Understanding how to create an effective cover letter is a useful career skill that you’ll use throughout your life.
While not all job applications need a cover letter, they’re exceptionally good at helping an employer understand your personality and suitability for a role.
In most cases, taking the time to write a cover letter can vastly improve your chances of being successful during your job search and the process utilises transferable skills that are always useful.
By understanding how to write a cover letter, you’ll always be in a good position to create the best possible application for a role. Below we explore how to write a cover letter in five easy steps:
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a formal document that provides employers with an overview of your technical skills, your experience and the qualifications that apply to the role.
Your cover letter sits alongside your CV and is ideal for highlighting your personality while reinforcing your suitability.
The goal of a cover letter is to encourage the reader to also read your CV, whilst contributing positively to the overall application process.
Before you write a cover letter, it’s a good idea to understand exactly ‘what is a cover letter’ and how it differs from a CV, as it’ll make the writing process much easier.
How to write a cover letter in 5 steps
If you need help with how to write a cover letter, you can use these five steps to make the process much easier:
1. Format the heading of your cover letter
This step is first as it changes depending on how you’re sending your cover letter.
If you’re submitting your application online through a portal, along with all of the other necessary applications such as your CV, your cover letter doesn’t need to include contact information, for example.
If you’re applying directly to an employer, on the other hand, you may want to include contact information to ensure that there’s always contact information available.
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2. Use a professional greeting to begin
How you start a cover letter heavily depends on your individual circumstances.
In some cases, the role you’re applying for may have a specific contact that is handling applications, which means your cover letter may specifically use the name.
If not, you may opt for the traditional professional greeting of ‘dear sir/madam’.
Regardless of how you start, the rest of the cover letter should feature the same professionalism. While you want to avoid using any slang, jargon or clichés, that doesn’t mean you can’t inject some personality into the cover letter.
3. Use examples and statistics to provide context
Even within your cover letter, you should be providing examples of your work in the form of specific experiences or statistics.
A good way of approaching this is to consider a relevant problem you faced in a previous role and then discuss how you approached solving it.
By demonstrating this workflow, you show that you have critical thinking skills and initiative, while also highlighting the impact you had on a business.
Be as concise as you can while still offering as much context as possible. For example, rather than saying ‘my skills make me a good fit for the company’, you may say:
“My previous experience in my customer service career allowed me to apply my skills in a positive way.
“By applying these customer services skills and experiences to our marketing company clients, the company reduced complaints by 30% whilst generating 20% more revenue, all while supporting the development of new processes.”
4. Highlight your responsibilities
In your cover letter, it’s a great idea to touch on the responsibilities you held in previous roles.
This step is really important if you have relevant experience in a similar industry or role.
By demonstrating past responsibilities, you’re actively showing potential employers that you not only have technical knowledge but you understand how they might apply to the new position.
Adopting this approach with your cover letter can also help grab the attention of employers that might be screening applications and read your cover letter instead of your CV first.
5. Keep your cover letter concise
After you’ve completed your first draft, take a break and then come back to review it.
While it’s vital to ensure your cover letter is filled with relevant information, responsibilities and experiences, you still want to respect the time of the person reading.
Keep in mind that employers and recruiters often screen a large amount of applications, including cover letters and CVs.
If you can ensure your cover letter is concise and to the point – whilst still delivering an overview of your professional background – you’re on to a winner.
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Cover Letter Template
If you’re looking for a cover letter template, you can find our example below, which you can take into your own:
Dear [Contact Name] or [Sir / Madam]
I’d like to be considered for the position of Campaign Manager at Marketing Business.
I have 5 years of experience working in Marketing roles, with my most recent role being a Marketing Executive in-house at MarketingInc. During my time in this role, I’ve developed plenty of email marketing and graphic design skills.
My biggest success in this role was the development of a nurture program for existing clients, in an effort to create leads ready for sale from initial contacts. This meant working with different marketing functions to create communications that would encourage leads to purchase our products. This project increased the number of sales from our lead generation funnels by 45%.
My qualifications include a Marketing degree from the Marketing Academy in 2018, which helped me develop my initial skills in the field. I have experience using marketing software such as Hubspot and CRM, alongside email builders such as Mailchimp. Since starting my latest role, senior team members have complimented by organisational and planning skills, as well as my ability to collaborate.
Following my research into your business, I’m happy to see that your company goals align with my own, especially your renewed focus on delivering a great customer experience with the new app you’re launching. I’d love the opportunity to support this project whilst helping to progress your other marketing channels.
Thank you for considering my application and I invite you to read my CV, which has more detail about my skills and qualifications.