How to Write a Cover Letter

Yes, cover letters seem basic, but writing them isn’t so basic at all. Here’s how to write a terrific cover letter.

Articles
How to Write a Cover Letter

What’s a cover letter?

You’ll find all sorts of definitions, but here’s ours: It is a single-page letter that introduces you, highlights your relevant experiences and/or skills, clearly displays your interest in a specific job, and provides you with a chance to thank your future interviewer. It’s sent with your resume to a potential employer when applying for a job. It’s personal, which means a few things: It shows respect for the company and position, it is written in your unique voice, and may even tell a story about you. Oh, one more thing—it’s super important, if you couldn’t tell already!

Do I need a cover letter?

Honestly, the answer is a bit complicated but leans towards yes. Typically, the more white-collar the job (think office settings), the more often a cover letter is required; the more blue-collar the job (think manufacturing facilities), the less often a cover letter is required.

However, the main point is this: even if an employer makes no mention of a cover letter—in other words, it’s optional—it’s in your best interest to write and send one anyway. Because while a resume showcases your chronological experience and hard skills (technical skills that are learned on jobs), a cover letter better conveys your personality, excitement for the opportunity, and soft skills such as ambition, communication and leadership.

How long should my cover letter be?

People have short attention spans… like, shorter than goldfish’s believe it or not. We’re basically trained to be distracted, jumping from one task to another and one screen to another. Time is valuable and people don’t seem to have much of it—especially a hiring manager. That’s why your letter needs to be well written, easy to read and one page. Everything that needs to be said should fit on one page. (See our sample cover letter at the end of this article.)

How personal should I get?

Kind of goes without saying, but make sure to address your letter to the right person. You don’t want Mrs. Smith in accounting to get your letter, when it’s meant for Mr. Smith in operations. True personalization goes much further than that though. Find a way to compliment Mr. Smith, a way to express your admiration for the company. That type of stuff goes a long way.

When it comes to your own personal feelings, don’t be shy. Be transparent with your excitement and enthusiasm. Do this by writing how you feel, not like a robot. If you want to use a certain adjective, do it. If you want to use an exclamation point, do it. Be as natural as possible without going overboard and coming off unprofessional. Hiring managers appreciate this and can better gauge whether you fit not only the position, but also the company’s culture.

Should I brag?

You should subtle brag in a way that comes off as confident but not cocky. Don’t just say, “I’m Mike” or “I’m Jennifer;” say more about yourself. Something unique about your work experience and how it might pertain to this job. Something uncommon—in a good way of course—about your skill set. Metrics around something you accomplished. Maybe even something about your passion for the industry and the company’s contribution to the industry. If you do this correctly, the hiring manager is more likely to remember you and more likely to say, “Mandy might just be the best fit.”

What you shouldn’t do is talk about yourself in every sentence. It’s difficult, but try to limit your “I… “ mentions such as “I can… I do… I want… I will” and replace some of them with “You…” and “Your…” statements. Remember, even though a cover letter is about you, it’s also about the company and the opportunity. Reflect that in your writing.

Should I thank them?

Always. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to say this at the beginning and end. You especially want to mention it early in case the hiring manager doesn’t read your entire letter. Yes, that’s possible, but don’t take offense; blame it on that attention span issue we mentioned. The bottom line is you need to sound genuinely appreciative. You’ve either said thank you via email already or will at an interview (hopefully), but it doesn’t hurt to say it in your cover letter.

OK, I’m officially set.

Yes you are. Now that you know how to write a cover letter, go ahead! Well, line up some job opportunities first, then get to writing. We even included a cover letter sample to get you started. While it’s 100% OK to follow our sample layout, don’t feel compelled to copy it—your cover letter should have your own personal touch!

Already have your cover letter squared away? Check out the next article in our job search series— writing your references.

Ready to find job opportunities? You can find plenty right here. Take a look and see if any are right up your alley.

COVER LETTER SAMPLE

*Not an actual hiring manger, company, location, job candidate, etc.

June 28, 2018

John Smith, COO
Company ABC
100 Lake Drive, Ste. 10
Lake City, TX 10000

Dear Mr. Smith,

Thank you for your time and for the opportunity to apply for Company ABC’s open office manager position.

Based on my research, COMPANY ABC is a great place to work. I’ve heard and read countless positive reviews about the benefits, culture, pay and work-life balance (and even your management style). That alone makes this an appealing opportunity.

When you consider how my seven years of office management experience at Company 123 and my passion for creating an efficient, fulfilling and productive workspace for my colleagues align with this opportunity, it becomes more than appealing—it becomes a dream job.

At company 123, I accomplished many things, including cutting costs on office supplies by 20%, helping HR accelerate a new hire onboarding process by 25%, and revamping the internal communications program. I’m confident I can do the same—and much more—for your business.

I look forward to speaking with you soon. In the meantime, feel free to reach out with any questions. Thank you!


Sincerely,

Mandy Jones
(555) 555-5555
mandy.jones@email.com

Related Articles

Top 7 Resume Mistakes to Avoid

There are several common mistakes that can send your resume straight to the rejection pile. It's not exactly fair. These mistakes are easy to overlook and damage your reputation with the employer. Never fear, Adecco to the rescue to help you avoid some of the most common mistakes.

read more