After weeks of heavy job search, you’re almost there! Finally, you’ve perfected your resume. You’ve shortlisted the most incredible jobs you want to apply for. You’ve even had a friend train you for every single interview question out there. But then, before you can send your application and call it a day, you remember that the job ad requires a cover letter. Now you’re stuck wondering how to write a cover letter. Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Writing a cover letter is a lot simpler than you might think. We have put together a guide, we’re going to help you write a cover letter in 2021 that gets you the job you deserve.
What is a Cover Letter? (and Why It’s Important)
A cover letter is a one-page document that you submit as part of your job application (alongside your CV or Resume).
Its purpose is to introduce you and briefly summarize your professional background. On average, your cover letter should be from 250 to 400 words long. A good cover letter can spark the HR manager’s interest and get them to read your resume.
On the other hand, a poor cover letter might mean that your application goes directly to the paper shredder. So, to make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s essential to know how to write a convincing cover letter.
Keep in mind, though, that a cover letter is a supplement to your resume, not a replacement. Meaning, you don’t just repeat whatever is mentioned in your resume.
If you’re writing a cover letter for the first time, writing all this might seem pretty tough. After all, you’re probably not a professional writer.
The thing is, though, you don’t need to be creative or even any good at writing. All you have to do is follow a tried-and-tested format:
- Header – Input contact information
- Greeting the hiring manager
- Opening paragraph – Grab the reader’s attention with 2-3 of your top achievements
- The second paragraph – Explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job
- Third paragraph – Explain why you’re a good match for the company
- Formal closing
How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter (And Get Hired!)
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, we’re going to guide you through the process of writing a cover letter step by step.
Step #1 – Pick the Right Cover Letter Template
A good cover letter is all about leaving the right first impression.
So, what’s a better way to leave a good impression than a well-formatted, visual template?
Step #2 – Start the Cover Letter with a Header
As with a resume, it’s important to start your cover letter with a Contact Information section:
Here, you want to include all essential information, including:
- Full Name
- Phone Number
- Name of the hiring manager / their professional title
- Name of the company you’re applying to
In some instances, you might also consider adding:
- Social Media Profiles – Any profile that’s relevant to your field. Social Profiles on websites like LinkedIn, GitHub (for developers), Medium (for writers), etc.
- Personal Website – If you have a personal website that somehow adds value to your application, you can mention it. Let’s say you’re a professional writer. In that case, you’d want to link to your blog.
And here’s what you shouldn’t mention in your header:
- Your Address / City of Residence – This is something you include in your resume, not the cover letter.
- Unprofessional Email – Make sure your email is presentable. It’s pretty hard for a hiring manager to take you seriously if your email address is “firstname.lastname@example.org.” Whenever applying for jobs, stick to the “[first name] + [last name] @ email provider.com” format.
Step #3 – Greet the Hiring Manager
Once you’ve correctly listed your contact information, you need to start writing the cover letter contents.
The first thing to do here is to address the cover letter to the hiring manager.
That’s right, the hiring manager! Not the overly popular “Dear Sir or Madam.” You want to show your future boss that you did your research and are passionate about working with their team.
No one wants to hire a job seeker who spams 20+ companies and hopes to get hired in any of them.
So, how do you find out who’s the hiring manager? There are several ways to do this.
The simplest option is to look up the head of the relevant department on LinkedIn. For example, let’s say you’re applying for the position of Communication Specialist at Novoresume. The hiring manager is probably Head of Communications or Chief Communications Officer.
So, you do a quick lookup on LinkedIn:
And voila! You have your hiring manager.
Or let’s say you’re applying for the position of a server. In that case, you’d be looking for the “restaurant manager.”
If this doesn’t work, you can also check out the “Team” page on the company website; there’s a good chance you’ll at least find the right person there.
Still can’t seem to find the right person?
Here are several other greetings you could use:
- Dear [Department] Hiring Manager
- Dear Hiring Manager
- To whom it may concern
- Dear [Department] Team
Step #4 – Write an Attention-Grabbing Introduction
First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your job search. Recruiters get hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of applications. So chances are, they’re not going to be reading every single cover letter end-to-end.
So, it’s essential to catch their attention from the very first paragraph.
The #1 problem we see with most cover letter opening paragraphs is that they’re usually highly generic.
Do you know who else has similar work experience? All the other applicants you’re competing with.
Instead, you want to start with 2-3 of your top achievements to grab the reader’s attention. Preferably, the achievements should be as relevant as possible to the position.
Now that we’ve covered the introduction let’s talk about the body of your cover letter. This part is split into two paragraphs: the first explains why you’re the perfect person for the job, and the latter is for proving that you’re a good fit for the company.
Step #5 – Explain why you’re the perfect person for the job
This is where you show off your professional skills and convince the HR manager that you’re a better fit for the job than all the other applicants.
But first things first – before you even write anything, you need to learn the most important requirements for the role. So, open up the job ad and identify which of the responsibilities are the most critical.
For the sake of the example, let’s say you’re applying for the position of Facebook Advertiser. You scan the job ad and see that the top requirements are:
- Experience managing a Facebook ad budget of $10,000+ / month
- Some skills in advertising on other platforms (Google Search + Twitter)
- Excellent copywriting skills
Your cover letter is only as good as your resume. If either one is weak, your entire application is for naught.
After all, a cover letter is just an introduction. To get more help with how to propel your career forward, visit Ann Grogan and Associates.
Talk to the experts.