What is a cover letter for a job?
Let’s start at the beginning, because what’s a cover letter anyway? A cover letter is something you write to the employer or recruiter about the job you want to apply for. This ‘letter’ is your chance to show your personality to the employer or recruiter. In your CV you summarize your experiences and skills, while your cover letter allows you to explain why you want to apply and how you will be a good addition to the company.
Traditionally, a cover letter is the front cover of your CV, hence the name. Nowadays, most job applications happen digitally so you often upload your cover letter or send it via email. Where you can reuse your CV for multiple applications, you want to write (or modify) your cover letter with the job you’re applying for in mind. You can use a general template and structure for each letter, but make it unique and fitting for each individual application.
How to write a cover letter
There are 7 parts to a cover letter:
- Header. In a traditional cover letter, this is usually the address, in emails, this could be the subject line.
- Greeting. Use the hiring manager or recruiter’s name if you know it. If not, opt for the neutral ‘dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘Dear hiring manager’.
- Introduction. Write a first sentence that catches the reader’s attention and immediately gives them a sense of who you are.
- Qualifications. Experiences, degrees, and relevant skills. Don’t just sum up your CV, but pick the most relevant qualifications and elaborate on them with examples.
- Values and goals. Employers love people with ambitions and future goals. Explain how you want to grow with the company and what you hope to achieve in the company.
- Call to action. The goal of any cover letter is to get an invite to a job interview. You can do this by saying something like, ‘I would like to explain my CV in person’
- Signature. Finish the letter by thanking the reader, then add your name and contact details.
The best way to start writing a cover letter, is to do some research about the company and position you’re applying for. After that, think of why you want to apply for this job and what you have to offer. Think of what you want to say for each of the 7 segments mentioned above, and combine it all to create a good cover letter. Would you like more tips and a guide on how to write the best cover letter? Take a look at our article about writing a cover letter.
A physical cover letter or a cover letter email?
You can send your CV and cover letter in the post (the old fashioned way), but it’s more likely that you’ll send your documents via email or upload them to the online application form. You can choose to send both as attachments in an email, or you can write your cover letter in the body of the email itself, attaching only your CV. Want some more information about writing a cover letter email? We’ll tell you all about it in our article about cover letter emails.
Cover letter examples
You can read countless tips and tricks on how to write the best cover letter, but sometimes you need to see an example to truly understand what a good cover letter looks like. Luckily for you, we have a whole article with different kinds of examples of cover letters.