Do I need a cover letter? Is it important? What if the job offer doesn’t require a cover letter? Read this guide to find out all you need to know.
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Unlike a resume, a cover letter lets you introduce yourself to the hiring manager, provide context for your achievements and qualifications, and explain your motivation to join the company.
But you can’t just write a cover letter. It has to be perfect. So… How do you write the ideal cover letter? You know—the kind of letter that will make the employer call you up in the middle of the night? Give us 10 minutes, and you’ll know how to write a cover letter like that.
This guide will show you:
- How to write a cover letter for a job application better than 9 out of 10 others.
- A sample cover letter that will get you more interviews.
- Cover letter writing tips and hacks to boost your chances of landing a job.
- Step-by-step instructions for making a cover letter in our online builder.
Have a specific job in mind? Find the right cover letter sample for your job among Cover Letter Examples for All Professions
And if you experience writer’s block, let us write your cover letter for you. Tell us your name, job title, and years of experience to get an automatically generated cover letter in less than a minute. Pick from 18+ cover letter templates and match your resume!
Sample cover letter for a resume—See more cover letter samples here.
What Is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a document attached to a job application designed to introduce the candidate in a more personal way. It should complement the information from a resume or CV, expanding on the skills and achievements and highlighting a selection of the most relevant accomplishments.
See? It’s not rocket science. It’s just a letter that supports your job application.
What Is the Purpose of a Cover Letter?
There are several reasons hiring managers request cover letters, and job applicants should write them. The main reason is that the cover letter can provide additional, more personal information—something difficult to grasp reading a resume. But it also:
- Makes you stand out from other applicants
- Expresses your interest in the position
- Shows your knowledge about the company
- Presents how your skills and experience can assist the company
- Proves you understand the needs of the company
And that’s why it’s worth spending some time writing a great cover letter that does all of the above. So let’s learn how to.
How to Write a Cover Letter
Watch the video to uncover the simple truth of writing a cover letter for a job:
Worried you might miss something? You can relax. We’ve got a checklist guide for you: What to Include in a Cover Letter
Let’s now move on to detailed instructions on how to write a successful cover letter:
1. Start With a Header
Ideally, your cover letter header should be the same as in your resume for consistency. So use the same template and don’t worry about the design. If you prefer to make one from scratch, though, include the following contact information:
- Full name
- Job title
- Telephone number
- Email address
Pro Tip: If you send your cover letter via email, don’t use your current work email address. It’s impolite to your current and potential employer.
2. Address the Reader
Once you’re done with the header, mention the location and date of writing. Then follow with your reader’s details like this:
Use the below template to format yours:
[Hiring Manager’s or Recruiter’s Name]
[Hiring Manager’s or Recruiter’s Job Title]
Now, address your cover letter directly to the hiring manager, no two ways about it. And use their name in the cover letter salutation. According to the study, we tend to react actively to hearing or seeing one’s name. Use that knowledge to catch their attention.
Choose from the below examples of professional cover letter greetings:
Pro Tip: Wondering whether you should use the hiring manager’s first or last name? That depends on the company culture. Use the first name if you’re applying to a relaxed, casual company. For corporate cover letters, it’s safer to use the addressee's last name.
To find the hiring manager’s name, look into the job description to see if the recruiter left their name or go to the company’s LinkedIn page. You should find people there responsible for uploading the job offers.
If you can’t find the name by any means possible, opt for Dear Hiring Manager. Avoid starting your cover letter with To Whom It May Concern like the plague. And if you’re not living in Victorian England, don’t start a cover letter with Dear Sir or Madam either.
3. Make a Proper Introduction
Here’s the brutal truth: these few sentences at the beginning of your cover letter will determine whether the hiring manager will read on. So you need to start your cover letter in a way that attracts and holds the reader’s interest.
There are a few different, effective strategies for your cover letter opening. You can highlight your achievements, display your passion and enthusiasm, or drop names.
Have a look at these two sample cover letter opening paragraphs:
As a lifelong enthusiast of XYZ’s marketing initiatives, I was thrilled to see your posting for the position of Digital Marketing Manager. I am positive I can help with XYZ’s upcoming challenges. I have experience with leading successful national online campaigns with budgets over $300,000. What is more, I have succeeded in expanding ABC’s client base by 19% since 2018.
In response to your posting for the Digital Marketing Manager position, I would like to express my interest in participating in the recruitment process. As a digital marketing manager with 8+ years of experience, I am positive that I would succeed in this role.
Why is the wrong example so bad? Because it provides no value and details, the bottom line is: “I’ve already done this job, so I think I’d fit in.” And it’s not enough for someone with more than eight years of experience to get the job.
No achievements yet? Don’t worry. We’ve got a dedicated guide to show you how to write a good cover letter and land your dream internship: Internship Cover Letter
4. Explain Why You’re the Perfect Fit
Your second paragraph needs to give the hiring manager what they’re looking for and show that you’ll satisfy the company’s specific needs.
Remember Jane, our digital marketing manager candidate? The XYZ company she applies to needs:
- First of all, a savvy digital marketing manager (1).
- And, on top of that, someone who will supervise the development of their new online portal (2).
Let’s look at how Jane managed to show that she’s both:
In my current position at ABC, I have supervised all phases of our online marketing initiatives, both technical and creative (1). Last year, my key challenge was to design and optimize nine product websites for XYZ’s most strategic products, improve our SEO results, and enhance the UX (2). Here we are a year later:
Wondering how to say that in your cover letter? In the first sentence, prove that you’re an expert in your field but don’t keep on bragging. The remaining part should be all about how your previous experiences will help your future employer press ahead with their plans.
Job seekers impress employers by identifying transferable skills related to new positions. People often apply to new positions, so it’s likely you’ll not have the exact experience requested. But employers would rather know how your past experiences will inform future decisions. You were a hostess? Relate those management and organizational skills to the Executive Assistant position.
5. Show Your Motivation to Join the Company
Your future employers have needs. If they’re willing to hire you, it’s because they think you’ll satisfy those needs. But they also want you to enjoy working with them—that way, they know you’re more likely to stay with them for longer.
The key to writing a perfect third paragraph is showing the hiring manager why you want this job, not just any job. This is particularly important when making an entry-level cover letter. Enthusiasm and passion help prove you'll hit the ground running.
Have a look at these cover letter examples:
I know that XYZ’s current plans involve developing a comprehensive online portal focused on healthcare-related issues. This project is a perfect match for my personal and professional interests and an exciting opportunity to create a unique online base of knowledge for patients and healthcare professionals. I would love to leverage my knowledge of SEO marketing and online growth marketing to achieve groundbreaking results with this initiative.
XYZ looks like a fantastic opportunity for me. I thrive in fast-paced environments and would love to leverage my current skillset to do better for your company.
Above all, you want to avoid writing too much of a general cover letter. Generic doesn't win jobs; tailored and targeted does.
Pro tip: If you're looking to work for a company but there aren't any open positions, try writing a letter of interest for a job. It's a great way of uncovering vacancies that aren't even advertised.
6. Close With a Promise
How to make the best cover letter ending? By providing value. The worst mistakes you can make in the final paragraph are coming off needy, focusing on how much you want the job, not on what you have to offer, and repeating the clichéd phrase “Thank you for your consideration and your time.”
Instead, tell the hiring manager that you’re looking forward to meeting in person and discussing how your experience and knowledge can help your future employer fulfill their goals. Like here:
I would welcome the chance to discuss your digital marketing objectives and show you how my success at ABC can translate into digital and online marketing growth for XYZ.
Trying to find exciting ways to end your cover letter, but to no avail? See how to write a convincing final paragraph here: How to Successfully Close a Cover Letter
Want to save time and have your professional job application ready in minutes? Here are a sample cover letter and a matching resume made using Zety builder. Pick a cover letter template and build a coordinating job application.
See more cover letter samples and start writing.
7. Stay Formal in the Closing Salutation
Once you’ve written the body of your cover letter, you just need to put a formal closing at the very end. Write “Sincerely” and follow it with your full name. Adding your handwritten signature is optional, but it’s recommended for more formal cover letters.
If you’re not a fan of the well-worn “Sincerely,” feel free to use any of the following:
- Thank you,
- Best regards,
- Kind regards,
- Respectfully yours,
- With best regards,
8. Add a Postscript
All of the above sections are must-haves in a good cover letter format. But there’s one special trick you can use—the postscript. Why is it so important? Because it’s like a magnet for the hiring manager’s eyes that screams: “you cannot miss this information.”
Use the postscript to tell the hiring manager about something impressive about your career, even if it’s not strictly related to the job opening. And say that you’d be happy to provide them with more details if they find it interesting.
P.S.—I would also value the opportunity to show you how my e-detailing solutions grew the combined sales of three ABC flagship products by a record-breaking 13% in one year.
9. Double-Check the Formatting
Before you hit send, make sure your cover letter formatting is intact. Here’s everything you need to know:
- Choose a legible cover letter font like Arial or Garamond, and keep it between 10 and 12 points in font size.
- Set even margins on all sides. 1-inch margins should be perfect.
- Left-align all your contents.
- Use double cover letter spacing between paragraphs and 1–1.15 between lines.
- Be sure to keep your cover letter length to one page.
- Title your cover letter by JobTitle—CoverLetter—YourName.
- Let your cover letter layout stay intact en route to the recruiter by saving the file in PDF.
How to Write a Cover Letter Using an Online Builder
Not enough time? Or maybe a few too many jobs to apply for? Try giving an online cover letter builder a go to write and tailor your cover letter in a flash.
Let’s walk you through the five stages of making a cover letter in the Zety builder:
1. Choose Where to Start
Depending on your preference, you can either create a cover letter from scratch or use the resume upload feature. The latter allows you to import the information from your resume into the cover letter, and it proves useful when applying for multiple jobs. (Of course, assuming you tailored your resume to every job description you’re after!)
2. Target the Specific Job
Now’s the time to detail your cover letter. Let us know which position you’re chasing, along with the company name.
Based on the position you selected, pick your top skills that should make it to the cover letter. But! Choose wisely. Recruiters may not treat all skills with the same importance. Use the job description to find out which are the most desired and highlight them in the letter.
3. Include Your Background Information
Choose how many years of relevant experience you have, which also involves internships or volunteer gigs. Depending on your selection, you’ll be prompted to say more about your education or work history.
If you have any gaps in your employment, you’ll also have a chance to disclose and explain them.
4. Establish Your Working Style
As the final part, help us personalize your cover letter by selecting the working style that best describes you. This will set the right tone for your application.
5. Double-Check and Download
Once you’re done filling out the information, see if there’s everything you expected. There might be cover letter sections that you need but which aren’t the default. Don’t worry! By using the Add Section function, you can include information detailing, for example, your availability or expected salary.
Now that you have the contents ready, use the bar below to swap the templates, pick the correct formatting, or choose colors. Keep in mind that it’s best when your cover letter matches your resume.
Et voilà! Your cover letter is ready. Download it in either .docx or PDF format, depending on your recruiter's wishes.
For the final thought on how to write a cover letter:
- Ensure your contact information is correct.
- Personalize the cover letter and address the hiring manager directly.
- Open your cover letter strong with your most proud accomplishment.
- Explain your fit for the position by describing your relevant experience and professional successes.
- Close with a call to action and sentiment.
Or use the cover letter builder to remember it all for you!
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. Do you have any questions about how to make a cover letter? Want to share an example of a cover letter? Give us a shout in the comments, and we’ll reply!
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Write a Cover Letter
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a formal letter that accompanies a CV or a resume. It includes a candidate’s introduction and an overview of the candidate’s qualifications, skills, and accomplishments most relevant to the job they’re pursuing. The cover letter also serves to express the candidate’s interest in the position and the company, as well as eagerness to contribute to the company’s success. It can also help to explain employment gaps.
What are the four parts of a cover letter?
- Cover letter header with your contact information such as full name, phone number, and email address
- Cover letter introduction with your hiring manager’s address and a hook that hypes the reader up so much that they can’t stop reading
- Cover letter body with a description of your significant accomplishments and strengths that you’ll bring to the table. (Beware! It’s not a copy of your resume.)
- Cover letter closing with a call to action and your signature
What should a cover letter say?
That you’re the one. That you want them, but that they want you, too. That you’re the solution to their problems. That’s what your cover letter should say.
And you can achieve all of that by having a number of things in your cover letter:
- action verbs and power words
- accomplishment statements
- organized cover letter layout, and
- enthusiastic but determined tone of voice
How to write a simple cover letter?
To make cover letter writing simple, you need to know a couple of things first:
- Create proper cover letter formatting before putting down words. You’ll ensure a correct structure and that you’ll fit onto one page with your cover letter.
- Find your hiring manager’s or recruiter’s name. By personalizing your cover letter, you have a higher chance of landing the gig.
- Create a list of job keywords you need to target with your application. Have a look at the job ad and mark those words which speak of necessary qualifications and qualities. Then use them in your paragraphs.
- Never lie in your job application.
- And lastly, do as extensive research about the company as possible. The intricate details about their mission, values, and vision will help you find an angle to write your cover letter.
How to write a cover letter for an internship?
First and foremost, prove to your potential employer that you’re worth hiring, and that they’re a great company to work for. Do your research and don’t be shy to show what you’ve learned. Later use that knowledge to give away your connection to the company and its values. Show your transferable skillset and achievements, and let your determination and motivation do their magic.
How to write a cover letter for 2022?
In 2022, write your cover letter with these simple steps:
- Create a consistent look by mirroring a resume header to your template.
- Make a clean cover letter layout to keep enough whitespace on the page.
- Find an angle to write your cover letter—motivation to advance, shared values or mission statement, recent developments in the industry. Doing thorough research always helps.
- Start your cover letter with a relevant accomplishment that makes the reader want to carry on.
- Create a smooth transition from the hook through your strengths to motivation in 3 to 4 paragraphs, tops.
- Call your recruiter to action in the cover letter closing and ask for a meeting with you.
Is a cover letter necessary?
Almost half of the recruiters reject applications without a cover letter. Cover letters are a treat for those who still care to hire dedicated professionals. (And that’s you, right?)
It’s no surprise, though, that you’re questioning whether a cover letter is necessary. The entire job application process can be exhausting, so cutting down on documents you have to produce always seems like a good idea. But not this time.