1. The job you’re applying for
To start your cover letter, say what job you’re applying for. Hiring managers review many applications for multiple positions daily. They don’t have time to search your cover letter for clues of what job you want.
In other words, if the hiring manager doesn’t see the position you’re applying for in the first paragraph of your cover letter, they may discard your application.
So when you write your cover letter, list your target position’s title in the opening paragraph, like this:
I’m an experienced security officer with a knack for enhancing safety everywhere I work. I’m excited to apply for the Night Shift Sergeant position at Morris Security and relish the opportunity to observe and report for your company.
2. You want the job
A recent study found that one-third of new hires leave their job within 90 days. Employee turnover is costly for companies, so they prioritize applicants who indicate a desire to stay long-term.
Therefore, it’s essential to show you’re seriously interested in the position. Here’s a list of things to say in your cover letter to show the hiring manager you’re a serious candidate:
Show passion for the work (with hard numbers)
If you love your work, say so in your cover letter. But don’t just say you’re passionate. Impress the hiring manager by proving your passion with achievements and hard numbers.
Here’s an example:
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with creating stunning visual art. I’ve applied that obsession to my graphic design career, winning 5 international design awards and helping my company increase organic traffic from Google image searches by 20%. I believe my passion for graphic design makes me a great candidate for Johnsonville Online’s Visual Content Specialist position.
Connect the position to your career growth
An employee who’s at the point of submitting a cover letter for a promotion is a productive worker. Indicating you’re motivated to advance your career in your cover letter is an effective way to capture the hiring manager’s attention.
Here’s a good example of what your cover letter should say about your desire for career growth:
I’m seeking to take the next step in my career as a customer service expert. I’ve managed small teams of 3+ people for 2 years, and I believe I can use that experience to flourish as a Customer Service Supervisor for Florence’s Flowers.
Express admiration for the company’s values
Pitching yourself as a person whose personal mission aligns with the company’s mission and values is a good way to convey your interest in the job.
Here’s the first paragraph of a cover letter that shows the candidate shares the company’s values:
I’m a recent graduate with a BS in social work and 4+ years of volunteer experience at local shelters for the unhoused, looking to dedicate my life to uplifting people without housing. I’ve researched San Francisco Fresh Start, and I believe your mission and your Shelter Staff position align perfectly with my values.
Mention a company contact
If you know someone who works at the company, drop that person’s name (with their permission, of course). A recommendation from someone the hiring manager already knows gives you credibility and increases your chances of getting an interview.
The following cover letter excerpt shows how to provide a contact’s name:
I’m interested in Max Supermarket’s Night Shift Supervisor position. I’ve discussed the position requirements and my 6+ years of retail management experience with your general manager, Betty Shore, and she encouraged me to apply.
3. Why you’re qualified
Every paragraph of your cover letter should say why you’re qualified for the position you’re applying for. Start by listing your top selling point in the first paragraph, and then continue proving your relevant qualifications until the end of your cover letter.
When you state your relevant skills and qualifications, support your claims with proof.
Put yourself in the hiring manager’s position for a moment. Which of the following statements is more believable?
A: I’m an experienced marketing manager who’s grown multiple brands on social media.
B: In my 8+ years as a marketing manager, I’ve led teams of 5+ marketers to enhance brand awareness by increasing organic traffic on social media by 18%+ each quarter.
The second statement rings more true because it includes specific accomplishments and results. Make your cover letter stand out by including similar data.
4. How you can help the business reach its goals
Employers will search your cover letter for hard and soft skills that apply to the role they’re advertising. When you write your cover letter, describe how your skills can benefit the company to convince the hiring manager you’re qualified and suited for the job.
Here’s an example of what to say in a cover letter to show you can benefit the employer:
I’m excited to express my interest in Davis Security’s open Security Training Director position. I served as a member of the US Army Military Police for 10+ years, providing security for domestic and overseas bases. I believe my knowledge of security best practices will enhance your organization’s training, increasing your efficiency and widening your profit margins.
5. You’ve researched the company
Add details in your cover letter that indicate you’ve researched the company. Including proof of your research shows the hiring manager that you:
- are genuinely interested in the position
- wrote a cover letter specifically for their job opening
- have research skills
- value preparation
- take initiative
Here are two examples of company research included in a cover letter:
I read in a recent press release that you plan to ramp up your Artificial Intelligence capability. In my previous position, I led a team of engineers to develop facial recognition technology, and I’m excited to transfer that experience to help your company become an AI leader.
The core values on your website resonate with me. I too am passionate about providing unmatched customer service, which is evident in the four Employee of the Month awards I earned as a Customer Service Representative for Acorn Health.
If you’re submitting a cover letter for a resume with no experience, researching the company is critical. While your work history may not prove your research skills and initiative, demonstrating them in your cover letter helps you overcome your lack of experience and get the job.
6. You want the opportunity to interview
Don’t forget to say that you’d like an invitation to interview for the job in your cover letter’s closing paragraph. Ending your cover letter with such a request reinforces your interest in the job.
Keep these tips in mind when requesting an interview in your cover letter:
- Don’t beg, avoiding phrases like “I’d do anything to interview” that make you appear desperate
- Don’t be overconfident, omitting phrases like “I guarantee I’m the best person for the job” that read as arrogant
- Do include your phone number and email address
7. You appreciate the employer’s time
Finally, say “thank you” to the hiring manager for reviewing your application. You can express your gratitude to open your closing paragraph, like this:
Thank you for taking the time to read my cover letter and the attached resume. I’m confident that my proven communication and leadership skills will make me a valuable contributor to your company. If you’d like to discuss my qualifications further, please reach me at (123) 456-7890 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an interview.
You can also end your closing paragraph with a “thank you”:
I’m confident that my proven communication and leadership skills will make me a valuable contributor to your company. If you’d like to discuss my qualifications further, please reach me at (123) 456-7890 or email@example.com to schedule an interview. Thank you for taking the time to read my cover letter and the attached resume, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sample cover letter
Here’s a full sample that shows you what to include in your cover letter:
Fast food cover letter (text version)
Oct 30, 2021
Hiring Manager’s Name
341 Company Address
Reno, MN 55919
Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],
I’m ready to put my 8+ years of experience in the fast food industry to work for you as a [Position Title] at Burger King. My passion for leading my team to deliver stellar customer service is obvious in my attached resume, which includes the following career highlights.
As a responsible, outgoing, and self-motivated leader, I have risen from an entry-level employee to a manager at multiple fast food establishments. I’m currently a Shift Manager at Subway, where I supervise, schedule, and train 12+ employees. Previously, I worked at McDonald’s, managing 7+ team members.
Some of my key achievements include the following:
- At Subway, my customer satisfaction rating is 99.9%
- With McDonald’s, I reduced cold storage costs by 10% via innovative solutions
- I managed $2,000 in cash each day at McDonald’s
- I lead my team at Subway to successfully serve more than 350 customers daily
I’m an excellent communicator, fluent in English and Spanish. Being bilingual lets me efficiently solve issues with crew members or customers. Also, I thrive under the pressure of the fast-paced food service environment, receiving intense fulfillment from achieving 100% customer satisfaction during the busiest times of the day.
I believe the qualifications I’ve presented are exactly what Burger King is looking for in a [Position Title]. I’d truly appreciate the opportunity to explain my experience further in an interview. You can reach me at your convenience via (123) 456-7890 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you soon.