How to write a cover letter

Author: Ann F.

Date: Apr 8, 2022 | Business

How to write a cover letter

Including a cover letter can be an effective way to make your applicant profile stand out from the others. A cover letter is a personalized statement that is placed at the front page of your application. Unlike a resume or CV, a cover letter explains in story format about yourself, your job experiences, and why you’re applying for the job. Cover letters are often thought to be the first impression a hiring manager has of you and are used to narrow down applicant pools for the position they are hiring for.

Your aim when writing a cover letter is to:

  1. Craft a memorable introduction
  2. Highlight your qualifications with specific examples of your skills, experiences, and past achievements
  3. Showcase your motivation with enthusiasm for the position and the company
  4. Reflect your voice and written communication skills so the employer can have a sense of your personality

Don’t get stuck with writer’s block
Ginger creatively suggests alternatives to your sentences with Sentence Rephrase

Upgrade to Premium

What to include in a cover letter?

To stand out to hiring managers, make sure your cover letter includes:

  • Your name and contact information
  • The hiring manager’s name and contact information
  • A salutation
  • Your achievements
  • What inspired you to apply for the company
  • Why you have qualified experience for the role
  • A call to action conclusion
  • A standard closing and your signature

How to write a good cover letter?

1. Address the letter to a specific person

“To whom it may concern” is one of the easiest ways for a hiring manager to spot a generic cover letter. Always try and address the letter to a specific person, normally the hiring manager.

If you aren’t sure to whom to address the letter to and the job description doesn’t list a person, check LinkedIn. You can search the company name and keywords (i.e. “hiring manager” or “HR”) and find profiles of current employees.

2. Opening paragraph

Your opening sentence doesn’t need to be extraordinary, but clearly state the purpose of the letter from the beginning. Start with a brief introduction about yourself, mention the job you’re applying for, and your interest in it. Keep it simple and straightforward.

3. Body paragraphs

The body of your cover letter should be composed of short and organized paragraphs.

  • You should explain why you’re qualified for the position. You can list your relevant work achievements that relate to the position you’re applying for. However, don’t just list bullet points from your resume. Think of two or three highlights and describe why and how you achieved results in your career.
  • Show your enthusiasm about the role and the company. Word choice and tone can majorly impact the way the hiring manager will read the letter.

4. Closing paragraph

In the closing of your letter you should: reiterate your interest in the position, thank the hiring manager for the consideration, and include your signature.

Include a call to action in your closing. Example: “I would appreciate the opportunity to meet and discuss the role and look forward to hearing from you.”

Cover letter dos and don’ts

  • Don’t use the same cover letter for every job you are applying for. A cover letter should always be tailored for each position and company. However, cover letters can have the same outline but hiring managers immediately know if a cover letter is generic.
  • Do show your personality. Showing a bit of personality is a great way to grab the hiring manager’s attention especially for their culture fit. However, you should never use slang or overly casual language.
  • Don’t write too much information. A cover letter should be no longer than one page. Being brief and concise helps guarantee that hiring managers will get a full view of what you have to offer.
  • Do use keywords. Most companies use software to screen applicants to look for certain words important to the role.

Struggling with which keywords to choose? Look in the job description and match words for what the company is searching for in an applicant

  • Don’t forget a call to action. After thanking the hiring manager in the closing, insert a call to action. A CTA shows motivation and interest in the position and helps bring next steps in motion.
  • Do use consistent formatting. The letter should have the same font and sizing throughout.
  • Don’t rewrite your resume in story form. Your cover letter is a chance to show your personality and interest in the company.
  • Do ask someone to review your cover letter. Cover letters are normally the first impression a company has of you. The last thing you want is an embarrassing typo in the first sentence.

Avoid using overly long sentences. Try reading it aloud before you submit to catch any awkward wording.

Do you have to submit a cover letter?

You should submit a cover letter when:

  1. The job post explicitly requests one
  2. You are applying for a mission-driven organization/opportunity
  3. You think by providing one the hiring manager will gain important information about you that wouldn’t be found in the your resume

You should consider submitting a cover letter when:

  1. Cover letters are marked optional – writing one can help you stand out from the crowd

You don’t need to submit a cover letter when:

  1. The job post specifically says not to
  2. The application portal doesn’t allow it
Join our mailing list to not miss any Ginger communications and writing tips
You have been successfully subscribed to our blog