A cover letter is an integral part of the job search process. Often, a good cover letter is what gets you the job. However, not many people know how to write a good one. Some may not even know what a purpose of a cover letter is.
In this expert guide, you can find not only a definition of what is a cover letter and how to write a good cover letter, but also tips on how to structure it and send it. Finally, get inspired by the examples, that our experts prepared for you.
Keep on reading and you will also learn:
- why do you need a cover letter;
- what types of cover letters exist;
- the difference between a cover letter and a letter of interest;
- the difference between a cover letter and a motivation letter;
What is a cover letter (Definition + Purpose + Types)
The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to your future potential employer.
A cover letter illustrates your background and explains why the offered position would be a good fit for you. In a cover letter, you have a unique chance to present yourself, show your personality, and add details that one cannot fit into a structured resume.
In addition, with your cover letter, you can also make up for the lack of previous experience. That is if you can make your enthusiasm and positive qualities shine through.
Over the years the importance of a cover letter grew significantly, and a cover letter became a standardized part of the process of a job application.
With the highly competitive job market, a resume alone – no matter how strong – is simply not enough to get hired. In fact, in 45% of cases, the reason for not being called to an interview is a missing cover letter.
What is the difference between a cover letter and a letter of interest?
While the cover letter and a letter of interest are rather similar, there is a subtle difference between these two. Based on the specific circumstances in which you find yourself, you can decide which one is the right one to write.
- A letter of interest is commonly used in situations when there is NO specific job opening. You send a letter of interest when you find a company interesting, and you believe you would fit in well. However, you are not applying for a concrete job position. Therefore, you can write about your skills and professional experiences more broadly so you can make yourself available to a wider range of possible positions. Furthermore, in a letter of interest, you can always politely request an interview.
- A cover letter is a response to a concrete job opening. Therefore, you focus on a more limited set of qualities that would make you the perfect candidate for this specific role.
Moreover, a cover letter always comes hand in hand with a resume. Because of that, a cover letter should always mention your CV and match it. In a cover letter, you can also elaborate on the information, which is already listed in your resume.
If you want to learn how to write a good resume, have a look at our ultimate resume guide.
What is the difference between a cover letter and a motivation letter?
If you are deciding whether to write a cover letter or a motivation letter, it is again important to look at the situation in which you find yourself.
One writes a motivation letter when applying for a study program, a university placement, or a volunteering position. In a motivation letter, you should first and foremost focus on expressing your enthusiasm. Moreover, in a motivation letter, you can put the focus on your personality and on what makes you unique.
In the cover letter, you are advised to do this too; however, the key thing is to demonstrate why are you the perfect fit for a specific role. A cover letter also tends to be shorter than an average motivation letter.
What are different types of cover letters?
When it comes to the cover letter itself, there are three standardized types of cover letters. Each type has a slightly different format. Therefore, it is important to correctly identify which type of cover letter you need and adjust its format accordingly.
Networking cover letter
This very specific type of cover letter is sent out to your professional network in a situation when you are looking for a job but there is no specific job opening to which you are reacting. However, you want to inform your connections that you are open to a new role.
While using your network to get a job is usually the right move, one needs to be extra careful when sending out a networking cover letter. It needs to be formulated with politeness and delicacy.
Unofficial cover letter
Sometimes, only a resume is required by the company. In this situation, it is not necessary to attach an official structured cover letter.
Nonetheless, if you want to demonstrate the depth of your interest and elaborate on your professional experience in more detail, you can always write a short, un-official, and more casual cover letter. It should not follow the strict cover letter format and it can be only around two paragraphs long.
If you want to, you can even place it in the body of an email, to which you are attaching your CV.
Application cover letter
This is the standard and most common type of cover letter. You write it when you want a specific job position for which you saw an opening.
There are several unwritten rules on how to write it. So, if you are asking what makes a good cover letter and what you should do to write one, just scroll down to the next chapter.
How to write a cover letter in 2022
Writing a good cover letter is not as hard as it may seem at first. There are a few unspoken rules that if you follow, you have a high chance of being called for an interview. All you need to know is what to include in your cover letter and how to format it.
What to include in your cover letter and what is the cover letter structure?
If you are wondering what to put in your cover letter and how to structure it, what follows is a simple step-by-step list of elements that cannot be missing from a good cover letter.
At the start of your cover letter, you should have the correct heading and contact information. Don’t forget, this is your one chance to make a good first impression. Always include:
- your full name in large font as a heading. Possibly, you can also use a catchphrase, if you really want the attention of the recruiter;
- follow it by contact details, such as a phone number or email;
- include the information about your employer: such as the name of the recruiting person (if applicable), the name of the company, the address, phone number, and an email address;
- address the cover letter to the person who is listed as a recruiter/hiring manager. If their name and contact details are not available online, go for the standard "Dear Sir/Madam";
- don’t forget to mention how you came across the offer - their webpage, LinkedIn, or a friend who works there already;
In the body of the cover letter, write about your professional skills, past experiences, and hopes and aspirations for your professional future. Describe how your previous experiences shaped you and why does it make you the perfect fit for the job. Mention also that this job is, in exchange, a good fit for you, too.
Here, you should not exceed three paragraphs. Don't be repetitive, or too descriptive - rather demonstrate your qualities.
At the end of a cover letter, try to catch the attention of the recruiter again. Emphasize your motivation and repeat, why are you the right person for the job.
Never forget to thank the hiring manager for their time and express your high hope for hearing back from them. Mention your resume and remember to sign the letter with your full official name.
Cover letter formatting
The cover letter is usually read by the HR department. In large corporates, there are on average 250 applicants per one open position. Because of this, the hiring manager has an extremely limited time to look at your cover letter. Thanks to this, you must make sure your cover letter is simple, not too long, well-structured, and easy to read.
- Your cover letter must have the correct length. A cover letter should never exceed one A4 page. At the same time, it should not be shorter than half a page. A good cover letter is 250-300 words long, with 400 words being the maximum limit.
- It consists of approximately three to four paragraphs and the maximum acceptable number of paragraphs is six.
- The best font to use for a cover letter is a classic, simple, and professional one. For instance, with the good-old Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman, you can never make a mistake. However, if you work in a creative business, you can always consider using a more eye-catching design. Remember though, it should always remain easy to read and navigate.
- The size of letters should be between 10.5 and 12, the margins 1 or 1.5.
If you want to have a clearer idea about how to write the perfect cover letter, have a look at this video tutorial.
How to write a cover letter with no experience
If you are in an early stage of your career and only fresh out of school, do not despair. A cover letter can be your biggest help in this situation. As opposed to your resume, in a cover letter, your positive attitude can change a lot. Make it clear how enthusiastic and eager to learn you are.
Focus on your qualities, skills, extracurricular, or volunteering experience. Possibly, you may have some related experience from your personal life. If it is truly relevant, include it, too.
How experts do it: best cover letter examples
Now that you know what a finished cover letter looks like and how to write one, you can get inspired by cover letter examples written by our experts. This will make sure that from now on you will write truly perfect cover letters.
Example 1: Cover letter for the position of nanny
Example 2: Cover letter for the position of software engineer
Example 3: Cover letter for a position of marketing intern
Have a look at other cover letter examples, too. And you can have a cover letter just like this as well! Just use one of our Kickresume cover letter templates. You can choose a free or a premium one.
Tips for sending a cover letter by email
Once you have the cover letter written, it is time to hit the send. But be careful, don’t make any mistakes that could lead to your application being rejected. Here are some tips on how to send the cover letter properly via email:
- Don’t forget to properly read the instructions written in the job opening. Usually, the instructions are placed at the bottom of the job advertisement. Here, one can find the name and the email address of the hiring manager who will receive the applications. Double-check the information and make sure you address the person in the email, as well as the body of the cover letter.
- Do not forget to write an appropriate email subject, in which you mention the job position and the fact that you are applying for it
- In the email itself, be polite and brief. Remember to mention the Cover Letter in the attachment.
- Make sure your email address sounds professional. Your email must have your full name and surname in it. Nicknames, extra letters, or numbers are not recommended.
- Don’t forget to attach the cover letter, and/or Resume. We have all forgotten to attach something before. However, do not let it happen in this instance – you have only one chance to make a good first impression.
- Save the cover letter properly. Use a format, which is easy to open for most computers (such as .pdf). Don’t forget to name the document properly – mention your name, the position for which you are applying, and consider adding a date. Always match it with the name of your CV.
- Don’t forget to thank the recruiter for their time. Politeness can get you far.
- End the email with your full name and best regards. Be official and professional, this is no time for being casual.
Other cover letter tips and ideas
- Make it easy to read, always. A simple and larger font, shorter sentences, and captivating beginning of paragraphs will get you far.
- Put the most important information at the beginning.
- Do not send the same cover letter to multiple openings. Always tailor the perfect resume for each job offer.
And there you go! Now when you know how to write the perfect cover letter. For the best result, use one of our Kickresume cover letter templates!
Kickresume wishes you the best of luck with your application. Get that dream job!