Cover letter 101

From blank page to killer cover letter


On my last post, I talked about the checklist before sending an application. Now that we have this covered, let’s focus a bit more on your actual cover letter. You want to apply, your resume is somewhat ready but you procrastinate on the cover letter because, you wish it was not required and don’t really know where to start.

Does the cover letter even matter? Yes and no. Half of the recruiters don’t read it BUT that also means that half of them do! Take all the opportunities you get to shine among the sea of applicants. A cover letter is a way to explain why you are applying and why they should give you a chance. Why should they give you a chance after all? Because, you want the job and because you need money to pay the bills. Right. The other 158 applicants too…

Through your cover letter, you get to explain why your past experiences have led you to be the candidate the recruiter is looking for. Don’t waste this opportunity by sending a ready-made cover letter.

Turn this blank page into a killer cover letter.

  1. Header: Create a professional, complete and original header
  2. General info: Insert date, address and subject line
  3. Greetings: Add the name of the hiring manager and organization, avoid “to whom it may concern”, use internet to find the hiring manager’s name, it shows that you made researches and care about people.
  4. Opening paragraph: introduce yourself through your story
  5. Body of the letter: Link your story to the job. Link your story to the company. 3 to 4 paragraphs
  6. Closing paragraph: end this letter by a positive note
  7. Ask for an interview: “Thank you for considering my application and I would love the opportunity to discuss this position further during an interview with you.”

What to talk about in the body of the letter

Think about your audience

You are not only applying for the job you want, you are also applying for a company. And this is something most candidates underestimate. The skills presented in your resume are a proof of your work experience compatibility with the vacant position. Through your cover letter, your personality and attitude towards your professional choices will indicate how much of a match you are to the company’s culture.

Research the company’s culture and style (employer website, talk to your network, LinkedIn). Write in an appropriate style. While always professional, your style should match the industry and organizational culture. For example, for an accounting firm use business formal, for a role in a creative agency make it a bit more business casual.

Sell yourself

Always use positive language and give information that matters to them. A complete stranger is going to read your cover letter and decide if they could potentially spend 37.5hours a week with you. They might as well like you!

It can be difficult to self-promote. Remember that all of the other applicants will be promoting themselves to the employer to get that same job. May the best win. Remembering how you compared to your coworkers, if you did anything that was above and beyond your normal responsibilities could help you. If something you did resulted in improvements in performance, service or profit with your past employers, it should be mentioned in your cover letter.

The content

A cover letter is not a resume. Rather than listing your skills, tell a story. For example,“I have strong communication and management skills” is a boring statement that does not bring anything to the table. You could instead explain how/why: “As the IT Manager at Previous Employer, I was able to clearly explain new softwares to help my team and facilitate the transition to the new system implemented. It involved creating non-verbal communication such as tutorials as well as verbal communication through group workshops”.

Voilà for today! If you would like to know more about a particular subject comment on this post!


Employment Consultant, HR Manager

4 thoughts on “Cover letter 101

  1. Thanks Mihami! In a future blog post, would it be possible to post an example of a “great” cover letter? Just a thought.


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