Cover Letter Best Practices

Why bother with a cover letter? The importance of a well-crafted cover letter can give your overall application more weight by communicating your interest and initiative, which influences your chances of securing an interview. Applying online is no exception; upload your cover letter, if feasible. Why? Because your application may get more visibility and rank higher among the results.

You should be using your cover letter to demonstrate your interest, essential qualifications, refute potential candidate concerns or red flags, provide examples of your work, and showcase your personality a little. Let’s take a deeper dive into some cover letter best practices.

Make It Memorable and Unique

Hiring managers are not interested in reading run-of-the-mill cover letters that reiterate your resume. Take the time to customize your cover letter for the particular position and company. Use your cover letter to give insight on who you are, why you’re relevant and unique, why you’re excited about the role, a few differentiators or candidate selling points, and some of your personality traits. Customizing your cover letter for each position also helps with tailoring and practicing your response to interview questions, such as “Tell me about yourself?”

Include Quality Content and Structure Effectively

Cover letters should be written to correlate to the job description. Make sure your dialogue represents the skills and objectives for that position. Consider organizing your cover letter into the following segments:

  • Indicate Purpose

Identify the position that you are applying to and provide a quick introduction. Share why you’re interested and excited about pursuing that role. Set yourself apart, showing that you’ve researched the company. Include information on what you know about them and how your values align with their mission and work. Doing this shows that you’re applying because you are genuinely interested in working for the company.

  • Communicate the Value You’d Provide

Most managers are attempting to determine the value you’d provide their team and organization. Discuss and tie your contributions to why you are their ideal candidate. Share your accomplishments, describe experiences, and cite examples of work you’ve done relevant to the position.

  • Engage in Candidate Risk Management

Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes by asking yourself the following questions. Why might I not get selected for an interview? Am I missing essential skills or qualifications? Do I have a lot of short-term contracts? Do I have a large employment gap? Mitigate any potential concerns they might have. For example, if you’re missing a skill, explain your action plan to increase knowledge in that area. This approach addresses the concerns and shows your interest, commitment, initiative, and motivation.

  • Demonstrate Credibility

Provide information that could demonstrate your credibility. These could be examples of your work, links to online profiles or portfolios, test scores, etc. Do you have recommendations on your LinkedIn profile or samples of work on personal sites? Do you have articles you’ve written for online publications or videos you’ve created on YouTube?

  • Call-to-Action

Close your cover letter with a call-to-action. Facilitate a reply to your application by suggesting the next steps, such as an interview request. Be sure to include contact information at which you can be reached.

Impress with Your Writing Skills

A growing trend in hiring candidates is that managers want quality business acumen and communication skills. View your cover letter as a sample writing piece, and make sure you spellcheck and review it twice. Read it out loud to minimize errors. Do a quality check on all the written products you’re submitting.

Keep It Short and Sweet

Be as concise as possible while providing the reviewer a picture of who you are and why you are a strong fit for the position. Don’t be afraid to use bullet points where applicable, such as highlighting your relevant experience. We recommend a half-page or less.

Now, to get started, focus on the content you want to include first, then structure. Linked example cover letters are provided for guidance. You can explore additional samples and templates at LiveCareer.