Write a wining cover letter to help you get those data analyst job interviews.
Your cover letter often serves as your introduction to a potential employer. While not all recruiters or hiring managers will take the time to read your letter, a well-written cover letter could mean the difference between a hiring manager looking at your resume and considering an interview or moving on to the next candidate for those who do. For a role you’re passionate about, it’s worth the extra effort.
If you’re looking for your first job as a data analyst, whether you’re just out of school or switching careers, you may be wondering what to include in your cover letter. Even if you don’t have previous experience in a data analyst role, you likely still bring transferable skills that can benefit you (and your employer) in your work as a data analyst.
In this article, we'll walk through a sample cover letter for an entry-level data analyst job, then go step by step through what you should include in each paragraph of your own cover letter. We’ll wrap up with some tips and best practices to make your cover letter stand out.
Before we get into the specifics of what to include in your cover letter, it may be helpful to look at an example. Feel free to use this sample cover letter as a template to customize your own version.
[Hiring manager’s name]
[Company phone number]
[Hiring manager email]
Dear Ms./Mr. [Manager’s name],
My name is Cindy Liu, and I’m a tech-savvy manager looking to flex my talents to identify new growth strategies for Corelight as a Junior Data Analyst. I’ve always been fascinated by numbers, and working in data analytics has been a long-term goal of mine. My career in the restaurant business has taught me to think strategically about problems and identify solutions. I believe this experience has prepared me for Corelight’s Junior Data Analyst role.
Your job posting mentioned that you’re looking for an analyst with experience in SQL, proficiency in a statistical programming language, and strong time management skills. During my previous role as a restaurant manager, I had to multitask to balance the needs of the company (revenue) and the customer (service and quality standard). I’ve also been pursuing my passion for data, both at work and in my spare time. Over the past year, I’ve been able to achieve the following:
Automated repetitive restaurant payroll and accounting tasks with Python, freeing up three hours per week
Completed a case study using point-of-sales data from the restaurant to optimize our menu and pricing, leading to a revenue increase of 10 percent
Completed the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate, which included extensive coursework in both SQL and R
I’m thrilled at the opportunity to use these experiences to fuel data-driven decisions at Corelight, and I’m keen to continue developing my skill set on the job. I am available for a Zoom call or in-person meeting to discuss how I can help Corelight with improving market product performance through data.
Thank you for your consideration,
Cindy Liu, Data Analyst
Now that you’ve seen an example of what a data analyst cover letter might look like, let’s take a closer look at what to include in your own cover letter. Cover letters should typically fit on a single page and include three key paragraphs.
Begin your letter by addressing the hiring manager by name if you have that information. Your first paragraph is your opportunity to introduce yourself and introduce the value you can bring to the company. In this paragraph, be sure to state clearly:
Who you are
What position you’re applying for
What company you’re applying to
Why you’re a great fit for this specific role
This is also an excellent place to point out your enthusiasm for the company, highlight a mutual connection you have, express your passion for data, and explain why you’re interested in a career change.
The second paragraph is typically the most important part of your letter. This is where you connect the requirements from the job description to your skill set and unique experiences.
Take a look at the job listing and pick out three to four skills or requirements that you feel you can best highlight. Think about a specific accomplishment or experience that demonstrates each skill. These could be academic accomplishments or achievements from a previous job, even if it’s unrelated to data analysis.
For example, strong communication skills are often required for data analysts, who are tasked with presenting their findings to management and stakeholders. If you’ve given presentations as part of a university class or in a previous role, call out this experience. How many people attended? What were the results of the presentation?
Back up each accomplishment with data or metrics, when possible.
These data analyst skills, including SQL, R or Python, and machine learning, are the most in demand by Coursera’s community of 65 million global learners. If you have experience with one or more of these, mention it in your cover letter, especially if they match the job description.
The final paragraph of your cover letter should summarize why you’re the best fit for the job. More importantly, it should include a call to action. Express that you’d like to discuss the role further. Offer some availability for an interview. Ask about next steps.
The idea here is to get the hiring manager thinking about the next step in the hiring process with you as a part of it.
As you write and polish your cover letter, here are some tips and best practices to keep in mind.
1. Complement your resume with additional information. Resist the temptation to rehash the same bullet list of accomplishments. Instead, use this as an opportunity to highlight what the reader should look for in your resume. If your resume lists Python as a skill, your cover letter is your chance to tell a story about how you’ve applied it to solve a problem.
This is also an opportunity to explain any employment gaps in your resume. If you were unemployed for a time, potential employers will likely want to know why. Address that here.
2. Tell the story of what brought you to data analytics. Where does your passion for data come from? If you’re changing careers, what inspired your move into data analysis? Take this even farther by expressing why you’re applying to this company over others.
3. Explain why you’re the right fit. A resume can often be rigid in formatting. Your cover letter gives you more flexibility to express to the hiring manager what you want them to know. No one else has your unique skills and experiences. Showcase the value these could bring to the company through your letter.
4. Try to identify the company’s biggest needs, and emphasize the skills and experiences that make you the right person to solve them. You can often better understand the company’s priorities by looking at which words are included near the top of the job listing or repeated more than once.
If the job listing mentions experience with Tableau at the top of the list (and twice more further on), you can bet that they need someone who can create visualizations to tell a story with data.
5. Write in the company’s voice. Take a look at the company website and social media posts. Are they casual and friendly? Formal and serious? What word choices come up often? Be yourself, but also reflect the company’s tone, style, and word choices. This demonstrates that you understand the company culture.
6. Focus on the positive. Don’t apologize for your lack of job experience. Highlight the skills and talents you do have, and express your enthusiasm for learning and growing.
7. Tailor each cover letter to the job listing. Many companies use applicant tracking systems that filter cover letters and resumes based on certain keywords. Sending out a generic, one-size-fits-all cover letter puts it at risk of getting filtered out and never seen by a hiring manager.
8. Include keywords from the job listing. Using the exact phrasing of skills and qualifications from the job description can help applicant tracking systems identify your application as a good match. Use both long form and acronym versions where appropriate, for example Structured Query Language and SQL.
9. Focus on transferable skills, like critical thinking, attention to detail, and strong communication. If you don’t have experience with a specific piece of software or tool listed in the job description, highlight your ability to learn new skills quickly.
10. Proofread. Data analytics requires attention to detail, a skill you’ll want to demonstrate in your cover letter. It’s also a good idea to verify whether your cover letter should be sent as an attachment, pasted into the body of an email, or uploaded to a website. Some companies have specific requirements for subject line formatting and attachment naming conventions—check before you send.
Learn how you can apply your current skill set to a career as a data analyst with the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate on Coursera. Learn the tools and techniques you’ll need, including SQL, R, and Tableau. Learn at your own pace, and finish in as little as six months.