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How to write a Cover Letter – An easy guide

Job hunting is tiring—you send out dozens of applications and get no response from the recruiters. But with a cover letter, you can change that. When done right, a cover letter can help you stand out from everybody else. Make haste: we've got an easy guide for an excellent cover letter!

cover letter - studysmarter magazine

Let’s start from the beginning – What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a brief introduction of you and your qualities. It is usually about a page long and includes points about your education, work experience, and qualifications for the job.

Cover letters allow you to leave a good initial impression on the recruiter by showing off your strengths and experiences. When done right, a cover letter can make all the difference between a rejection and landing an interview. And we want the interview, right?

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How to write a Cover Letter for a Job? — Steps and Tips

Cover letters can be a pain to write. Additionally, not everyone will read them! Frustrating, I know, but nonetheless, they are still important. And to make your life a bit easier, here are some steps and tips for creating a good cover letter:

  • Customize the letter based on the job advert. We cannot emphasize enough how important this step is. If it’s an online position, use relevant vocabulary and show off your ability to work in a home office environment without distractions. Similarly, you don’t have to write a completely different letter for every job you’re applying for – after all, you cannot change your experience. Instead, change relevant details, foreground some knowledge, and shift things around to match the advert.
  • Research the company. What are their values? What is their mission? Does this resonate with you? Try to include that in your cover letter. But be honest.
  • Use a business format. Cover letters are business letters. Therefore handle them like such and use a formal letter format. Most text programs like Word and Pages have such templates and are perfect for an easy start. That being said, you can tailor the style to the tone of the job ad – if the ad and company are quirky and fun, you can go for a more creative approach to your cover letter.
  • Address a person. Usually, there is a contact in the job description. Address the letter straight to them. If not, use formal addressing.
  • Use short paragraphs and bullet points. Recruiters have to look at hundreds of applications. Make your cover letter short and precise. Use bullet points for the most significant skills and experiences so they can easily skim your application.
  • Introduce yourself. In the first paragraph, you should clarify a few things – who you are, why you want this position, and your skill set. Your birthdate, for example, shouldn’t be in there, as it’s already in your CV. Tell them about you as a person.
  • Your experiences and skills. Set a focus on how your skills and experiences will contribute to the new role and the company. Avoid general, sweeping statements about your skills. Be specific.
    Instead of saying you’re ambitious, provide an example of how you’ve developed this trait and how you can use it in your workplace.
    Example: In my previous post, I took it as a personal challenge to increase our company’s visibility on the market by developing a more user-friendly interface, which generated X successful results and increased our company’s visibility by Y.
  • Address your gaps. You don’t have to go into detail, but don’t hide longer gaps. Honesty can go a long way, and everyone knows how hard life can be.
  • A strong statement. End your cover letter with confidence about why you are the best fit for the role.
  • Proofreading. Spelling and grammar errors don’t leave a good impression. Have someone read your cover letter for mistakes. Don’t skip this step.

Okay, those are the steps you should follow. Need more? Fret not – I have these additional tips for you! 🙂

  1. Read the description carefully. Usually, the company is looking for specific qualifications for the job advertised. Do you have them? Perfect, highlight them in your cover letter.
  2. Don’t be afraid to apply for a job you aren’t 100% qualified for. Emphasize your skills and how you would use them on the job.
  3. Show enthusiasm. HR wants to see that you are passionate about the role and your work. Show them why you are excited!
  4. Always avoid irrelevant information! Remember, they already have your CV, so they don’t need it repeated – instead, elaborate on some points of your work or study experience and skip the rest.
  5. Lastly, use an active voice. Don’t be passive in your cover letter. Using an active voice shows better confidence in your skill set and yourself.

How to write a cover letter for an internship

Excellent, we now know how to write a good cover letter for a job. However, you are aiming to apply for an internship. Worry not, we’ve got that covered too!

The two aren’t really that different, but some things should be kept in mind:

  • Why do you want the internship? School? University? To gain experience after finishing school? Describe what you expect from this internship.
  • Highlight your coursework. If you are still in education, use your cover letter to explain what your courses cover and how this could be relevant to the internship.
  • Contact person. Did someone at the company tell you about the internship? Mention them.
  • Ask a teacher or professor for a recommendation letter, especially when you don’t have any work experience.

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No experience? No problem! —How to write a cover letter without experience

Every job can be learned. It is a fact. There are many reasons why someone might have no relevant experience, and this is nothing we should be ashamed of. If you have little to no experience, focus on what you learned in the last few years.

  • What was the coursework like? Your education is important, so focus on it.
  • What skills have you developed in the last few years?
  • Were you a sports coach or any other coach? Mention any form of volunteer work.
  • What do you do in your spare time? Use your passions to your advantage.
  • Explain why you want this job. What are your expectations? What do you want to learn during this time?

Yes, it is challenging to write a cover letter without experience. But it can be of great help, as it means you have something else to send to the recruiters besides your CV. Write it with confidence and stand out from other applicants!

Photo of a man in front of his laptop. He looks desperate and has his hands clasped over his head. On his table is a cup of coffee, a camera lens, a film flap, a pencil case, some paper and a camera. StudySmarter Magazine

Writing a cover letter can be hard. Source: Pixabay


Cover Letter Example

An Example of a cover letter StudySmarter Magazine

An Example of a cover letter – StudySmarter

Use the one page you have, and use it well. Be specific about your skills and experiences, provide anecdotal examples, and demonstrate your intention of meeting the company’s standards as an employee.

After all this talking, I wish you happy writing and good luck with your applications!

How to Start a Cover Letter?

Always start your cover letter with a formal greeting. The best is to address the letter to the contact person that you can find in the job ad. Your first paragraph should introduce you, why you want to work at this company and why you are a good fit for the role.

What are the 3 parts of a cover letter?

A cover letter consists of three parts: Frist, a strong start about yourself and why you are a good fit. The second paragraph should be about your skills and experiences that are relevant to this job. After this, you end with a conclusion.

What 5 things should a cover letter include?

- Your and the company's address - A personal but formal greeting - Your first paragraph, why you are a good fit for the role - A second paragraph with your skills and experiences - A strong conclusion

What should you not include in a cover letter?

Don't repeat your CV information in your cover letter. The focus should be on the skills you developed and the experience you got.

How to end a cover letter?

End a cover letter on a positive note, with an active voice. Mention that you are excited to discuss your skill set further. For a more formal tone, use: Sincerely, Respectfully or Best regards. If you use a more informal style, you can use a simple Thank you, Kind regards or Warm regards.