Career Resource Center

How to Write a Great Cover Letter

Writing a great cover letter is critical to getting hired in your dream job.  In studies, 83% of hiring decision-makers say a cover letter is critical in deciding who to hire.  77% say they would give specific preference to someone who submitted a cover letter.  Unfortunately, even though a cover letter can massively increase your chances of getting hired, only 35% of applicants choose to submit a cover letter if it’s optional.

Here are some key points to keep in mind when drafting your cover letter:

  • Longer doesn’t mean better
  • Boring means you won’t get hired
  • Your cover letter is not a resume

Hiring decision-makers do not enjoy reading lengthy cover letters.  Remember, your cover letter isn’t a biography of your entire life.  It should be straightforward and to the point.  Most importantly, it should discuss why YOU are the right fit for the job you’re applying for.  To do this, your letter should highlight three of your most important skills in simple sentences.  Your letter should highlight one accomplishment you’ve had in your life – even if it’s as simple as graduating from college.  Lastly, your letter should cover why you’re excited about the position you’re applying for.

Writing about why you’re excited about the position will show that you’ve actually done your homework on the job and the company.  When you’re ready to get started, checkout the company’s website and read about the company’s goals.  For example, Google lists their goals and commitments right on their website: Google’s Commitments

The time you spend researching isn’t just for your cover letter.  It will also help you target your resume and prepare for your job interview as well.  The time you spend researching the company will also help you find out who to address the letter to. You can address it to a hiring agent, HR executive, manager in the department you’re applying for, etc. If you can’t find anyone to address the cover letter to, here’s a great article to learn what to do instead.

Pro Tip:

To help your cover letter stand out and get noticed, used a great-looking header.  Here’s an example of one the team at Resume Writing Group created:

Once you’ve created a great-looking (but simple) header for your cover letter, make sure to include the other key information: date, employer name, hiring agent name (if applicable), and the title of the position you’re applying for.

Now that you’re ready to move into the body of your cover letter, here are three simple rules to follow:

  • Use three paragraphs – an introduction, body, and conclusion
  • If you’re going to include bullet points, do not include more than three in the entire letter
  • Keep your letter to a maximum of one page and no smaller than size 10 font

Writing the actual content is straightforward.  Explain why you’re interested in applying for the position in the introduction paragraph.  For example: I am seeking to be a sales manager because I am excited to lead a great team of salespeople while utilizing my exceptional communication skills to strengthen relationships with the key accounts under my purview.  

The body of the cover letter should discuss a few of your most important skills and accomplishments without giving away too much.  Remember, the primary purpose of any good cover letter is to convince an employer to actually read your resume – or read it again – so don’t overdo it with the explanations.  If possible, try to focus on tangibles; for example: During my last position, I successfully increased revenue by $2M within a three-year period.

In the conclusion of your cover letter, make sure to thank the reader for taking the time to review your resume.  Reiterate that you’re a great fit for the position and that you’re looking forward to discussing your expertise in greater detail.  For example: Thanks for taking the time to review my resume and cover letter, as a former director of retail development, I look forward to discussing my qualifications for your VP of Retail Development position in greater detail.

Once you’re finished crafting your new cover letter, feel free to send it to our team at Resume Writing Group for a free review.

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