Critical components of a cover letter
- Heading with all of your contact information.
- The salutation (e.g., “Dear Mr. Smith,”). Try to find the name of the recruiter or hiring manager.
- An attention-grabbing opening paragraph (i.e., The Hook). What makes you unique and valuable?
- Explain why you are motivated to join their company. What do you know about them that excites you about the opportunity?
- Why you are the right candidate for the role and how you will benefit the company. A brief summary of your unique value, achievements, and capabilities that map to what they need.
- Wrap up with a call to action (e.g., “Can we set up a call this week to discuss your expectations for the role?”).
- Finish with a formal closing to thank the reader and repeat your contact information for quick access (e.g., phone number, email).
Cover Letter Mistakes
The biggest mistake that people make is trying to write a one-size-fits-all cover letter. Yes, it takes time to customize your cover letter so that it maps directly to the company and its open position.
But that’s precisely the point of a cover letter. It’s your chance to sell yourself and explain the unique aspects of your background that make you the perfect candidate for this specific job.
- Using a generic salutation because you didn’t bother to research the company and figure out who the hiring manager is.
- Using inconsistent fonts and font sizes.
- Duplicating parts of your resume word for word.
- Being too dry, formal, and dull, so that it reads like every other cover letter.
- Or, being too casual and treating the reader like your buddy.
- Being afraid to be confident, sell yourself, and call out your achievements.
- Talking about your weaknesses or lack of qualifications.
- On the flip side, being too confident, cocky, and bragging about yourself.
- Using a passive tone of voice in your writing.
- Not including clear and quantitative examples of achievements.
- Forgetting to use a spellchecker and grammar checking software.
- Only talking about yourself and what you want.
- Sharing too much personal information.
- Writing a cover letter longer than one page.