What you need to know about writing a cover letter
What you need to know about writing a cover letter


You’ve done all the hard work of writing and perfecting your resume to apply for your dream job. What about the cover letter? It’s not as straight forward as you think in identifying what you need to know about writing a cover letter. 

When you’re applying for jobs, the cover letter may seem like an unnecessary addition. However, if the job you’re applying for has asked for a cover letter, then you need to write one.

In my recruitment experience, I’ve had hiring managers tell me that if a candidate doesn’t submit a cover letter, they won’t even bother to read the resume. Consequently, for some hiring managers, the cover letter is more important than the resume.

Don’t just take my word for it. The Resume Lab surveyed over 200 hiring managers to understand if Cover letters are still important in 2021. They found that 83% of respondents factor in the cover letter when making a hiring decision. 

Additionally, when a cover letter is optional, 77% of respondents favor candidates who have submitted a cover letter.  When optional, submitting a cover letter shows the hiring manager you are prepared to go over and above and are genuinely interested in the role.

It’s also going to give you an advantage over other candidates who don’t. If you thought that hiring managers didn’t read cover letters, now you know they do.

Just like writing a resume, the cover letter also has a particular style and format. To help you write a great cover letter, read on to learn what you need to know about writing a cover letter.



The cover letter is an introduction about yourself to the hiring manager. It offers more flexibility in how you come across than the resume and is also more targeted than the resume. 

At the same time, the resume speaks to your past and highlights your experience and achievements to date. Alternatively, the cover letter speaks to your future and what you want to achieve and do for the organization. 

Consequently, you need to write a distinct cover letter for each job. There is no room for a “one size fits all” approach in this game. 

A great cover letter provides detailed information on why you are suitable for the role, highlights your most relevant skills, and explains your interest in working for the organization.

 It should not repeat what’s in your resume as the aim is to make you as memorable as possible for the right reasons. It’s to spark interest and force the hiring manager to want to read your resume in detail and bring you in for an interview to learn more about you.


Writing a cover letter can be the most challenging part of the job application process. However, it’s about communicating your professional experience and the value you bring as concisely as possible.

 Below we’ll break down a cover letter that makes a first impression with the employer for all the right reasons.


Research is essential before you begin writing your cover letter. Start by highlighting the necessary experience and skills required in the job description. 

These are typically at the top of the job description. How do your skills and experience match these? Do you have examples of similar responsibilities? What were the benefits of you carrying out these responsibilities?

Study the company website to get an idea of the culture and potential tone of your letter. A creative agency may be more relaxed and less formal in how they engage with their candidates. 

Alternatively, a more conservative organization may expect a more formal tone. Additionally, what are the company values? And what is the vision? 

Paraphrase aspects of these back to them when you emphasize why you want to work for them, speak about your soft skills, or why you would be a good team fit.

Additionally, identify any recent news articles about them. What have they been in the news for recently? It will help you understand what they are doing well or what challenges they are currently experiencing and how you can help solve them.

Try and find out who the key contact person is to personalize your letter. It may take a few phone calls for you to find the right person. However, the harder they’re to find, the less likely other candidates are to do so.

 Also, it gives you an excellent opportunity to mention the interaction you had with them in your letter.


Writing a cover letter isn’t about trying to fit your whole career onto one page. It is about selecting relevant examples from your career that give the hiring manager a reason to read your resume and contact you for an interview.

It’s also about keeping it concise and to the point. For example, keep your cover letter to one page or between 250 – 400 words in length. Remember, hiring managers have many other cover letters to get through, so they don’t want to be reading a novel.

Firstly, begin your letter by stating which role you are applying for and where you found it advertised. Secondly, your cover letter should consist of three sections:

  • Section 1: Focus on why you want to work for the company and what interests you about them and the role.
  • Section 2: How do your experience and skills align with the critical requirements of the job description? Also, how will you help them grow and achieve their goals and vision?
  • Section 3: Emphasize your soft skills and why you are a good team fit.  

Thirdly, sign off by letting them know that you look forward to hearing from them regarding your suitability for the role. If the hiring manager wants to know more or has any questions, they can contact you on the information provided.


When writing a cover letter, actions speak louder than words. For example, don’t tell the hiring manager you’re a delivery-focused professional. 

Provide tangible examples of where you have delivered to time, cost and benefits, and then tell them how you will do that for them. Including numbers or statistics in your cover letter is a great way to show that you’ve had a measurable impact on your current or previous organizations. 

For example, did you bring in 30% of the company GM? Did you make improvements in processes that saved 15% through efficiency? These are the type of statistics that get you noticed. 

Consequently, numbers speak to what you bring and will make you memorable to the hiring manager. If you don’t work with specific numbers, you can quote a range, frequency, or scale.

Additionally, hiring managers want to know how you are going to help solve their problems. If, through your research, you have identified a pain point, let them know how you can solve that for them or where you have solved that problem previously. 

This will help you emphasize your experience to show why you are the right person to be hired.


Proofreading and editing your cover letter is non-negotiable. Once it’s written, put it down for a few hours or a day and return to it. 

You’ll probably pick up a couple of typos or grammar mistakes that the spell check hasn’t. Even better is to get someone else to proofread it and give you feedback.

 Ask them if your cover letter sells you for the job? What do they like or dislike about the cover letter? What could you do better?

Additionally, have your friend read it and then summarize it to you to check they truly understood. If they struggle, then you may need to re-write parts of it to make it more transparent.

 If spelling and grammar isn’t a strong point and you don’t have anyone immediate to proofread, then read my post regarding Grammarly.

After putting in so much effort you don’t want one spelling mistake to result in the hiring manager putting it in the rejection pile. Especially if writing skills are essential for the role you are applying for.



A well-written and concise cover letter can make all the difference to a hiring manager. It should encourage them to read your resume and stand out from all others. 

If you just left it up to your resume then you’d miss the chance to tell the hiring manager who you are and demonstrate why they should hire you over anyone else. 

This is why it is critical you write a unique cover letter for each role you apply for.

Researching before you begin is essential to your success. Investigate the organization thoroughly and find out who the key contact person is to help you personalize your letter. 

Additionally, plan your content and where it fits into the letter. You’re telling a story with a beginning, middle and end. You want to make sure your letter flows and sells you through what you’ve achieved and telling the hiring manager what you will do for them.

Lastly, check and proofread your cover letter or get a friend or family member to go over it. Taking a shortcut could result in that missed spelling mistake costing you the opportunity of the next step. 

Above all else, keep learning how to develop a cover letter to ensure it stands out and is succinct. The punchier and shorter, the better, but not at a cost to the valuable content you are putting into it. 

Hopefully, now you understand what you need to know about writing a cover letter because your next job offer is just around the corner.


What are your thoughts regarding cover letters? Please leave me a comment below.



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