How to Write a Perfect Cover Letter: Step by Step Guide
A cover letter is a vital piece of document for any job seeker. Every person who wants to apply to a company has a cover letter, and if yours isn’t perfect, you’re likely not going to get the job. That’s why we’ve put together this guide—to help you nail your cover letter!
We know that writing an effective cover letter can be tough, especially because there is so much information on how to write one. So we’ve done our research and found tips from some of the best places on the internet. We’ve also contacted human resource recruiters ourselves with questions about how one should write their excellent covering letters.
So without further ado, let’s dive into everything you need to create an amazing covering letter!
What Is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a formal business letter that accompanies your resume. It would help if you addressed it directly to the person hiring for the job. It should include information about why you are qualified for the position, how you learned about the opening and why you are interested in working there. A cover letter is not an autobiography or even a full job description; it’s simply your introduction to an employer who has not yet met you face-to-face—a welcome letter of sorts that explains who you are and what makes them want to call on their phone number at home rather than toss out your application with all the others on his desk.
Because so many people send in applications these days (many of them through online portals like Monster), employers have become accustomed to receiving hundreds of resumes from people who think they might be qualified for jobs they can barely spell correctly. Many applicants now include cover letters with their applications to stand out from this crowd—and some even write separate ones just for LinkedIn connections! When done well, however, these letters can help set apart those candidates who care about landing an interview from those who want any old job at any price—and sometimes even help clinch that coveted interview slot before anyone else gets their hands on it!
Why Do We Write a Cover letter?
A cover letter is a formal letter that accompanies your resume. It serves a few purposes: to show interest in the position, explain why you’re qualified for it and why you’d be a good fit for the company, and create positive first impressions with hiring managers.
Because of this, you must write your cover letter carefully. It should be clear and concise; if there are grammatical errors or typos in your application materials, hiring managers might assume that they’ll find more mistakes on the job (even if there aren’t any).
In addition to being professional-looking and error-free, here are some tips for making sure your cover letter stands out:
Steps to Writing a Cover Letter
Here’s the step-by-step process you should follow when writing a cover letter:
Step 1. The First Part of the Cover Letter
The first part of your cover letter is the most important. It’s where you introduce yourself and give an overview of why you’re a great fit for the position.
Here are some tips for making it perfect:
- Start by introducing yourself, briefly telling the reader who you are and what role you play in your organization or team. For example: “I’m a senior software engineer at Google, where I manage our cloud infrastructure…”
- Use this section to explain why you’re applying for this specific job. For example: “I’m writing because I read about [company] in The New Yorker and think I’d be a great fit for your open position…”
- Next, describe why you’re excited about working at this company—what they do, how they do it, etcetera—and why that would be a good fit for them and yourself. This is an opportunity to show off some knowledge about their company! And remember not just what makes them different but also what makes them similar; if there’s anything there that overlaps with experiences or interests from past work or life experiences (like studying geology or living on the west coast), then mention those things too!
- Finally, provide one-two lines describing how (or even exactly where) you heard about this opportunity from either other people within your network or through outside resources like online listings/job boards/newspaper advertisements/etcetera.
Step 2. Create the Header
- Include the date.
- Include the name of the addressee.
- Include the name of the company.
- Include the address of the company. You can find this on their website or in an online directory [list]. Don’t use “Street Address,” “123 Main St.,” or other vague terms like that—this is an important part of your letter! Make sure you have it right before sending off your application materials, so no one has to go through extra trouble to contact you about something small but easily fixed with more research on your part (and theirs).
Step 3. Use a Personalized Salutation
This is where you get to have a little fun and stand out from the crowd of candidates. You should always use a professional greeting with the person’s full name, whether over-the-top or just plain silly. It shows that you pay attention to details and care about impacting your potential future boss. If you don’t know who will read your cover letter, use the generic “Dear Hiring Manager” instead of a name — but make sure it still sounds personal!
Step 4. The Body
Now that you’ve covered your background and qualifications, it’s time to discuss why you’re the perfect fit for this job. In your body paragraph(s), including a few skills that make you ideal for the position and company and some of your professional and personal achievements.
While it may be tempting to go on at length about yourself in a lengthy paragraph, try not to do so. Remember: You want the reader to be able to skim this section!
The First Paragraph of the body
The first paragraph of the body should concisely introduce you. It should be able to stand alone as it is the first thing that hiring managers will read, and they will decide if they want to continue reading based on this paragraph. Make sure it is clear and easy to read by using short sentences and avoiding jargon or industry terminology, which may prove difficult for people unfamiliar with your industry or role.
The best way to do this is by showing your enthusiasm for the job and demonstrating that you have done some research about them (which is what we’ll talk about next). You could also include some personal details such as where you live or why you decided to move location to secure employment at their organization.
If possible, try referencing something that caught their attention during one of their interviews (if they have conducted interviews). This could be something they said or did which demonstrated their values – not necessarily something positive but any aspect of personality which would make them stand out amongst other applicants. For example: “I was impressed by how well-organized [your business] was during my last visit when I came in for an interview.”
The Second Paragraph
Explain how your experience and qualifications make you uniquely qualified in the second paragraph. If a specific skill is required or desired by the employer, mention it here. Include that if you have won an award or earned a certification related to this field.
Finally, if there was any training involved with this position that is not common knowledge (for example, Microsoft Excel certification), mention it here.
The Third Paragraph
The third paragraph is where you describe how your education and experience are relevant to the job. This section should include examples of skills, knowledge, and abilities that match the business’s needs.
If you’re a recent graduate with limited work experience, focus on your college coursework and internships.
If you are a seasoned professional with years of experience under your belt, use the third paragraph to explain how this experience will be useful for what they do at their company.
For example: “I believe I am ready for this position because of my deep understanding of [topic]. In addition, I have plenty of [relevant] skills that will help me succeed in this role, like…
Step 5. Closing the Cover Letter
Here’s what to do:
- Thank the hiring manager for their time. This is a good place to reiterate why you are qualified for the position and how your skills will benefit the company.
- Say, “I look forward to learning more about this opportunity,” or something similar. This is a polite way of saying, “please give me an interview!”
- Ask for an interview in person (if possible) or over Skype or Facetime/Google Hangouts. You can also clarify if you prefer phone interviews, video calls, etc., but don’t hesitate to ask for face-to-face time if that’s what works best for you.
- Include contact information at the bottom of your cover letter so that hiring managers can easily reach out with questions and set up interviews—make sure it includes both email address and phone number(s). Please put them in a separate section so they’re not buried at the bottom of your letter where they might get overlooked! If applicable, include social media handles like Twitter (@username), LinkedIn (link), and Facebook (link).
The Closing Paragraph
It’s important to close your cover letter with a thank you. A simple “I hope to hear from you” is appropriate; consider something more personal if you want to scandal. For example:
- Thank you again for the opportunity to interview with [company name].
- It was a pleasure meeting Mr./Ms. [last name], and I’m thrilled about the opportunity to discuss my qualifications in detail. I would love the chance to meet in person! Please let me know when we can set up an appointment or phone call at your earliest convenience to get started on what I’m sure will be a mutually beneficial relationship between our two companies!
When it comes to closing your cover letter, there are three main options:
- Sincerely, yours, and respectfully. These words are the most formal of all closing statements and are typically used when addressing a person you don’t know well.
- Regards and faithfully yours. Both of these words are also quite formal (and outdated), but they have an air of familiarity that distinguishes them from simply “Sincerely” and “Respectfully” in terms of politeness. If you choose to use either of these words, know that some may find them too casual for their tastes; if so, stick with “Sincerely” or “Respectfully” instead.
- Yours truly or sincerely yours—these two phrases imply a personal relationship between yourself and the recipient or addressee that isn’t required for other close-your-cover-letter options but can be helpful if your goal is establishing rapport before getting into specifics about why you’d like this job—and making sure they want to keep reading!
Adding a Postscript
A postscript is an additional message that you add to the end of a letter. It’s an opportunity for you to get personal with the employer, but keep it short and sweet. A few lines about why you’re interested in working at this company or how your skills align with their mission can help strengthen your application.
“I look forward to hearing from you.”
“I am excited about this opportunity and hope we can work together soon!”
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Step 6. The Format and Final Edit of the Cover Letter
- Use a standard font such as Calibri, Arial, or Times New Roman. It is best to avoid novelty fonts because they can be hard to read and may detract from your skills and qualifications.
- Choose a font size of 11-12 points with single line spacing on your computer screen. This will ensure that the letter is easy to read and does not look too small when printed out later.
- Leave one blank line between paragraphs; this helps separate them visually, so it is easier to get through the content of each paragraph without being distracted by other information around it.
- Use bullet points rather than full sentences or paragraphs when listing your skills, experience, or qualifications within the cover letter; this ensures you don’t over-write again!
You’ve made it! You have a cover letter that’s well-written, professional, and compelling. Now, you need to make sure it gets seen.
It’s important to remember that your cover letter should be attached to the resume you’re submitting when applying for jobs. Don’t forget this step, or you’ll be left wondering why your application isn’t getting any response. It’s also good practice to mention the cover letter in an email if someone is doing a first pass screening of applications before handing them over for review by someone with hiring authority (i.e., a manager).
Get Help from our Experts with your Cover Letter
We have experts in creating cover letters for our clients. We have helped many people get their dream jobs using our professional writing services. We use only the best writers and editors to ensure that you get a cover letter that will impress your potential employer and land you your dream job.
Our writers have experience in various fields, including education, engineering, etc. They know what employers look for when reviewing applications, so if you want to stand out from other applicants, we can provide you with a cover letter that will do just that!
You can rest assured knowing that your letter is written by someone who understands what employers want to see and how they prefer it written and structured instead of having someone who doesn’t know anything about these things write it for you!
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