How To Write A Cover Letter (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Aug. 31, 2020

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Writing a cover letter has always been considered a complement to a resume, but is it still relevant in 2020?

The answer is yes.

As one CareerBuilder survey found that 52% of hiring managers pay more attention to a resume that is accompanied by a cover letter. The same study revealed that the percentage is even higher for application materials that are tailored to the position.

Writing a cover letter in 2020 is even more important to your chances of employment when you consider the current post-COVID job market. With certain industries seeing unemployment rates rise by more than 40%, you want to set yourself up with the best chance possible when applying for jobs.

What’s a Cover Letter and Why It’s Important

Before you can write an effective cover letter, you have to understand exactly what it is. A cover letter is your first impression to the hiring manager for the position you applied for. You can think of your resume as a chronological outline of your work history and education, while your cover letter details who you are and specifically why you’re the best fit for a particular job.

Writing a good cover letter is important because it is your chance to standout from other potential candidates. That is why though you should compare different cover letter examples, you will want to customize each letter to the position. By showing your personality while also matching the tone of the company, it will help recruiters to visualize how you could fit into the role.

What’s a quick cover letter tip?

Michael Akbar
Vice President
Certified Professional Career Coach

Use your six seconds to show the employer in a tailored cover letter and resume that you understand their pain and will make their lives better if put in the position.

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How To Structure A Cover Letter

Each and every cover letter will be unique based on a person’s experiences, but there are still basic structural elements across all letters. You want a clear and concise document that highlights your qualifications but can also be read quickly. We will go over how to accomplish both with a breakdown of the parts to include in your resume:

  1. The Header

  2. The Greeting

  3. Opening Paragraph

  4. Second Paragraph

  5. Concluding Paragraph

  6. The Sign Off

The Header

The header of your letter is where you should input all of the contact information for yourself and the hiring manager. Include your name, address, phone number, and email address. For the hiring manager’s information, you can use the contact details found in the job posting. Any missing elements, such as an address, can be found on the company website. Also include the current date between the two addresses.

Page Roman
444 Frog Rd.
Marigold, TX, 10987

August 27th, 2020

Chris Morgan
Marketing Manager
New Media Company
833 Rune Rd.
Marigold, TX, 10987

Greeting the hiring manager

Greet the hiring manager with a proper salutation. Using “Dear [Mr./Ms.] [Last name]” is the best greeting, just make sure to address the correct person. You never want to use a generic greeting such as “To whom it may concern” due to its lack of personalization.

Dear Mr. Morgan,

Opening paragraph — Grab their attention

The opening of your professional cover letter should instantly grab the attention of your reader. Within the paragraph, note two to three of your most relevant accomplishments.

  • Open strong. Open with a statement other than your name or stating your interest in the position. Lead with an interesting experience or achievement that directly relates to the new position.

  • Convey your personal value. There are always other qualified applicants with similar skills, so it is key to express why you personally would bring value to the organization. Give specific details as to the value you brought in a previous position, and how that could transfer to the new role.

  • Show your enthusiasm. Recruiters want to hire candidates that are excited about the position. Express enthusiasm and convey why you are passionate about the role. This is another opportunity to share a quick personal anecdote related to the job.

  • Keep it short. All of these points in your opening paragraph shouldn’t be more than a sentence or two each. You don’t want your introduction to be too long, as you want the reader to be able to quickly go through your cover letter.

I am writing to inform you of my interest in the Senior Content Writer position. I am an experienced digital strategist with a proven track record of driving results for diverse verticals across dynamic platforms.

Second paragraph — Explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job

With numerous respondents to job postings, hiring managers need to know why you’re the ideal hire. Here is where you should really sell yourself across several areas. Showcase how your personality traits, such as being honest or having the ability to work under pressure, make you a good fit.

Another area you can emphasize is how your transferable skills make you perfect for the role. Examples would be how you worked collaboratively on a team previously, or you took on a leadership role amongst your peers and drove results. These types of skills are valuable no matter the position and are especially important if you are entry-level without vast experience or are going through a career change.

To determine the most valuable personality traits and skills, revisit the original job description. There you will find certain keywords that you should try to incorporate throughout your cover letter. This also helps with any artificial intelligence (AI) scans that may pre-sort applications even before they get in front of a recruiter’s eyes.

I have a passion for content creation and a deep understanding of the content cycle (from ideation to promotion.) My years in the digital publishing world has crafted my ability to drive killer CTR and resonate with an audience.

I believe good content has its roots in good data. This is why while at Media Company I created a content-marketing dashboard to highlight KPIs. The dashboard allowed us to take advantage of wins more rapidly and avoid repeating losses.

Third paragraph – Explain why you’re a good match for the company

Just as an employer wants to know why you’d want the role, they also want to know why you’d want to work at their company. Do your research and learn more on the core values of the company. Discuss how they align with your own.

Check the company’s website but also start to explore LinkedIn for greater insights. Employers want to make sure that you fit into the overall culture, and this is also something you should consider for yourself. However you feel you fit into the work culture, explain to the recruiter why. Paint a picture of how you’ll be better from the company, and how the company will also benefit.

I thrive in a fast paced environment and excel at creating structure from scratch. I spearheaded our SEO efforts, developing workflows and systems to ramp up content production from zero.
I look forward to learning more about how the Senior Content Writer operates within New Media Company and the current content process.

Formal closing

Now it’s time to close your cover letter and put yourself in the position to land the interview. The closing of your letter is your final impression to the hiring manager, and therefore should clearly express your eagerness to take on the position. You don’t need to rehash all of the accomplishments and skills highlighted in previous sections, consider this more of a statement of intent.

First, express gratitude that they took the time to consider you for the job by making it all the way through your letter. Then, quickly remind them of the benefit that you can bring to the role and company. Finally, your closing should state a clear call-to-action (CTA) for the recruiter to take next, such as calling you to schedule an interview. Being confident and direct at the end of your cover letter helps to close the deal.

Best,
Page

What An Excellent Cover Letter Example Looks Like

With thousands of cover letter templates on the internet, you want to make sure you choose the right one. Here’s a basic format of what a good template will contain:

Kristy Crane
444 Frog Rd.
Marigold, TX, 10987

August 27th, 2020

Chris Morgan
Marketing Manager
New Media Company
833 Rune Rd.
Marigold, TX, 10987

Dear Mr. Morgan,
I am writing to inform you of my interest in the Senior Content Writer position. I am an experienced digital strategist with a proven track record of driving results for diverse verticals across dynamic platforms.

I have a passion for content creation and a deep understanding of the content cycle (from ideation to promotion.) My years in the digital publishing world has crafted my ability to drive killer CTR and resonate with an audience.

I believe good content has its roots in good data. This is why while at Media Company I created a content-marketing dashboard to highlight KPIs. The dashboard allowed us to take advantage of wins more rapidly and avoid repeating losses.

I thrive in a fast paced environment and excel at creating structure from scratch. I spearheaded our SEO efforts, developing workflows and systems to ramp up content production from zero.
I look forward to learning more about how the Senior Content Writer operates within New Media Company and the current content process.
Best,
Page

If you are submitting an email cover letter in the body of your email, you can use the same overall template. However, include the job position and your name (Job Title application — Name) in the email subject line.

You can skip adding the contact details in the header, and instead close the letter with your name, email, phone number, and LinkedIn link. Also feel free to add a link to your professional portfolio as applicable.

Advice For Picking the Right Cover Letter Template

While you will want to change certain elements, here are a few tips for picking the right cover letter template:

  • Make sure all the structural elements are there.

  • Look for examples that provide unique openings and closings, rather than generic content that won’t help you stand out.

  • Try to find a template related specifically to your job field. You will likely find accomplishment ideas that are more relevant and inspiring.

  • Take note of the template length. You want everything to be written in a few easily digestible paragraphs.

Do’s and Don’ts In a Cover Letter

Even with all of the resources for crafting the perfect cover letter, having a concise list of do’s and don’ts can always be helpful. Job seekers sometimes make common mistakes that can be easily avoided by simply rereading their cover letter. There are also some easy additions applicants can make that might initially be overlooked.

Here are 10 do’s and don’ts for writing a good cover letter:
Do’s

  • Do start by scanning the original job posting for keywords you can include in your letter.

  • Do be proud of your accomplishments and make sure to highlight them.

  • Do clearly express why you would be an asset to the organization.

  • Do tailor your cover letter to every hiring manager and position that you apply for.

  • Do try to find unique experiences, but make sure to always discuss measurable and relevant results.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t feel the need to lie about your skills or accomplishments. One of the worst mistakes to make is being caught in a lie.

  • Don’t copy and paste a template and only change your name and job titles. Recruiters will not see the value in a plug-in-play cover letter that has been used by multiple applicants.

  • Don’t forget to be direct and include a call-to-action.

  • Don’t make your cover letter too long. Similar to your resume, you want the reader to be able to sum up who you are and get a quick explanation of why you’re a good fit.

  • Don’t forget to proofread. Grammatical errors on a cover letter and resume are a quick way to get your packet in the “no pile”.

Start Writing Your Cover Letter

With plenty of tips, template ideas, and examples of how to write your cover letter, you can now begin working on yours. Once you have decided on a template that works for you, you’ll find that writing custom cover letters will be much easier across different jobs. Now here is a final roundup of how to write the best cover letter for a new job:

    1. Put contact information for yourself and the employer in the header of the letter.

    2. Include the appropriate salutation.

    3. Write your introduction and express interest in the position.

    4. Discuss your accomplishments and results from your previous job to show why you are the best candidate.

    5. Research the company and express why you are a great fit for the company.

    6. End your cover letter with a call-to-action for the recruiter.

    7. Add in a professional closing followed by your name.

      1. Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.
        Chris Kolmar

        Author

        Chris Kolmar

        Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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