How to Write a Great Cover Letter

Cover letters aren’t just for writers and editors. Anyone can write a good cover letter. It’s about structure more than writing skills. When I was looking for my first publishing job, I remember desperately trying to meet the application deadlines by writing as many cover letters as possible in one sitting. It was a disaster. I used to get so stressed and the results were never great. Eventually, I understood that it was better to focus on writing one good cover letter template and tweak it for each application.

Here are some simple tricks to ensure your cover letter is at its best:

  1. One page is more than enough. Unless otherwise stated in the application, please make sure you write no more than that. HR teams and hiring managers receive tons of cover letters. They usually just glance over them to decide who makes the cut. If yours is ‘War & Peace’, chances are they won’t even attempt to read it.
  2. Structure is everything. Make sure you answer three simple questions: why you, why this job and why this company. I usually start with an intro about my key skills and the company’s values to show I have done my research. I then move onto the main body of the cover letter to talk about my previous relevant experience. Finally, I close with a final pitch specifically stating what I would love to contribute to the team and why I am the best candidate.
  3. Use the right keywords. This is a very simple way to make sure you get an interview. Read the job description and make sure you use the same keywords to describe your skills and your previous experience.
  4. Check your spelling. Think about spelling the same way you think about your clothes before an interview. You would want to present yourself as professionally as possible. Similarly, when writing a cover letter, you must make sure that you triple check every word and name (including the name of the company you’re applying for!). If like me, English is your second language, check out Grammarly. It’s a lifesaver!
  5. Ask a friend to read it. A friend once told me that my cover letter didn’t represent me at all. She thought my determined and confident personality didn’t come out. Since then, I always ask someone that knows me to read through my cover letters to make sure my pitch is on point and also to proofread it. It’s all about selling the best version of yourself and sometimes, it’s ok to get a little help!

These are just some quick tips on how to make sure your cover letter is on point if you’re just starting to look for a job. They are largely based on my publishing experience, but I do believe are pretty transferable across industries.

I hope this helps & good luck with those job applications!

-A

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