How To
12 min read time

The Best Way to Write a Job Application Cover Letter

Reem Abouemera

October 12, 2022

These days, it seems like every job application requires a cover letter. While this isn’t precisely true, 64% of jobs do require a cover letter. Even if they're not required, 74% of recruitment decision-makers prefer to see a cover letter along with the applicant’s resume.

A cover letter is an opportunity to sell yourself, and if done correctly, it can be the difference between getting your dream job and not even securing an interview.

If you're like most people, you might not be completely confident in your ability to write a standout cover letter. But don't worry! We'll help you craft a succinct, engaging cover letter that fuels interest in your candidacy.

Cover letter format

Before anything else, let's go over the basics of how to format your cover letter. Below are the structural elements every cover letter should include:

  • A header with the date and your contact information
  • A salutation or greeting
  • An opening paragraph
  • A middle paragraph (body paragraph)
  • A closing paragraph 
  • A letter ending and signature

Image Source

As for length, font, margins, and spacing, cover letters should be:

  • One page in length
  • Written in a professional font (like Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri) in 10-12 point size
  • Left-aligned with single spacing

Now that we know how to format your cover letter, let's talk about how to write one. After all, writing a cover letter for a job application is one of the many ways you can make a good impression on hiring managers.

8 tips for writing a great cover letter

If you want to write a cover letter that will inform and impress, pay close attention to these tips:

1. Use a professional cover letter header

Right off the bat, your header will speak volumes about you as a professional. Make sure it includes the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your phone number
  • Your email address
  • The date
  • The name of your hiring manager and their professional title
  • The name and address of the company to which you’re applying

Image Source

These are just the basics. You can also choose to add other items, such as:

  • Your professional title
  • Your home address
  • Your city of residence
  • Links to your professional websites or social media accounts

Pro Tip: Your contact information should be the same across all platforms, including your resume, cover letter, and social media profiles. Otherwise, you run the risk of a hiring manager being unable to reach you. Also, avoid using your current work email address to send your job application email. This could give the wrong impression to the hiring manager.

2. Open your cover letter with a proper greeting

Always pay attention to how you greet the person reading your cover letter. Remember that this is the very first thing the hiring manager will see, so it’s important to use a formal and professional salutation.

Image Source

Here are some pointers on how to address your cover letter:

  • If you know the name of the person reading your letter (such as the hiring manager), use their first name to make your cover letter appear more personable (e.g., Dear James).
  • If you know the company you're applying to is relaxed and casual, you can use the hiring manager's first name. For corporate cover letters, it's safer to go with the addressee's last name (e.g., Dear Mr. Smith).
  • If you don't know the name of the hiring manager, search for the company's website (or LinkedIn profile) and look up their contact information so you can properly address them. If you still can't find the person's name, simply use a generic greeting, such as:
  • Dear Sales Team Hiring Manager
  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • Dear [Company Name] Team
  • To Whom It May Concern

3. Write a catchy opening paragraph

Now we're getting into the meat of your cover letter: the opening paragraph. This is where you'll need to make a good impression on the hiring manager so they want to keep reading. Think of it as your elevator pitch: You have a very limited amount of time and space to make your case, so make it count!

Here are some tips on how to write an opening paragraph that will make a strong first impression:

  • Start with a bang: Open with a strong sentence that will immediately capture the reader's attention. For example, you could mention a recent award you received or how you helped your previous company achieve its goals.
  • Show that you know your prospective employer's needs: The opening paragraph is a great opportunity to show that you understand the needs of the company to which you're applying. For instance, if the job posting mentions that they're looking for someone with "strong writing skills," you could mention how your excellent writing abilities helped you secure media coverage for your previous company.
  • Base your introduction on your enthusiasm: Finally, one of the best ways to make a good impression is to show you're excited about the job and the company. For example, if the job is a fashion design position, you could mention how much you love the company's aesthetic and how you feel like you would be a perfect fit for their team.

Here are two examples of opening paragraphs for a cover letter:

Bad example: I am writing to apply for the job of fashion designer at your company. Please consider me for the position.

Better example: I was thrilled to see that you're looking for a fashion designer on your team! I have been following your company's designs for years, and I absolutely love your aesthetic (I am particularly impressed by the new fall collection). I recently graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, where I based my final collection on your designs. I feel confident that I would be a great asset to your team, and I am very excited for the opportunity to learn and grow at your company.

Pro Tip: If you need help writing an opening paragraph that will really wow the hiring manager, try using Copy.ai's "Cover Letter" tool. With this AI-powered writing tool, you can generate an opening paragraph for your cover letter in mere seconds. Save time (and stress) by letting Copy.ai do the writing for you!

4. Explain why you’re the perfect candidate

Next, it's time to explain why you would be the perfect candidate for the job. Remember, you want to focus on how your skills and experiences can benefit the company, not how the company can benefit you.

A great way to do this is to carefully examine the job description and look for key qualifications the employer is looking for. Once you've identified these qualifications, you can start to match your own skills and experiences to them.

For example, let's say you're applying for a job as a content writer. If the job posting mentions they're looking for someone who is "creative" and "detail-oriented," you could mention how your previous experiences have helped you hone these skills. Perhaps you once wrote a particularly creative blog post that went viral, or maybe you're known for always catching even the smallest typos in your work.

It's important to use specific examples and details whenever possible. This will help paint a picture of what you're capable of and how you would be an asset to their team. Do this by using the STAR method:

Image Source

  • S- Situation: Describe the situation you were in when you had to use this skill.
  • T- Task: What task did you have to complete?
  • A- Action: What action did you take?
  • R- Result: What was the result of your actions?

For instance, let's say you're applying for a job as a sales representative, and you want to highlight your "persuasive" skills. You could use the STAR method to describe a time when you successfully closed a big deal:

S - I was working as a sales representative for a tech company.

T - My task was to close a deal with a large corporation that would be using our software.

A - I did extensive research on the corporation and their needs. I then put together a personalized proposal that highlighted how our software could help them achieve their goals.

R - The corporation ended up signing a contract with us, significantly boosting our company's sales numbers for that quarter.

Pro Tip: When it comes to writing a cover letter, you should be sure to highlight your successes in a way that is humble and understated. Remember, the goal is to show how you can benefit the company, not to brag about your own accomplishments.

5. Tell them why you’re eager to join

The third paragraph of your cover letter is where you can really start selling yourself to the employer. This is your chance to explain why you're interested in the job and why you would be a great fit for the company.

You want to make sure this paragraph is tailored specifically to the job and company you're applying for. This means no generic statements like "I'm a people person" or "I'm a hard worker." Instead, you want to focus on why this specific job (not just any job) is a good fit for you. The more tailored and targeted your message is, the better your chances of getting hired.

Image Source

To do this, you'll want to mention specific things about the company that appeal to you. Perhaps you admire their cutting-edge work in your field, or maybe you're passionate about their mission and values. Whatever it is, make sure you explain why you would be proud to work for this company.

For instance, if you're applying for a digital product agency, you might say something like this:

I'm impressed by your company's innovative work in the digital product space. I'm eager to join a team that is constantly pushing the boundaries and finding new ways to create amazing products for their clients. Your work with XYZ Company is particularly inspiring, and I would love to help you continue to create amazing work that makes a difference in the world. I believe my software development skills would help you reach even greater heights, especially in the field of XYZ.

Generally, enthusiasm and passion help to prove that you'll hit the ground running if you're hired. Hiring managers want to see that you're excited about the opportunity and that you would be an engaged and motivated employee.

6. Make your offer in the closing paragraph

After you've explained why you would be a great fit for the company, it's time to make your offer. You want to get the hiring manager excited to meet you in person and discuss how you can help the company achieve their goals. This paragraph should amplify the general impression you made in the previous paragraphs.

While you shouldn't make any promises regarding what you'll achieve if you're hired, you can explain how your skills and experience will help the company in a broader way. For example, if you're applying for a marketing position, you might say something like this:

I'm confident that I could bring a lot of value to your team. I already have a list of ideas for how your company could level up its marketing efforts, and I'm excited to put those into action if I'm given the chance. I look forward to meeting you in person to discuss all the ways I can help your company achieve its marketing goals and what my prior successes in this field can do for your team.

On the other hand, there are a few things you should avoid doing in your closing paragraph:

  • Don't get too specific about what you would do in the role. This can come across as presumptuous, and it's important to remember that you haven't been hired yet.
  • Don't come off as too needy or desperate. You want to seem enthusiastic and eager, but not like you're begging for the job.
  • Don't use the phrase "Thank you for your consideration and your time." This is a common cliché, and it won't do anything to make you stand out from other candidates. 

7. Use the right formal closing

After you've made your case for why you would be the perfect candidate for the job, it's time to sign off. Again, you'll want to do this in a professional and respectful manner. Some common formal closings for business letters are:

Image Source

  • Thank you,
  • Best regards,
  • Kind regards,
  • Sincerely,
  • Best,

These should always be followed by your full name and, optionally, your handwritten signature ( this is only necessary for more formal occasions). You should also include your contact information below your sign-off so the hiring manager knows how to get in touch with you without having to look up your resume.

8. Add the postscript

You know how some emails have "P.S." at the end? These are called postscripts, and they're often used to highlight the most important parts of an email. In a cover letter, the postscript is where you can include any final thoughts or ideas you didn't get a chance to mention earlier.

You might use the postscript as a magnet for the hiring manager, telling them something impressive about your career or offering to provide more information. For example:

P.S. — I would also value the opportunity to show you how my e-detailing solutions grew the combined sales of three ABC flagship products by a record-breaking 13% in one year.

If you have any additional qualifications or accomplishments you didn't get a chance to include in your letter, this is also a good place to mention them. Just remember not to make any promises you can't keep, and avoid repeating information already stated in your resume.

Conclusion

A cover letter is an essential tool in your job application arsenal, so it’s important to give it your best shot. Writing a good cover letter can make or break your chances of progressing to the interview stages of the job application process.

The tips and examples above should help you write a cover letter that will impress hiring managers and establish you as a promising candidate. If you need a little extra help, consider using Copy.ai's "Cover Letter" tool. This AI-powered writing assistant can take the guesswork out of writing an effective cover letter so you can focus on what's really important: landing the job.This article is part of an ongoing series of tutorials, templates and examples of writing the most common forms and formats common to todays world. The series includes topics such as how to write introduction email subject lines, how to write movie reviews and how to format a resume.

How To
12 min read time

The Best Way to Write a Job Application Cover Letter

Reem Abouemera
October 12, 2022

These days, it seems like every job application requires a cover letter. While this isn’t precisely true, 64% of jobs do require a cover letter. Even if they're not required, 74% of recruitment decision-makers prefer to see a cover letter along with the applicant’s resume.

A cover letter is an opportunity to sell yourself, and if done correctly, it can be the difference between getting your dream job and not even securing an interview.

If you're like most people, you might not be completely confident in your ability to write a standout cover letter. But don't worry! We'll help you craft a succinct, engaging cover letter that fuels interest in your candidacy.

Cover letter format

Before anything else, let's go over the basics of how to format your cover letter. Below are the structural elements every cover letter should include:

  • A header with the date and your contact information
  • A salutation or greeting
  • An opening paragraph
  • A middle paragraph (body paragraph)
  • A closing paragraph 
  • A letter ending and signature

Image Source

As for length, font, margins, and spacing, cover letters should be:

  • One page in length
  • Written in a professional font (like Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri) in 10-12 point size
  • Left-aligned with single spacing

Now that we know how to format your cover letter, let's talk about how to write one. After all, writing a cover letter for a job application is one of the many ways you can make a good impression on hiring managers.

8 tips for writing a great cover letter

If you want to write a cover letter that will inform and impress, pay close attention to these tips:

1. Use a professional cover letter header

Right off the bat, your header will speak volumes about you as a professional. Make sure it includes the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your phone number
  • Your email address
  • The date
  • The name of your hiring manager and their professional title
  • The name and address of the company to which you’re applying

Image Source

These are just the basics. You can also choose to add other items, such as:

  • Your professional title
  • Your home address
  • Your city of residence
  • Links to your professional websites or social media accounts

Pro Tip: Your contact information should be the same across all platforms, including your resume, cover letter, and social media profiles. Otherwise, you run the risk of a hiring manager being unable to reach you. Also, avoid using your current work email address to send your job application email. This could give the wrong impression to the hiring manager.

2. Open your cover letter with a proper greeting

Always pay attention to how you greet the person reading your cover letter. Remember that this is the very first thing the hiring manager will see, so it’s important to use a formal and professional salutation.

Image Source

Here are some pointers on how to address your cover letter:

  • If you know the name of the person reading your letter (such as the hiring manager), use their first name to make your cover letter appear more personable (e.g., Dear James).
  • If you know the company you're applying to is relaxed and casual, you can use the hiring manager's first name. For corporate cover letters, it's safer to go with the addressee's last name (e.g., Dear Mr. Smith).
  • If you don't know the name of the hiring manager, search for the company's website (or LinkedIn profile) and look up their contact information so you can properly address them. If you still can't find the person's name, simply use a generic greeting, such as:
  • Dear Sales Team Hiring Manager
  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • Dear [Company Name] Team
  • To Whom It May Concern

3. Write a catchy opening paragraph

Now we're getting into the meat of your cover letter: the opening paragraph. This is where you'll need to make a good impression on the hiring manager so they want to keep reading. Think of it as your elevator pitch: You have a very limited amount of time and space to make your case, so make it count!

Here are some tips on how to write an opening paragraph that will make a strong first impression:

  • Start with a bang: Open with a strong sentence that will immediately capture the reader's attention. For example, you could mention a recent award you received or how you helped your previous company achieve its goals.
  • Show that you know your prospective employer's needs: The opening paragraph is a great opportunity to show that you understand the needs of the company to which you're applying. For instance, if the job posting mentions that they're looking for someone with "strong writing skills," you could mention how your excellent writing abilities helped you secure media coverage for your previous company.
  • Base your introduction on your enthusiasm: Finally, one of the best ways to make a good impression is to show you're excited about the job and the company. For example, if the job is a fashion design position, you could mention how much you love the company's aesthetic and how you feel like you would be a perfect fit for their team.

Here are two examples of opening paragraphs for a cover letter:

Bad example: I am writing to apply for the job of fashion designer at your company. Please consider me for the position.

Better example: I was thrilled to see that you're looking for a fashion designer on your team! I have been following your company's designs for years, and I absolutely love your aesthetic (I am particularly impressed by the new fall collection). I recently graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, where I based my final collection on your designs. I feel confident that I would be a great asset to your team, and I am very excited for the opportunity to learn and grow at your company.

Pro Tip: If you need help writing an opening paragraph that will really wow the hiring manager, try using Copy.ai's "Cover Letter" tool. With this AI-powered writing tool, you can generate an opening paragraph for your cover letter in mere seconds. Save time (and stress) by letting Copy.ai do the writing for you!

4. Explain why you’re the perfect candidate

Next, it's time to explain why you would be the perfect candidate for the job. Remember, you want to focus on how your skills and experiences can benefit the company, not how the company can benefit you.

A great way to do this is to carefully examine the job description and look for key qualifications the employer is looking for. Once you've identified these qualifications, you can start to match your own skills and experiences to them.

For example, let's say you're applying for a job as a content writer. If the job posting mentions they're looking for someone who is "creative" and "detail-oriented," you could mention how your previous experiences have helped you hone these skills. Perhaps you once wrote a particularly creative blog post that went viral, or maybe you're known for always catching even the smallest typos in your work.

It's important to use specific examples and details whenever possible. This will help paint a picture of what you're capable of and how you would be an asset to their team. Do this by using the STAR method:

Image Source

  • S- Situation: Describe the situation you were in when you had to use this skill.
  • T- Task: What task did you have to complete?
  • A- Action: What action did you take?
  • R- Result: What was the result of your actions?

For instance, let's say you're applying for a job as a sales representative, and you want to highlight your "persuasive" skills. You could use the STAR method to describe a time when you successfully closed a big deal:

S - I was working as a sales representative for a tech company.

T - My task was to close a deal with a large corporation that would be using our software.

A - I did extensive research on the corporation and their needs. I then put together a personalized proposal that highlighted how our software could help them achieve their goals.

R - The corporation ended up signing a contract with us, significantly boosting our company's sales numbers for that quarter.

Pro Tip: When it comes to writing a cover letter, you should be sure to highlight your successes in a way that is humble and understated. Remember, the goal is to show how you can benefit the company, not to brag about your own accomplishments.

5. Tell them why you’re eager to join

The third paragraph of your cover letter is where you can really start selling yourself to the employer. This is your chance to explain why you're interested in the job and why you would be a great fit for the company.

You want to make sure this paragraph is tailored specifically to the job and company you're applying for. This means no generic statements like "I'm a people person" or "I'm a hard worker." Instead, you want to focus on why this specific job (not just any job) is a good fit for you. The more tailored and targeted your message is, the better your chances of getting hired.

Image Source

To do this, you'll want to mention specific things about the company that appeal to you. Perhaps you admire their cutting-edge work in your field, or maybe you're passionate about their mission and values. Whatever it is, make sure you explain why you would be proud to work for this company.

For instance, if you're applying for a digital product agency, you might say something like this:

I'm impressed by your company's innovative work in the digital product space. I'm eager to join a team that is constantly pushing the boundaries and finding new ways to create amazing products for their clients. Your work with XYZ Company is particularly inspiring, and I would love to help you continue to create amazing work that makes a difference in the world. I believe my software development skills would help you reach even greater heights, especially in the field of XYZ.

Generally, enthusiasm and passion help to prove that you'll hit the ground running if you're hired. Hiring managers want to see that you're excited about the opportunity and that you would be an engaged and motivated employee.

6. Make your offer in the closing paragraph

After you've explained why you would be a great fit for the company, it's time to make your offer. You want to get the hiring manager excited to meet you in person and discuss how you can help the company achieve their goals. This paragraph should amplify the general impression you made in the previous paragraphs.

While you shouldn't make any promises regarding what you'll achieve if you're hired, you can explain how your skills and experience will help the company in a broader way. For example, if you're applying for a marketing position, you might say something like this:

I'm confident that I could bring a lot of value to your team. I already have a list of ideas for how your company could level up its marketing efforts, and I'm excited to put those into action if I'm given the chance. I look forward to meeting you in person to discuss all the ways I can help your company achieve its marketing goals and what my prior successes in this field can do for your team.

On the other hand, there are a few things you should avoid doing in your closing paragraph:

  • Don't get too specific about what you would do in the role. This can come across as presumptuous, and it's important to remember that you haven't been hired yet.
  • Don't come off as too needy or desperate. You want to seem enthusiastic and eager, but not like you're begging for the job.
  • Don't use the phrase "Thank you for your consideration and your time." This is a common cliché, and it won't do anything to make you stand out from other candidates. 

7. Use the right formal closing

After you've made your case for why you would be the perfect candidate for the job, it's time to sign off. Again, you'll want to do this in a professional and respectful manner. Some common formal closings for business letters are:

Image Source

  • Thank you,
  • Best regards,
  • Kind regards,
  • Sincerely,
  • Best,

These should always be followed by your full name and, optionally, your handwritten signature ( this is only necessary for more formal occasions). You should also include your contact information below your sign-off so the hiring manager knows how to get in touch with you without having to look up your resume.

8. Add the postscript

You know how some emails have "P.S." at the end? These are called postscripts, and they're often used to highlight the most important parts of an email. In a cover letter, the postscript is where you can include any final thoughts or ideas you didn't get a chance to mention earlier.

You might use the postscript as a magnet for the hiring manager, telling them something impressive about your career or offering to provide more information. For example:

P.S. — I would also value the opportunity to show you how my e-detailing solutions grew the combined sales of three ABC flagship products by a record-breaking 13% in one year.

If you have any additional qualifications or accomplishments you didn't get a chance to include in your letter, this is also a good place to mention them. Just remember not to make any promises you can't keep, and avoid repeating information already stated in your resume.

Conclusion

A cover letter is an essential tool in your job application arsenal, so it’s important to give it your best shot. Writing a good cover letter can make or break your chances of progressing to the interview stages of the job application process.

The tips and examples above should help you write a cover letter that will impress hiring managers and establish you as a promising candidate. If you need a little extra help, consider using Copy.ai's "Cover Letter" tool. This AI-powered writing assistant can take the guesswork out of writing an effective cover letter so you can focus on what's really important: landing the job.This article is part of an ongoing series of tutorials, templates and examples of writing the most common forms and formats common to todays world. The series includes topics such as how to write introduction email subject lines, how to write movie reviews and how to format a resume.

Want to learn how to start or grow your business?
Get started - It’s Free

Ready to level-up?

Write 10x faster, engage your audience, & never struggle with the blank page again.

Get Started for Free
No credit card required
7-day trial of Pro
90+ content types to explore