Career success

Writing Great Cover Letters


Leave that phrase “To Whom it May Concern” out of your cover letter. Now.

- Anonymous



Consider the cover letter as the third page of your resume, actually page 1 of your resume, where you introduce yourself to potential employers and explain your suitability for the job.


This writer's belief is that HR people and recruiters are too busy to go through your cover letter, but there are others who believe cover letters are useful for fresh graduates who may not have much to show in the resume, so they need the cover letter to explain their suitability to the job, writing in brief about any valuable relevant skill and experience they may have.


Good cover letters are 4-6 line stories of your working life made relevant to the job.


The best cover letters are:

- Brief: Avoid filler words, most resumes for a job will have same skills, focus on differentiation, most cover letters are half a page, never more than a page.

- Customized according to the job

- Focused on talking about your value: Convince people to next read your resume. Focus not your degrees and certification, but what you did. But, don't make unrealistic promises.

- Best sent online, with the text of the cover letter pasted into the email text area: It saves the recipient time, and your resume file is attached.


This is how you make cover letter work best with your resume.


Send to a person whose name you have found out through your network, or mentioned in the job ad or you do the research on the company, looking for a relevant person to send the cover letter/resume combo to.


Follow the resume prep best practices:

- Research the job, the company and the industry so you have 1-2 relevant lines to write.

- Mention your knowledge of the 'soft skills' (communication, presentation, people skills), or else most of the skills are mentioned in the key skills area of the resume already, making the cover letter redundant.


Sections of a cover letter:


Strong opening paragraph: Start with a quick 'job title + experience' description about your yourself, why you are writing, for what position, how you heard about the opening for the position (its relevancy depends on context- e.g. someone referred you).


'As a successful Digital marketing professional with 57 years of experience, I think I can do well as Digital Marketing Manager for Company X. Having worked on multiple successful PPC and social media campaigns I am confident I can bring value to marketing plans of company X, and help make it a top player in Industry Y.'


Second paragraph: Support the introductory first paragraph. Very briefly describe your education and work experience relevant to the position.


'I have a proven track record of handling PPC campaigns of a wide range, from a million dollars/month to thousand dollars/month, maintaining a very healthy rate of CTR (Click through rates) and eventual CPA 9Cost per action). I have created and run crack marketing teams, bringing results on budget and exceeding expectations. I have worked closely with other teams in large companies, helping realize the stated goals four years in a row in a timely fashion. I now want to make similar level of contribution to Company X, helping it get the best of of its online marketing spend in a tough market.'


Third paragraph: Indicate what's next


'The accompanying resume provides an overview of my skills and accomplishments. I am very interested in learning more about the job of Digital marketing manager at Company X, and I believe a meeting would benefit Company X and I. Please permit me to follow up with you in a few days about scheduling a meeting at your convenience.'


To whom is it addressed to?: If you can’t find the name of the hiring manager or decision-maker, use a gender-neutral salutation- “Dear Hiring Manager or “Dear Human Resources Professional.


Subject: Use the job title and/or reference number as the subject line of your e-mail.


Ending the letter: End by thanking the person for the time and consideration. Although almost endings have problems, but you can make do with “Sincerely. Avoid “Regards and “Best. (you don't know the person)


Mind the grammar and spelling: Write clearly, concise and persuasively.


Give some links: To your online resume, side projects, Github page (for coders), Behance page (for designers). Don't link to anything not relevant.


Email address: Should sound professional. instead of [email protected], put [email protected] 


Thank you for reading.
This guide is from The Success Manual, which contains 200+ guides to succeeding in business, career and personal life.  Get the pdf ebook for $12 only.