cover letter that will complement your applications, we have you covered! Read this guide created by our professional writers with vast experience in the resume writing business to get expert tips and examples and learn how to make your job application shine.
What Is Cover Letter?
When you apply for a job, you only get one chance to impress recruiting firms and potential employers. And while a resume, without a doubt, plays a significant role in the future of your career, it’s only one part of the matter. Apart from it, every applicant should also submit a top-notch cover letter.
But, how to write a cover letter for a job and, most importantly, what it even is?
Let’s start with the basics. In a nutshell, a cover letter is a short (250-400 words) document that comes together with the rest of the application. Basically, this letter has explanatory and supplementary purposes.
It is used to supplement your package of documents, provide a comprehensive explanation of your level of qualification and work experience, and drive the recruiter’s attention.
Also, cover letters are used to make up for the lack of experience or explain an employment gap. In any case, it is meant to help a recruiter to learn more about different job seekers and decide whether to get them employed or not.
And now that you know the definition, let’s move on and figure out why you should know how to write a cover letter 2021.
Do You Need a Cover Letter?
Often, a cover letter is among the required application documents. In this case, of course, you need to submit it or, otherwise, your application will not even be considered. As for other cases, it is still a good idea to attach a solid cover letter to your application just because it complements it and boosts the likelihood that you will land an interview.
One exception is when you apply online through an applicant tracking system (ATS). Not every ATS system will accept it.
Finally, let’s move to the most important part and define how to write a good cover letter.
How to Start Your Cover Letter?
Before you start writing, there are a couple of important preparatory steps to take. First of all, it will be great to find some guidelines for writing and samples of well-written cover letters. Luckily, you’ve already landed on the right page that will tell you how to write a strong cover letter and show a great example.
The next thing to do is to study the job description carefully because your cover letter should be tailored to the job offer.
What to Include in Your Cover Letter?
So, how to write a cover letter? First of all, let’s figure out what exactly you have to include in your letter to make it work.
The good news is that you don’t have to be super creative because there is an effective, time-tested st
ructure that shapes an effective cover letter. According to this standard structure, your document should consist of the following elements in the same sequence:
- The candidate’s personal and contact information, and date;
- The basic info of the company that (hopefully) will employ you;
- A formal salutation, ideally, including the name of the hiring manager or another person you are addressing;
- A brief introductory part that drives attention and emphasizes your key skills and accomplishments;
- A detailed but concise explanation of why you are a perfect candidate for the job;
- An explanation of why you chose a particular company and why it is a perfect fit for you;
- A powerful and memorable conclusion with an effective call to action;
- A formal closing sentiment with your name;
- A postscript at the end of the document to seal the deal.
Tell How You Can Help the Company Solve Problems
For everyone wondering how to write a good cover letter for a job, the key to success is showing potential employers that you can help them solve certain problems.
First, read the job description to identify the employer’s key pain points and then use it to show you are a perfect fit.
I believe I can excel in the role of the SMM manager at [Company] thanks to my strong problem-solving skills.
At the previous workplace, I boosted brand recognition by 43% through an effective social media marketing strategy.
Pick an Appropriate Voice and Tone
Another valuable tip on how to write a simple cover letter is to always pay attention to the voice and tone you are using in your letter. The voice and tone should be appropriate, natural, and relevant.
In fact, there are no actual tips or examples we can share here because the tone and voice of a cover letter will vary depending on your personality, as well as the culture of the company you are applying to. Doing some research on the company will definitely help to find the right tone.
Demonstrate Your Skills and Value Through a Story
One of the most accurate answers to the question “how to write a killer cover letter” is “through compelling storytelling.”
“Show, don’t tell,” - every career advice expert will agree this is a motto for writing a cover letter, and storytelling is a great trick that can help with that. Through telling real stories from your professional path, you can show recruiters your skills, professional achievements and, at the same time, provide valuable insights into your work style and personality.
How to know what stories will be appropriate and will bring value? To find the right stories to tell in your cover letter, always read the job description first to identify the key needs, objectives, and requirements of the employer. It can also help to do some background research of the company to define its culture and values.
Based on all this knowledge, you should pick career stories that go in line with the company’s culture or needs. At this point, take your time to brainstorm. To make the process easier, you can try writing down all the company’s requirements in one table and your own skills and experiences in another one. This will help you define how you can use your strong points to make the right impression.
Now, let’s get back to stories and look at a couple of examples. First of all, remember that it is a formal document. Thus, it will be wrong to tell stories from personal life that can’t relate to the job you are applying for.
The right strategy would be to use storytelling as a tool for demonstrating your skills. For example, let’s say you are applying for an SMM manager position that requires several years of experience and excellent communication skills. In this case, you can tell a story from your previous place of work that shows how you leveraged your communication skills to collaborate with other departments toward a shared goal.
As long as you are honest, such a story will show recruiters that you have everything they are looking for and, thus, you will have higher chances of being noticed.
Keep Honesty at the Core
In a cover letter, recruiters are expecting to see more of your personality, which is why it’s so important to be you in your document. Hiding facts, exaggerating real events, or providing false information in a letter may only work at the initial stage. However, during an interview and further work, the truth may come out and play against you.
Be Original in Your Cover Letter
Although a cover letter is a formal document that should reflect your professionalism and follow a standard template, it doesn’t have to be banal. So, if you want more tips on how to write a basic cover letter, don’t be afraid to be original and stand out.
You don’t want your cover letter to get lost in a pile of others, same-looking letters, which is why you should try to be more original. Instead of banal words like “innovative,” “hardworking,” “determined,” and “creative,” try to use something more special and powerful like “intentive,” “self-motivated,” “tenacious,” and “imaginative.”
See the difference? Simply changing your word variations to something less trivial can have a powerful effect and give you a competitive advantage.
Put a Call to Action for the Best Result
How to write a winning cover letter call to action? See the examples below:
I’ll get back to you to schedule an interview!
Some job seekers are confident that companies are more likely to hire humans who are that confident. But this example feels more like crossing the line.
I am looking forward to hearing from you to discuss your company’s objectives and show how my experience and skills can translate into your brand’s growth. Feel free to contact me!
This example is much more tactful and effective.
Address the Recruiter or Hiring Manager by Name
If you are wondering how to write a job cover letter salutation, use the name!
To whom it may concern
Though it may feel like “to whom it may concern” salutation may work just fine on certain occasions, like when you don’t know who you are addressing, it’s not quite true. In practice, statistics show that most people who don’t personalize their cover letters eventually don’t get the job because personalization is one of the keys to making the right impression.
That’s the way to go. Thus, even if you don’t know the name yet, be sure to do some research, make a few calls, and study the company’s website to find the name of the recruiter or hiring manager.
Make It Look Good Visually
The last tip we’d like to share concerning how to write a great cover letter is to give it a unique visual format. The look is important if you want to stand out, make a good impression, and be remembered. To do this, create the right visual hierarchy, use a unique design, and experiment with details. But keep it appropriate.
What You Don’t Need to Include in Your Cover Letter?
Now that we’ve provided you with the main tips on how to write a resume cover letter the right way, let’s look at some things that you should better avoid.
Leave Out Overused Words and Phrases
If you want to know how to write a general cover letter that doesn’t get lost among tons of same-looking ones, one thing you should omit is the use of overused, trivial words and phrases.
By calling them “overused,” we literally mean that these phrases are being used so often that they are known to annoy recruiters and hiring managers. Thus, if you will use them, your cover letter will turn out to be too generic. There will be no individuality, and, as a result, you may end up looking the same as hundreds or thousands of other applicants. Needless to say that this can negatively affect the recruiter’s impression.
Okay, that’s clear, but what are these overused phrases? Here is a list of the most common examples you should avoid:
- Think outside the box
- To whom it may concern
- Heavy lifting
- Strong, deep, excellent
These and similar words and phrases are cliches that can really get recruiters bored. Instead, try something more unique.
Avoid Any Irrelevant Details
Including plenty of details that don’t really relate to the job, you risk getting recruiters bored, confusing them, or causing them to miss something really important. Thus, when writing a cover letter, be sure to leave out any irrelevant details.
Cover Letter Sample [Text Version]
Now you have all the tips on how to write a cover letter example. But, before you write yours, it’s good to have an example to ensure that you are on the right track.
The sample below is created by our experts, who know exactly how to write a cover letter examples that really stand out, so feel free to use this example for inspiration:
Mr. George Redlock
Head of Marketing
As a true fan of X Company’s branding and marketing initiatives, I was thrilled to discover your open vacancy for the role of Digital Marketing Manager. With over 7 years of experience, I believe I can bring value to X Company and help you overcome marketing challenges, and attain your short-term and long-term goals.
I possess vast experience in developing and implementing successful online campaigns with $400,000+ budgets. Furthermore, in my previous position at Y Company, I have excelled at boosting the brand’s recognition and expanding the client base by 23% over 2 years.
In my previous place of work, I was dealing with a large marketing team and successfully managed all marketing initiatives of Y company. Last fall, my key challenge was to design a compelling digital marketing strategy for a newly-launched product in the very short term. Within a month, through effective communication with product and sales teams and my exceptional sense of what’s trending, we managed to:
- Attract 70% of all organic traffic to visit and check out the new product;
- Help the company exceed the sales quota by 142%;
- Increase the brand’s customer base by 15%.
I have been watching your company’s activities and feel like X Company and its projects perfectly match my professional and personal interests. I also share the values of your team and, thus, would love to be a part of it.
I would welcome the chance to discuss your company’s objectives and show how my experience and skills can translate into your brand’s growth.
To sum up, let’s recap the key tips for writing a great cover letter:
- Follow the right structure;
- Pick the right tone;
- Show how you can help;
- Include the recipient’s name;
- Be honest;
- Include a call to action;
- Avoid cliches.
So, now you know how to write a compelling cover letter that recruiters won’t just quickly scan and forget but will actually remember and seriously consider you as a potential employee. However, if you still feel like a bit of help won’t hurt, remember that you can always get professional help from the SkillHub team and get a guarantee of success!