How to Write a Cover Letter

At my last job, I read hundreds of cover letters and resumes and interviewed dozens of candidates. I learned what works and what doesn’t. Here is how to write a cover letter that hiring managers actually want to see.

How to Write a Cover Letter

How to Write a Cover Letter

1. Tailor your cover letter for a specific job: When a hiring manager is looking at your cover letter he or she wants to see why you are the perfect candidate for the position. You need to show that you have the skills and experiences necessary to succeed in the role. One way to do this is to read the job description carefully and mirror some of the language used. Think about what they want and draw parallels between your skills and the job requirements. 

2. You need to show four things:

  • Why you are writing: Mention the position you are applying for and how you found out about the opening. If you know someone at the company mention it within the first few sentences.
  • Why you are interested in working there: Demonstrate that you understand the organization and its mission.
  • What you can do for them: Show why you will succeed at the role and how you will bring value to the organization.
  • Logistics: Explain how they can reach you and thank them for considering you for the position.

3. Don’t repeat your resume: The hiring manager has your resume. Don’t repeat it. The hiring manager isn’t reading your cover letter to find out where you worked and went to school. The hiring manager is reading your cover letter for a quick introduction to who you are and an explanation of why you will be an asset to the company. Your resume can’t explain your enthusiasm for the company or any soft skills you have – the cover letter is a great place to do both!

4. Be yourself: Use clear, concise sentences. Don’t just say you are a team player or that you are diligent, show it by telling a story about a time that you exhibited those traits. Don’t use overly formal language or overly formal and awkward sentence structures. Use language you would normally use. I’ve read so many letters that are overly formal and they often come off as both inauthentic and confusing.

5. Details matter: Always address the letter to someone. Don’t use a generic opening like “To Whom It May Concern.” Use the company website or LinkedIn to find out who the hiring manager is and address the letter to that person. Proofread for typos, spelling errors, and grammatical errors. Keep it to one page. Don’t write a novel. I remember being so impressed by one cover letter because the person printed the cover letter, signed it, then scanned it and sent it to me. Little things can go a long way.

Good luck! There you have it, 5 simple steps for how to write a cover letter! 

What tips would you add?

Image via Decor Pad.

24 Responses to How to Write a Cover Letter

  1. Gross, John H. says:

    Helpful information.

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Oh my gosh I needed this! I book marked it and sent it to my friends as well! This is great! Cover letters are my weakness!

  3. Ashley Mason says:

    This post is awesome! I’ll hopefully be looking for an internship next summer, so I know cover letters will be needed. Definitely bookmarking this to look back on later!

  4. Ashleigh says:

    I had to write my first cover letter a few months ago! Wish I had known all this then! Thanks for the post! xoxo

  5. Hannah says:

    I never thought of the fact that you should put completely different things, more of an introduction of yourself in your cover letter and not repeat yourself!! I will need to remember that once I finally graduate from grad school next spring!

  6. Morgan says:

    You have a great perspective on this topic! I have heard that repeating your resume is one of the worst things you can do. They want to learn more about you. Great tips!

    How 2 Wear It []

  7. Jenny says:

    Great tips!
    I normally don’t have to submit a cover letter but when the job calls for it, I never know where to begin so these will be extremely helpful!

    xoxo, Jenny || Breakfast at Lillys

  8. Jessica says:

    Although we had a few CV writing sessions at school and uni, nobody ever really talked about cover letters but they are so important when applying for jobs. Thank you for sharing your tips. It’s great to have somebody from behind the scenes to offer a helping hand!

  9. Jordyn says:

    If we are being honest…I totally hate writing cover letters but that being said I see why they are so important. Your advice (as always) is spot on. Details are SO important as is proofreading. I accidentally sent a cover letter with basic spelling mistakes once…trying to get a job in writing. The company called me back for an interview but I wouldn’t have haha (:

  10. Shane says:

    i’ve done so many resumes but never a cover letter,(some cases I’m told it’s not necessary) such great advice!

  11. Jazmine says:

    Helpful for when I start to apply for cover letters. I like how simple you made it because writing cover letter’s can be quite intimidating.

  12. Lauren says:

    I had a class in high school that talked about the importance of this in one of the sections of our class but this just exceeds everything I learned in that class! Saving this
    The Fashionista’s Diary

  13. I’ve never done a cover letter… Great advice!!

  14. Alicia says:

    I always struggle with a cover letter, so these tips were super awesome! I need to work on the whole not repeating my resume part — I find that I often do that!

    xo, Alicia | Alicia Tenise

  15. Ally Gagliardo says:

    This is perfect! Sending this out to my friends who need a job!

  16. Macarena says:

    Thank you for this! I absolutely never write a cover letter which is so bad. I’m glad I have your tips now!

    Xo //

  17. what great advice! I’m applying for internships for the summer soon so I can use as much advice on resumes and cover letters that I can get

  18. Annie says:

    Cover letters are the WORST part of job applying. I am definitely bookmarking this for the future. Also, your desk is the cutest 🙂

    Annie // Annie N Belle

  19. Chelsea White says:

    Cover letters are definitely something I need to work on this semester.. thank you for the tips! xo

  20. Courtney says:

    These are such great tips,pinning this! The thought of writing cover letters has always terrified me, but this doesn’t seem bad!

  21. brittany says:

    What are the paint colours you’ve used on that wall!?

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  23. Cover letter should be written precisely as this letter is your introduction to an employer and it is very well known that first impression is the last impression so you should take care of what to write and how impressively to write to create effective letter.

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