What’s in a Cover Letter?

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When applying for a new job, it is important to include a well-written and memorable cover letter with your resume. You might have written an excellent and effective resume to apply for your dream job, however, a resume is not the only document you will need.  This article explains what to include in your cover letter and also provides a template and example to help when crafting your own.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a short document that you send with your resume when applying for a job. As a hiring manager will read this letter first, and possibly even decide whether to go over your resume or not based on what they think of the letter, it is important to take care when drafting this document. Many hiring managers have to work their way through hundreds or even thousands of applications, so you want to ensure that your cover letter is error-free, memorable and stands out from the rest.

Tips for writing a cover letter

Take care not to simply repeat your resume in your cover letter. Whereas a resume provides all the necessary information, such as your education, skills and work experience, a cover letter should provide some detail about your specific career story to demonstrate your unique personality and work style. A cover letter also gives you the opportunity to provide an employer with information that you could not add in your resume, such as gaps in your job history.

How to write a cover letter

Here are a few guidelines you can follow when writing a cover letter:

1. First, start with a proper salutation

Ensure that you direct the letter to the appropriate person by stating their name instead of using a generic salutation, such as ‘To whom it may concern.’ By doing so, you demonstrate that you are interested in the specific job and have put extra effort into sending your letter to the relevant person.

2. Second, use a memorable introduction

In the introduction of your letter, you want to mention the job you are applying for and express your interest and enthusiasm. If possible, add a  quick anecdote or a personalized sentiment in your introduction. Remember, the hiring manager has to read through multiple cover letters, so you want your letter to draw their attention.

3. Third, mention your skills and experience that match the job description

In the body of the letter, you want to make it clear why you are an excellent candidate for the position. You should mention your top accolades and achievements in this section, and match the skills and work experience you mention to those outlined in the job posting. For instance, if the job posting lists marketing experience and lead generation, you could highlight your previous role as a marketing manager where you implemented an innovative ad campaign that drove extensive lead generation for your client.

4. Fourth, include a specific example or tangible evidence of your skills

If possible, add specific statistics, as this provides tangible evidence of your skills and achievements. Instead of saying that you are a problem solver, mention a specific example in your past when your problem-solving skills yielded positive results. Take care, however, to only include information in this section that is relevant to the job you are applying for. 

5. Lastly, close your letter with a thank you and a call to action

In your conclusion, you should thank the person for considering you for the position. Also, add a call to action. For instance, instead of stating that you will contact them to follow up on your letter, rather state that you are available to provide more information at any time and will be very happy to meet with them for an interview. You could also add, if relevant, that you are happy to relocate for the position or any other pertinent information.

Cover letter template

Here is a template of a cover letter that you can follow:

[Your name]
[Address]
[Phone number]
[Email address]

[Date]

[Name of hiring manager]
[Job title]
[Name of company]
[Address]

Dear [Name of hiring manager],

[Introduction: State the position you are applying for. Include a sentence that draws attention.]

[Body of the letter: Mention your top accolades and match your skill set and experience to the requirements or essential points from the job posting.]

[Conclusion: Conclude the letter with a call to action and thank the person for considering you for the job.]

Yours sincerely,
[Your name]

Cover letter example

Here is an example of a cover letter:

Sasha Parker
9056 Edgemont Ave.
Jacksonville, FL 32218 
(555) 555-5555 
parkersasha@email.com

January 10, 2020

Ronald Stevens
Owner
The Health Bar
4321 West Lane
West Palm Beach, FL 33415

Dear Mr. Stevens,

I have always wondered why some restaurants make it, while others don’t. In my 20-plus years in the hospitality industry, of which 12 have been spent working as a restaurant manager, I have reached the conclusion that it boils down to effective and innovative management. I have read your job posting for a restaurant manager with interest and think that I am the woman for the job.

In my current position as the restaurant manager at Francesco’s Pizza Parlor, I have managed to turn a failing business into a profitable and successful venture. In the last two years I have delivered:

  • A 25% revenue growth by bringing in a new head chef, overhauling the menu and starting a catering side business for the company
  • A 10% margin increase by reducing food wastage, improving stock control and negotiating better prices with suppliers
  • Have increased our social media following by 40% through innovative marketing campaigns

I am proud to announce that in November last year, Francesco’s received its first accolade when Jacksonville Magazine announced that we had been chosen as the Best Pizza Restaurant in Jacksonville for 2019. I would be very honored to bring my skill and expertise to your venture, and am specifically excited about your focus on sustainability and organic, locally-produced ingredients.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I am available at any time if you require more information from me. I am willing to travel to West Palm Beach at your earliest convenience so we can meet in person.

Yours sincerely,
Sasha Parker