How To Write Your Cover Letter (Template Included)
In this article, I’ll go over the purpose of a cover letter, why you need to submit one, and instructions on how to write yours. The cover letter template I provide will make it easier to write yours and you’ll see what it should look like.
You don’t have to read this entire article, you can skip to whichever section that is most relevant to you.
What’s The Purpose of a Cover Letter?
A cover letter should not be your resume in written format. It should tell a story that you couldn’t do with the resume. It’s where you can provide backstory and context. It’s where you can take your values, past experience, and future goals, and connect them with the company and position you’re applying for.
The instructions provided here will apply whether you’re writing your cover letter for a job, gig, or internship. Some details might be different, but the principles remain the same. For example, if you’re a student with no experience, you might reference courses you’ve taken rather than past work experience. If you’re applying for a gig, you’ll probably reference relevant projects rather than a job you worked.
No matter what, the purpose of the cover letter remains the same. To put it simply, the purpose of the cover letter is to convince the reader that you’re the ideal candidate for the job due to your passion for the employer’s mission, your love of the job itself, and your ability to perform the work.
The cover letter gives you an opportunity to add context and preemptively answer any questions that might pop into the employer’s mind. For example, you might have a gap in employment, a significant career change, or you might not seem like you’re qualified based on your resume. Any unique situation that warrants further explanation can be addressed in the cover letter.
Should I Submit a Cover Letter?
Depending on who you ask, you’ll get different answers.
There are some recruiters who don’t care about cover letters and then there are some who do. The problem is that you don’t know which one you’re dealing with. So it’s better to be on the safe side and always submit a cover letter.
Research the Company and Position Before You Start Writing
Before writing the cover letter, take a look at the company's website and the job description. You don’t want to get sucked into hours of research. I’d say it should take anywhere between fifteen to thirty minutes. It just depends on the situation like how much info there is on their website, how senior the role is, how much you want to know.
You want to come out of your research with the ability to thoroughly answer a couple of key questions. These questions will also help you when you get interviewed for the position.
What is the mission of the company and how does it align with your values? What is the company’s overall mission and what are its values? How does their mission and values align with your personal goals, interests, and values? Ex. Does the company’s mission of saving the environment align with your passion or values? Does their mission to bring education to all resonate with you?
What is the mission of the position you’re applying for and how does it align with your experience? Which of your past experiences demonstrate that you could carry out the responsibilities of the position? If the position’s mission is to serve the customer, has this been your mission in the past? If the mission is to understand the market in order to create the best Facebook ads, was this a part of one of your past positions? Or maybe a part of a course you’ve taken?
List out any past projects or experiences you have that are common to the job responsibilities. You can pull from here to write the second paragraph of the cover letter.
Note: If you truly have no commonalities between your past experience and the responsibilities of the position, this might be an indicator that you need to gain some skills. Consider taking some online courses to make you a more qualified candidate.
How To Write The Cover Letter
I’ve referenced a lot of cover letter templates, taken the best parts, and put them into one. Here is a cover letter template that will make it a lot easier to write yours. Keep in mind your cover letter should be no more than one page.
The template will guide you and keep you on track and to writing a solid cover letter. Follow the template and that’ll get you 80% of the way there. You can see that the template is broken up into three main sections:
The first paragraph is where you explain why you applied to the position and company. The purpose of the first paragraph is to introduce yourself and talk about why you are interested in the job. You might mention a value of the company or aspect of the position that resonated with you.
Using the research you did in the previous step, you want to mention a value or mission of the company that resonates with you to set the stage. You can also mention a part of the position itself instead.
If the idea comes to you, don’t be afraid to open your first paragraph with a hook or a story. Maybe the industry that the company is in relates to a childhood story, or a passion. Hiring managers are going through dozens of these, so a little but of creativity is welcomed.
The second paragraph is where you tell stories or examples as to why you’re a good fit. In order to do this, look at the job description and identify aspects of it that overlap with your experience and skills.
You’ll see in the template a bulleted list where you can list out reasons why you’re a great fit for the role. Simply read the job responsibilities and think about an example from one of your past positions that overlap. This is the part where you have to get creative and connect common threads between you the job’s responsibilities.
The last paragraph is your closing statement where you restate your desire for the position and can also reiterate why you’re a prime candidate. and gratitude for their time. Express your gratitude for their time and consideration, your desire to discuss the position further in an interview, and you’re done! Be sure to include your contact info like your email and phone number after your signature.
A basic cover letter like this will work fine. You don’t need to rack your brain or spend hours on it. If you do spend hours on your cover letter, you’re much more likely to procrastinate on it or skip it altogether.
After you write the cover letter once, you can use that for other positions that are similar with slight tweaks for the specific company and position.
Just like you will do for your resume, save a copy of every cover letter you submit to a company. This way if they want to interview you, you can remember what you told them.
And always remember the purpose of the cover letter: to convince the reader that you’re the ideal candidate for the job due to your passion for the employer’s mission, your love of the job itself, and your ability to perform the work.
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