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How to write a cover letter for any job? The ultimate guide

Updated: Jul 19

If you’ve been applying for jobs recently, you’ll notice that most companies now ask for cover letters. It used to be that resumes did all the talking. It’s not the case anymore.

How to write a cover letter that converts -- Image

We’re a job board, which means we get to see a lot of job postings every single day. Most, if not all jobs ask for a cover letter now.

In this blog, we’ll go over how you write a cover letter, what you include, what you skip, and everything else that you need to know about writing a cover letter.

Let’s get started.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter, put simply, is a one-page document that you send to potential employers. Usually, you send it along with your resume.

The way it usually works is that the recruiter goes through the resume and then reads the cover letter.

The cover letter is where you showcase your personality, enthusiasm, and, most importantly, how your skills and experiences align with the job role.

The importance of a cover letter can genuinely not be overstated. While your resume is a stoic, fact-based document, a cover letter is your chance to sparkle, allowing your voice to shine through in a way that a list of bullet points never could.

Your cover letter should be a repeat performance of your resume.

Think of your resume as a raw data log, a collection of facts about your career. It lists your job history, academic qualifications, and relevant skills – it's black and white.

On the other hand, your cover letter is a technicolor narrative, weaving a story that connects the dots in your resume. It explains why you're not just another job-seeker, but 'The One' who fits the role like a glove.

Should I write a cover letter for every job?

Absolutely yes. Unless the company forbids you from writing a cover letter, you should always include a cover letter.

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How to write a cover letter?

Read the job description

Understanding the job description and requirements is an absolutely critical step in the application process. It's the difference between shooting arrows in the dark and having a clear target in sight.

Why, you ask?

Because the job description is your main source of information about what the employer is looking for in a candidate. It tells you the skills, experiences, and qualifications they value. Misunderstanding this is like trying to solve a puzzle with the wrong pieces - you won't get very far.

For example, if a job description mentions "strong project management skills," it's your cue to highlight any relevant project management experience in your cover letter and resume.

Second, the job description also provides insights into the company culture and the day-to-day responsibilities of the role. This can help you decide if the job aligns with your career goals and values, ensuring you're not just applying for a job, but for a job where you'll be happy and productive.

Finally, understanding the job requirements allows you to tailor your cover letter and resume specifically to the role, increasing your chances of passing through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and landing an interview.

Research the company

There’s nothing more off-putting than a drab, generic cover letter. Yes, skills and experience are important but recruiters also want to see that you’re really interested in the role. They want to see that you actually read the job description. Finally, they want to see if you actually wrote the cover letter or if it’s a generic one that you just copy-pasted.

Remember that cover letters are all about personalization. So, make sure you spend some time researching the company.

Make a note of the company culture and vision or mission statements. When you’re writing your cover letter, keep those few statements in mind and see if you can add them to your cover letter. This doesn’t mean that you just copy-paste their mission statement, of course.

For example, if the company emphasizes collaboration and teamwork, you can highlight instances in your cover letter where you successfully worked in cross-functional teams to achieve shared goals.

Or if the company's mission is to improve healthcare outcomes, you can share personal anecdotes or experiences that demonstrate your commitment to making a positive impact in the healthcare field

Writing a cover letter is, more than anything, a function of alignment. The idea is to show that the company’s values align with your own and that your skills are perfect for the company.

Here’s how you can research the company:

  • Go to their website: Start by thoroughly exploring the company's official website. Look for sections like "About Us," "Mission and Values," and "Our Team" to gain insights into the company's background, goals, and culture.

  • Social media: Check the company's social media profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) for updates, news, and employee testimonials. This can provide a glimpse into their current projects, company culture, and recent achievements.

  • Professional networking platforms: Utilize professional networking platforms like LinkedIn to explore the profiles of current and former employees. This can give you insights into the company's work environment, the backgrounds of its employees, and potential connections within the organization.

Structure your cover letter correctly

There’s a reason why a cover letter is a one-page document. Recruiters usually don’t have a lot of time per resume (and cover letter). They’ve seen your resume, they know the basics of your professional life, and now they want to know more about you.

So, that’s what a cover letter should do. Think of it as the highlights reel of a sports match. It should include the important stuff and only the important stuff. It usually amounts to four or five paragraphs.

Introduction paragraph — grab the reader’s attention

This is your chance to grab the recruiter’s attention, so they keep reading instead of moving your application to the dreaded 'maybe later' pile.

Avoid cliches and generic statements. Starting with "I am applying for X position at Y company" is neither unique nor interesting.

Instead, kick off with a compelling story, a powerful quote, or a significant accomplishment (not general life quotes, if you’re wondering). Show a little personality and don't be afraid to convey your enthusiasm for the job you're applying for.

Here's an example:

"When I managed to boost our annual sales by 20% in my current role as a marketing lead, I realized the power of creative storytelling. Now, I'm excited about the opportunity to bring this same level of innovation to the Content Marketing Manager role at XYZ Company."

Now, is this a bit much?

A little. But it gives you an idea of what direction you should take.

The example above dives right into a big achievement, shows enthusiasm for the job, and connects the dots for the hiring manager. You're telling them that you're not only interested in the job, but you've also got what it takes to excel in the role.

At the end of your introduction, make sure to succinctly state the position you're applying for, so there's no confusion. After all, the hiring manager may be filling multiple roles at once.

But remember, while it's important to show your enthusiasm, don't overdo it. You want to come off as genuine and authentic, not like you're laying it on too thick. Your introduction is your first chance to impress, so make it count.

The second paragraph – show how your skills match the job requirements

Once you have the reader's attention with your riveting introduction, it's time to back up that interest with solid evidence. The second paragraph is where you convince the hiring manager that you're not just excited about the role - you're also the right person for it.

Begin by directly addressing the job requirements outlined in the job description.

For instance, if the job requires a candidate with strong project management skills, you could start by saying, "In my previous role at ABC Company, I managed multiple large-scale projects simultaneously..."

Then, take it a step further.

Don't just state your skills - provide quantifiable achievements that demonstrate these skills. Continuing our example, you could say, "...notably, I led a team to complete a six-month project three weeks ahead of schedule, saving the company over $20,000."

Remember, it's not a laundry list of your skills, but a narrative that tells the employer exactly how your specific abilities make you the perfect fit for this specific role. This is your chance to show the hiring manager that you understand the job and have what it takes to excel.

And a little tip - try to use the same language that the job description uses.

If they want someone with "excellent customer service skills," use that phrase in your cover letter. This not only shows that you're attentive to detail, but it also helps your cover letter pass through any Applicant Tracking Systems the company might use.

The second paragraph is all about "show, don't just tell." Back up your claims with evidence, and the hiring manager will definitely take notice.

Third paragraph – show that you did your research

The third paragraph of your cover letter is where you show the hiring manager that you didn't just stumble upon the job posting—you've done your homework about the company and are genuinely interested in becoming a part of their team.

A great way to start is to speak directly to the company's values or mission. Say something like, "As a long-time admirer of XYZ's commitment to sustainability, I was thrilled to find a role that aligns with my own personal values."

Next, demonstrate your understanding of the company's position within its industry.

You might say something like, "In a sector where innovation is key, XYZ consistently leads the way with cutting-edge products. As a driven professional, I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to such a forward-thinking team."

Then, link your understanding of the company's objectives with how you can contribute to achieving them. For instance, "Given XYZ's plans to expand its digital presence, my background in social media marketing and SEO could provide significant value."

Showing that you've researched the company and understand its goals and values proves you're not only interested in the job but also the company culture. This signals to the hiring manager that you're likely to be a good fit and a valuable addition to the team.

Keep in mind that companies aren't just looking for someone who can do the job; they're also looking for someone who will fit into their culture and contribute to the company's long-term vision.

Fourth paragraph — professional sign-off

Now, after all your efforts to craft an engaging and persuasive cover letter, don't let a weak or overly informal sign-off undo all your hard work. It's time to wrap it up with the same professionalism you've maintained throughout.

Your sign-off should be courteous and formal, but not archaic or overly stiff.

"Sincerely" is a classic choice that never goes out of style. It's formal, straightforward, and acceptable for any professional correspondence. "Best regards," "Kind regards," and "Respectfully" also work well in a professional setting.

Avoid overly casual sign-offs like "Cheers," "Later," or "Take care" in your cover letter, as these may give off an unprofessional vibe.

Now, before you sign off, remember to thank the reader one more time. You might say something like, "Thank you again for considering my application. I'm excited about the possibility of contributing to your team."

Finally, sign off with your chosen professional closing and your full name. If you're submitting a digital copy of your cover letter, consider including a digital signature to give it a personal touch. Like so:


[Your Full Name]"

And that’s about it!

Suggested: How should freshers write a cover letter?

A quick word about ATS:

Applicant Tracking System or ATS is a software that companies use to filter applications. When you send in a resume and a cover letter for a job, it’s the ATS that reads it first.

ATS works by recognizing what are called keywords. Keywords are important words and phrases that it looks for, in each resume and cover letter.

If you’ve included enough of these keywords and phrases, it’ll move your application forward. Or else, it rejects it.

This is why it’s crucial that you tailor your cover letter to the job description. It really helps.

We’ve actually got a comprehensive guide on how to beat the ATS. It’s written with resumes in mind but the same principles work for your cover letter too. We go over fonts, design choices, language, and much more in that article. Go through it for a more thorough analysis.

Three common cover letter mistakes

Overly short or overly long

Think of Goldilocks when you're writing your cover letter – not too long, not too short, but just right.

You need enough space to present a compelling case for your candidacy, but if your cover letter is a novel, hiring managers will likely lose interest.

Most experts agree that one page is the ideal length for a cover letter. Remember, this isn't your autobiography.

Your cover letter is a carefully crafted highlight reel of your most relevant skills, experiences, and attributes that make you the perfect fit for the job.

On the flip side, a cover letter that's too short can be just as damaging. It could indicate a lack of effort or enthusiasm, which isn't a good look. A couple of brief paragraphs probably won't be enough to showcase your skills and interest in the role, so aim for that one-page sweet spot.

Generic cover letter

One-size-fits-all might work for scarves, but not for cover letters.

A generic, impersonal cover letter is a surefire way to have your application overlooked. Tailoring your cover letter to each specific job and company shows the hiring manager that you've done your homework and that you're genuinely interested in the role.

Start by addressing the hiring manager by name if possible – a quick LinkedIn search can often give you this information. If you don’t find it, address the cover letter to the hiring team of the company.

Then, craft your letter to speak directly to the requirements listed in the job description, and show knowledge of the company's values and culture. This personalized approach will help your cover letter stand out in a sea of generic ones.

Typos and grammar mistakes

Typos and grammatical errors in your cover letter aren't just mistakes – they're red flags to employers. They could indicate carelessness, lack of attention to detail, or poor communication skills.

Before you send your cover letter, proofread it – then proofread it again.

Use a tool like Grammarly to catch errors, but don't rely solely on spell check. Sometimes, it can miss errors or autocorrect to the wrong word.

Reading your cover letter out loud can also help you spot awkward phrasing or missing words.

It's also a good idea to have someone else review your letter. A fresh pair of eyes might catch something you've missed.

Suggested: How to tailor your resume to any job

Cover letter checklist:

Before you send a cover letter, take a look at this checklist and see if you’ve done everything.

  1. Understand the job description: Before writing, thoroughly read the job description. Highlight the key skills and experiences required. Understand what the role involves and how you fit into it.

  2. Research the company: Get a feel for the company's culture, values, and mission. Look for any recent news or notable achievements that you can mention to show your interest and initiative.

  3. Start with your contact information: Include your full name, address, phone number, and email. If the cover letter is part of an email or online application, you can omit the address and date.

  4. Use a professional salutation: If possible, address the hiring manager by name. If you can't find a name, go with a general but professional salutation like "Dear Hiring Manager."

  5. Write a catchy introduction: Start with an engaging opener that grabs the reader's attention. Refer to the job you're applying for and why you're excited about it.

  6. Showcase relevant skills and experiences: In the body of the letter, detail how your previous experiences and skills align with the job requirements. Use specific examples and quantifiable achievements if possible.

  7. Display your knowledge of the company and the role: Explain why you want to work for this specific company and what you can bring to the table. This is where your earlier company research comes in handy!

  8. Craft a compelling conclusion: Reiterate your interest in the role and why you'd be a great fit. Include a call to action, like an invitation to continue the conversation or a proposal for the next step.

  9. Sign-off professionally: End with a professional closing, like "Sincerely" or "Best regards," followed by your name. In a digital document, consider including a digital signature for a personal touch.

  10. Proofread: Review your cover letter for any typos or grammatical errors. Consider having a friend or mentor read it over, too.

  11. Format properly: Depending on how you're sending your cover letter (traditional, email, or online application), make sure it's properly formatted.

Suggested: 11 Resume Mistakes That Every Recruiter Notices (and how to avoid them)

Cover letter for a fresher and an experienced professional

The key differences between a cover letter for a fresher and an experienced professional lie in the emphasis placed on different aspects of your background.

For a fresher, the focus is primarily on your education, internships, and transferable skills. Since you may not have a wealth of professional experience, you need to showcase your potential and eagerness to learn.

Your cover letter should highlight relevant coursework, academic projects, and internships, demonstrating a solid foundation in your field of interest. It's important for you to convey your enthusiasm, ability to learn quickly, and your dedication to self-improvement.

Here’s an example:

cover letter for a fresher -- example

On the other hand, if you’re an experienced professional, you have a track record of professional accomplishments and career progression.

Your cover letter will emphasize your achievements, leadership skills, and direct contributions to previous employers. You can discuss successful projects you've managed, the impact of your work on business outcomes, and your ability to lead and collaborate with teams.

Highlight your industry expertise and any relevant certifications or additional training you have obtained. Your cover letter should convey a sense of expertise, confidence, and a proven track record of delivering results.

Here’s an example:

cover letter of an experienced professional


There you have it — a complete guide on how to write a cover letter.

Writing a cover letter for each job might sound a bit tedious but the fact is that employers do read cover letters. We’re a job board and we know how important cover letters are.

One of the things that can make life easy for you is to write a generic cover letter and then modify it for each job. This way, you won’t have to keep writing new ones from the start.

Once you have a great resume and a cover letter, it’s time to start applying. And when you are applying for jobs, make sure you check out Simple Job Listings. We only list remote jobs. Each job is verified and usually pays amazingly well. Also, most jobs that we post aren’t listed anywhere else.

Visit Simple Job Listings and find amazing remote jobs. Good luck!

Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What to say in a cover letter?

Each cover letter should contain a few important things

  1. A short introduction of yourself

  2. The role you're applying for

  3. What in your experience makes you a good fit

  4. Why the company should choose you

Resumes are objective. They state facts as they are. The cover letter is your chance to add a bit of personality. It's a way for you to introduce yourself to the company the way you want to.

How to write a simple cover letter for a job?

A simple cover letter should have a few basic things:

  1. The right salutation (eg. "Dear Hiring Manager")

  2. Introduction paragraph — Grab the recruiter's attention

  3. Second paragraph — Show that your skills match the job description

  4. Third paragraph — Show that you've done some basic company research

  5. Fourth paragraph — A professional sign off

What do employers look for in a cover letter?

When a recruiter is reading through a cover letter, they want to see a few basic things

  1. Your skills match the job description

  2. You're a good fit for the company

  3. You've done some basic research about the company

  4. Your experience aligns with what the company is looking for

What is the best opening line for a cover letter?

The best way to start a cover letter is to sound enthusiastic and knowledgeable.

For example, "I was excited to find the [title] position at [company name]. As a [current position], I believe I might be a great fit for the role. I believe my experience and skills align well with what you are looking for"

How to sell yourself in a cover letter?

  1. Align your skills and experience with what the company is looking for

  2. Do some basic research about the company and put it in the cover letter

  3. Don't write a very short or a very long cover letter

  4. Be enthusiastic

  5. Use phrases from the job description in the cover letter

What are 3 tips that you can use when writing a cover letter?

  1. Personalization is key. Show them that you've read the job description and that you've done some basic research about the company

  2. Limit your cover letter to one page. Four to five paragraphs are perfect

  3. Align your skills and experience with what the company is looking for

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