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The Ultimate Guide to Cover Letters

Today’s job market is fierce. Now that employers are getting hundreds of applications for a single job posting, the reality is that you absolutely need a cover letter to get noticed.

Taking the time to create a unique cover letter shows employers that you really care about the job you’re applying for.

Cover letters also show employers why you, as an individual, are worth hiring. They’re one of the best opportunities you have to show off your personality, skills, and accomplishments in a compelling way.

Resumes are invaluable, but cover letters really make you stand out.

Check out this ultimate guide on how to write a cover letter that will get you hired fast.

What's a Cover Letter?

Cover letters tell your story. Their purpose is to introduce you to employers as a potential candidate for the job opening you’re applying for.

On a fundamental level, cover letters actually explain to employers why they should hire you. These letters bridge the gap between your resume - a list of skills, qualifications, and employment history - and an interview.

They allow you to elaborate on your resume, as well. That makes cover letters invaluable for candidates who may not fit the exact requirements of a job, such as new grads, students, and people who are changing career paths.

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What Should I Write in My Cover Letter?

The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re writing a cover letter is that it should answer the employer’s fundamental question, “Why should I hire you?”

Your cover letter should be several paragraphs long, but no larger than one page in length.

The introductory paragraph explains why you are writing to the employer, as well as how you heard about the job opening.

The main body of text can be between one to three paragraphs. This text elaborates on the most relevant skills and experiences in your resume that would make you the best fit for the specific job opening you’re applying for.

For the main body of text, write about the most important qualifications that make you a standout candidate for the position. Frame this text to explain how you’d add to the employer’s company in a positive way.

In the final paragraph, thank the employer for considering your application, restate your interest in the position, and state your availability for an interview.

5 Fast Tips to Write a Cover Letter

1. Address the Employer or Recruiter by Name

Don’t address your cover letter to a “Sir”, “Ma’am,” or “To Whom It May Concern.” In fact, many hiring managers won’t read a cover letter if they aren’t addressed by name!

Your employer will be impressed that you took the time to find out the right person to address your cover letter to.

All that’s required is a little research on LinkedIn to check out who the hiring manager or human resources manager is for the company you’re applying for.

If you’re in doubt, simply give the employer a call to ask for the right name. The employer won’t mind, and they may even be impressed that you took the extra step to get their name right.

2. Tailor Your Cover Letter to the Job

Do a little research to match your cover letter to the employer’s brand voice. Employers hire for corporate culture. They want new hires to fit in right away, so you should aim to write like you’re already a part of their team.

For example, if the employer’s brand voice is extremely formal, write very professionally. On the other hand, if they have a hyper-modern tone of voice, you can write more informally.

For tips on how to customize your cover letter for a specific employer, check out this article on, “How to Tailor Your Resume, Summary, and Cover Letter to Any Job”

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3. Provide Anecdotes and Evidence

It’s important to follow up statements about yourself with real life examples or anecdotes. Providing evidence of your accomplishments is a quick and easy way to get an employer to pay attention to you as an outstanding candidate.

For example, employers often value leadership in candidates. Instead of writing that you have leadership skills, which employers read all the time, talk about how you organized a school rally or directed a fundraising campaign.

4. Type Your Cover Letter Out

Your cover letter will look much more polished if it’s typed and printed out from a word processor on a computer. If you don’t have access to a computer, your local library or school should have computers available for your use.

5. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!

Before you send your cover letter off to the employer, make sure you proofread it. Check your grammar and punctuation carefully.

After you’re finished proofreading your cover letter, ask a friend or family member to do an additional review for grammar and punctuation.

Do Employers Actually Read Cover Letters?

Wait, hold on a hot second. There’s a rumor going around that you don’t need a cover letter at all. Why should you go to the to trouble of writing one if you don’t need it to get a job?

To be honest, the reality is that you don’t know whether an employer cares about your cover letter - so why take a chance that they’ll miss it?

It’s always best to write a short cover letter, no matter what.

Don’t be intimidated by writing a cover letter. With the cover letter builder, writing a cover letter is a breeze. Try out the cover letter and resume builder here.

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Cover Letter Samples

Check out these cover letter examples for ideas on how to start your perfect cover letter!

Learn More

Want to know more? Check out these essential Careers Center articles on cover letters now!

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