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Want to know how to write the best cover letter ever? Get the 4 parts to include in your letter, from beginning to end.
Just follow the steps and examples in this post to find out what to put in your cover letter and how long to make it. Following this formula will give you a chance to highlight your best and most relevant skills, knowledge and experience, and let the hiring manager know why you’re a great fir for the job!
Watch the video version with examples of cover letters
Here’s the full video on how to write a cover letter and what you need to include, then I walk through 2 real examples of cover letters – one for a professional job application and another for a more creative industry. These are the cover letters I’ve used and have had great success with!
How long should a cover letter be?
The body of your cover letter should be no more than three to four paragraphs: One paragraph to tell the reader how they will benefit from hiring you. One paragraph explaining your skills and relevant experience. And one paragraph to let them know when you’re available and how to contact you.
What’s the difference between a cover letter and a letter of interest?
A cover letter is written for a job that is advertised and you want to apply for. A company posts a job advert -> you send a cover letter with your resume (find out how to write your resume HERE) to the company for the job -> the company calls you for an interview.
A letter of interest is a type of cover letter that you send with your resume to a company (find out how to write a good letter of interest HERE). But this time it’s not for any job that has been advertised – it asks the company to contact you if they have any positions open that they aren’t advertising externally or to think about you when a position is available. Companies often keep your letter of interest and resume on file so they have records of people to interview when they need to. You can also write a letter of interest if you want to do an internship or volunteer work for an organization.
The 4 parts to include in a cover letter
Here’s what to include in your cover letter:
- Your contact information
- A personal greeting to the hiring manager
- 3-4 paragraphs about your skills and the benefits of hiring you
- A good closing and signature
Let’s take a look at each part in more detail…
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Part 1: Your contact information
If you’re writing a cover letter, put your contact information in the top-left corner of the page. This makes it easy for the hiring manager to find your details.
Be sure to give the following personal contact information, so the hiring manager can get hold of you:
- Your name and surname
- The state or area you live in
- Your phone number
- Your email address
Part 2: A good greeting or salutation
The greeting or salutation comes after your contact information. This is where you will greet the person you are writing to.
Try to get the name of the person for your greeting. If you do not have this information, refer to them as ‘Hiring Manager’.
Here are some examples on how to start a cover letter:
Dear Hiring Manager
Dear Mr. Smith
Dear Ms. Smith
Dear Dr. Smith
Once you have greeted the reader, let them know who you are and which job you are applying for. This is as simple as putting the following under the greeting or in the email subject line:
RE: Experienced teacher applying for Senior Teaching role (include the job number here if there is one)
So, your full greeting or salutation will look something like this:
Dear Ms. Smith
RE: Experienced teacher applying for Senior Teaching role #1234
Part 3: The body
The body of your cover letter should be no more than three to four paragraphs long. Let’s take a look at what to put in each paragraph:
This is the introduction for your cover letter. In this paragraph, you can mention the role you’re interested in and where you found it.
Read the job description carefully to see what they are looking for. Focus on letting the reader know what they will get if they hire you – what YOU will do for THEM.
Here’s a breakdown of what to say and [why]:
Having read the description of the nursing role available at ABC Hospital on a local job site, I am excited to apply for this position. [This tells the recruiter that you have read and understand the position being advertised and where you will work]
My 9 years’ experience in post-operative patient care, along with 126 hours of junior staff supervision, will prove to be an invaluable addition to your night shift team. [This gives an overview of your most relevant experience and what value it will add]
So, your first introductory paragraph will look something like this:
Having read the description of the Night Shift Manager role available at ABC Hospital on a local job site, I am excited to apply for this position. My 9 years’ experience in post-operative patient care, along with 126 hours of junior staff supervision, will prove to be an invaluable addition to your night shift team.
In the second paragraph of your cover letter, give the employer more information about your relevant skills, knowledge, qualifications, experience, and/or achievements. Remember to keep all the information applicable to the job you are applying for.
Also focus on how these skills, knowledge and experience will fit with the organization and benefit the company. Try to give solid examples, if possible.
You may need to use two short paragraphs here if you have a lot of important information to give.
This is your final paragraph. Let the recruiter know that you’re available for interviews online, on the phone, or in person. You could also let them know how much notice you need to give your current employer, or if you are available to start work immediately. This gives the hiring manager an idea if your start date will work for the position.
Lastly, you can give your basic contact information such as your telephone number and email address. This is important if you’re sending your cover letter in an email. Make it as easy as possible for the hiring manager to get hold of you, if they want to arrange an interview or ask you for more information.
Part 4: The closing and signature
You have reached the end of your amazing cover letter! Make sure you leave it with a good feeling.
End your letter with a closing like ‘Sincerely’ and your full name. You can add an electronic signature for a more professional feel or make a creative signature with a small photo of yourself and your contact details if you are working in a creative field.
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It’s very easy to write a great cover letter by including the 4 basic parts of a cover letter: Your contact information, a personalized greeting, 3-4 paragraphs about your skills and the benefits of hiring you, a good closing.
Remember to sign up to the resume challenge above, so you can create an effective resume that gets you interviews. And if you need a resume template, click here to see what professional recruiters have called ‘The best resume I’ve ever seen.’