What is a Cover Letter
A cover letter is a one-page document that you submit with your resume to express your interest in a job opening. The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to an employer and provide a brief overview of your work history, professional skills, and an explanation why you’re the best fit for that job.
While your resume focuses on your qualifications and achievements, your cover letter expands on those achievements, showcases your personality, and explains the value you will add to the company.
Writing a great cover letter is easier said than done, especially if you lack work experience. Here are 6 steps to writing a cover letter that will complement your resume, so you can get the interview.
Write a GREAT cover letter
1. Your contact information (and the employer’s details)
Tip: Resume and Cover letter header should be identical.
After your header, include the date and following company contact information:
- First and last name of the person you’re writing to, or the relevant department
- Role of person
- Company name
- Company address
2. Salutation, address the hiring manager ideally by their name
Next, address your cover letter to the hiring manager by name if possible. A standard cover letter salutation includes the hiring manager’s first and last name, and begins with a “Mr.”, “Ms.”, or another relevant professional title.
Tip: Greetings like “To Whom It May Concern” and “Dear Sir or Madam” are old-fashioned, and make your cover letter feel generic.
If you don’t see the hiring manager’s name listed in the job ad, don’t worry. You can easily find out who to address your cover letter to using the following methods:
Ways to find the hiring manager’s name
- Search the company on LinkedIn and click on “People”
- Explore the company’s website (specifically “About Us” or “Team” page)
- As a last resort, contact the human resources department and ask
However, if you absolutely can’t find the hiring manager’s name, using a generic greeting like “Dear Hiring Manager” is considered acceptable by most HR professionals.
3. Write an attention-getting opening paragraph
Start your cover letter with an informative, direct introduction by including the following details in the first one or two sentences:
- Mention specific position you are applying for
- Explain how you learned of the opportunity- when/where
- WHY do you want to work for that company
Here’s an example of a cover letter opening paragraph that effectively introduces the applicant:
“Please accept this letter and resume as my application for the Human Resource Assistant position which I found on Indeed on January 10, 2022. As a current student of Human Resource Management – Bachelor of Commerce and with over 2 years experience working customer service related roles, I am confident that I am fully equipped for this role. My strong interest stems from my passion in combining Human Resource Management with strategic goals and objectives to improve business development. “
You can also make your introduction even more attention-grabbing by adding a bit of personality, passion, or by including a major career highlight. Don’t be afraid to let some of who you are as a person shine through in your cover letter.
Tip: If you received a referral to the job by a current employee, your cover letter introduction is also the ideal place to mention their name and your connection to them.
4. Body Paragraph(s)
Your second and third paragraphs should make a convincing argument you’re the right person for the job by discussing your relevant work experience, skills, and achievements.
- Focus on the transferrable skill sets you have that are most relevant to the job
- Mention 3-4 Keywords from the job posting
- Most relevant 1st
- Provide proof of you using skills mentioned
- Highlights/accomplishments from experience
Here is an example:
With over 4 years experience in customer services related roles, I have developed my leadership, organizational and communication skills. During my time as a Camp counsellor, I was overseeing more than 30 volunteers. I had developed a new system by implementing the use of a scheduling app that organized volunteer schedules, which led to an improved scheduling process and decreased volunteer turnover.
- School name
- Program full name
- Key courses related to job posting (most relevant 1st)
- PROVE skills from mentioned courses by discussing RELEVANT PROJECTS (at least 1) and result
Here is an example:
“With a Bachelor’s in Commerce-Digital Business Marketing, I have developed strong knowledge in database systems, multiple social media platforms and creative planning. In my current program, one of my major projects was to deliver digital engagement strategies to potential consumers by using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Through this group project, I was able to take on the lead role and delegated tasks to my group members, which led to completing the project a week in advance and our project resulted in an estimated consumer use increase by 10%.”
5. Closing Paragraph
When writing your cover letter closing, be polite, confident, and continue to market yourself as the best candidate for the job. Here’s how to write a convincing closing paragraph for your cover letter in three steps:
- Restate your excitement about the job opportunity
- Politely ask the reader to send you an invitation to interview
- Thank the hiring manager for reviewing your application
If it is not stated in the posting that “only chosen applicants will be contacted”, mention when you will follow up with the employer.
“Thank you for considering my application. I am excited about the opportunity of joining your team and would love to discuss the role in more details. I will contact you on the week of Sept 1st to discuss the potential for an interview and follow up on the next steps of my application.
“Thank you for considering my application. I am excited about the opportunity of joining your team and am looking forward to hearing from you. You may contact me at Number or Email.
6. Sign-off (“Sincerely,” and your name below)
Finally, wrap up your cover letter with a professional closing salutation, such as
- Best Regards,
Followed by your signature and name
Emailing your application
- Can copy cover letter into body of email
- Still attach it in 1 pdf document with resume
- Saves you from writing new copy and making mistakes
Write a simple note to the hiring manager:
“Dear Ms. Smith, please find attached my application for the position of __. Thank you for your consideration.”
Subject Line: Application for Marketing Manager – Jane Orr
Summary – Cover Letter Should…
- Complement resume, not repeat it
- Be unique to grab employer’s attention
- Demonstrate your compatibility with the position and the company
- Demonstrates your unique attributes
- Demonstrates your knowledge about the company
Best way to get interviews that lead to job offers is to follow up. If you sit waiting for the world to beat a path to your door, you may wait a long time. Your resume may be sitting in a database waiting to be discovered. The follow-up phone call will get it discovered.
- Ask to set up an interview
- Be ready to sell yourself and why you are perfect for the job
- Find a Job posting that you are interested in
- Customize your Resume for this job posting
- Write the accompanying Cover letter for the job
- Upload: job posting & your Cover Letter and Resume saved as 1 PDF document