In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to write a cover letter, but not the typical type of cover letter that gets thrown in the trash along with your resume.
I’m going to teach you how to write a cover letter… like a copywriter.
You know, the type of writer who gets paid 6-7 figures per year to persuade people to do stuff.
I’m going to pull back the curtain and show you how to use proven copywriting techniques to write a cover letter that will land you a shockingly high paying job, regardless of how confident you are in your skills and experience.
These are the exact same techniques I used to get a $200k per year offer (plus $200k in stock) for my FIRST EVER fulltime job.
What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a written document that accompanies a job application, providing additional information about a candidate’s qualifications, experience, and motivation for applying for a specific position.
It’s an opportunity for you to introduce yourself to an employer you want to work with, showcase your personality, and explain why you’d be a great fit for this specific role and organization.
A cover letter is typically one page long and consists of three to four paragraphs. While your resume provides a detailed summary of your work history and skills, a cover letter allows you to showcase your personality, enthusiasm, and communication skills.
It also gives you the opportunity to persuade the reader that you are a uniquely great fit for the role and the company… and this last part is what makes your cover letter so important.
Why is your Cover Letter Important?
A lot of the hiring process today is automated and systemized and doesn’t provide any opportunities to stand out.
The cover letter is the exception.
Your cover letter offers several different ways to distinguish yourself compared to the other candidates:
- Personal Introduction: Your cover letter allows you to introduce yourself to the employer and express your interest in the role. It is an opportunity to present your personality, communication skills, and enthusiasm for the position.
- Showcase Relevant Skills/Experiences: While your resume provides an overview of your work history and qualifications, your cover letter allows you to highlight specific skills and experiences that directly relate to the job requirements. This helps the employer see how your background aligns with their needs.
- Demonstrate Knowledge of the Company: A tailored cover letter shows that you have researched the company and understand its goals, culture, and values. This indicates that you are genuinely interested in the position and are likely to be a good fit for the organization.
- Explain Employment Gaps or Unique Circumstances: If there are any gaps in your employment history or unique circumstances related to your qualifications, a cover letter provides an opportunity to address and explain these issues.
- Set Yourself Apart: A well-written cover letter can help you stand out from other candidates who may have similar qualifications. It gives you a chance to emphasize your strengths, achievements, and potential contributions to the company.
- Persuade the Employer: A compelling cover letter can persuade the employer to consider your application more seriously and potentially invite you for an interview, even if your qualifications might not be a perfect match for the job.
Now that we understand why your cover letter matters, let’s take a quick peek at what a cover letter should look like.
Step 1: Research the Role and Company
As a freelance copywriter, my goal is take what a company knows about their target audience and use that information to make a compelling argument.
Are there problems that audience wants to solve? Are there benefits that audience is seeking? How can I connect the solution I’m trying to sell to those challenges and benefits?
When you write a cover letter, YOU are the solution, and the company you are applying to is the target audience. Your goal is to match something about yourself to the problems the company wants to solve with this role and the benefits they are seeking with the new hire.
But there’s no client ready to hand you a big brief on your target audience. You have to do all the research yourself.
To begin, closely read through the job description.
Pay extra attention to the responsibilities, qualifications, and skills required for the position. Look for any keywords or phrases that are mentioned repeatedly, as these will be the most important aspects to address in your cover letter.
Bonus Option: if you can identify one or more company employees on LinkedIn who are likely to be the manager in charge of this role, send them a connection request with a note requesting to ask a few questions about what they are seeking in the role.
You can copy/paste this message below:
Hi [Name], I’m applying for the [role name] position and wanted to see if I could ask you a few questions about what your strongest performing team members are doing to excel in this role. Best!
Most job seekers wouldn’t even think to ask this type of question. They are too focused on themselves to think about what they company needs and how they can position themselves as the solution to the company’s needs.
The best way to get what you want from someone is to convince them that you can give them what THEY want.
The more you know about what the company wants, the better positioned you’ll be to no only land the job, but land the job with the terms that YOU want.
Next, dig through the company’s online presence.
This can include any of the following:
- Their website
- Their social media profiles
- Their blog or Youtube channel
- Recent news articles mentioning the company
Pay close attention to the “About Us” section, recent blog posts, press releases, and company updates. These sources can provide valuable insights into the company’s mission, values, and ongoing projects.
For example, let’s say you’re applying for a marketing position at a tech company that has recently launched a new sustainability initiative.
In your cover letter, you could mention how you share the company’s commitment to environmental responsibility and discuss relevant experience managing sustainability campaigns in previous roles.
Industry news and articles can help you gain a better understanding of the company’s position within its market, as well as current trends and challenges affecting the industry. Websites like Forbes, TechCrunch, and Business Insider often provide in-depth analysis and news about various companies and industries.
For instance, if you discover that the company you’re applying to is expanding its operations in a new market, you could highlight your experience working in that market or emphasize your language skills and cultural knowledge in your cover letter. This shows that you’re aware of the company’s strategic direction and can contribute to its growth.
Again, the goal here is to find an angle that positions YOU — your strengths, abilities, experience, interests — as the solution to the company’s needs.
Once you have your angle, you can write your cover letter with confidence.
Step 2. Write A Strong Opening
The opening paragraph of your cover letter sets the tone for the rest of the letter. A strong opening should grab the reader’s attention, briefly introduce who you are, and state the purpose of your letter.
Follow these four rules to deliver a strong opening:
- Be specific. Clearly state the position you’re applying for and how you learned about the opening.
- Be concise. Keep your opening paragraph short and to the point, including only the most relevant information.
- Be personal. If you have a connection to the company or a mutual contact, mention it early on to establish rapport.
- Be enthusiastic. Convey your excitement about the opportunity to work for the company and the specific position.
Here’s a good example:
As a seasoned project manager with over 7 years of experience in the software industry, I was thrilled to come across the Project Manager position at XYZ Company posted on LinkedIn. I have long admired XYZ’s innovative approach to product development, and I am confident that my expertise in managing cross-functional teams would make me a valuable addition to your organization.
Notice how the writer succinctly includes their relevant experience, specific interest in the company, and personal value proposition in just two sentences.
Here’s another example:
I was excited to see the opening for a Marketing Coordinator at ABC Corporation on your company’s career page. Having recently graduated with a degree in Marketing and completed an internship at a fast-growing tech company, I am eager to apply my skills and passion for marketing to drive results at ABC Corporation.
While this candidate has much less to show in terms of experience, this opening suggests that they are actively following the company’s career options and specifically interested in working with this company. It’s also a good example of how to phrase your limited experience when the company you worked for might not be immediately recognizable (“fast-growing tech company” instead of “VineHealth”).
Let’s look at one more example.
Jane Brown, a current employee and close friend of mine, recently informed me of the Sales Representative opening at DEF Inc. With more than 5 years of experience in sales and a proven track record of exceeding quotas, I am confident in my ability to contribute to DEF Inc.’s continued growth and success in the competitive market.
This candidate immediately leverages their in-house referral in the opening, which is exactly what you want to do: use the most compelling information you have available in your opener.
Once you’ve written your opener, the next paragraph should focus on your skills and experience.
Step 3. Showcase Your Skills and Experience
The second paragraph of your cover letter should showcase your skills and experiences that are most relevant to the job’s requirements.
The more relevant your experience, the more you should focus on succinctly matching that experience to the company’s needs. The less relevant your experience, the more creative you’ll need to be in re-framing in a way that matches the company’s needs.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- The more you have, the more you need to cut. Focus on the most critical skills and experiences that match the core needs of the position.
- Be as specific as possible. When possible, provide specific examples, outcomes, interactions, or numbers that illustrate your abilities or impact.
- Transferable skills are underrated. Most people have developed a lot of transferable skills over the course of their lives.
- Proactively address gaps. Whether it’s an employment or an experience gap, try to anticipate “what about this?” questions and proactively address them.
Here’s a good example.
In my previous role as a content strategist at ABC Agency, I successfully managed a team of five writers and editors, delivering high-quality content for over 50 clients in various industries. Over the course of two years, my team and I increased website traffic for our clients by an average of 35% and helped generate a 20% increase in leads through targeted content marketing campaigns. My ability to create compelling content and manage cross-functional teams aligns well with the responsibilities of the Senior Content Manager position at XYZ Company.
Notice how the candidate here has a ton of hyper-relevant experience but summarizes it in three sentences with specifics and numbers. This is exactly how concise and specific you want to be when you have a lot of relevant experience.
Here’s an example of what to do when you don’t have a lot of relevant experience.
Although my professional experience has primarily been in the retail industry, I have developed strong communication and problem-solving skills that would be highly beneficial in the Customer Success Associate role at ABC Tech. In my previous position as a store associate, I consistently interacted with diverse customers, addressing their concerns and providing prompt solutions, resulting in a 95% positive feedback rating. I believe my ability to connect with customers and understand their needs will translate well to the software industry and contribute to your clients’ satisfaction.
Notice how this candidate proactively addresses that they are coming from a different industry and focuses on the most relevant, transferable skills that they developed in their previous role.
“Interacting with diverse customers, addressing their concerns, and providing prompt solutions” is EXACTLY what a tech company would want from a Customer Success representative on their team.
Here’s another example of someone coming straight out of college with an unrelated degree.
As a recent graduate with a degree in Biology, I may not have direct experience in the marketing field. However, during my time in college, I served as the social media coordinator for the Biology Club, where I successfully grew our online presence by creating engaging content and organizing virtual events. This experience allowed me to develop skills in content creation, social media management, and event planning, which I believe are transferable to the Marketing Coordinator position at DEF Agency. I am eager to learn and confident that my enthusiasm, along with my ability to adapt quickly, will enable me to excel in this role.
Again, notice how they are addressing the gaps directly and concisely highlighting any and all transferable skills from their background.
This is exactly what you want to do in this section of the cover letter.
Step 4. Demonstrate That You’re A Culture Fit
The third paragraph of your cover letter should focus on how you’re a cultural fit for the company.
If the idea of a “cultural fit” annoys you, it should. It’s a stupid, vague, and completely subjective concept that is mostly used to discriminate or create a very one-note team of yes-men who all agree with everything the CEO says.
That said, it’s a thing, and it’s a thing you need to navigate if you want to persuade your way into a high-paying position.
Here’s what to focus on in navigating culture fit.
- Use the company’s language. Mirror the terminology, phrases, tone, and emphases from the company’s online branding.
- Share relevant experiences. Highlight any past experiences and achievements that align with the company’s culture, mission, professed values, etc.
- Show enthusiasm. Express enthusiastic interest in the company, its mission, and any past actions or achievements from the company that you can highlight.
In some cases, you may be applying for a company that genuinely pursues something you are passionate about. Here’s an example of what you’d write for a company like this.
Having followed XYZ Company’s impressive sustainability efforts over the past few years, I am excited about the opportunity to join a team that shares my commitment to environmental responsibility. In my previous role as a supply chain analyst, I successfully implemented waste reduction strategies that resulted in a 30% reduction in our company’s carbon footprint. I look forward to applying my knowledge and experience in sustainable practices to further XYZ Company’s ongoing green initiatives.
Notice the emphasis on real actions taken in a previous role to move toward the shared mission. In the rare event you are applying for a company that actually lives its mission, you want to demonstrate that you are also someone who legitimately lives that mission wherever you go.
For the other 99% of companies, go with something more focused on productivity and revenue, like the example below.
I am impressed by GHI Inc.’s focus on employee growth and its practice of promoting from within. In my previous position as a sales associate, I was responsible for mentoring and training new team members, which helped them achieve an average sales increase of 15% within their first six months. This experience has honed my leadership and coaching skills, and I am eager to contribute to GHI Inc.’s culture of nurturing employee growth and development, ultimately leading to increased productivity and success.
This is where you will really benefit from having spoken with either the hiring manager or someone else on the team. Different companies have different emphases in terms of what they believe drives productivity, and if you can mirror that focus back to them in your cover letter, you will have a huge edge in landing the job.
Here’s another example.
I was drawn to ABC Company’s emphasis on collaboration and teamwork, as I believe that working together effectively is key to achieving exceptional results. In my previous role as a project coordinator, I facilitated communication between cross-functional teams, ensuring that everyone was aligned and working towards shared goals. This collaborative approach led to a 25% increase in project completion efficiency. I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to ABC Company’s team-oriented culture and help drive productivity through effective collaboration.
If ABC Company’s executive team strongly believes in collaborative work environments, they are going to hire managers who do as well, who will in turn hire employees who are excited about collaborative work.
This is why that research stage is so important. If you can figure out what they want, you can either tell them what they want to hear to land a high-paying job, or better yet, find a high-paying job at a company where you will genuinely be a good fit.
Step 5. Write Your Closing Paragraph
The fourth and final paragraph of your cover letter is mostly a formality, but you’ll want to include it for hiring managers who put a lot of stock in observing formalities.
You’re going to summarize your previous three paragraphs and say thanks.
- Summarize your main points. Briefly reiterate your key qualifications and why you are a strong fit for the role.
- Include a call to action. Encourage the hiring manager to take the next step, such as reviewing your resume or scheduling an interview.
- Express some form of gratitude. Use the phrase “thank you” in some way. It’s kind of silly but we’re here to play the game.
Here’s an example.
In summary, I am confident that my background in project management, combined with my passion for innovation, would make me a valuable addition to the XYZ Company team. I am eager to contribute to your ongoing success and look forward to the opportunity to discuss my qualifications further. Thank you for considering my application, and I hope to hear from you soon to schedule an interview.
Here’s another example.
As a recent marketing graduate with hands-on experience in social media management, I am excited about the prospect of applying my skills and enthusiasm to the Marketing Coordinator role at ABC Corporation. I appreciate your time in reviewing my application and would be delighted to discuss my qualifications in more detail during an interview. Please feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience.
Here is yet a third example.
With over five years of experience in sales and a proven track record of exceeding quotas, I am confident that I can contribute to the continued growth and success of DEF Inc. I am excited about the opportunity to join your team and would welcome the chance to discuss my suitability for the Sales Representative position. Thank you for your consideration, and I hope to speak with you soon.
And just like that, you have a cover letter!
Step 6. Format and Proofread Your Letter
Once you have your cover letter written, you’ll need to format it as follows.
Use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, and keep the font size between 12 and 14 points. Use a simple and clean layout, with plenty of white space to make it easy on the eyes.
Then include the following information.[Your Name]
[City, State, ZIP Code]
[Today’s Date] [Hiring Manager’s Name]
[Hiring Manager’s Role]
[City, State, ZIP Code]
Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],[Paragraph #1] [Paragraph #2] [Paragraph #3] [Paragraph #4]
Next, make sure you proofread your cover letter and have someone else proofread it as well. Check for any spelling or grammar errors, and make sure that all information is accurate and up-to-date. Read your letter out loud to catch any awkward phrasing or unclear sentences.
You will likely create this letter once for the first company you apply to and then adjust it from there for any similar companies you apply to afterward. Make sure you don’t leave anything in that is specific to the previous company you applied to.
Let’s look at a complete example below.
The Perfect Cover Letter Template
Here’s a great example of cover letter than you can use as a cover letter template.
123 Main Street
Anytown, USA 12345
April 4, 2023
456 Tech Parkway
Anytown, USA 12345
I was excited to see the role of Customer Success Associate show up on ABC Tech’s website job board. Although my background is primarily in retail, I am eager to apply my strong communication and problem-solving skills to a new industry where I can make a meaningful impact on customer satisfaction.
In my previous role as a store associate, I honed my ability to connect with diverse customers and address their concerns promptly, resulting in a 95% positive feedback rating. This experience has equipped me with valuable transferable skills, such as active listening, empathy, and adaptability, which I believe will be essential for succeeding in the Customer Success Associate role at ABC Tech.
I am particularly drawn to ABC Tech’s commitment to fostering a collaborative and supportive work environment. In my retail experience, I have demonstrated my ability to work effectively in a team-oriented setting, contributing to increased sales and customer satisfaction. I am confident that my collaborative nature and passion for helping others will align well with your company culture.
In conclusion, I am excited about the opportunity to leverage my customer service expertise and collaborative mindset to contribute to the success of ABC Tech’s clients. I have attached my resume for your review and would appreciate the chance to discuss my qualifications further during an interview. Thank you for considering my application, and I look forward to speaking with you soon.
Next Steps: Develop Your Skills
If you’ve made it this far, put your letter together, and begun pitching potential employers, you only have one other option available to you: either continue developing your skills or start creating work that highlights your existing skills.
If you’d like to add copywriting as a skill in your toolbelt, enter your email below to grab my free copywriting crash course.