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How to Write a Compelling Cover Letter and Land Your Dream Job

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Hey there! I know you‘re eager to land your dream job. I‘m excited to share all my best tips to help you write a stellar cover letter that will grab hiring managers‘ attention. With some focus, effort, and my advice, you‘ll have an impressive cover letter ready in no time!

What Exactly Is a Cover Letter Anyway?

Simply put, a cover letter is a document you submit with your resume when applying for jobs. It highlights your skills, experience, and motivation for the specific role you want.

Your resume is like an outline of your professional background – the cover letter fills in the blanks and connects the dots. It provides personal context and compelling reasons why you‘re the ideal candidate.

Here are some key advantages of including a cover letter with job applications:

  • Makes a Great First Impression: The cover letter is often the first thing a hiring manager sees when reviewing your application. These few paragraphs and bullet points can determine whether your application makes it to the “review” or “reject” pile.

  • Explains Why You Want This Particular Job: Your resume shows what you’ve done in the past. A cover letter explains why you’re excited about this opportunity and how you’ll provide unique value to this specific company.

  • Showcases Your Written Communication Skills: Even for non-writing jobs, cover letters demonstrate your ability to express ideas clearly and concisely on paper. Strong writing is a sought-after hard and soft skill.

  • Allows You to Call Attention to Your Most Relevant Qualifications: You can tailor the letter to draw the reader’s eye to the parts of your background that most closely match the targeted role.

  • Provides Background and Context to Your Resume: The cover letter enables you to fill employment gaps, explain career pivots, highlight transferrable skills, and generally tell the story behind your resume.

  • Conveys Your Personality and Enthusiasm: Resumes are dry and all business. Cover letters enable you to reveal more of your personal voice, style, and passion.

  • Positions You as a Solution to the Company’s Needs: Explain how your unique blend of skills, experiences, and interests makes you the perfect problem-solver for the company’s particular wants and pain points.

Think of your cover letter like a sales pitch, personal ad, and executive summary of your resume rolled into one page. Like any good sales collateral or marketing content, it should be engaging, personable, specific, and solution-oriented. When done right, your cover letter can open doors and provide that added edge over the competition.

According to a 2020 study, 83% of employers believe cover letters are somewhat or very important to judging a job applicant [1]. But it’s about quality over quantity. Generic cover letters don’t impress anyone. The key is crafting customized content that feels like it was written just for the hiring manager at the company you want to work for.

Cover Letter Formatting Basics

When constructing your cover letter, stick to standard business correspondence formatting. Here are the key sections:

Contact Information Header

The header across the top of the page should visually match the header of your resume. It includes:

  • Your full name (make it prominent)
  • City and state
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Date

Align the header text left and make it easily scannable.

Company Address

Under the header, include the full company name, address, and hiring manager’s name if known, aligned left. For example:

Acme Corporation
123 Main St.
Anytown, NY 12345
Attention: Jane Smith, Recruiting Manager

Salutation

Use a colon after the greeting word:

Dear Mr./Ms. [Last Name]:

If you don’t have the contact name, use a generic title:

Dear Hiring Manager:

Introduction Paragraph

Grab the reader’s attention right away in the first paragraph. Briefly explain why you’re writing to express interest in the open position. Mention how you heard about the job opening. Convey genuine enthusiasm for the role and company.

1-3 Body Paragraphs

The body copy highlights your qualifications that are most relevant for the position. Refer directly to the job description and explain how your skills and experience make you uniquely qualified. Use stats, numbers, results, and real examples when possible.

Concluding Paragraph

Summarize why you’re an excellent fit for the opportunity based on the body content. Express interest in discussing the role further. Thank the reader for their consideration.

Closing

End with a formal closing, such as "Sincerely" or "Regards" followed by a comma, then skip 3-4 lines.

Handwritten Signature

Leave space for your handwritten signature above your typed name. Sign in blue or black ink before sending.

Your Full Name

Type your full name in the space below the signature line.

This standard cover letter format balances professionalism with just enough white space and visual interest to keep the reader engaged.

Now let’s look closer at techniques for writing irresistible cover letter content…

How to Write a Compelling Cover Letter

Follow these tips when writing persuasive cover letter content:

Invest Time Tailoring Each Letter

Resist the urge to slap together a generic cover letter template and spam it out.

Craft a unique letter for every job application. Thoroughly research each company and role so you can include specific details:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the company‘s culture, values, mission, and objectives. For example, if community outreach is a big part of their brand, mention how you share that passion.

  • Use words and phrases from the job posting in your letter. This shows you truly understand the day-to-day responsibilities and requirements.

  • Only highlight qualifications and achievements that are directly relevant. Custom pick your experience to match each job description.

Taking the time to customize displays genuine interest and commitment to the employer. It assures them you have what they need versus just responding to any old job ad.

Tip: Maintain a master cover letter with re-usable paragraphs you can tailor for each application.

Focus On How You Can Help the Employer

Rather than just listing qualifications, explain how your skills and experience translate into specific value for the hiring company. Demonstrate deep understanding of their pain points and objectives. Outline concrete ways you can impact their bottom line.

For example, maybe the role involves developing retention marketing campaigns. In your cover letter, use a case study example of how you slashed customer churn by 15% in a similar position. This showcases how you can boost results.

Back Up Achievements With Numbers and Stats

When describing accomplishments, put measurable figures around results rather than just making vague claims. For instance, instead of "I increased sales," say "I increased sales by 30% over 2 years."

Quantifiable achievements stand out and are more memorable. Hiring managers skim cover letters rapidly, so numbers tend to jump off the page.

Tip: Include at least 2-3 hard stats describing the positive impact you‘ve made for past employers.

Tell a Story Through Specific Examples

Brief anecdotes and storytelling bring your skills to life on the page. For example, describe how you overcame challenges or roadblocks to ultimately achieve success for employers, such as:

  • "When COVID hit, I developed a new virtual training process in just 1 month. Participation rose by over 50%."

  • "During a website redesign, I formed cross-department focus groups that helped increase mobile conversions by 35%."

These types of short stories make you relatable while demonstrating capabilities in action.

Address Employment Gaps Positively

If you have extended gaps between jobs, address them honestly while framing periods of unemployment in a constructive light.

For example, maybe you left the workforce for a few years to focus on family. You could explain how that strengthened skills like time management and multitasking. The key is putting a positive spin on potential red flags.

Convey Genuine Enthusiasm

Hiring managers want people who are truly excited about the company‘s mission and values. Your cover letter is a chance to convey passion and motivation. For example:

  • "I‘m incredibly excited about the opportunity to join ABC Company‘s industry-leading team of data scientists."

  • "I‘m drawn to XYZ Corp‘s commitment to sustainable manufacturing practices and would welcome the chance to contribute."

Avoid sounding arrogant, but let your excitement and personality shine through. Passion makes candidates memorable.

Pro Tip: Research each company so you can comment on specific aspects of their business you admire.

Adopt Confident, Concise Language

Your tone should walk a fine line between confidence and humility. Use strong action verbs and the active voice. For example:

  • "I spearheaded a promotional campaign that boosted social media followers by 15%."

  • "My operations management experience will enable me to improve productivity and efficiency."

Avoid humble or passive language like "I believe my skills could…" or "I helped with…". You want to emphasize your proven value.

At the same time, keep sentences direct and succinct. Avoid excessive wordiness that dilutes your message. Shoot for 3-5 concise but compelling paragraphs.

Check for Typos, Grammatical Errors

Nothing torpedo‘s a cover letter – or any professional communication – faster than sloppy mistakes. Typos and poor grammar suggest laziness.

Carefully proofread every cover letter before sending it out. Read the text out loud to catch awkward phrasing. Run spellcheck but also double-check proper names, titles, and numbers yourself.

Consider asking a friend or mentor to review as a second pair of eyes. With flawless writing, you‘ll make a polished first impression.

Tip: If you drafted your cover letter in Google Docs or Word, try pasting the text into Grammarly. The app catches tricky grammar mistakes.

Cover Letter Template and Example

Reviewing examples is helpful for inspiration when writing your own cover letter. Here‘s a template and sample letter with best practices in action:

Cover Letter Template

Month Day, Year

[Company Name] [Company Address]

[Hiring Manager Name] [Title]

Dear [Mr./Ms. Last Name]:

1st paragraph: Explain why you‘re writing. Express interest in the company and position. Mention how you heard about the job. Highlight 1-2 relevant skills.

2nd paragraph: Expand on your qualifications for the role. Give examples and stats. Refer directly to aspects of the job description. Demonstrate expertise.

3rd paragraph: Reiterate your enthusiasm and fit for the opportunity. Provide your contact info. Thank the reader and set next steps.

Sincerely,

[Handwritten signature] [Your full name typed]

Cover Letter Sample

May 23, 2022

XYZ Corporation
456 Oak Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Jane Smith
Marketing Director

Dear Ms. Smith:

When I saw XYZ Corporation was hiring a Digital Marketing Specialist, I knew I had to apply. I have followed XYZ‘s outstanding digital campaigns over the last few years, so I was thrilled to see this opening. With 5 years of digital marketing experience optimizing multi-channel campaigns, I believe I could make an immediate impact on your team.

In my current role as Marketing Specialist at 123 Designs, I spearheaded our transition from traditional to digital marketing. I consistently exceed target metrics across web, social media, email, and paid platforms – achieving 25-50% higher engagement rates than our competitors. For example, the email nurturing campaigns I designed increased qualified leads by 30% year-over-year. I also have experience mapping customer journeys and optimizing funnels for maximum conversion.

It is clear from the job description that my expertise in SEO, Google Ads, social media advertising, and data analytics would be highly valuable for maximizing XYZ‘s digital presence. I was also excited to see you are seeking someone adept in partner management and cross-team collaboration. These have been strengths throughout my career, enabling me to complete projects on-time and under-budget.

I would welcome the chance to bring my digital marketing skills to your dynamic team. Please review my attached resume. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon to discuss next steps.

Sincerely,

Jane Doe

Jane Doe

This example hits all the right notes, including:

  • Catchy introduction demonstrating knowledge of company
  • Stats and figures proving track record of success
  • Buzzwords and achievements tailored specifically to role
  • Confident tone with clear expertise
  • Personalized complimentary close

Use it as inspiration to craft your own one-of-a-kind cover letter!

Handy Cover Letter Writing Resources

Here are a few more resources to help finesse your cover letter:

With some diligence and the advice above, I know you can create an impressive cover letter tailored for your dream job. Wishing you the best of luck sealing interviews and landing the perfect role for you! Let me know if any other questions come up.

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