Confused about how to write a cover letter for a job application?
You don’t need to be confused.
This guide will show you how to write the perfect cover letter for a job application. We also included a sample cover letter template to help you get started faster.
With our well-crafted guide, you will learn:
What a cover letter is
About the perfect guide to writing a cover letter
How to structure and format a cover letter
How to tailor your cover letter to a job role
Different types of cover letters
Cover letter dos and don’ts
How to use a cover letter template
Before you start writing your cover letter in the first place, it is important for you to know the aim and purpose of a cover letter in the first place. A cover letter is a document that provides additional information about your skills and experience which is usually accompanied by a resume.
The cover letter provides details about why you are qualified for a particular job. Never make the mistake to think that a cover letter is another copy of your resume, you should rather see it as a sales pitch that will help you get an invite and afterwards the job.
The cover letter and the application letter are slightly different because an application letter can stand alone unlike the cover letter that is usually accompanied by the CV. However, it is common place for the cover letter and the application letter to be used interchangeably in our society. So when you are asked to submit an application letter as a requirement for a job application, then you can submit the cover letter.
These are really simple cover letter guides that would help you get interview invites faster than before:
A good cover letter should have a heading which usually appears at the beginning of the cover letter. The heading of your cover letter may vary depending on how you wish to send it.
If you are pasting it in the body of the mail, the format for the heading is slightly different from when you are sending it as a hard copy or an attachment. When you are pasting the cover letter in the body of the mail, you would need to use a strong subject line that will give the hiring manager the first impression about you.
If you are sending the hard copy of your cover letter, then your heading can be in this form:
Your Contact Information;
Your City, State Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address
Employer Contact Information;
City, State Zip Code
Write an Attention Getting Introduction (First Paragraph)
The first paragraph of a cover letter is one of the most important aspects of the cover letter because that is what the recruiter or hiring manager will see first. To write a good cover letter, you should start your introduction with a greeting/salutation. You should start your cover letter salutation with Dear sir./madam./Mr./Mrs.
You should be very careful not to address your hiring manager wrongly when you are trying to greet. You should take your time to research the hiring manager to find out his/her name, but if you can’t do that, then you can simply address them as “Dear Hiring Manager”.
Another information you should add to your first paragraph is introducing yourself. After greeting the recruiter, you can then go ahead to introduce yourself. Introducing yourself doesn’t mean you should tell the recruiter about your life history, you should rather introduce yourself by telling the employer the position you applied for and how you learned about the position. Always remember to keep your introduction short and straight to the point.
Sell Yourself to the Recruiter (Second Paragraph)
Since the cover letter is a marketing tool, then you should seize that opportunity to sell yourself to the recruiter/prospective employer. The second paragraph should more or less be a response to the job description, which gives you an opportunity to convince the hiring manager that you are a good fit for the position.
To properly sell yourself to your hiring manager or prospective employer, you should tell the hiring manager how your skills, previous experiences, and abilities will enable you to meet the company’s expectations. Using words or phrases from the job description in your cover letter can help you sell yourself better.
See Yourself in the Company (Third Paragraph)
In the third paragraph, you have to go a step above selling your skills and abilities the hiring manager. This paragraph has to do with you being a part of the company’s vision. The purpose of this paragraph is to make the hiring manager see how well you fit into the company. This paragraph will require you to carry out a research about the company and its vision.
This paragraph will help explain how you fit into the company structure and how you can help push the company forward to achieve its goals.
Anticipate the interview (Closing Paragraph)
In the closing paragraph of your cover letter, you should restate in a way the skills that make you a good fit for the job and why you would love to work for that particular company. You should also state that you would appreciate the opportunity of an interview/employment discussions. Anticipating the interview will help you prepare better for the interview.
It is also important for you to explain what you intend to do to follow up and how you intend to it (you can tell them that you would send them a mail in one week if you don’t hear from them. Always remember to thank the employer for considering to read your letter.
For email cover letter, the closing can be quite different. You are expected to formally sign off when writing an email cover letter. The sign off can include your contact information or your email signature after your valediction.
Data Entry Manager
Facebook/LinkedIn handle (if necessary)
001-005-6676 (telephone number)
Have you thought of structures or formats you should use in your cover letter? Maybe not, but they are really important. Aside from the actual content on the page, the overall structure and format of your cover letter give an impression of you to the hiring manager.
You should also structure and format your cover letter in such a way that it won’t be sifted out on the ATS (applicant tracking system). Since some companies use the ATS to sift cover letters, then it is important for you to format your cover letter. Since ATS usually work based on keywords, then having the right keywords on your cover letter is key. By directly responding to the job description and using phrases from it to describe yourself and skills can help you optimize your letter for the ATS.
General Cover Letter Structure and Format
These are few tips to help you format and structure your cover letter:
When you are choosing a font for your cover letter ensure to keep it professional and simple. It is not advisable for you to use extremely fanciful fonts for your cover letter. It is better to stick with simple and professional fonts like Arial, Calibri, Verdana, Times New Roman etc. using fanciful font may not make your words clear enough to the recruiter or the ATS.
You should also use size 10 – 12 points for easy better readability. Using a bigger font size will make your letter look unprofessional and a smaller size may be difficult to read.
The alignment of margin should be uniform throughout your document. You can use “1- 1.5” margins, they are always safe. Using the proper margin prevents you from having a cramped up content. Then on alignment, it is advisable to align your content to the left.
Align your text left and use standard 1-inch margins all the way around. If your letter is spilling off onto a second page, first reread it and see if there’s anything you can cut. If you can’t cut anything, you can consider shrinking the margins to ¾” or ½”, but avoid going smaller than that so your cover letter doesn’t look squished on the page.
Good spacing is really essential for the readability of your cover letter. Spacing your cover letter well will help your hiring manager read it easily. Make your cover letter single-spaced, it is good to add a space between each section of your cover letter.
You should not have more than 3-4 paragraphs on your cover letter. Try to keep your cover letter to a single page, to achieve this, you must make sure you are able to communicate the essential information in fewer words.
Your cover letter should be saved in compactible file formats, the file formats should be one that can be easily downloadable. Sometimes hiring managers make use of the applicant tracking system to sift cover letters, so it necessary to save your documents in a compactible format (either word or PDF). You should take note of the name you give to your document, you can rename them to something that is more specific. You can use this format of first name - last name - cover letter (e.g. John – Peters – cover – letter.doc) to make it easily recognizable for the person viewing it.
Edit and Proof read Your Cover Letter
It is very important to proof read your cover letter to be sure there are no errors before you attempt to send them out. It may sound small, but small errors can ruin the whole cover letter. You can read it over and over again or ask a friend to help you go through to make sure there are no errors. To make the editing and proof reading easier, you can make use of grammarly it is easier and faster.
It is very important for your cover letter to be tailored to the particular position that you are applying for. It is not advisable for you to have a “one- fits – all” kind of cover letter, you should rather create different cover letters based on the position you are applying for.
Employers expect to see customized cover letters that will convince them that you are worth interviewing and also a good fit for the job. Tailoring your cover letter is far more than changing the name of the company/hiring manager, rather every cover letter should be tailored to include vital information like:
You should edit the contact information to include the name of the new hiring manager, address, phone number etc. You should also edit the name of the new hiring manager in the salutation if you know it.
The Position (First paragraph)
Editing this aspect of the cover letter is key, always remember to edit the first paragraph of the cover letter because that is what the hiring manager will likely see first. When you are applying for a different job, it is very important for you to edit the first paragraph of your cover letter to reflect the position you are applying for and where you found the job posting.
Your skills/abilities (Second paragraph)
The second paragraph is seen as the body of the cover letter, and is sometimes the most difficult aspect of the cover letter because this is where you will have to prove to the hiring manager that you are the best person for the job.
You must have talked about your skills and experience in your resume, but the cover letter help you go deeper to prove why a combination of your skills, abilities and experience comes together to make you the best candidate for the position. Editing this section of your cover letter to suit a particular position tells the hiring how you fit into that particular position.
What you stand to offer (Third paragraph)
The third paragraph is what gets the hiring manager’s eye glued to your cover letter. This part has more to do with research, this is where you prove that you are the best candidate. You must have researched the company’s vision, and this is the time you have shoe how your skills, abilities, experience and personality will help the organization achieve its goal.
It is very important you edit this part because as company differ, so does their vision and goal. So tailoring your skills and abilities to suit the specific position and organization is key.
You may not need to spend time on your conclusion like others sections of the cover letter. The closing and the signature can remain the same, you may decide to vary it if you wish. Don’t forget to save your document with a new name.
A cover letter as the name implies is a cover of your resume and not a duplicate. The cover letter is an introduction of who you are in to relation to the position advertised. The cover letter type you wish to write largely depends on your reason and the purpose of the letter. The following are the types of cover letters you may wish to write:
The application cover letter
The application cover letter is usually written in response to a job opening that has been advertised. This type of cover letter should be formatted in a professional way to include a proper salutation and closing. When writing this kind of cover letters, you should make sure you give a detailed information about you and the company you are applying to.
The information you give about yourself in this kind of cover letter should be one that shows why you are the best hire for the position advertised. The purpose of this letter is to sell yourself to your prospective employer.
Prospecting Letter/Letter of interest
A prospecting letter/letter of interest is a letter that is sent to inquire about any position that you may be qualified to fill. Sometimes, you may be aware that a company is recruiting, but you may not know the exact position they are recruiting for. The prospecting letter allows the employer know that you are interested in the company. This letter show the skills in areas of work that you are interested in. You may also send your resume alongside this letter for future considerations.
This kind of letter recommends you to a company you wish to work for based on the experience you have with other companies you have worked with. The networking letter can be written by another person on your behalf to recommend you for a position.
This type of cover letter is very effective because it gives you the opportunity to add recommendations from people that you have worked with before. This kind of letters help you connect with people that may end up becoming your collaborators.
This type of cover letter is addressed to a particular person that may be your boss or the human resource manager. This kind of letter is written when you notice a particular company you want to work for and you decide to send a direct mail addressing someone in the company. The essence of this kind of cover letter is not necessarily to request for a job, but to build a relationship with the employer and to show your interest in the job.
There is also a kind of cover letter that you can write to provide a solution. Some companies suffer serious bad economic times due to various reasons like; poor employee performance, poor revenue generation, over staffing etc. You can write a cover letter that tells the employers about how your skills will solve the situation of the company.
Since writing a cover letter is that extra effort you put into your job-search that can land you the dream job, then getting yourself familiar with some common cover letter dos and don’ts will help create a good cover letter.
8 Cover Letter Dos
Research the company and the hiring manager before you start writing anything
Always address the letter to the right person
Tell the hiring manager how you can help the company to achieve its goals.
Talk about your skills in relation in relation to the position advertised
Add keywords from the job description in your letter
Always tailor your cover letter to fit the particular position and company you are applying to.
Always proof read your cover letter to make sure there are little or no errors at all.
Top Cover Letter Don’ts
Don’t duplicate your resume
Focus on your strength and not weakness
It should not be too long (maximum of one page)
Avoid making grammatical errors
Don’t forget to include a call-to-action at the closing of your cover letter to show your interest in the position. It could be like this; “ I will follow up with you with a mail next week to respond to some questions you may wish to ask, you can contact me on (insert contact number) in the meantime”
Don’t copy and paste contents from other people’s cover letter in your own. It is important for you sound original and true about what you want.
Since a cover letter could be that thing you need to make your job hunting process a successful one, then creating a selling cover letter becomes really important. Writing an impressive cover letter for the first time could be really challenging, but using a template makes it easy for you to edit and personalize your cover letter. See cover letter template that will help you personalize your cover letter.
A sample Cover letter templates for job-seekers
Use the tips in this article to write the perfect cover letter that can help you stand out from other applicant. And if you don't want to start from scratch, just download the template and customise it using the tips in our cover letter guide.