Your Guide to Writing a Targeted Cover Letter
Many employers pay close attention to cover letters, especially when the competition heats up. Cover letters provide applicants the chance to tell a personalized story about why they should be considered for a job, and employers take notice when they demonstrate a targeted and enthusiastic understanding of the open opportunity. If you are engaged in a job search, the guidelines below may help as you craft a cover letter for your job applications.
Cover Letter Pre-Work
Cover letters should always be tailored to each job opportunity. Before you start writing, take 20 to 30 minutes to conduct an employer analysis. Review the job description, the employer's website and the LinkedIn profiles of company employees. Highlight keywords, phrases and aspects of the company's mission that align with your experience and interests.
Use your research to answer these questions:
- What is the employer's mission and how can I show my commitment to the mission?
- What is the problem that the open position will solve, and what accomplishment(s) on my resume can I use to demonstrate my ability to solve that problem?
- What keywords, phrases, skills and abilities should I incorporate into my cover letter?
Cover Letter Writing Tips for Each Section
An ideal salutation would include the name of the hiring manager. Doing so increases the chance that the letter will catch the reader's eye. If you are unsure who the hiring manager is, you could research the department leads at the company using their website or LinkedIn. "Greetings" or "Dear Hiring Manager" are acceptable alternatives if you are unable to identify a specific person to name in the salutation.
The opening paragraph should show how the employer's mission aligns with your interests, and should serve as a thesis statement for why you are a good fit for the job. The information shared here should not feel formulaic. If you change just one part of your cover letter every time, it needs to be this part.
In the middle paragraphs, you should tell a story about one or two accomplishments noted on your resume that are highly relevant for the immediate job opportunity. This story should highlight results and demonstrate the kind of impact you could deliver if you were hired. Connect these accomplishments directly to the employer's needs so the hiring team members can see the value you would bring to their workplace.
Use the closing paragraph to summarize the main points of the opening and middle paragraphs and entice the reader to reach out to you. If needed, you can also quickly address any gaps in your work history or concerns that might be on the employer's mind. Thank the employer for their time and consideration, and express your hope to speak with them more about the opportunity.
Cover Letter Sample
Once you understand the basics of the cover letter, put all of the elements together. Consider the following sample as you begin to create yours.