How to write a cover letter

How to Write a Cover Letter that Lands an Interview (Examples Included) – ZipJob

Spread the love

In this post we’ll cover how to write and format a cover letter that lands you more interviews. We’ll also provide a good example of a cover letter as well as our easy to follow cover letter sample template that works for any position.

A well written cover letter can help boost your chances of landing an interview and ultimately landing the job. Many job seekers either neglect to write one, or write one that’s ineffective.

 

#1 – Understand the Function of a Cover Letter

A cover letter is sometimes the first thing an employer sees and you want to be sure you make a good impression. A mediocre cover letter can do more harm than good so make sure your cover letter is in top shape to help you land the interview.

This easy to follow cover letter guide will give you all the information you need on how to write a cover letter that will land you more interviews.

Do you need to send a cover letter?

Yes. The majority of experts agree that a cover letter, if written well, is an excellent opportunity to sum up your resume and help you land an interview. It could also be useful for explaining employment gaps and time off from work.

How long should a cover letter be?

Your cover letter should be approximately 2-3 paragraphs. Try to keep it to half or two-thirds of a page long.

Why?

Because no recruiter or employer wants to read a long cover letter. Remember, they just glance over your resume and cover letter for a few seconds so you must capture their attention with short, clear and concise points.

Do you need to include your address on a cover letter?

You don’t need to include your address on a cover letter. You should only include the address of the employer. Your resume contains your address so there is no need to repeat it on your cover letter.

#2 – Understand the Topics to Cover

There are certain things that need to be included in your cover letter to make it stand out.

What should be included in a cover letter?

  • Who you are
  • Interest in the job
  • Why you’re a good fit for the job
  • Contact Information
  • Address any employment gaps

Your cover letter should discuss who you are, your interest in the job and why you would be a great fit for the position. You should also include a contact number and an email address on the cover letter.

This should be included in both an industry specific or generic cover letter.

Let’s take a look at how a cover letter should be formatted and then we’ll discuss details on what to include and not to include in it:

#3 – Appropriately Format Your Cover Letter

Cover letter header:

Your Name

City, State | Contact Number | Email

Receiver’s Name, Title

Company Name

Address

Paragraph 1 – This paragraph should be an introduction to who you are and the position you’re applying for. (Include where or how you found the opening. The title and a job ID # if there is one.) You should also lead into the next paragraph by stating a brief summary of qualifications or your interest in the position.

Paragraph 2 – The second paragraph should discuss your qualifications and the achievements which show why you’re a good fit for the position.

Remember that you want to stand out from the other hundreds of candidates that are applying for the position. So don’t just give examples of what you did in your last position, show how you went above and beyond. Mention a few examples of quantifiable or measurable achievements in your career.

Use compelling language and don’t repeat the information in your resume. Try to bring your experience to life and this will encourage the reader to look into your resume in more detail.

Paragraph 3 – Close out the paragraph by saying you feel that you’re a good fit for the position based on your qualifications.

Remember, you should include a call of action – which in this case would be inviting you to an interview.

Ask them to give you call and schedule in interview.

The last thing you should do is thank them for taking the time out to consider you.

Sincerely,
Your Name

 

So there you see a good cover letter template. Lets see that template in action with a good example.

 

Here is a great example of a good cover letter:

 

John Smith

Newark, New Jersey | 862-888-2222 | J.Smith@gmail.com

Susan Johnson

Recruiting Manager

XYZ Accounting

10 Oak Drive

Newark NJ

Dear Ms. Johnson,

I’m writing to you to express my interest in the Accounting position you have open on your company website with the job ID# 11220. I am a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and am confident that my experience and skill set would be a great match for this position.

I have strong knowledge of accounting principles backed by experience I have gained in the last 12 years. In my previous position, I managed the accounting of a financial consulting firm with over $30 million in revenue. I not only met expectations but exceeded them by increasing cash flow by $4 million. I helped achieve this by changing our accounts receivable policy and negotiating better contracts. There is more depth on my experience and skills in my resume which I would appreciate you looking over.

I am certain that my experience and skill set would make me a great candidate for this position as well as a great asset to your company. Please give me a call at the number above to schedule an interview at your convenience. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

John Smith

 

This is a great example of a very clean, short and effective cover letter. It is tailored for a specific position and contains a few principles you MUST include in your cover letter.

It doesn’t matter what your industry or experience level is, you need to keep these principles in mind when writing your cover letter:

  • Who you are – This goes without saying. Discuss a little about you and your qualifications but don’t go into too much depth. Remember, you want to lead them into your resume by displaying a compelling case as to why you’re a good candidate. This is usually done through quantifiable or measurable achievements which show how you went above and beyond.
  • How you can benefit them – This is important because it’s essentially what the employer cares about. This is psychological as well. If you have ever read the book, How to Win Friends and Influence people, you know that people care about what benefits them, not you. Mention what makes you a great candidate through your prior experience or education and how it will benefit them.
  • Call to action – You need to give the reader a call to action. In the case of a cover letter, this call to action is the scheduling of an interview. Yes, I know they’re not stupid and understand the point of a cover letter is to get an interview. The reasoning behind this is that it shows confidence and a real desire for the position. The call to action should be included in the end of cover letter. Be sure to include your contact info and ask the employer to contact you to schedule an interview.

So there you have it, this should give you a good idea about what you need to do to write a solid cover letter.
There are just a few more tips you need to know when writing your cover letter.

 



10 Tips for an Awesome Cover Letter

 

  1. Cover letter opening – Don’t use “To whom it may concern”, you need to find the name of the hiring manager in charge.o whom it may concern on a cover letter
    This could be a difficult task for someone applying to many jobs online. It may take some time, but you can find the name of the person in charge of hiring online or even by calling the company. If you’re unsuccessful in finding the name, then you can resort to saying “Dear hiring manager”. If you do find the name, be sure to address them as “Mr” or “Ms”.
  2. Don’t copy your resume – Your cover letter should not contain the same information that’s on your resume. Many people copy a few lines from resume work experience and place it on the resume – this is incorrect. Use your work experience and expand on it -Example: In my last position, I cut costs down by 40% in three years and I’m confident that I can bring the knowledge and skills I have gained to your company.You’re able to express your skills and experience in a way that’s just not possible on your resume. You cover letter can and should go beyond the typical bulleted work experience on a resume.
  3. Customize your cover letter – Don’t have just one generic cover letter that you send for each opening. Ensure your cover letter is customized for each position. As seen in our cover letter format, you should include the name of the company, position and highlight the skills that are most relevant to that position.
  4. Include numbers where possible – It’s been proven that numbers catch the attention of the reader. You should try to quantify your work experience wherever possible.Increased Sales by 43%…
    Managed a sales team of 15…
    Increased revenue by $500,000… Not only does it catch attention, it also shows you’re an achiever rather than just showing you complete everyday tasks.Example: “Increased sales by 35% by implementing a PPC marketing campaign”.This is much more effective than just saying: “Used PPC marketing to increase sales”.
  5. Show how the employer will benefit – You need to show the employer how your skills and experience will benefit them. Do this by stating it directly -For Example – “I am confident that my skills and experience would be of great benefit to your company”.Don’t write a cover letter around why this job would be good for you. They don’t care.
  6. Write in a friendly tone – You shouldn’t sound like a robot on your cover letter. You want to portray someone who has the hard skills to complete the job, but you should also come across as friendly and someone co-workers would get along with. Do this by using natural language and avoiding a template like cover letter. Use words like “you” and “your” often as it makes it more personal. Works like “confident” and “excited” also add more of a human touch to your cover letter.
  7. Spell check – You need to ensure there are no grammatical errors on your resume. This is one of the biggest red flags for an employer. Read it over a few times and even have a friend or proofreader look over it.
  8. Send the correct file type – Read the job description thoroughly and follow the instructions on which file type to submit your resume in. Generally, it will ask you to send either a PDF or Microsoft Word document. If there are no instructions as to the file type, your safest bet is sending a Word document. When sending a Word document, use a .Doc format and not a .Docx which is the newer format.
  9. Name your cover letter correctly – We’ve seen many people make the mistake of not including the proper name for their cover letter. Simply writing “Cover Letter” is not sufficient, you need to include your name as well.Example: John.Cover.Letter.doc
  10. Explain employment gaps – Your cover letter is the best place to explain large employment gaps in your resume. If you took time off to raise kids or went back to school, mention it in the cover letter.“After taking some time off to care for my child, I’m excited to return to the workforce as an auditor”.


    Getting your cover letter past Applicant Tracking Systems

The last thing we’re going to cover is getting your cover letter through an ATS (Applicant Tracking System). The majority of companies use applicant tracking systems to screen resumes and cover letters.

The software analyzes those resumes it thinks are a good match for the position and forwards them to the hiring manager. Even though most of the emphasis is on the resume, it’s also important to include keywords on your cover letter.

Keywords for cover letter ats

See this guide on getting your resume past Applicant Tracking Systems.

Don’t attempt to stuff your cover letter with keywords. Look at the job description to see what the major keywords are. Be sure to include the title of the position on the cover letter and maybe even a few of the qualifications.

For example, if a position is open for an auditor and one of the major qualifications is to be CPA certified – mention both “CPA” and “Accountant”.

“I am a Certified Public Accountant with 13 years of experience working as an auditor”.

Thank you for reading our guide and we hope that it helps you write an awesome cover letter. Remember that your cover letter should introduce who you are and your interest in the position. It should entice the employer to read into your resume and eventually extend an interview.

It’s also important to have a solid resume that gets past resume screeners and effectively portrays your abilities to the reader.

That’s where we come in – Zipjob offers resume services that are guaranteed to land you more interviews. Check out our services to learn more. We even offer a Free Resume Review.
Good luck with your job search!

*Bonus – Check out this article of the 8 most common cover letter mistakes people make.

 

Video Recap:

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *