How to Write a Cover Letter in 2020 | Beginner’s Guide
After weeks of intense job search, you are almost there!
You have perfected your resume.
You’ve shortlisted the coolest jobs you want to apply.
You even have a friend who trains you for each interview question.
However, before you submit your application and call a day, remember that the job posting requires a cover letter.
Now you’re wondering how to write a cover letter …
Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered. Writing a cover letter is much simpler than you might think.
In this guide, we’ll teach you how to write a cover letter that will get you the work you deserve:
- What Is A Cover Letter and Why Is It Important For Your Job Search?
- How to Write a Persuasive Cover Letter That Brings You the Job (Step by Step!)
- How to Perfect Your Cover Letter with the Novorésumé Free Checklist
- What Do Perfect Cover Letter Samples 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 (next to your CV or Resume) that you submit as part of your job application.
Its purpose is to introduce you and briefly summarize your professional background. On average, your cover letter should be 250 to 400 words long.
A good cover letter can be of interest to the HR manager and get them to read your CV.
On the other hand, a bad cover letter could mean that your application will go straight to the paper shredder. Therefore, it’s important to know how to write a persuasive cover letter to make sure this doesn’t happen.
You might ask, what does a good cover letter look like? Here is an example:
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However, keep in mind that a cover letter is a supplement to your resume, not a replacement. So, you don’t just repeat what’s mentioned in your resume.
If you are writing a cover letter for the first time, writing all this can seem quite difficult. After all, you are probably not a professional writer.
The problem is, you don’t need to be creative or even good at writing. All you have to do is follow a tried and tested format:
- Header – Enter contact information
- Greeting the hiring manager
- Opening paragraph – Grab the reader’s attention with 2-3 of your most important achievements
- Second paragraph – Explain why you are the perfect candidate for the job
- Third paragraph – Explain why you are suitable for the company
- Official closure
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How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter (And Get Hired!)
Now that we’ve taken the basics away, we’ll guide you step-by-step through the process of writing a cover letter.
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?
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You can choose one of our carefully selected cover letter templates and you’ll be ready in no time!
As a bonus, our content optimizer will also give you suggestions on how to improve your cover letter on the go.
.Step #2 – Start the Cover Letter with a Header
Here you want to add all important information, including:
- Name surname
- Phone number
- Name / professional title of the recruitment manager
- The name of the company you are applying to
In some cases, you may also consider adding:
- Social Media Profiles – Any profile related to your domain. Social Profiles on websites such as LinkedIn, GitHub (for developers), Dribble (for designers).
- Personal Website – If you have a personal website that adds value to your app in some way, you can mention it. Let’s say you are a professional writer. In this case, you want to link to your blog.
And here’s what you shouldn’t mention in your title:
- Your Address / City of Residence – This is something you add to your resume, not the cover letter.
- Unprofessional Email – Make sure your email is visible. If your e-mail address is “firstname.lastname@example.org”, it is very difficult for the hiring manager to take you seriously. When applying for a job, stick to the format “[first name] + [last name] @ email provider.com”.
Step #3 – Greet the Hiring Manager
Once you have listed your contact information properly, you should start writing the cover letter content.
The first thing to do here is to forward 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 have done your research and that you are truly passionate about working with their team.
No one wants to hire a job seeker who spams more than 20 companies and hopes to be hired in any of them.
So how will you find out who the hiring manager is? There are several ways to do this.
The simplest option is to look at the head of the relevant department on LinkedIn. Suppose you are applying for a Marketing Assistant position at Novorésumé. The hiring manager is probably the Marketing Manager or the Marketing Director.
So, you do a quick search on LinkedIn:
And voila! You have a recruiting manager.
Or suppose you are applying for a server position. In this case, you call the “restaurant manager”.
If that doesn’t work, you can also refer to the “Team” page on the company’s website; At least you have a good chance of finding the right person there.
Still can’t find the right person? Here are a few other greetings you can use:
- Dear [Department] Hiring Manager
- Dear Hiring Manager
- To whom it May concern
- Dear [Section] Team
Step #4 – Write an Attention-Grabbing Introduction
First impressions are especially important when it comes to job search.
Recruiters receive hundreds, sometimes even thousands of applications. Probably, they won’t read every cover letter from start to finish.
That’s why it’s so important to get their attention right from the first paragraph.
The # 1 problem we see with most of the cover letter opening paragraphs is that they’re usually extremely general. Most of them look something like this … How do you write a cover letter for 2020?,#What is the most effective way to write a cover letter?,#What do I write in a cover letter?,#How do you structure a cover letter?,#What are the 4 parts of a cover letter?,#What are the 3 parts of a cover letter?,#What should not be included in a cover letter?,#How do you write a short cover letter?,#What is a good cover letter?,#How do I make my cover letter unique?,#How do you sell yourself in a cover letter?,#How do you end a cover letter example?,#How do I make my cover letter more personal?,#How do you start and end a cover letter?,#Do you end a cover letter with Sincerely?,#How do you start the first paragraph of a cover letter?,#What do employers look for in a cover letter?,#How many typos mistakes are permitted in a cover letter?
Hello, my name is Jonathan and I want to work as a Sales Manager at XYZ Inc. I worked as a sales manager for over 5 years at MadeUpCompany Inc., so I believe I will be a good position.
Do you see the problem here? This opening paragraph says almost nothing except that you have done the job before.
Do you know who else has similar work experience? Any other candidates you compete with.
Instead, you want to start with 2-3 of your best achievements to really grab the reader’s attention. Preferably, achievements should be as relevant to the position as possible.
Now let’s highlight our previous example:
Dear Josh Smith,
My name is Michael and XYZ Inc. I want to help your company achieve and exceed its sales targets as a Sales Manager. I worked with Company X, a fin-tech company, for more than 3 years. As a Sales Representative, I averaged over $ 30,000 monthly sales (beating KPIs around 40%). I believe my previous industry experience as well as excellence in sales made me the right candidate for the job.
Do you 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 main text of your cover letter. This chapter is divided into two paragraphs: first to explain why you are the perfect person for the job, and second to prove that you are suitable for the company.
So let’s get started …
Step #5 – Explain why you’re the perfect person for the job
This is where you showcase your professional skills and convince the HR manager that you are better suited for the job than any other candidate.
But first of all – before you write anything, you need to find out what the most important requirements for the role are. So open the job posting and determine which of the responsibilities is most critical.
For example, let’s say you are applying for a Facebook Advertiser position. You scanned the job posting and found that the most important requirements are:
- Experience to manage more than 0,000 Facebook ad budget per month
- Some skills in advertising on other platforms (Google Search + Twitter)
- Excellent copywriting skills
Now, in this section, you need to discuss how to meet these requirements. So, for our example this would look like this:
In my previous role as a Facebook Marketing Specialist at XYZ Inc., I addressed customer acquisition through ads and managed a monthly Facebook ad budget of more than $ 20,000. As the only digital marketer in the company, I managed the process of creating and managing advertisements from end to end. That is, I created the ad text, images, chose targeting, did optimization experiments, etc.
Apart from Facebook advertising, I have also reviewed other online PPC channels, including:
- Google search
Are you a student applying for your first internship? You probably don’t have a lot of work experience to show in this section. Find out how to write an internship cover letter here.
Step #6 – Explain why you’re a good fit for the company
After writing the last paragraph, you might be thinking – I’m a seducer for the job! What else should I write? I’ll just complete the cover letter and hit that sweet SEND button.
No. You are not quite there yet.
The HR manager doesn’t just look at whether you will be good at work. They are looking for someone who also fits the company culture.
After all, employees who do not adapt have to quit sooner or later. This costs the company a ton of money, up to 50% of the employee’s annual salary.
So, you also need to convince the HR manager that you are really passionate about working with them.
How do you do this? To begin with, you want to do some research about the company. You want to know things like:
- What is the company’s business model?
- What is the company’s product or service? Did you use
- What is the culture like? Will someone micromanage your business or will you have autonomy over how to do things?
So, go to Googling. You will probably find all the information you need somewhere on the company website or on the web.
Next, you need to find what you like about the company and transcribe that.
Let’s say you are passionate about their products and love the innovation / independent work culture at the organization.
You would write something like:
I have used the XYZ Smartphone personally and I believe it is the most innovative technology I have used in years. Features like Made-Up Feature # 1 and Made-Up Feature # 2 were a true game changer for the device.
I really appreciate how the XYZ company succeeded in excellence for their entire product line and created market leading technology. As someone thriving in a self-sufficient environment, I truly believe that I and XYZ Company will be a great match.
What you don’t want to do here is to be super general so you have something to write about. Most job seekers tend to spoil it. Let’s take a look at a very common example we tend to see (very often):
I would love to work for XYZ Company because of its innovation culture. I believe it would be very suitable for the company as I am super creative. The company’s values of honesty and transparency really impress me.
Did you see what was wrong here? It doesn’t really say anything about the exemplary company. “Innovation Culture” is something that most companies claim to have.
The same goes for “values of integrity and transparency” – the author researched what the values are for the organization on Google and said they liked them.
Any hiring manager reading this will look through the hair.
So make sure you do a lot of research and there are good reasons why you are applying.
Step #7 – Wrap up with a call to action
Finally, it’s time to finish your cover letter and write the result.
In the last paragraph, you want to:
- Add the points you couldn’t find in the previous paragraphs. Have you got anything left to say? Is there any other information that could help the hiring manager make a decision? Mention here.
- Thank the hiring manager for his time. It never hurts to be nice unless you come as a very needy person.
- Finish your cover letter with a call to action. The last sentence in your cover letter should be a call to action. You should ask the hiring manager to take some kind of precaution.
Let’s turn this into a practical example:
- All in all, thanks for looking at my application. I hope I can help Company X make the most of Facebook marketing initiatives. I would like to discuss further how my previous success at XYZ Inc. could help you reach your facebook marketing goals. “
Step #8 – Use the right formal closing
After you’ve finished the last paragraph, all you have to do is write a formal “goodbye” and you’re good to go.
Feel free to use one of the most popular results for a cover letter:
- Best regards,
- Best regards,
- Thank you,
And we are finally done! Before sending the cover letter, be sure to reread it with software like Grammarly, or maybe even have a friend review it for you.
[FREE BONUS] – Perfect Your Cover Letter with a Free Checklist
Have you finished writing your cover letter? Would you like to see how it fared among the best? Go through the checklist below and learn how to perfect your cover letter:
Cover Letter Writing Checklist
1) Does your cover letter heading include all essential information?
- Full Name
- Professional email
- Phone Number
- Relevant Social Media Profiles
2) Do you address the right person? I.e. hiring manager in the company / your future direct supervisor
3) Does your introductory paragraph grab the reader’s attention?
- Did you mention 2-3 of your best achievements?
- Have you used numbers and facts to back up your experience?
4) Do you successfully convey that you’re the right pro for the job?
- Have you identified the basic requirements?
- Have you successfully conveyed how your experience helped you meet your exact requirements?
5) Do you convince the hiring manager that you’re passionate about the company you’re applying to?
- Have you identified the 3 most important things you like about the company?
- Have you avoided common reasons to explain your interest in the company?
6) Did you finalize the conclusion with a call to action?
7) Did you use the right formal closure for the cover letter?
5+ Cover Letter Examples
Do you need inspiration? Read on to learn about some of the best cover letter examples (for different areas) we’ve seen.
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 explore more examples AND find out what makes them stand out? Check out our guide to cover letter samples.
Next Steps in Your Job Search – Creating a Killer Resume
Your cover letter is only as good as your resume. If any of them are weak, your entire application is in vain.
After all, a cover letter is just an introduction. Imagine you put all that effort into making an incredible first impression, but eventually failed because of a mediocre resume.
… But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered on that too.
If you want to learn more about resumes and CVs, we have a dedicated FREE guide for that. Check out our complete guide on how to create a resume – our experts will teach you everything you need to know to get your dream job.
Or if you’re already an expert, choose one of our resume templates and get started.
Now that we’ve guided you through all the steps of writing a cover letter, let’s summarize everything we’ve learned …
- The cover letter is a 250-400 word document that persuades the hiring manager of your competence.
- A cover letter is entered with your resume on your job application.
- Your introduction to the cover letter should get the attention of the hiring manager and keep everything going until the conclusion.
- There are 2 main topics you should include in your cover letter: why are you the perfect candidate for the job and why are you passionate about working in the company you are applying for?
- Most of the content of your cover letter should be factual, without any quill or generalization.
At Novorésumé, we are committed to helping you get the job you deserve every step of the way! Follow our blog to stay up to date with industry leading advice. Or check out some of our best guides…