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How to Write a Cover Letter for Any Job in 2024

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A cover letter is your unique opportunity to showcase your personality and skills. And more than that—it can also demonstrate why you're the ideal candidate for the job. Knowing how to write a cover letter can significantly influence your career trajectory. 

In this comprehensive guide I will demystify the process of cover letter writing, providing you with valuable insights and practical tips to help you craft a standout document with confidence and finesse.

Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from 20+ professional cover letter templates that match your resume. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.

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Sample cover letter for a resume—See more cover letter samples here.

Now, let's start with some basics

What Is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a one-page job application document serving as an introduction to our resume or CV. A cover letter should never be a reiteration of a resume or CV. Its purpose is to introduce you in a personal way as well as provide a broader context for your qualifications and achievements.

Unless the job ad asks you to not send a cover letter, you should always attach one. A good cover letter can help the hiring manager see your worth. A bad one can make your application sink. Luckily I'm about to show you how to write a cover letter that will stand out. 

How to Write a Job-Winning Cover Letter 

In a nutshell: Use a business letter format and a professional cover letter template. Include your and the employer's contact details, and address the hiring manager by name. In 200–400 words, highlight your achievements, professional skills, and relevant experience that make you the best fit for the job. 

A bit too tl;dr? Let’s now move on to detailed instructions on how to write a perfect cover letter:

Prefer the video format? Watch this video to uncover the simple truth of how to write a cover letter for a job application:

 

Step 1: Prepare Yourself Beforehand

You may feel tempted to dive in straight away. But hold your horses for a few more minutes! Before writing a cover letter, it's worth knowing what to write, right? That's why you should spend some time on gathering info first.

Here are a few things to research before writing a cover letter:

  • Job requirements: make sure you understand what they are because your letter will refer to them.
  • Company website: that's the minimum. Check the company history, its goals, and try to learn about the company culture.
  • Hiring manager: you want to address them by name, so do your best to find it!
  • Your resume: make sure it clearly shows you're a good fit for the role, and keep it nearby so you can take a look at it whenever necessary. 

Pro Tip: You can actually reach out to someone from the company you're applying to via LinkedIn. It's best to pick the hiring manager. Try to ask them a clever question about the position. Then, you will be able to refer to this exchange in your cover letter. 

Step 2: Use the proper cover letter format

There's not much freedom when it comes to the cover letter format. Writing poetry when applying for a corporate job may not be the best idea. However, there is certain freedom in choosing a template, as soon as it includes the key parts of a cover letter. The image below shows them all:

If you decide to go for a ready-made cover letter template, you'll save a lot of time. There's a large variety of styles and designs out there, including modern cover letter templates and cover letter templates for creative professions. But you can also make the template from scratch in Word or Google Docs. It's entirely up to you.

Here’s how to format your cover letter:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fit all the information included in the letter on one page. That's how long a cover letter should be

Need some good examples? Check how the best cover letter looks like 

Step 3: Create a Cover Letter Header

A professional cover letter opens with a header. Ideally, your cover letter header should be the same as in your resume (for consistency), so feel free to use the same template. 

If you prefer to write the header of your cover letter from scratch, include the following contact information: 

  • Full name
  • Job title
  • Phone 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.

Step 4: Address the Reader

Once you’re done with the header, it’s time to mention the location and date of writing. 

Then, address your cover letter directly to the hiring manager like so:

  • Dear Katherine,
  • Dear Ms. Smith,
  • Dear Mr. McConnor,

According to studies, people respond actively to hearing/seeing their names—so use it in the cover letter salutation. Look for the hiring manager's name by:

  • Checking the job description
  • Going to the company’s LinkedIn page (to look for the person responsible for uploading the job offer)

If you can’t find the name by any means possible, opt forDear Hiring Manager.” I recommend you avoid starting a 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. 

Follow this template to make sure you include everything: 

[Location, MM/DD/YYYY]

[Hiring Manager’s or Recruiter’s Name]

[Hiring Manager’s or Recruiter’s Job Title]

[Company Name]

[Company Address]

Dear [Ms./Mr.] ... 

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.

Step 5: 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 write the cover letter's intro in a way that attracts and holds the reader’s interest.

Here are several proven strategies for starting your cover letter

  • Highlight your achievements.
  • Display your passion and enthusiasm.
  • Drop names.
  • Do all the above.

Have a look at these two sample cover letter opening paragraphs:

RIGHT

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. Moreover, I have expanded ABC’s client base by 19% since 2018.

WRONG

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 not delivering? 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 just not enough for someone with more than eight years of experience to get the job.

Step 6: Explain Why You’re the Perfect Fit

The second paragraph (main body) of your cover letter has a couple of jobs to perform:

  1. Give the hiring manager what they’re looking for.
  2. Show that you’ll satisfy the company’s specific needs.  
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.
Lauren LittleLauren LittleCareer Coach

Let’s look at another cover letter example to see how this could be done. Remember Jane, our digital marketing manager candidate? The XYZ company she applies to needs (based on the job ad):

  • A savvy digital marketing manager (1)
  • 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:

RIGHT

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:

  • Eight of the nine websites I optimized have achieved and secured their spot in the top 3 results on Google. These are organic, non-paid results for 10+ key search terms.
  • The incoming search engine traffic to all nine websites comprises 47% of the total organic traffic for key terms and phrases.

Your go-to strategy on what your cover letter should say in the main body: 

  • In the first sentence, prove you’re an expert in your field (refrain from bragging too much).
  • The remaining part should be all about how your previous experiences will help your future employer press ahead with their plans.

Pro Tip:A cover letter also is a great place to explain gaps in your employment, if you have any.

Step 7: 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 of your cover letter is showing the hiring manager why you want this job, not just any job. That’s particularly important for entry-level candidates—enthusiasm and passion help prove you'll hit the ground running.

Have a look at these examples:

RIGHT

I know that XYZ’s current plans involve developing a comprehensive online portal focused on healthcare-related issues. This project perfectly matches my personal and professional interests and is an exciting opportunity to create a unique online knowledge base 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.

WRONG

XYZ looks like a fantastic opportunity for me. I thrive in fast-paced environments and would love to leverage my current skill set 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; targeted does. (We’re, of course, assuming you tailored your resume to every job description you’re after, too.) 

Pro Tip: Make your cover letter more impressive by including relevant resume keywords from the job ad.

Step 8: Close With a Promise

How to write a cover letter ending that gets people excited? By providing value. 

The worst mistakes you can make in writing your cover letter's final paragraph are:

  • Coming off needy
  • Focusing on how much you want the job, not on what you have to offer
  • 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:

RIGHT

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

Step 9: 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 (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,

 Want to learn more? Check here: Examples of Professional Cover Letter Signatures

Step 10: Add a Postscript

All of the above sections are must-haves in a good cover letter. But there’s one special trick you can use—the postscript. Why do I think it is so important? Because it’s like a magnet for the hiring manager’s eyes that screams: “you cannot miss this information.”

Write a cover letter 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 you’d be happy to provide them with more details if they find it interesting.

Here's how to make it right:

RIGHT

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.

Worried you might miss something? We’ve got a checklist guide for you: What to Include in a Cover Letter

How to Make a Cover Letter That Stands Out

Think of your cover letter as your personal billboard, a chance to show off what makes you, YOU. It's not about restating your resume, it's about complementing it with your unique story.

Start with an engaging opener that will immediately hook your reader. Then, highlight your key achievements, but remember to tie them back to what the company needs - because this is about them as much as it is about you.

Keep it concise, personal, and positive. Show them why you're not just a great fit for the job, but also a perfect fit for their team.

Ultimately, a great cover letter should be all about “why should we hire you” and “what’s in it for us.” The winning tactic here is focusing on them, not just on you, which will ultimately make you stand out from other applicants

And that’s why it’s worth spending time writing a solid cover letter. 

Professional Cover Letter Examples to Get You Inspired

If you get stuck when writing your cover letter, I suggest you take a look at a professional cover letter example, as it can be really helpful. We've gathered a selection of over 10 professionally-crafted cover letters that cater to a range of industries and job levels. Whether you're an entry-level candidate or an experienced professional, you'll find a sample that can guide you on your job application journey:

You can also browse our collection of pro cover letter samples here.

Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:

See more cover letter templates and start writing.

Key Takeaway

Here's a reminder of how to write a great cover letter in 10 steps:

  1. Research the company.
  2. Format the cover letter template properly.
  3. Double-check your contact info in the header.
  4. Address the recipient personally.
  5. Catch their attention.
  6. Prove you match the company's needs.
  7. Explain your motivation.
  8. Finish with a call to action.
  9. Add a formal closing sentiment and a postscript.

Or use our 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 me a shout in the comments, and I’ll reply!

About Zety’s Editorial Process

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team to make sure it follows Zety's editorial guidelines. We’re committed to sharing our expertise and giving you trustworthy career advice tailored to your needs. High-quality content is what brings over 40 million readers to our site every year. But we don't stop there. Our team conducts original research to understand the job market better, and we pride ourselves on being quoted by top universities and prime media outlets from around the world.

Sources

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:

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?

A cover letter to an internship resume is a fantastic way to shoo away your competition. So don't hesitate and write a cover letter for an internship you’ve dreamt of for too long.

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 2024?

In 2024, 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?

Yes.

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.

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Aleksandra Nazaruk
Aleksandra is a writer and a career expert at Zety. Having experienced both sides of recruitment processes in various industries, she is confident you just need the right approach to land the job you want. In her guides, she strives to deliver straightforward career tips that are easy to follow and bring maximum impact.

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