How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job Application | Copy.ai (2023)

These days, it seems like every job application requires a cover letter. While this isn’t precisely true, 64% of jobs do require a cover letter. Even if they're not required, 74% of recruitment decision-makers prefer to see a cover letter along with the applicant’s resume.

A cover letter is an opportunity to sell yourself, and if done correctly, it can be the difference between getting your dream job and not even securing an interview.

If you're like most people, you might not be completely confident in your ability to write a standout cover letter. But don't worry! We'll help you craft a succinct, engaging cover letter that fuels interest in your candidacy.

Cover letter format

Before anything else, let's go over the basics of how to format your cover letter. Below are the structural elements every cover letter should include:

  • A header with the date and your contact information
  • A salutation or greeting
  • An opening paragraph
  • A middle paragraph (body paragraph)
  • A closing paragraph
  • A letter ending and signature

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As for length, font, margins, and spacing, cover letters should be:

  • One page in length
  • Written in a professional font (like Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri) in 10-12 point size
  • Left-aligned with single spacing

Now that we know how to format your cover letter, let's talk about how to write one. After all, writing a cover letter for a job application is one of the many ways you can make a good impression on hiring managers.

8 tips for writing a great cover letter

If you want to write a cover letter that will inform and impress, pay close attention to these tips:

1. Use a professional cover letter header

Right off the bat, your header will speak volumes about you as a professional. Make sure it includes the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your phone number
  • Your email address
  • The date
  • The name of your hiring manager and their professional title
  • The name and address of the company to which you’re applying

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(Video) HOW TO WRITE A COVER LETTER for a JOB APPLICATION! (The BEST Example COVER LETTER to GET YOU HIRED!)

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These are just the basics. You can also choose to add other items, such as:

  • Your professional title
  • Your home address
  • Your city of residence
  • Links to your professional websites or social media accounts

Pro Tip: Your contact information should be the same across all platforms, including your resume, cover letter, and social media profiles. Otherwise, you run the risk of a hiring manager being unable to reach you. Also, avoid using your current work email address to send your job application email. This could give the wrong impression to the hiring manager.

2. Open your cover letter with a proper greeting

Always pay attention to how you greet the person reading your cover letter. Remember that this is the very first thing the hiring manager will see, so it’s important to use a formal and professional salutation.

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Here are some pointers on how to address your cover letter:

  • If you know the name of the person reading your letter (such as the hiring manager), use their first name to make your cover letter appear more personable (e.g., Dear James).
  • If you know the company you're applying to is relaxed and casual, you can use the hiring manager's first name. For corporate cover letters, it's safer to go with the addressee's last name (e.g., Dear Mr. Smith).
  • If you don't know the name of the hiring manager, search for the company's website (or LinkedIn profile) and look up their contact information so you can properly address them. If you still can't find the person's name, simply use a generic greeting, such as:
  • Dear Sales Team Hiring Manager
  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • Dear [Company Name] Team
  • To Whom It May Concern

3. Write a catchy opening paragraph

Now we're getting into the meat of your cover letter: the opening paragraph. This is where you'll need to make a good impression on the hiring manager so they want to keep reading. Think of it as your elevator pitch: You have a very limited amount of time and space to make your case, so make it count!

Here are some tips on how to write an opening paragraph that will make a strong first impression:

(Video) Write an Amazing Cover Letter: 3 Golden Rules (Template included)

  • Start with a bang: Open with a strong sentence that will immediately capture the reader's attention. For example, you could mention a recent award you received or how you helped your previous company achieve its goals.
  • Show that you know your prospective employer's needs: The opening paragraph is a great opportunity to show that you understand the needs of the company to which you're applying. For instance, if the job posting mentions that they're looking for someone with "strong writing skills," you could mention how your excellent writing abilities helped you secure media coverage for your previous company.
  • Base your introduction on your enthusiasm: Finally, one of the best ways to make a good impression is to show you're excited about the job and the company. For example, if the job is a fashion design position, you could mention how much you love the company's aesthetic and how you feel like you would be a perfect fit for their team.

Here are two examples of opening paragraphs for a cover letter:

Bad example: I am writing to apply for the job of fashion designer at your company. Please consider me for the position.

Better example: I was thrilled to see that you're looking for a fashion designer on your team! I have been following your company's designs for years, and I absolutely love your aesthetic (I am particularly impressed by the new fall collection). I recently graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, where I based my final collection on your designs. I feel confident that I would be a great asset to your team, and I am very excited for the opportunity to learn and grow at your company.

Pro Tip: If you need help writing an opening paragraph that will really wow the hiring manager, try using Copy.ai's "Cover Letter" tool. With this AI-powered writing tool, you can generate an opening paragraph for your cover letter in mere seconds. Save time (and stress) by letting Copy.ai do the writing for you!

4. Explain why you’re the perfect candidate

Next, it's time to explain why you would be the perfect candidate for the job. Remember, you want to focus on how your skills and experiences can benefit the company, not how the company can benefit you.

A great way to do this is to carefully examine the job description and look for key qualifications the employer is looking for. Once you've identified these qualifications, you can start to match your own skills and experiences to them.

For example, let's say you're applying for a job as a content writer. If the job posting mentions they're looking for someone who is "creative" and "detail-oriented," you could mention how your previous experiences have helped you hone these skills. Perhaps you once wrote a particularly creative blog post that went viral, or maybe you're known for always catching even the smallest typos in your work.

It's important to use specific examples and details whenever possible. This will help paint a picture of what you're capable of and how you would be an asset to their team. Do this by using the STAR method:

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  • S- Situation: Describe the situation you were in when you had to use this skill.
  • T- Task: What task did you have to complete?
  • A- Action: What action did you take?
  • R- Result: What was the result of your actions?

For instance, let's say you're applying for a job as a sales representative, and you want to highlight your "persuasive" skills. You could use the STAR method to describe a time when you successfully closed a big deal:

S - I was working as a sales representative for a tech company.

(Video) The 4 Sentence Cover Letter That Gets You The Job Interview

T - My task was to close a deal with a large corporation that would be using our software.

A - I did extensive research on the corporation and their needs. I then put together a personalized proposal that highlighted how our software could help them achieve their goals.

R - The corporation ended up signing a contract with us, significantly boosting our company's sales numbers for that quarter.

Pro Tip: When it comes to writing a cover letter, you should be sure to highlight your successes in a way that is humble and understated. Remember, the goal is to show how you can benefit the company, not to brag about your own accomplishments.

5. Tell them why you’re eager to join

The third paragraph of your cover letter is where you can really start selling yourself to the employer. This is your chance to explain why you're interested in the job and why you would be a great fit for the company.

You want to make sure this paragraph is tailored specifically to the job and company you're applying for. This means no generic statements like "I'm a people person" or "I'm a hard worker." Instead, you want to focus on why this specific job (not just any job) is a good fit for you. The more tailored and targeted your message is, the better your chances of getting hired.

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To do this, you'll want to mention specific things about the company that appeal to you. Perhaps you admire their cutting-edge work in your field, or maybe you're passionate about their mission and values. Whatever it is, make sure you explain why you would be proud to work for this company.

For instance, if you're applying for a digital product agency, you might say something like this:

I'm impressed by your company's innovative work in the digital product space. I'm eager to join a team that is constantly pushing the boundaries and finding new ways to create amazing products for their clients. Your work with XYZ Company is particularly inspiring, and I would love to help you continue to create amazing work that makes a difference in the world. I believe my software development skills would help you reach even greater heights, especially in the field of XYZ.

Generally, enthusiasm and passion help to prove that you'll hit the ground running if you're hired. Hiring managers want to see that you're excited about the opportunity and that you would be an engaged and motivated employee.

(Video) This Cover Letter Will Secure You A Job Interview | Full Cover Letter Template

6. Make your offer in the closing paragraph

After you've explained why you would be a great fit for the company, it's time to make your offer. You want to get the hiring manager excited to meet you in person and discuss how you can help the company achieve their goals. This paragraph should amplify the general impression you made in the previous paragraphs.

While you shouldn't make any promises regarding what you'll achieve if you're hired, you can explain how your skills and experience will help the company in a broader way. For example, if you're applying for a marketing position, you might say something like this:

I'm confident that I could bring a lot of value to your team. I already have a list of ideas for how your company could level up its marketing efforts, and I'm excited to put those into action if I'm given the chance. I look forward to meeting you in person to discuss all the ways I can help your company achieve its marketing goals and what my prior successes in this field can do for your team.

On the other hand, there are a few things you should avoid doing in your closing paragraph:

  • Don't get too specific about what you would do in the role. This can come across as presumptuous, and it's important to remember that you haven't been hired yet.
  • Don't come off as too needy or desperate. You want to seem enthusiastic and eager, but not like you're begging for the job.
  • Don't use the phrase "Thank you for your consideration and your time." This is a common cliché, and it won't do anything to make you stand out from other candidates.

7. Use the right formal closing

After you've made your case for why you would be the perfect candidate for the job, it's time to sign off. Again, you'll want to do this in a professional and respectful manner. Some common formal closings for business letters are:

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  • Thank you,
  • Best regards,
  • Kind regards,
  • Sincerely,
  • Best,

These should always be followed by your full name and, optionally, your handwritten signature ( this is only necessary for more formal occasions). You should also include your contact information below your sign-off so the hiring manager knows how to get in touch with you without having to look up your resume.

8. Add the postscript

You know how some emails have "P.S." at the end? These are called postscripts, and they're often used to highlight the most important parts of an email. In a cover letter, the postscript is where you can include any final thoughts or ideas you didn't get a chance to mention earlier.

You might use the postscript as a magnet for the hiring manager, telling them something impressive about your career or offering to provide more information. For example:

P.S. — I would also value the opportunity to show you how my e-detailing solutions grew the combined sales of three ABC flagship products by a record-breaking 13% in one year.

If you have any additional qualifications or accomplishments you didn't get a chance to include in your letter, this is also a good place to mention them. Just remember not to make any promises you can't keep, and avoid repeating information already stated in your resume.

(Video) How to Write a Cover Letter | Cover Letter Example (with former CEO)

Conclusion

A cover letter is an essential tool in your job application arsenal, so it’s important to give it your best shot. Writing a good cover letter can make or break your chances of progressing to the interview stages of the job application process.

The tips and examples above should help you write a cover letter that will impress hiring managers and establish you as a promising candidate. If you need a little extra help, consider using Copy.ai's "Cover Letter" tool. This AI-powered writing assistant can take the guesswork out of writing an effective cover letter so you can focus on what's really important: landing the job.This article is part of an ongoing series of tutorials, templates and examples of writing the most common forms and formats common to todays world. The series includes topics such as how to write introduction email subject lines, how to write movie reviews and how to format a resume.

FAQs

Can sample cover letters copy? ›

Whatever you do, do not simply copy and paste these cover letter examples and pass them off as your own. The whole point of a cover letter is to convince an employer of your one-of-a-kind value.

Should I bring a copy of my cover letter to an interview? ›

Yes, you should bring a cover letter to an interview. A cover letter is a great addition to your resume, and most employers expect you to have one. If you plan on bringing a hard copy of your resume to the interview you should also bring a copy of your cover letter.

What 2 questions do cover letters answer? ›

Your cover letter should be clearly structured and answer the following questions:
  • Who are you? ...
  • Why are you writing? ...
  • Why are you interested in the position? ...
  • How are you qualified? ...
  • What is your next step? ...
  • Cover Letter Tips: ...
  • Format:

How do you write a convincing cover letter? ›

Writing a Compelling Cover Letter
  1. Introduce Yourself. Grab the reader's interest with your opening paragraph. In one or two sentences, tell them who you are, and why they should hire you, and express your enthusiasm for the role. ...
  2. Explain Why You Are the Best Candidate. Next, describe what you can bring to the role.

What are 3 key elements of a good cover letter? ›

Element no.
  • A strong lead. Your lead is the heart of your cover letter. This is your best opportunity to evoke an emotional response and introduce yourself as a dead-on match. ...
  • Direct evidence that you're a fit. Next, provide evidence that you've got the specific skills this company is looking for. ...
  • A solid close.
26 Apr 2018

Do companies know if you copied a cover letter? ›

Human resources personnel at the organization where you're looking for work are likely to read your cover letter solely. If this is not your first time sending a cover letter to a company, it is almost sure that you have submitted a previously plagiarized document to them.

Do employers actually look at cover letters? ›

Do employers really read cover letters? The simple answer is, yes ‒ most of the time. Many employers like to see a cover letter because it shows two important things: that the candidate has gone the extra mile and that the candidate is serious about their application.

Why is photocopying not allowed in letters of applications? ›

It would discourage the hiring manager at the target company from requesting an interview. Writing cover letters with original content is essential to secure an interview while applying for a specific job. Hence it is always essential to check for plagiarism in any letter of interest that a candidate wants to write.

Do hiring managers really read cover letters? ›

The overwhelming majority of recruiters and hiring managers I heard from—folks who work across career functions and industries—told me they do still read cover letters in some capacity. The most common answers I got were that hiring professionals read cover letters: For all qualified applicants.

What should you not say in a cover letter? ›

15 Things You Shouldn't Include
  • Any Spelling or Grammar Errors. ...
  • The Wrong Company Name or the Wrong Name of the Contact Person. ...
  • Anything That Isn't True. ...
  • Paragraphs That Are Too Long. ...
  • Your Salary Requirements or Expectations. ...
  • Negative Comments About a Current or Past Employer. ...
  • Information Not Related to the Job.
5 Mar 2021

What do employers look out for in a cover letter? ›

Recruiters say your cover letter should be succinct and:
  • Show how your achievements relate to the role.
  • Highlight how your skills and work experience are what the employer needs.
  • Show genuine excitement and enthusiasm for the role.
  • List your most significant achievements from previous roles.

What are 3 things that you should definitely not do on your cover letter? ›

As a job seeker, it's better to be safe than sorry.
...
3 Tips On What NOT To Do In Your Cover Letter
  • Don't Waste The Opening Paragraph. ...
  • Don't Tell Your Story (Talk About What You Can Do For Them) ...
  • Don't Have Long Paragraphs.

What are some of the biggest mistakes you can have in a cover letter? ›

Common Mistakes Made When Writing a Cover Letter
  • Being overly formal. “Dear Sir/Madam…” ...
  • Being too informal. On the opposing side of the court is the peril of being too informal. ...
  • Using a stock cover letter. ...
  • Saying too much. ...
  • Forgetting to proofread. ...
  • Bragging. ...
  • Focusing too much on yourself. ...
  • Clumsy language.

What are 5 things that should be in your cover letter? ›

Key Elements of a Cover Letter
  • Information about you.
  • Date.
  • Contact Person's Name, Title, Employer, and Address.
  • Salutation.
  • Opening Paragraph.
  • Middle Paragraph.
  • Second Middle Paragraph.
  • Contact Information and Closing.

What makes a strong cover letter? ›

Writing Your Cover Letter: Format and Structure

Keep cover letters short—three or four paragraphs and less than one page. Use the active voice, keeping your tone positive and professional. Avoid beginning too many sentences with “I”. Read your cover letter aloud to catch repetitious words and typos.

What are the 4 tips for a great cover letter? ›

4 Tips for Writing a Successful Cover Letter
  • Make It Personal. To make your cover letter seem more personable, it's a good idea to address the reader directly. ...
  • Past, Present, and Future. ...
  • Research is Key! ...
  • Keep It Brief.
1 Jul 2022

What should a cover letter say examples? ›

There are 2 main topics you need to include in your cover letter: why you're the perfect candidate for the job & why you're passionate about working in the company you're applying to. Most of the content of your cover letter should be factual, without any fluff or generalizations.

What is the most important part of a cover letter? ›

The body is the most important part of a cover letter or an email message applying for employment. The body of a cover letter includes the paragraphs where you explain why you are interested in and qualified for the posted job: Why you are writing.

When you copy someone's work it is considered? ›

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the act of plagiarism as; “to steal and pass off ideas or words of another as one's own”. Simply put, plagiarism is the process of taking other people's words and/or ideas and pretending that they are your own.

Do you still need a cover letter in 2022? ›

Short answer: yes, you should submit a cover letter alongside your resume. Here's why: Most job openings require you to submit a cover letter. Recruiters might not have the time to read ALL the cover letters they receive, but they will definitely read cover letters if they're on the fence for a candidate.

Can a cover letter hurt your chances? ›

In most cases, including a cover letter will not hurt your chances of landing a job. Regardless of your reasons for including a cover letter, you must remember that you still need a great resume. A resume will be the primary document an employer's hiring team looks at during the review process.

Should you send cover letter if not asked? ›

Even if the company doesn't specifically request a cover letter, it's a good idea to write one if you're interested in the role at hand. Skip a cover letter if the employer says not to write one, or if there isn't a place to include one in an online application form.

Can you copy a cover letter from online? ›

Don't copy the cover letter from somewhere. It should be original. Plagiarism is the worst thing you could do. Don't simply repeat the information as given in your resume.

Should you introduce yourself in a cover letter? ›

Yes, you should introduce yourself in a cover letter. Introduce yourself by stating your name, the position you're applying for, and how you found it. For example: My name is Henry Applicant, and I'm applying for the open Account Manager position listed on LinkedIn.

Does a cover letter give you a better chance? ›

Why do I need a cover letter? If you're serious about getting the position you're applying for, a tailored cover letter will increase the likelihood of that happening. A well-written and targeted cover letter allows you to sell yourself to an employer in a narrative format and show why you are the ideal candidate.

What percentage of applicants submit cover letters? ›

For jobs with a direct application process (for instance through an email), a cover letter is required 64% of the time. For vacancies advertised via automated online tools (e.g. job boards such as Indeed, or internal career sites), 61% recruiters require cover letters.

Do employers look at cover letter or resume first? ›

Employers look at a resume first. They typically look at the resume first to make sure you have the desired skills and experience before taking the time to read your cover letter. This is especially true in fields that require specific hard skills, such as IT and engineering.

What are the worst mistakes one must avoid while writing a cover letter? ›

Things to avoid when writing a cover letter
  • Not following instructions.
  • Using the wrong format.
  • Discussing why you are looking for a new position.
  • Using the same cover letter for every application.
  • Writing without first researching the company and position.
  • Discussing irrelevant work experience or a lack of experience.

What makes me a strong candidate? ›

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

According to recruiters, the ability to communicate effectively with others and get along with a variety of different types of personalities are two of the most desirable qualities in job candidates.

Should you use the word I in a cover letter? ›

Mistake #1: Don't Overuse "I" Your cover letter is not your autobiography. The focus should be on how you meet an employer's needs, not on your life story. Avoid the perception of being self-centered by minimizing your use of the word "I," especially at the beginning of your sentences.

What is the first thing that you will see in your letter of application? ›

Introduction. The first paragraph of your cover letter should provide the basic details about who you are and why you want the job. Include the title of the job you are applying for, provide a general overview of why you would excel at the position and the reasons you are excited about the job.

How do you end a cover letter strongly? ›

Say thanks. Make sure to offer thanks for their time and consideration, and choose a professional closing salutation such as, “Sincerely,” “Best regards” or “Thank you for your consideration.” Avoid overly familiar phrases like, “Yours,” “Cheers” or “Take care.”

What is a good opening sentence for a cover letter? ›

A Universal Method for Starting a Cover Letter

Dear [First Name], I was excited to come across the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. As a [Current Job Title] with [# of Years] years of experience, I have become competent in [Relevant Skills & Job-Related Abilities].

What 5 things should a cover letter include? ›

Key Elements of a Cover Letter
  • Information about you.
  • Date.
  • Contact Person's Name, Title, Employer, and Address.
  • Salutation.
  • Opening Paragraph.
  • Middle Paragraph.
  • Second Middle Paragraph.
  • Contact Information and Closing.

What are the top 5 tips for a cover letter? ›

How to Write a Cover Letter For a Job: 5 Essential Tips
  • Customize your letter. ...
  • Supplement your resume, don't repeat it. ...
  • Include keywords and supporting details. ...
  • Address any missing pieces. ...
  • Proofread and ask for feedback.

What are key words in a cover letter? ›

In a cover letter, emphasize your excellent communication skills by using words such as “negotiated,” “addressed,” “persuaded” and “encouraged.” To describe your writing abilities, use words such as “authored,” “corresponded” and “publicized.” Choose words that are logical, concise and reader-friendly.

How do you grab attention from a cover letter? ›

How to Create an Attention-Grabbing Cover Letter: 7 Tips
  1. Write a compelling introduction. ...
  2. Use tasteful humor in your cover letter. ...
  3. Find the addressee's name. ...
  4. Do your research about the company. ...
  5. Demonstrate your confidence. ...
  6. Keep it concise. ...
  7. Use a striking cover letter template.
18 Aug 2021

What do employers look for in a cover letter? ›

Recruiters say your cover letter should be succinct and: Show how your achievements relate to the role. Highlight how your skills and work experience are what the employer needs. Show genuine excitement and enthusiasm for the role.

Which of the following should be avoided in a cover letter? ›

You don't need to share non-relevant information, personal information, or anything else that doesn't connect you with the position for which you're applying. Your letter should avoid making the wrong impression about your candidacy.

What should not included in a cover letter? ›

Keep your cover letter format professional and avoid too many personal details. Focus on your strengths as a worker and the key job requirements. You don't need to say your marital status, religion, ethnicity, age, hobbies, or anything else unrelated to your ability to do the job.

What is the best way to make a good first impression with a cover letter? ›

Cover Letters: 8 Tips for Writing an Effective First Impression
  1. Include the job title and keywords from the job description. ...
  2. Make it known how you became interested in the company. ...
  3. Cut the formalities and give it some personality. ...
  4. Don't include everything that's on your résumé ...
  5. If you're short on experience, focus on skills.
24 Nov 2015

Do you need a cover letter in 2022? ›

Short answer: yes, you should submit a cover letter alongside your resume. Here's why: Most job openings require you to submit a cover letter. Recruiters might not have the time to read ALL the cover letters they receive, but they will definitely read cover letters if they're on the fence for a candidate.

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