How to Write a Cover Letter

Step by step
How to Write a Cover Letter

Job hunting means carefully crafting two documents: your résumé and your cover letter.

While the résumé is the star of the show, your cover letter should never be neglected. Think of your cover letter as your sales copy, a marketing document that promotes the brand of “you”.

Your cover letter is your opportunity to speak directly to your strengths and is a precursor to the interview. Subsequently, it is imperative that you highlight your best qualities and grab your reader’s attention.

Think brief and powerful.

Here are a few steps that will show you how to write a great cover letter.

Thoroughly read the job description

job search description paper

Don’t skip this step, reading the job title is not enough to decide to apply. Don’t waste your time.

Make sure you understand what the position is asking for in terms of skills, education and experience. Likewise, visit the company’s website and social media platforms; this allows you to gather information on the company’s performance, culture, etc. It is important to ensure that the company’s culture is in line with your goals.

You also want to determine relevance by carefully reading the job description, evaluating the skills required and matching them to your own skills. This helps you to start organizing examples of where you applied those skills, as well as think of reasons why you would be effective in the position available.

Express interest and state title of vacancy

man laptop notes notebook

Now, let’s get down to actually writing.

Your goal in the introduction of your cover letter is to get the reader's attention. Start by saying why you are interested in the position and state the exact job title. You can also reference how you learned about the job or mention a referral if you have one.

For extra credit, add a titbit about the organization. For example, include a sentence about how you admire something that the company is known for.

Say why you are an ideal candidate

startup man beanie whiteboard notes

Next, it’s time to toot your own horn.

End the introduction of your cover letter with one to two sentences about what you are offering to the company. You want to highlight your major strengths, your years of experience or major certifications gained. You essentially want to answer the questions; how will hiring you benefit them?

Give examples of what makes you a good candidate

hands people working crafts business work

For the body of your cover letter, you want to focus on the most important information.

Remember our first step where we matched our skills and experience to the skills and experience mentioned in the job ad? Now we are going to write down what those matches were and choose the best representations of your professional achievements.

I recommend including experiences that can be quantifiably measured as evidence of your previous successes. These accomplishments of course are prominently featured on your résumé.

Additionally, remember to include keywords from the job ad as many résumés will be initially assessed with an applicant tracking software.

Close with a summary of what makes you great

man laptop point notebook business

So, you’ve highlighted your strengths and achievements, now it’s time to finish with a flourish.

Remind your reader of why you are a perfect candidate, paying close attention to how you will help the company to achieve their objectives. Be as specific as you can based on the accomplishments that you previously mentioned.

Finally, remember to proofread your cover letter for spelling and grammar errors. Nothing loses credibility faster than typos and other writing errors.

Bonus Checklist

In short, when thinking about how to write a cover letter, you can’t go wrong if you concentrate on answering these questions.

  1. What do you know and admire about the organization?
  2. How did you hear about the vacancy or where you referred?
  3. What exact position are you applying for?
  4. What’s so great about you?
  5. Why should they hire you?
  6. Have you listed at least 2-3 achievements that match the job description?
  7. Have you included keywords from the job description?
  8. How will you help the company to achieve their objectives?

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