How To Write

How Do I Write A Cover Letter Hiring Managers Won’t Delete?

how do I write a cover letter that won't get deleted

The next installment in my How To Write series focuses on the question “how do I write a cover letter?” And not just any cover letter, a cover letter that will get noticed get you an interview and maybe even lead to a new job.

The three keys to writing a cover are to be thorough, be honest and to be brief. A cover letter should include all of the most important highlights from your resume while displaying a little of your personality, creativity, and a few persuasive reasons you’re a strong candidate for the position. 

Writing a cover letter is a strenuous task for many job hunters.

A cover letter is essentially three paragraphs of explaining all the reasons you’re fantastic at what you do. People tend to shy away from selling themselves or talking themselves.

Unfortunately, cover letters are a standard request from job seekers.

I’m going to demonstrate how writing a cover letter isn’t as hard as it seems.

If you want to learn how to write a cover letter, it’s time to sell yourself. 

My Cover Letter Mistake…That Worked

I regretted the tone of the cover letter the second after I hit send and heard the email SWOOSH from my inbox.

The tone of the correspondence came from the frustration and agitation after weeks of applying to jobs below my experience level.

Every submitted resume elicited zero responses, even for the positions for which I’m a perfect match.

This particular cover letter and resume sent to a job listing for the managing editor of a men’s lifestyle website.

Once again, I considered myself not only the perfect candidate but the logical hire. I said as much in the cover letter. The cover letter dripped with ego.

I bragged about my career accomplishments (which weren’t abundant at the time), boasted about being too talented for my past employer while stating – and this is an exact quote – “and if you want to know more, just Google me.”

It pains me to type that statement out.

I never expected to hear back, to get an interview or ever get the job.

All three of those things happened.

I found out later the person hiring for the position was familiar with my work and thought my tone and edge would be perfect for the male-focused website.

How do I write a cover letter people will read?

Well, I don’t suggest coming off as an egotistical windbag. I made this mistake and got incredibly lucky. I’ve made other resume mistakes as well.

But one thing I did learn from the experience is the best cover letters go slightly over-the-top when selling yourself without coming off too egotistical.

How Do I Write A Cover Letter That Will Get Noticed?

Follow these simple steps to writing a cover letter that might not get you the job but will at least get you a phone call from hiring managers.

Cover Letter Tip #1: Be Thorough

First, the boring stuff. At the top of the cover letter put your contact information, the name and address of the company to which you’re applying, and the salutation.

Next, do some homework for the cover letter.

**ALWAYS find out the name of the person who’ll be reading the letter** 

If the person’s name isn’t in the job listing, do some detective work on the company website. If the job listing doesn’t provide this information, and it’s not available on the company website, call and ask.

“I’m applying to a position with the company, who’s in charge of hiring new employees?” or “I’m working on a cover letter for the position, to whom should I address the letter?”

After the salutation, the next step is to mention the position for which you’re applying.

In larger companies, hiring managers receive numerous applications for one position and hundreds of cover letters and resumes overall. It’s a good idea to mention the position for which you’re applying to eliminate any confusion.

Cover Letter Tip #2: Be Compelling But Honest

After filling in all of that information, it’s time for the first paragraph and compelling introduction.

The first paragraph in a cover letter

Think about your favorite book and some of the greatest opening paragraphs in literature.

Remember how those first few lines, or in some cases just the first sentence, hooked you into reading the entire book?

Here’s the opening paragraph from “The Stranger” by Albert Camus.

“Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know. I had a telegram from the home: ‘Mother passed away. Funeral tomorrow. Yours sincerely.’ That doesn’t mean anything. It may have been yesterday.”

Whoa! There’s a lot to unpack in those 32 words. Hell, just the first two sentences are amazing.

Now, you need to do the same thing when writing a cover letter.

The second paragraph in a cover letter

This chunk of the cover letter should include information or bullet point you’d like to expand on. In other words, pick the most impressive bullet point from your current job and “tell the story” of that bullet point.

Let’s use my resume as an example.

Under the Current Work section, two bullet points highlight my experience writing about men’s style and gear and the generated sales from my writing. Those two bullet points can be combined to create an impressive paragraph in a cover letter.

“At my current position, I successfully created and launched two daily features focused on affordable outfits for men and everyday carry items. My content alone generated over $200K in affiliate revenue in the past year.”

Go to your cover letter, find your most impressive bullet points, turn them into a compelling paragraph.

The third paragraph in a cover letter

Next, the third paragraph of a cover letter should respond directly to the job description written by the hiring manager and explain how you fit the bill for all those points.

For example, a friend forwarded a job listing for an editor-in-chief position. Under the “must have” section, the employer listed “Extensive experience assigning and editing short-form stories” and “extensive experience writing headlines.”

If I were applying to the position, my cover letter would point out my experience as both a managing editor and assistant editor of various websites.

“My daily task during my time with WEBSITE X included assigning and proofreading short-form articles to freelancers, and reworking submitted headlines for a bigger impact on our social media channels.”

Be sure to explain you can handle the required tasks for the position.

The final paragraph in a cover letter

Thank the person for taking the time to read your cover letter AND resume. Guilt the person into reading your resume.

Mention you’d be happy to send professional references if necessary and to please call or email with any questions.

Cover Letter Tip #3: Be brief

Once the kind words about you and your career start flowing, it will be hard to stop. Everyone likes to brag a little.

That’s where you should stop.

A cover letter should be no more than four paragraphs with 4-5 lines per paragraph.

cover letter sample how do I write a cover letter

The Cover Letter Tip No One Talks About — Except Me!

As I mentioned earlier, hiring managers are sent countless cover letters, resumes, emails and calls about new job openings.

They’re tasked with corresponding with applicants, setting up interviews, speaking to references and countless other tasks associated with hiring.

If you’re enjoying this article answering the question “how do I write a cover letter?” check out the other articles in my “how to write” series.

Long story short – there’s a ton of reading involved. With a ton of reading comes a great deal of page scanning.

Hiring managers will scan over the cover letter for key elements. Make it easier to find those key elements by bolding the most important facts, figures, and job functions.

“At my current position, I successfully created and launched two daily features focused on affordable outfits for men and everyday carry items. My content alone generated over $200K in affiliate revenue in the past year.”

Warning! Don’t go crazy with the B function. Don’t bold and underline every detail. Find the 2-3 key takeaways from the cover letter and highlight.

How do I write a cover letter? More tips to remember

  • Be Original: For God’s sake, don’t make your cover letter generic and don’t use the same letter over and over by just switching out the companies.
  • Templates Are For Format Ideas: They’re not for copy and pasting.
  • Don’t Repeat: Don’t just regurgitate your resume bullet points.
  • Triple Check: Check the cover letter for mistakes. Check both again. Have another set of eyes check each.
  • Don’t Apologize: Certain accreditations or proficiencies are missing from your resume. It’s fine. Don’t point out your inefficiencies.
  • Hand Out Compliments: Try to drop in a couple kind words about the company, especially if they did something major. Don’t force it.
  • Don’t Get Fancy With The Fonts: Consult this list of common resume fonts. Never stray. Absolutely never Comic Sans.
  • Use a Website For Formatting Help: I prefer Canva, but there are plenty of websites to assist with professional cover letter formatting.

Hopefully, this article answered your questions on “how do I write a cover letter?” and cleared up any confusion about cover letter writing.

If you have any specific questions, please leave them in the comments or reach out by email.

Thanks for reading! If you found this article helpful, please take a second to like, comment, or share it. If you’re new to the website, please check out my archives, and take a second to follow me on FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM or TUMBLR.

Chris Illuminati is a freelance writer and published author. Follow him on Twitter @chrisilluminati or email him at cilluminati [@] gmail.com.

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