While a cover letter isn’t always a requirement when applying for a job, it’s often an optional addition to a job application. Cover letters help hiring managers better understand applicants’ skill sets and experience and how that fits in with the requirements of the job description. Even if a cover letter isn’t required, if you have the option to submit one, you should. While it’s an additional time commitment, including a cover letter is a good way to go above and beyond and show the hiring manager your level of interest in the role.
Indeed recommends structuring your cover letter into the following categories:
- Opening paragraph
- Middle paragraph(s)
- Closing paragraph
- Ending line and name
Just like your resume, you’ll want to use a standard and easy-to-read font such as Arial or Helvetica in point size 10 to 12.
For the header, you’ll want to include your contact information such as:
- Your Name
- Email (make sure it’s professional)
Ideally, you’ll be able to get the full name of the hiring manager, and then for the greeting, write something simple like “Dear/Hello Mr. Jack Smith”. If you’re unable to get their name, you can do something like "Dear Hiring Manager”.
The opening paragraph sets the tone for the cover letter, so you’ll want to capture the reader and include a few key points. One being why you’re interested in the role (mentioning the job title) and the company. You’ll also want to highlight the value you believe you would bring to the company and how your background would make you an ideal candidate.
Here, you’ll go over a bit of your work history, qualifications, and experience and how that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. Focus on a couple of specific achievements or skills that are in line with the job requirements making sure to include keywords that are listed in the job description. After you’ve gone over your history, you’ll want to end with why this specific company is of interest to you (i.e. do you believe in their company mission, are you a fan of their products, etc.).
This is where you wrap things up and expand upon the main points brought up in the above paragraphs, including listing any other key achievements relevant to the job description. Indeed recommends in this paragraph that “Instead of repeating details from your resume, expand on specific stories or anecdotes that display your fitness for the role.”
Ending line and name
You’ll want to end your cover letter professionally with an ending line and your name. Some good closing lines examples include:
- Warm Regards
- Thank you
- Thank you for your consideration