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There is a ton of advice out there about how to write a cover letter for a job.

And most of it, if not all, is garbage.

One of the best ways to stand out in your job application is to write a killer cover letter.

It’s true that not all hiring managers read cover letters, but it’s also true that some of them still do.

If you’re waffling on whether or not to add a cover letter, assume that someone will read it, and capitalize on the opportunity to introduce yourself.

Below is the step-by-step guide to writing the perfect cover letter

What is the purpose of a cover letter?

The most important rule to remember when writing a cover letter is that you should take a “less is more” approach.

The purpose of your cover letter is to present an argument that you’re the best person for the job—not drone on about the details of your work history.

Keep the content short but impactful. Your cover letter should be no more than four paragraphs, and it should be full of reasons to interview you.

Remember, the whole point of the job application process is to demonstrate that you’re the best person to fill a position.

The first place to do that is with your resume and cover letter

Write those two documents correctly, and you’ll get more interview requests from recruiters. I promise.

Below is my personal cover letter that helped me land my current job.

Here’s how I wrote it.

Start with the greeting

First, there are only two ways to address the reader in your cover letter.

You can start with “Dear hiring manager” or “Dear recruiting team,” and you can use the person’s first name “Hi Sandy”. That’s it.

If you don’t know the hiring manager personally, or if they’re a casual acquaintance, then go with “Dear hiring manager” or “Dear recruiting team.”

If you have a personal relationship with the hiring manager, then use their first name.

Do not spend any time trying to figure out who the hiring manager is if you don’t know. It’s not that important and it’s not worth your time.

You’ll look foolish if you get it wrong, so don’t take the risk.

Just use the two greetings above.

I wrote a blog post on the top three most common cover letter mistakes, and this is one of them.

Introduce yourself as the best candidate

The introduction of your cover letter should do two things. 1. Express your interest in a position, and 2. briefly explain why you’re a unique candidate to fill the position.

To do that, simply state the position that you’re applying for and make it clear that you have the skills and experience necessary to do the job well. 

Here’s an example of how both of those pieces fit together:

Please consider me for the position you have open for Director of Growth Marketing. I have more than 10 years’ experience in helping brands build awareness and drive sales growth through multi-channel marketing programs. My background in high-growth healthcare startups makes me uniquely qualified to excel in this position.

What to include in the body of your cover letter

The best way to demonstrate what you can do in the future is to show what you’ve done in the past.

The body of your cover letter should focus on your results. In this section, add three bullet points that show what you’ve accomplished, how long it took you (if it’s impressive), and the business result.

The point here is to be brief but impactful.

Your cover letter should look like a quick note, not a long explanation. 

Here’s an example:

Some of my recent achievements include:

  • Working directly with the CEO and executive leadership team to align marketing disciplines (demand gen/lead gen, branding, digital marketing, account-based campaigns, events, and marketing operations) with company growth goals.
  • Building a remote-based marketing team and program that delivered pipeline growth within 6 months.
  • Rebranding and updating all marketing assets (collateral, website, events experience, etc.) to position the company in the market for hyper-growth.

One thing to keep in mind about this section is that it should not duplicate the content from your resume.

Think of your cover letter as the place where you show your results at a high level and your resume as the detailed description of how you achieved those results.

How to end a cover letter

Finally, close your cover letter with a call to action.

You want a recruiter to call you for an interview, so it’s perfectly reasonable to ask for that in your closing.

Here’s an example of how to do that:

I’ve included a copy of my resume with my application, and I welcome the opportunity to talk with you more about the position. 

Here’s what your cover letter should look like

Dear recruiting team,

Please consider me for the position you have open for Director of Growth Marketing. I have more than 10 years’ experience in helping brands build awareness and drive sales growth through multi-channel marketing programs. My background in high-growth healthcare startups makes me uniquely qualified to excel in this position.

Some of my recent achievements include:

  • Working directly with the CEO and executive leadership team to align marketing disciplines (demand gen/lead gen, branding, digital marketing, account-based campaigns, events, and marketing operations) with company growth goals.
  • Building a remote-based marketing team and program that delivered pipeline growth within 6 months.
  • Rebranding and updating all marketing assets (collateral, website, events experience, etc.) to position the company in the market for hyper-growth.

I’ve included a copy of my resume with my application, and I welcome the opportunity to talk with you more about the position. 

Thank you,

Stefanie

See, you’d interview that person.

Write a cover letter for every position you apply for

Your cover letter may not be the difference between you getting picked or rejected for an interview. But you should work under the assumption that it might.

You’ll never know if your cover letter gets read, but that should not stop you from putting your best effort forward.

Include a customized cover letter with your customized resume the next time you apply for a position and watch the interview requests roll in.