8 Tips and Tricks for Writing Effective Cover Letters for Job Openings

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn eight tips and tricks for effective cover letters, including examples of phrases you can use in your cover letters for job applications.

[Featured image] Job applicant wearing a white blazer and glasses works on creating an effective cover letter next to some windows.

Although a fantastically structured resume highlights a job prospect's qualifications, a well-written cover letter provides a distinct but complementary prospect: the potential to illustrate that you're the best fit for the position on one succinct page. 

Consider the fact that your cover letter is your opening impact. Take advantage of this chance by presenting something that really reflects you. In only 10 minutes, you could indeed give your cover letter a massive boost that is bound to make a significant impact. 

We've gathered helpful tips on cover letters for job applications in one spot to ensure your letter is in great form and that composing it is convenient and easy. Check out the following suggestions for making your cover letter stand out.

1. Write unique letters for each position available.

Certainly, using the same job application cover letter template you composed for your prior application, changing the firm name, and sending it out is far quicker and more efficient. However, most recruiters would like to see that you're really enthusiastic about the role as well as the firm, which necessitates writing a unique letter for every position you compete for.

Although it's acceptable to reuse a few powerful lines and keywords from one cover letter to another, don't submit a completely generic letter. The line "I am eager to apply for the job opening at your firm," sends a clear message to recruiters, human resources, and hiring managers that you sent your cover letter to just about every job posting in the area. A personalised cover letter can help communicate your enthusiasm for the role to employers.

2. Focus on the job specifications.

Though you could be the smartest and most outstanding applicant for a position, your cover letter should demonstrate how your talents meet the job requirements. When drafting your cover letter, pay very close attention to the scope of work and specifications mentioned. Use relevant keyword phrases to highlight your accomplishments and excellence. Take into account, though, that everyone can paste basic keywords and buzzwords in their cover letters. Instead of stuffing keywords into your cover letter at random, be strategic and support your claims with specific examples that correspond with what the firm desires in a candidate.

Do your homework about the firm, as well as its goods and services, concerning the position. When it pertains to securing positions available, ever more firms are emphasising cultural compatibility.  Thus, knowing the cultural context of a firm may help you target your cover letter for the greatest results while also improving your position as the desired applicant.

3. Prioritize the employer.

Ask yourself, "What is it about the firm that appeals to me and tends to make me want to be employed there instead of at one of the countless others?"  Begin with these traits and mention them in your cover letter. The goal of a cover letter is to demonstrate how your history, talents, and expertise aligns with the organizational requirements as they relate to the position you're applying for. 

Keeping it personalised also entails writing to a real person. Use the word "you" throughout your cover letter. This creates the impression of direct conversation and personalisation. Additionally, while locating the appropriate department head or recruiting manager might take some time, doing just that shows effort and ingenuity.

4. Have an impactful opening line.

There is no need to start with your name because the recruiting manager can see that on top of your cover letter. It is indeed a good idea to indicate the position you're competing for as the prospective employer may be looking at applicants for a half dozen different positions. A common line you can use is "I am thrilled to apply for [job] with [company]." However, consider beginning with a crisp first phrase that showcases your enthusiasm for the organisation you're submitting to, your love for the task you perform, or your previous achievements.

5. Include statistics, numbers, and data.

Stats are attractive to recruitment agencies because they demonstrate that you have had a demonstrable influence on the organisations or firms where you have worked. Here are some questions you can address in your cover letter for a job application:

  • Did you increase the company's customer base and by how much? 

  • Have you put together some kind of a large variety of events? 

  • Have you ever increased the efficiency of business operations? If so, by what percent?

  • What exactly was your role in helping the company during a certain crisis?

6. Include a call to action and follow up.

Numerous cover letters are missing one crucial component: a  call to action. Even as communicating thanks is crucial, adding how you will follow up with the potential employer is even more powerful. Including a call to action not only shows confidence, but also offers the opportunity to demonstrate that you're able to take responsibility. Regardless of whether you indicate that you will call this week to follow up on the status of your resume or convey that you will be continuing to look forward to the next discussion, adding a call to action provides an opportunity to prove that you're dependable.

One piece of advice, though: If you say you will be following up, remember to do so. Although it is difficult to know what a prospective employer is thinking while reviewing applicants, it's important to be engaged and reliable throughout the entire process.

7. Try different templates and formats.

In case you are trying to apply in a more conventional organisation, you should generally stick to the basic three to five paragraphs structure constituting an introduction, body, and conclusion. A fresh approach could very well be suitable if you're looking for a much more innovative, entrepreneurial job or have to demonstrate to the prospective employer, for instance, how your journey started and has brought you from point A to point B.

8. Make your conclusion impactful. 

It's easy to dismiss the last few words of your cover letter: "I look forward to discussing the scope of work with you." However, your conclusion section is your final opportunity to highlight your passion for the firm as well as how you would be a fantastic choice for the role. You may also utilise the conclusion of your letter to provide vital facts, such as your willingness to move for the position. Here are some conclusion lines that can come in handy:

  • "I'm excited about [company's] goal and therefore would be delighted to offer my [insert your outstanding skills here] to this job."

  • "My proficient ambitions are aligned with [company's], and I'm eager to discover and flourish in its setting."

Get started with Coursera

Practise your cover letter and resume-writing skills in the Guided Project Create a Resume and Cover Letter with Google Docs on Coursera. Continue preparing for your next career move with The Art of the Job Interview to hone your interview skills with practise questions and other exercises. 

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