How to Write a Cover Letter: Step by Step Guide

JobNow Contributor
July 7, 2021

laptop typing


You should always have a cover letter and updated resume ready to go when you apply to a new job or switch careers. We're all familiar with applications and how to fill them out, but creating cover letters and resumes is a bit trickier. Having a cover letter for a job application can help you stand out from other applicants, so it's important to know how to write a good one. In the guide below, you'll learn more about cover letters and how to write them correctly. Continue reading to get started.


What's the Purpose of a Cover Letter?

You know you need a resume, but what's the purpose of a cover letter? A cover letter allows you to express why you believe you're a good fit for the company you're applying to. This document is one page in length and will contain 3-4 paragraphs. Think about your experience, skills, and achievements related to the company and the position you're applying for. This is your chance to impress the employer and stand out from the competition. If you want to write an excellent cover letter, you'll need to research the company first. Understand the company's brand, mission statement, morals, and culture. Do they all seem to be a good fit for you? If so, explain why.


The Format That Should Be Used

The cover letter format you want to use should start with a header and end with your formal salutation. In between the two are your greeting and your 3-4 paragraphs. Stick with this format since employers will be expecting it, making it easier for them to follow along. You may also consider using a cover letter template that you can fill in if needed.


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The Header

The header on your cover letter can be centred to resemble the same style as your resume, but it's not necessary. What's needed is to include your contact information, including your full name, city, phone number, and email address. You should then have the date and the recipient's name, the recipient's title, the company's name, and the company's address. Including this information will make it easier for employers or hiring managers to follow up with your application. 


Your Greeting

To start it off, always be sure to include a greeting. Your greeting can start with "Hello" or "Dear", followed by the recipient's name. If you're not sure of the recipient's name, you can address them by their title. For example, you can say, "Dear hiring manager." You'll keep the same format as if you were writing a regular letter. 


The Opening Paragraph

Now it's time to begin your opening paragraph. The first paragraph will be the first impression you have on the employer. In this paragraph, be sure to state the job position you're applying for and where you found the ad for it. Next, you'll want to say your qualification or main skill makes you a good fit for the job. 


The Middle Paragraph

The second paragraph is where you'll go into more detail about the specific skills you have and achievements you've met related to the position you're applying for. How will these skills and achievements prepare you for the position you're applying for? Take the time to review the job description. You will find specific keywords related to the job. If any of these keywords are relatable to you and your skills or qualifications, be sure to add those keywords in this paragraph when speaking about yourself. 


The Closing Paragraph

Your closing paragraph should focus on one last key achievement or valuable skill in this job position. Try to avoid repeating yourself from the first two paragraphs, however. If you're switching careers, you can use this paragraph to explain how the experience and skills learned in your previous job can transfer to your new one. 


Your Formal Salutation

Your formal salutation should be another paragraph that summarizes your reasons for applying to this job and why you'd make a perfect candidate. This salutation should be kept brief and express how you look forward to hearing from them. You'll then want to end the cover letter with your signature. Because you'll be typing the letter, it's acceptable to type your signature. 


Seeking Professional Guidance

Understanding how to write and format a cover letter properly can be challenging. It's never a bad idea to seek professional guidance when preparing to apply for a new job. Some professionals can help you write your cover letter and resume. You can even get help with filling out an application if needed. You can also use platforms to create a professional profile on where employers can then find you. Taking the extra step to ensure you're fully prepared will place you a step ahead.