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How to write a successful cover letter

Updated on June 27, 2013

So you’ve written your resume, you’re happy with it, now it’s time to write a cover letter. A cover letter is commonly referred to as an “application letter” and it goes alongside your resume. The point of a cover letter is to let your employer know why you’re applying for your position and why he/she should hire you over hundreds of thousands of other applicants. No pressure!

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What do I need to know before I start writing my cover letter?

Research, research, research! It’s difficult to write a convincing cover letter when you don’t know what you’re talking about, or whom you’re writing to. You should know the company inside out as if you’re already working there. Research the company and particularly your position and what is expected from you.

How do I set up my cover letter?

Start with whom you're writing to. Include their full name and/or title. If you cannot find this, simply use “Dear Hiring Manager” or use the company’s name instead.

Your first paragraph is crucial. Clearly state what position you’re applying for - this is usually a good opening line. Demonstrate your interest for the company. Show you’ve done your research, highlight what kind of person the employer is looking for and why you are that person. Why should the employer hire you?

Your second and third paragraph should build on your first. Demonstrate your skills and more importantly, show what you can do for the employer.

Conclude by thanking your employer for their time and considering you for the position. Remember to provide your contact information such as an email and mobile phone number.

Key things to remember

Avoid repetition – A cover letter is not a replica of your resume. What you’ve said in your resume, avoid saying it again in your cover letter.

Be Professional – Avoid silly spelling mistakes and grammar errors. Your writing should be easy to read and understand for your employer. Have respect for yourself; don’t sound stupid when you don’t have to.

Be upbeat – Express your interest! If you can’t write down at least 2-3 reasons why you want to work for the company, why are you applying for the job in the first place?

Keep it short – If your cover letter is longer than a page – you’ve written too much. As a rule of thumb, if it doesn’t answer the question “Why should we hire you?” it’s not relevant.

Proof Read – As with your resume, read it yourself. Give someone else to read, and improve your letter based on his/her feedback. Every little bit helps!

What if I sent my cover letter and resume but have not received a reply in over a month?

There are 2 reasons to this. Either you didn’t get accepted, or the employer is still in the selection process. Either way, it’s a good idea to follow up with another copy of your resume and cover letter. Why? This is a chance to update your existing information. It shows you’re interested in the company. More importantly however, it shows you are persistent in pursuing your goals. It might just get you considered for an interview.

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    • Kiwi Max profile image
      Author

      Max Zvyagintsev 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Thank you very much Felina,

      It's great to hear your positive feedback on the piece. It keeps me going :)

    • Felina Margetty profile image

      Felina Margetty 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Nice one. Everyone should note this hub. I can not believe the cover letters I get that are volumes of information and clearly not to the point! Thanks

    • LocalWork profile image

      LocalWork 5 years ago from Phoenix

      Kiwi, feel free to contact me via my profile and I will get you my personal email address where you can send the article. Great way for you to promote your community outreach when applying for a job yourself :) Also a great way to brand yourself as an expert.

    • Kiwi Max profile image
      Author

      Max Zvyagintsev 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Thank you for the warm welcome and those encouraging comments :)

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Good information here. I see you are new and I wish you much success!

    • Kiwi Max profile image
      Author

      Max Zvyagintsev 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Hi Ryan,

      I never thought of using youtube to embed a video introduction - that sounds like a brilliant idea!

      I took the time to browse localwork.com and it looks very appealing and easy to navigate.

      I currently study business at University of Auckland and it's something I'm very interested in - I'd be happy to write an article for you on the topic.

      Max

    • LocalWork profile image

      LocalWork 5 years ago from Phoenix

      I like your article. I would also add how important it is to utilize technology when submitting a coverletter. Using YouTube to embed a video introduction might make a huge impression.

      I own the website http://localwork.com and would love to see if you could write a nice article like this on our site. We are always looking for good outsiders perspective on the job seekers process. Let me know if you're interested. But, seriously great article.

    • Kiwi Max profile image
      Author

      Max Zvyagintsev 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for your comments and stopping by to read my hubs, Alocsin.

      Each comment I get for my hubs really makes my day :)

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Good advice -- a lot of tips on writing resumes but little on cover letters, which are just as important. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Kiwi Max profile image
      Author

      Max Zvyagintsev 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Hi LaThing,

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Great to hear you enjoyed it and I look forward to writing more.

    • LaThing profile image

      LaThing 5 years ago from From a World Within, USA

      Great advice, and you kept it pretty straight forward too. :)

      Welcome to Hubpages. Hope you enjoy it here!

    • Kiwi Max profile image
      Author

      Max Zvyagintsev 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks Weezy,

      Your comments encourage me to write more hubs like this :)

    • weezyschannel profile image

      Lisa 5 years ago from Central USA

      Great information. Welcome to Hubpages! You earned a follow and I shared your information. Good job