How to Write a Cover Letter (+ Free Template)

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Whether you are just starting your job search or right in the middle, you want to give yourself the best possible chance of landing a job. If you’ve submitted a bunch of applications and haven’t heard back, do not fear. One of the best things you can do to increase the likelihood of getting through the front door is writing a cover letter. Make sure you know what to include in your resume, and then use it to begin writing a stunning cover letter. At the end of this article, you can find a great template from a top LinkedIn influencer for your cover letter inspiration.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a one-page document providing details on why you are qualified for the job you are applying for. It supplements your resume by describing why you want to work for a company, why you are qualified, and what you bring to the table. 

The goal of your cover letter is to introduce yourself in a memorable way. It is the first chance you have to impress an employer and convince them to consider you further for a job. 

You should write a cover letter for every job you apply to unless it specifically states not to in the job posting. Even if you have found advice online saying a cover letter is not necessary or that nobody actually reads your cover letter, why take a chance? Why not take the extra time and effort to set yourself apart from other candidates? Just remember, you should customize your cover letter for each company or position you apply to.

How to write a cover letter

Remember why you are writing a cover letter. You aim to describe why you want to work for a company and explain why you are qualified. You need to impress an employer in a short amount of space. 

The first thing you ought to include is the recipient’s name. Many job posts will include the name of the person who posted the job or may include the title of the person you will report to. Do your best to find the actual name of the recipient and avoid using “To whom it may concern.” If you cannot find the individual’s name, you might use something like “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To: [job title the position reports to]”.

As you begin your cover letter, start strong. Be sure to include the title of the position you are applying for. Express your excitement and briefly explain how you found the role.

The body of the cover letter should explain why you are qualified for the job. Match your core competencies to the job description. Explain what you bring to the table and why you want to work for the specific company. You should have done research on the company so you can tie their mission and goals to your experience. 

The body of your cover letter is like telling a story. Take something from your resume and elaborate on how your experience with a certain task, project, or team makes you a fantastic fit for the role you’re applying to.

Finally, close with gratitude and a call to action. Be sure to thank the recipient for considering you for the position. Then, state that you are looking forward to hearing back. Try to be clever here. You can try something like “I’m passionate about [Company]’s mission and would like to bring my [add your awesome skills here] to this position.”

How to format a cover letter

Formatting your cover letter well is nearly as important as what you have to say. You’ll want to be sure to follow these guidelines to make sure it is easy to read while including all the important information.

Your header should be your full name, followed by your city and state (no need to provide your full street address), phone number, and a professional email address.

Then begin the letter as you would a regular letter. Start with the date followed by the recipient’s contact information: name, title, company, location.

Next is a standard salutation: “Dear Mr./Ms. [Last name]. Followed by the body of the text. 

Again, just like a normal letter, sign off with a standard closing such as “Sincerely” or “Best regards” followed by your full name.

Here are some final detailed tips for formatting your cover letter:

  1. Use an easy to read font like Times New Roman or Arial. Match your resume font.
  2. Choose 12 pt or 10 pt font size.
  3. Use standard 1” margins on the top, bottom, and sides.
  4. Use plenty of white space. Add full lines between paragraphs, the salutation, and your closing.

Free Cover Letter Template to Get Started

Now this may seem contradictory from the advice above, but using a template is totally okay. That is, if and only if, you modify it for each position and company. Think of using a template as a guide for writing a general cover letter, and then modifying for the company/position. Crafting your own template will help when writing for similar positions as you will likely explain similar core competencies and career highlights. 

Kirsty Bonner, a career consultant and top influencer on LinkedIn, provides a great template to get started. While this template references management experience, it still provides a guide for what type of information to include in your cover letter:

Dear <Name>,
I am writing in regards to your job opening of <Target Role>. As a candidate with extensive experience in <job title>, I am highly skilled in <Hard Skills related to Job Description>. My solid background in <People Skills> has allowed me to manage teams with exceptional performance.

The opportunity to join <Organization> greatly interests me because <Reasons>. As a holder of <Degrees, Certifications>I can competently execute <Job Description Responsibilities>.

I believe that I would make a valuable asset to your team and I offer my resume for your review.

As per my professional summary, my qualities and experience make me highly suitable for the role of <Target Role>.

I am highly regarded for <Transferable Skills>. I am proficient in <Systems>.

Throughout my career, I have demonstrated the highest levels of service and commitment to the mission of any organization I have worked for.  <List 3-4 achievements relevant to the Job Description>.

Thus, if you are looking for an organized <“What” + “Who”> you are welcome to contact me to arrange an interview. I am eager to learn more about how your organization can benefit from my contribution.

I thank you for your time and consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,
<Your Name>

*Cover letter template reposted with permission from Kirsty Bonner