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Haris Achterberg

19 11 2020

How to write a cover letter

After weeks or even months of job searching, you finally found that one job you love (or even multiple). You spent a lot of time perfecting your CV or resume and tailored them in such a way they perfectly aligns with the requirements in the job description. However, that same job description calls for a cover letter. It leaves you wondering. What is it exactly? And even more important, how to write a cover letter?

What is a cover letter?

Before elaborating on how to write a cover letter, you have to know what it is first. If you understand its meaning and purpose, it will be easier to write a convincing one. So, a cover letter is a document in which you provide more information about yourself, your skills and your experience. You can see it as the introduction or sales pitch to your CV or resume. It doesn’t sum up your skills and qualifications, but explains WHY you are a perfect fit for the job.

This is why it is important

The cover letter is one of the first things recruiters or hiring managers look at. Yes, they read it sometimes even before looking at your CV or resume. It should grab the attention. It should make you stand out. And ultimately, it should make decision makers want to know more about you. Thus, you shouldn’t just be asking just how to write a cover letter. Anybody can do just that. You should rather have to think about how to write a cover letter that gets you that job interview. And we will help you with that too.

How to write a cover letter: essential elements

A cover letter almost always consists of the following:
  • your contact information
  • a salutation
  • an opening or introduction (first paragraph)
  • the body copy (second paragraph)
  • a closing (third and last paragraph)
  • and your signature

Contact information

You want recruiters, hiring managers or your future employer to be able to contact you right away. That is why you always need to include your contact details. Add your first and last name, street address, city and postal code, phone number and email address at the top. Or after your signature at the bottom when sending an email.

Salutation

This is the first step in writing a cover letter that gets you noticed. A personal greeting does make an impact. Addressing your cover letter to a specific individual (and preferably the right one) implies you have taken the time to find out who’s reading your document and you are very serious about applying for the vacancy. So, try your best to identify who you’re writing for.

First paragraph: the opening

Use the first paragraph to introduce yourself. Tell the reader what job you are applying for and how you found out about the vacancy. Especially when you heard about it via a contact inside the organization. Briefly sum up your previous experience and explain how your qualifications match the requirements of the specific job description. The goal here is to grab the attention.

Second paragraph: the body

In the second paragraph (the body copy) you explain what it is that sparked your interest and you show how the organization you’re applying at would benefit from your skills and previous achievements. Remember to show, don’t tell. Use relevant and concrete examples or results that demonstrate what you bring to the table.

Third paragraph: the closing

You can use the third and last paragraph to close the deal. If you have any points left to make, do it here. If not, just provide a short recap on why you fit the job description, thank the reader for his or her consideration and end with a call to action in which you state that you would like to discuss job opportunities further and recruiters or hiring managers can contact you.

Signature

Finish your cover letter with an appropriate closing and signature. Don’t be too grateful or casual. Just keep it short and formal. For printed documents, include your handwritten signature and your name (typed) . If sending an email, just follow up with your name and contact details.

A last note on how to write a cover letter: keep it short!

So now you know what to include and how to write a cover letter. But we got some more advice on how to write a cover letter for you: keep it short! The total length of the letter should not exceed the length of one page (A4). No recruiter or hiring manager has the time to sift through an entire novel. Stick to a few sentences per paragraph or try to keep your cover letter around 300 words and you will be fine.

Need help?

Do you want a review or need some help writing your cover letter? We know exactly how to write a cover letter that intrigues. Check our cover letter writing services for more information or feel free to contact us and find out how we can make your cover letter stand out from the competition.

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