How to Write a Cover Letter in 2022 | Beginner’s Guide
After weeks of heavy job search, you’re almost there!
You’ve perfected your resume.
You’ve short-listed the coolest jobs you want to apply for.
You’ve even had a friend train you for every single interview question out there.
But then, before you can send your application and call it a day, you remember that the job ad requires a cover letter.
Now you’re stuck wondering how to write a cover letter.
Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered. Writing a cover letter is a lot simpler than you might think.
In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to write a cover letter that gets you the job you deserve.
- What’s a cover letter & why it’s important for your job search
- How to write a convincing cover letter that gets you the job (step-by-step!)
- How to perfect your cover letter with the Novoresume free checklist
- What excellent cover letter examples look like
So, let’s get started with the basics!
What is a Cover Letter? (and Why It’s Important)
A cover letter is a one-page document that you submit as part of your job application (alongside your CV or Resume).
Its purpose is to introduce you and briefly summarize your professional background. On average, your cover letter should be from 250 to 400 words long.
A good cover letter can spark the HR manager’s interest and get them to read your resume.
A bad cover letter, on the other hand, might mean that your application is going directly to the paper shredder. So, to make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s essential to know how to write a convincing cover letter.
How does a good cover letter look, you might ask. Well, here’s an example:
Keep in mind, though, that a cover letter is a supplement to your resume, not a replacement. Meaning, you don’t just repeat whatever is mentioned in your resume.
If you’re writing a cover letter for the first time, writing all this might seem pretty tough. After all, you’re probably not a professional writer.
The thing is, though, you don’t need to be creative, or even any good at writing. All you have to do is follow a tried-and-tested format:
- Header – Input contact information
- Greeting the hiring manager
- Opening paragraph – Grab the reader’s attention with 2-3 of your top achievements
- Second paragraph – Explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job
- Third paragraph – Explain why you’re a good match for the company
- Formal closing
Or, here’s what this looks like in practice:
How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter (And Get Hired!)
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, we’re going to guide you through the process of writing a cover letter step by step.
Step #1 – Pick the Right Cover Letter Template
A good cover letter is all about leaving the right first impression.
So, what’s a better way to leave a good impression than a well-formatted, visual template?
You can simply pick one of our hand-picked cover letter templates, and you’ll be all set in a jiffy!
As a bonus, our AI will even give you suggestions on how to improve your cover letter on the go.
Step #2 – Start the Cover Letter with a Header
As with a resume, it’s important to start your cover letter with a Contact Information section:
Here, you want to include all essential information, including:
- Full Name
- Phone Number
- Name of the hiring manager / their professional title
- Name of the company you’re applying to
In certain cases, you might also consider adding:
- Social Media Profiles – Any type of profile that’s relevant to your field. Social Profiles on websites like LinkedIn, GitHub (for developers), Medium (for writers), etc.
- Personal Website – If you have a personal website that somehow adds value to your application, you can mention it. Let’s say you’re a professional writer. In that case, you’d want to link to your blog.
And here’s what you shouldn’t mention in your header:
- Your Full Address
- Unprofessional Email – Make sure your email is presentable. It’s pretty hard for a hiring manager to take you seriously if your email address is “[email protected]” Whenever applying for jobs, stick to the “[first name] + [last name] @ email provider.com” format.
Step #3 – Greet the Hiring Manager
Once you’ve properly listed your contact information, you need to start writing the cover letter contents.
The first thing to do here is to address the cover letter to the hiring manager.
That’s right, the hiring manager! Not the overly popular “Dear Sir or Madam.” You want to show your future boss that you did your research and are really passionate about working with their team.
No one wants to hire a job seeker who just spams 20+ companies and hopes to get hired in any of them.
So, how do you find out who’s the hiring manager? There are several ways to do this.
The simplest option is to look up the head of the relevant department on LinkedIn. Let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Communication Specialist at Novoresume. The hiring manager is probably Head of Communications or Chief Communications Office.
So, you do a quick lookup on LinkedIn:
And voila! You have your hiring manager.
Or let’s say you’re applying for the position of a server. In that case, you’d be looking for the “restaurant manager.”
If this doesn’t work, you can also check out the “Team” page on the company website; there’s a good chance you’ll at least find the right person there.
Here are several other greetings you could use:
- Dear [Department] Hiring Manager
- Dear Hiring Manager
- To whom it may concern
- Dear [Department] Team
Step #4 – Write an Attention-Grabbing Introduction
First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your job search.
Recruiters get hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of applications. Chances are, they’re not going to be reading every single cover letter end-to-end.
So, it’s essential to catch their attention from the very first paragraph.
The #1 problem we see with most cover letter opening paragraphs is that they’re usually extremely generic. Most of them look something like this..
- Hey, my name is Jonathan and I’d like to work as a Sales Manager at XYZ Inc. I’ve worked as a sales manager at MadeUpCompany Inc. for 5+ years, so I believe that I’d be a good fit for the position.
See the issue here? This opening paragraph doesn’t say pretty much anything except the fact that you’ve worked the job before.
Do you know who else has similar work experience? All the other applicants you’re competing with.
Instead, you want to start off with 2-3 of your top achievements to really grab the reader’s attention. Preferably, the achievements should be as relevant as possible to the position.
So now, let’s make our previous example shine:
My name’s Michael and I’d like to help XYZ Inc. hit and exceed their sales goals as a Sales Manager. I’ve worked with Company X, a fin-tech company, for 3+ years. As a Sales Representative, I generated an average of $30,000+ in sales per month (beating the KPIs by around 40%). I believe that my previous industry experience, as well as excellence in sales, makes me the right candidate for the job.
See the difference between the two examples? If you were the hiring manager, which sales manager would you hire, Jonathan or Michael?
Now that we’ve covered the introduction, let’s talk about the body of your cover letter. This part is split into two paragraphs: the first is for explaining why you’re the perfect person for the job, and the latter is for proving that you’re a good fit for the company.
So, let’s get started.
Step #5 – Explain why you’re the perfect person for the job
This is where you show off your professional skills and convince the HR manager that you’re a better fit for the job than all the other applicants.
But first things first – before you even write anything, you need to learn what the most important requirements for the role are. So, open up the job ad and identify which of the responsibilities are the most critical.
For the sake of the example, let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Facebook Advertiser. You scan the job ad and see that the top requirements are:
- Experience managing a Facebook ad budget of $10,000+ / month
- Some skills in advertising on other platforms (Google Search + Twitter)
- Excellent copywriting skills
Now, in this section, you need to discuss how you fulfill these requirements. So, here’s how that would look for our example:
In my previous role as a Facebook Marketing Expert at XYZ Inc. I handled customer acquisition through ads, managing a monthly Facebook ad budget of $20,000+. As the sole digital marketer at the company, I managed the ad creation & management process end-to-end. Meaning, I created the ad copy , images, picked the targeting, ran optimization trials, and so on.
Other than Facebook advertising, I’ve also delved into other online PPC channels, including:
Are you a student applying for your first internship? You probably don’t have a lot of work experience to show off in this section. Learn how to write an internship cover letter here.
Step #6 – Explain why you’re a good fit for the company
Once you’ve written the last paragraph, you might be thinking – I’m a shoo-in for the job! What else do I need to write? I’ll just wrap up the cover letter and hit that sweet SEND button.
Well, no. You’re not quite there yet.
The HR manager doesn’t only look at whether you’ll be good at the job or not. They’re looking for someone that’s also a good fit for the company culture.
After all, employees that don’t fit in are bound to quit, sooner or later. This ends up costing the company a ton of money, up to 50% of the employee’s annual salary.
Meaning, you also need to convince the HR manager that you’re really passionate about working with them.
How do you do this? Well, as a start, you want to do some research about the company. You want to know things like:
- What’s the company’s business model?
- What’s the company product or service? Have you used it?
- What’s the culture like? Will someone micro-manage your work, or will you have autonomy on how you get things done?
So, get to Googling. Chances are, you’ll find all the information you need either on the company website or somewhere around the web.
Then, you need to figure out what you like about the company and turn that into text.
Let’s say, for example, you’re passionate about their product and you like the culture of innovation / independent work in the organization.
You’d write something like:
I’ve personally used the XYZ Smartphone, and I believe that it’s the most innovative tech I’ve used in years. The features such as Made-Up-Feature #1 and Made-Up-Feature #2 were real game changers for the device.
I really admire how Company XYZ thrives for excellence for all its product lines, creating market-leading tech. As someone that thrives in a self-driven environment, I truly believe that I and Company XYZ will be a great match.
What you don’t want to do here is be super generic for the sake of having something to write. Most job seekers tend to mess this one up. Let’s take a look at a very common example we tend to see (way too often):
I’d love to work for Company XYZ because of its culture of innovation. I believe that since I’m super creative, I’d be a good fit for the company. The company values of integrity and transparency really vibe with me.
See what’s wrong here? The example doesn’t really say anything about the company. “Culture of Innovation” is something most companies claim to have.
The same goes for “values of integrity and transparency” – the writer just googled what the values for the organization are, and said that they like them.
Any hiring manager that reads this will see through the fluff.
So, make sure to do a lot of research and come up with good reasons why you’re applying.
Step #7 – Wrap up with a call to action
Finally, it’s time to finish up your cover letter and write the conclusion.
In the final paragraph, you want to:
- Wrap up any points you couldn’t in the previous paragraphs. Do you have anything left to say? Any other information that could help the hiring manager make their decision? Mention it here.
- Thank the hiring manager for their time. It never hurts to be courteous, as long as you don’t come off as too needy.
- Finish the cover letter with a call to action. The very last sentence in your cover letter should be a call to action. You should ask the hiring manager to take some sort of action.
And now, let’s turn this into a practical example:
So to wrap it all up, thanks for looking into my application. I hope I can help Company X make the most out of their Facebook marketing initiatives. I’d love to further discuss how my previous success at XYZ Inc. can help you achieve your facebook marketing goals.
Step #8 – Use the right formal closing
Once you’re done with the final paragraph, all you have to do is write down a formal “goodbye” and you’re good to go.
Feel free to use one of the most popular conclusions to a cover letter:
- Best Regards,
- Kind Regards,
- Thank you,
And we’re finally done! Before sending off the cover letter, make sure to proofread it with software like Grammarly, or maybe even get a friend to review it for you.
Does your cover letter heading include all essential information?
- Full Name
- Professional email
- Phone Number
- Relevant Social Media Profiles
Do you address the right person? I.e. hiring manager in the company / your future direct supervisor
Does your introductory paragraph grab the reader’s attention?
- Did you mention 2-3 of your top achievements?
- Did you use numbers and facts to back up your experience?
Do you successfully convey that you’re the right pro for the job?
- Did you identify the core requirements?
- Did you successfully convey how your experiences help you fit the requirements perfectly?
Do you convince the hiring manager that you’re passionate about the company you’re applying to?
- Did you identify the top 3 things that you like about the company?
- Did you avoid generic reasons for explaining your interest in the company?
Did you finalize the conclusion with a call to action?
Did you use the right formal closure for the cover letter?
5+ Cover Letter Examples
Need some inspiration? Read on to learn about some of the best cover letter examples we’ve seen (for different fields).
College Student Cover Letter Example
Middle Management Cover Letter Example
Career Change Cover Letter Example
Management Cover Letter Example
Senior Executive Cover Letter Example
Want to discover more examples AND learn what makes them stand out? Check out our guide to cover letter examples.
Next Steps in Your Job Search – Creating a Killer Resume
Your cover letter is only as good as your resume. If either one is weak, your entire application is for naught.
After all, a cover letter is just an introduction. Imagine going through all this effort to leave an amazing first impression, but flopping at the end because of a mediocre resume.
. But don’t you worry, we’ve got you covered on that end, too.
If you want to learn more about Resumes & CVs, we have a dedicated FREE guide for that. Check out our complete guide on how to make a resume, as well as how to write a CV – our experts will teach you everything you need to know in order to land your dream job.
Or, if you’re already an expert, just pick one of our resume templates and get started.
Now that we’ve walked you through all the steps of writing a cover letter, let’s summarize everything we’ve learned:
- A cover letter is a 250 – 400 word document that convinces the hiring manager of your competence
- A cover letter goes in your job application alongside your resume
- Your introduction to the cover letter should grab the hiring manager’s attention and keep it all the way until the conclusion
- 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
At Novorésumé, we’re committed to helping you get the job you deserve, every step of the way! Follow our blog to stay up to date with the industry-leading advice. Or, check out some of our top guides…
Three excellent cover letter examples
The first thing a potential employer sees in your job application is the cover letter. This doesn’t just support your CV – it’s an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd and persuade the recruiter to put you through to the next round.
Be wary of spending hours on perfecting your CV at the expense of your cover letter. If you need some inspiration on what to include and what format to use, here are our helpful guides – just remember not to copy them as exact templates.
1. Standard, conservative style
This is ideal for sectors such as business, law, accountancy and retail. For more creative sectors, a letter like this might be less appealing, and could work against you.
Dear Mr Black,
Please find enclosed my CV in application for the post advertised in the Guardian on 30 November.
The nature of my degree course has prepared me for this position. It involved a great deal of independent research, requiring initiative, self-motivation and a wide range of skills. For one course, [insert course], an understanding of the [insert sector] industry was essential. I found this subject very stimulating.
I am a fast and accurate writer, with a keen eye for detail and I should be very grateful for the opportunity to progress to market reporting. I am able to take on the responsibility of this position immediately, and have the enthusiasm and determination to ensure that I make a success of it.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this application and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
2. Standard speculative letter
This may vary according to the nature of the organisation and the industry you’re applying to.
Dear Mr Brown,
I am writing to enquire if you have any vacancies in your company. I enclose my CV for your information.
As you can see, I have had extensive vacation work experience in office environments, the retail sector and service industries, giving me varied skills and the ability to work with many different types of people. I believe I could fit easily into your team.
I am a conscientious person who works hard and pays attention to detail. I’m flexible, quick to pick up new skills and eager to learn from others. I also have lots of ideas and enthusiasm. I’m keen to work for a company with a great reputation and high profile like [insert company name].
I have excellent references and would be delighted to discuss any possible vacancy with you at your convenience. In case you do not have any suitable openings at the moment, I would be grateful if you would keep my CV on file for any future possibilities.
3. Letter for creative jobs
We’ve used the example of a copywriter but you can adapt it for your profession. The aim of a creative letter is to be original and show you have imagination, but understand what the job entails. Balance is essential: don’t be too wacky, or it will turn off the reader.
Dear Ms Green,
· Confused by commas?
· Puzzled by parenthesis?
· Stumped by spelling?
· Perturbed by punctuation?
· Annoyed at the apostrophe? (And alliteration?)
Well, you’re not alone. It seems that fewer and fewer people can write. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who can read. So they’ll spot a gaffe from a mile off. And that means it’s a false economy, unless you’re 100% sure of yourself, to write your own materials. (Or to let clients do it for themselves.)
To have materials properly copywritten is, when one considers the whole process of publishing materials and the impact that the client wishes to make, a minor expense. Sloppiness loses clients, loses customers.
There is an answer. Me. Firm quotes are free. You can see some of what I do on my multilingual website at [insert web address]. If you’d like, I can get some samples out to you within 24 hours. And, if you use me, you’ll have some sort of guarantee that you can sleep soundly as those tens of thousands of copies are rolling off the presses.
Luck shouldn’t come into it!
With kindest regards
Other helpful resources
Looking for a job? Browse Guardian Jobs for your next career step.
How to Write Amazing English Cover Letters in 4 Simple Steps
It’s time to lose the full-time student job and finally get a paying gig (job).
It’s time to find a job that uses your strengths, skills and natural talents.
You’re smart, you’re qualified, you’re well-spoken and you’re overflowing with personality.
You know tons of business idioms and you’ve excelled in your business classes.
But there’s still one hurdle (challenge) standing in the way.
Your cover letter.
Knowing how to write a cover letter is a practical skill that will help you out in your career — and not just during the job search. The principles of writing a cover letter are similar to the principles of writing any other kind of business letter.
Letters aren’t just written on pen and paper, they’re also sent electronically — via email. So, you will have to write strong, professional letters at some point in your life.
Once you know how to write a cover letter, you’ll be better able to write all kinds of business letters.
There are plenty more reasons why you might need to write and send some kind of business letter. For example, perhaps you’re already a successful working professional and your boss has asked you to send a letter to one of your suppliers to communicate with them about a problem you’re having with their product.
University doesn’t usually give you the opportunity to practice writing business English letters. So, you probably haven’t done any business letter writing before, and now you’re nervous about what to include and what to omit.
If that’s where you’re stuck now, it’s time for you and me to get down to business.
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How to Write Amazing English Cover Letters in 4 Simple Steps
You’ve listened to the business podcasts and scoured the latest and greatest business apps, but you still need help with your writing.
Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place.
Your next step will be to get acquainted with the vocabulary you need to use to write your cover letter.
Rest assured, once you get the hang of the basic cover letter outline, you’ll be stunned by how easy it can be to write these. Cover letters are supposed to be short, direct, simple and professional. There’s no need for flash, big vocabulary words or too much creative writing.
All you really have to do is answer the important questions.
Let me elaborate on these major points.
1. Know the Right Writing Style.
Keep it simple.
Cut to the chase! Cover letters aren’t the time to introduce every detail about yourself, your experiences or whatever the main issue might be. The cover letter is the space to just give your reader the essential facts. Specifically, just the facts they need to know.
For example, if you’re applying to work at a bank, tell them about your experience with math, finance and customer service. The manager doesn’t need to know about every temporary summer job you’ve had. Save any other important work experiences for your resume or for the interview you’ll definitely get after sending your impressive cover letter.
Same goes for any kind of business letter. Be sure to only include relevant information. If you’re satisfied or dissatisfied with a product, let the company know right away and let them know what needs to be done about that product.
Don’t flood your letter with too much information. If you write too much, your main points will drown in a sea of information.
Busy professionals don’t have time to read all that.
Your letter will likely be one of many letters in a pile to be read. It’s just one more of the countless duties the letter reader will have to perform that day. His or her time is of the essence, so respect it. Don’t waste it.
Write with strength.
How to write a strong cover letter?
One trick is to use active voice as opposed to passive voice.
Don’t write: “One summer my job was working at a bank where I was a teller.”
Instead, write: “I worked as a teller at a bank one summer.”
You’ve just cut down 14 words to 10 words. Active voice is usually more direct, concise and strong. It sounds a little stronger and more formal. It doesn’t sound like you’re telling a long story, it sounds like you’re delivering only the most important facts.
Your simple, straightforward letter will show that you know how to be brief. It’ll show that you understand what’s important for the other professional to know. All in all, this will help your letter stand out as a strong letter.
And a strong letter is an important letter that needs to be read.
This means that there’s a better chance that it’ll be read in its entirety, and your request has a better chance of being considered.
2. Know What Content to Include.
Be professional, not personal.
Keeping your letter professional will also help keep it simple and strong.
Know your audience. You probably don’t know the recipient personally, so there’s no need for personal details or casual writing.
Save the small talk.
Remove any impertinent (unnecessary) details. Only include what’s important for the interview or business meeting. Your letter should be narrowly focused on the reason you’re writing.
If you’re applying for a job, tell the recipient only about your relevant work experience and what you can offer to their organization as an employee. This isn’t a time to talk about your family, your hobbies or what you like and dislike.
Remember, it’s a business letter and it should only be about business.
However, don’t be too formal in your speech either. Don’t try to impress with big words or long sentences. Relax and write about yourself in a natural, but professional, way. This can be achieved with an active voice and fewer words.
Don’t write a sentence like this: “It is a true and genuine honor to be considered for employment by such a wonderful and distinguished company such as yourself.”
Instead, write: “I am thrilled at the thought of contributing to such a renowned company.”
It’s the same idea, just a little less formal and with a few less words.
Stick to “what,” why” and “how.”
If you focus on answering these 3 questions, then it should be easy to stay focused and keep the letter succinct (brief) and relevant.
- You’re mostly answering the question “what do you want?”
- Is it a job in finance? In marketing? Is it a major leadership role?
- You’re being direct. Not rude.
- Why do you want it? Why do you need it?
- Why are you qualified you for the job? Why does the product not work and why do you need a replacement? What was wrong with the first expense report and why do you need your colleague to rewrite it?
- How will you be an asset to this company?
- Give solutions and ideas in your cover letter.
- Be decisive and have strong ideas.
Be strong. Be assertive. Be straightforward. Offer solutions in hopes that these will expedite the whole process.
This shows that your time is important too.
Still not sure what to include in terms of answers? Here are some tips for what exactly to include in your letter.
3. Follow this Sample Cover Letter Format.
So, since we’re living in the age of the email, it’s more likely that your “letter” will be an email. Just in case you’re going to physically send a letter in the mail, it’s important to include the following. Keep in mind that you don’t need to indent (put space to the left of) these lines of text at all.
Your House Number and Street Name
Your City, State, Country, Zip Code
Number and Street Address
City, State, Country, Zip Code
*(If you’re writing an email, skip the addresses and start with the next line instead)*
Dear Mr. or Ms. (Recipient’s Last Name):
My name is (your first and last name) and I am writing because I want to work for your company.
First paragraph content:
- Your experience.
- What you want (which position).
- Why you like the company.
- Why you’re applying.
Second paragraph content:
- How you’re going to make the company better.
- How you’re going to bring value.
- How you’re going to excel in this position.
- Brag about your abilities.
- Help the company understand why they need you.
Closing statements content:
- Say thank you for the opportunity.
- Express your wish for an interview.
Sincerely / Warm regards / Regards,
(press the “return” button on your keyboard 4 times here to add space)
Your name (sign your name just above this printed line if you’re sending a physical letter)
4. Review Your Checklist of Cover Letter Content
Though cover letter writing isn’t necessarily the time for creative or colorful writing, it still requires quite a bit of thought and skill. Keep the following checklist in mind to review when you’re done with any business letter.
1. Clarity. If the recipient only read my first sentence, will they understand why I’m writing? Did I get to the point right away? Did I convey to the recipient within the first two sentences why I should be hired or what the issue is?
2. Focus. Did I only include relevant information focusing only on the topic of the letter?
3. Originality. Did I offer any solutions or new ideas?
4. Professionalism. Was I polite, straightforward and concise?
If the answer to all of the above questions is “yes,” then you’re ready to send your letter! Be sure to double check your spelling and grammar one last time before sending it out.
So, there you have it. You’re now fully equipped to take the business world by storm with your writing. Now, go win over some clients and close some deals. Good luck!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)