Let’s be honest: no one likes writing dozens of different cover letters (especially when you aren't sure about how to structure, format, and highlight your success to stand out in the crowds).
Or at least, I’m not a fan of it. And if you’re like me, the thought of skipping it has probably come to mind more than once. But still, cover letters are important for getting an interview and hiring managers still read them.
Anyway, now you’re here: so what next?
In this guide, you’ll learn how to write a cover letter for any job from start to finish. Stick around because you’ll also learn how to create a personalized cover letter that fits the company’s values in less than 60 seconds.
Are Cover Letters Still Necessary?
Cover letters have long been a staple of job applications, but their relevance is a subject of ongoing debate. Some argue that in the age of digital applications and automated resume screening, cover letters may seem redundant. However, there's still a valuable point to them. A well-crafted cover letter provides an opportunity to showcase your personality, enthusiasm for the role, and unique qualifications that might not be evident in your resume alone. It's a chance to make a memorable first impression and demonstrate your communication skills.
While not always required, a carefully tailored cover letter can set you apart from other applicants and help you land your dream job. So, yes, there is indeed a point in cover letters – they can be a powerful tool in your job search arsenal when used effectively. The aim of a cover letter is to set yourself apart from other candidates by allowing you to write about the context of your work experience. Building a cover letters zooms in on specific parts of your career which help explain why you’re the right person for the job.
How to Write a Winning Cover Letter in 13 Steps
The best cover letters get straight to the point. This is where you connect the backstory of your skills and experience to the job criteria. An effective cover letter sheds light on your personality as well as your interest in the role by showing recruiters that you’ve done your research on the company.
We’ll go through the 13 steps including what to include on a cover letter.
1. Outline Your Cover Letter Based on Proven Examples
Rather than writing a letter from scratch, get inspiration from a cover letter example of a successful candidate in your industry. See what’s worked for them and how you can follow a similar approach based on your own skills and experience.
From there, outline your cover letter structure so you know what to highlight for each paragraph.
Businesses also take a similar approach to this. They get ideas for a new product by looking at the latest trends and what’s currently working in the industry.
2. Include Your Contact Details
Contact details belong in the header section of your cover letter. This should have the following information:
- First and last name
- Email address
- Phone number
- Company name
Here’s an example below.
3. Use the Hiring Manager’s Name in Your Opening Salutation
Addressing your hiring manager by their name creates a good first impression because it shows a level of commitment and effort. After all, you’ve taken the time to research the company to know who you’re talking to.
Here’s a few examples of the opening salutation:
• Dear Mr Jacquet
• Dear Ms Jacquet
The worst way to greet your reader is by using the phrase “to whom it may concern” as it’s impersonal. This implies a lack of effort, which can make you seem like an applicant who isn’t genuinely interested.
To find the name of your hiring manager, check the company’s job description, website, or LinkedIn page. Or another option is to ask your recruiter or someone in the HR department.
If you can’t find their name, then address them by either their job title or gender such as:
• Dear Hiring Manager
• Dear Sir/Madam
4. Make an Unforgettable Introduction
Start strong with confidence by highlighting your strengths in the first few sentences to immediately grab your employer’s attention.
A common cover letter mistake is not spending time refining the first few sentences. Many candidates begin by only writing the job position they’re interested in without any mention of why they’re the best person to hire for that role.
In other words, answer the question of how you can bring the most value to the company you’re applying for.
Here’s a few ways to write a compelling introduction:
- Include your most impressive achievements
- Share transferable skills and personal attributes
- Highlight areas of expertise and where you specialize in
- Mention mutual connections and referrals
- Share your long-term vision and career goals
I am excited to apply for the Director of Marketing position at Exchange Bank. I am a proven leader with extensive experience in marketing and communications.
My name is Charles Bloomberg, and I have a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Finance from Cornell University, New York. With this strong financial academic background and 3 years of experience in financial advising and analysis, I’m writing to express my interest in joining the team of financial analysts at Schlumberger & Claxton Associates as the Finance Stream Lead.
I am pleased to present my application for the Manager of Marketing Insights position at Company X. I have spoken with several members of Company X’s management team and was each time impressed by their acuity and passion for both establishing business connections and their firm. I’ve developed a strong interest in providing incredible service to clients across many diverse customer demographics and have in-depth experience doing so.
5. Use Examples to Show Why You’re the Best Candidate
Awesome. You’ve shown interest in your letter by making it clear what position you’re applying for and by giving them an overview of how your abilities could benefit the company.
Now, it’s time to explain that.
Write the backstory of a previous experience in the industry, as well as your accomplishments and the skills you’ve developed. Share how you’ve grown as a professional and how overcoming past obstacles prepared you for carrying out the job responsibilities to make a positive impact.
Include examples to reinforce your points and use data to your advantage if you have any. The aim of this part of your cover letter is to show you have a relevant background. Here are some examples from our cover letter templates:
My experience has been in both private and public companies. I’ve led a team of more than 100 people, and my responsibilities have included managing multiple initiatives and campaigns, monitoring, and sales. I also have experience in overseeing a new product launch and a website relaunch, and I have excelled in managing the website’s audience development and retention.
I began my career with Company A as a Junior Analyst, and I was quickly challenged to take on new tasks and responsibilities. During my first week on the job, I was immediately involved with the analysis of a major retail chain’s financial performance and was asked to conduct a similar analysis of another client. By the end of the first month, I was given my first opportunity to work with a team of senior-level analysts and was tasked with the analysis of a large, publicly held company’s financial performance.
6. Highlight Soft Skills
Whether you're writing a cover letter for when you have no experience or years and years of experience, good communication skills on top of technical expertise can be enough to get you promoted to a manager position.
Hiring managers take notice of job seekers who work well as a team and bring a positive influence to the company culture.
Like the previous step, use examples to illustrate your interpersonal skills as well as your leadership ability. However, this doesn’t always have to be a separate paragraph since it can be embedded in the previous step.
Anyhow, here are example sentences below to showcase soft skills.
• My strong initiative and exceptional organizational skills, combined with my ability to work well under pressure, allow me to play a crucial role in a fast-paced environment.
• I was given a team of more junior analysts to mentor and lead, and I was able to help develop their skills in understanding client needs and working with data to develop a useful analysis.
7. Refer to the Company’s Core Values
At this point, you’ve shown that you’re qualified for the role skills-wise and attitude-wise by showcasing relevant experiences.
But now we shift gears.
Use everything you’ve written so far to make a direct statement about why you would be a great hire. Add a sentence or two about why you believe you’re an asset to the team and refer to the company’s core values to show you align with their culture. This is how you ooze enthusiasm the right way.
Even if you’re writing a cover letter with no experience, having aligned values with the company culture is a factor that makes you qualified for the role.
Here’s some examples below.
• I have a demonstrated ability to apply my skills to solve client problems and ensure optimal solutions. My abilities to work in a team environment and with technical and non-technical people will be instrumental in my success at company X.
• On a personal level, I am a people person with a knack for getting smiles and making clients happy. I am reliable and capable in fast-paced environments, and I always deliver my results on time. When it comes to photo editing, I am highly organized and I pride myself on being extremely attentive to detail, with an eye for presentation.
8. Give a Final Say About Why You’re the Right Person
Leave a lasting impression by adding a personal note about why you believe you’re a good fit.
Summarize your application in a few sentences in the closing paragraph without repeating yourself. This gives you the final say about why you’re the right candidate to work with as well as why you’re passionate.
Here’s a few examples below.
• I consider myself to be a dedicated and dependable individual who possesses excellent verbal and written communication skills. I feel that a relationship with your company would be mutually beneficial, as my educational background, HR experience, and qualifications would make me a perfect fit for your Human Resources position. This opportunity would also allow me to refine my skills in a new working environment.
• I believe that my experience in the pharmacy industry will be a valuable asset to the position at University of Colorado, as well as my ability to learn quickly and effectively. I have always been interested in the healthcare field and I am eager to continue learning about different aspects of pharmacy.
9. Thank the Hiring Manager and Suggest the Next Steps
Use a subtle or direct call to action to suggest what comes next.
Or, simply end your cover letter by saying you look forward to hearing back from them. This doesn’t have to be long. One sentence would suffice.
Here’s some example sentences:
• Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to discussing this position further.
• In closing, I would like to thank you for your time and attention, and I hope to have the chance to discuss the opening with you in person.
• I welcome the opportunity to discuss with you personally how my skills and strengths can best serve your institution. Please contact me at (242) 123-4567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. End the Letter Professionally
Complete your cover letter by signing off with the appropriate closing salutation. There are two ways we recommend:
First and last name
• Yours sincerely,
First and last name
11. Check for Tone and Keywords
Two things to check after completing the draft of your cover letter: tone and keywords.
Firstly, ensure you’re not being overly casual. Although you can project a friendly voice and be more personal by starting sentences with “I”, keep a professional tone because it’s a formal letter.
Next, see if you can replace certain words or phrases on your cover letter with keywords from the company’s job description as well as the company’s about page on their website. But don’t force it – it should sound natural and should be used in the context of your skills and achievements.
12. Read Your Cover Letter One More Time to Check for Errors
Lastly, check the minor details of your cover letter to ensure that there are no spelling, punctuation, or grammar mistakes. Also, take note of what could be rephrased or cut down so that your application is concise.
Here’s a few more tips:
- Read your cover letter out loud to see if it flows well
- Use a tool like Grammarly
- Ask friends or family members for their opinion
- Check your application the next day with a fresh mind
- Ensure sentences are concise
13. Submit Your Cover Letter
Last but not least, follow the instructions from your recruiter or the job description for sending your cover letter. Getting this step wrong could lead to your application being automatically disqualified.
Often, the best format to upload your cover letter via email or web application without affecting its appearance is a PDF.
But for some companies, a cover letter isn’t necessary.
The 5 Best Practices from Rezi's Experts
Good job for making it this far! You’re almost there.
Before wrapping up and showing you how an AI writer can create a tailored cover letter for you in less than a minute, we’ll go through the 5 best practices to keep in mind to write a compelling cover letter.
Use the Active Voice
Ultimately, hiring managers want to know whether you can make a positive impact on the company. So to give them the confidence that you’re the best person to hire, focus on showcasing the results of your previous work by using the active voice.
The active voice puts the spotlight on the subject (you) doing the action. In contrast, the passive voice doesn’t emphasize the significance of the subject since it puts the spotlight on the object.
Here’s a comparison between the active voice and passive voice to show the difference in effect:
• The ability to communicate with people from a diverse range of backgrounds is something I have proven.
• I have proven a strong customer focus with the ability to communicate with people from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Spend More Time on the Opening Paragraph
The first paragraph is the most important because it sets the tone for the rest of your cover letter. Not getting straight to the point can discourage the reader from wanting to continue to read the rest of what you’ve written.
Of all the paragraphs, spend more time on the opening. Make your introduction engaging by directly leading potential employers with your strengths and achievements.
Keep it Short
Although cover letters are a one-page document, the ideal length is around half a page long. But, aim for 180 words and no higher than 350 words. This applies to all job seekers, including those making applications for internship roles.
Recruiters are skimming through dozens of job applications. Hardly any of them nowadays invest the time reading it thoroughly word by word. So, keep your writing short and concise. Writing about the same things as your resume without adding anything new damages the first impression.
Use Statistics and Bullet Points
Statistics and bullet points are useful tools for highlighting your accomplishments.
Plus, they’re both effective for making your application easier to skim. However, your bullet points should be short and shouldn’t overwhelm the reader with too much information. And only use statistics when the data is accurate.
Have 1-2 Sentences That Summarizes Your Value
Have at least 1 sentence that directly tells the hiring manager the value they can expect from working with you. This can either be placed in the opening paragraph or the closing paragraph or even both as long as you don’t say the same thing twice.
Cover Letter Examples That Helped Candidates Land Interviews at Top Companies Like Apple
Want the key takeaways from successful cover letters across certain industries and job positions? See our cover letter examples guide here.
Graphic Designer Cover Letter
Software Engineer Cover Letter
Teacher Assistant Cover Letter
Use an AI Cover Letter Writer to Get It All Done in Less Than 60 Seconds
At the start of this guide, I mentioned that there’s a way to create a tailored cover letter in less than 60 seconds.
Well, now I’m going to show you how it’s done.
Here’s how it works:
- Enter the company name.
- Write the job position/title you’re applying for.
- Select a previous job position/title to highlight.
- Press “AI Writer Ready”.
Then just like that, you’ll have a cover letter that fits your work history along with the company’s job description that you’re applying for. Everything is personalized and generated for you automatically by using AI.
And this will help you land your next job faster because you won’t have to spend another hour or two writing your application.
Or click the video below to see Rezi’s AI cover letter writer in action.
Everyone Has Their Own Stories to Tell
Cover letters give you an advantage over other candidates by going in-depth on your professional background.
Unlike a resume, you can share your personal perspective of how you honed your skills and knowledge. And that’s a story hiring managers are interested in, which helps them with making a hiring decision.