Personal development coaching

How To Write a Cover Letter for Your Job Applications

Discover the art of crafting compelling cover letters for your job applications. Explore the strategic blending of personalised storytelling and dynamic action words to create compelling messages that resonate with employers. Learn about the pitfalls, cover letter essentials, when to submit a cover letter, and ensuring your application stands out in the competitive job market. Tailor your approach and avoid common misconceptions as we guide you through the essential relationship between a powerful cover letter and a tailored resume. Make your job application stand out with professional advice.

The art of writing standout cover letters is an essential skill for career transitions, where each step can significantly impact your success. Let’s explore what it takes to write effective cover letters that not only capture attention, but also facilitate meaningful connections with potential employers, and fast track your hire.

The Purpose of a Cover Letter

Firstly, it’s imperative to recognise the role of a cover letter in the job application process. A cover letter is not merely a formality; it serves as your personal introduction to the prospective employer. It’s a tool to demonstrate your interest in the role, showcase your personality, articulate your skills, and provide a compelling narrative that aligns with the specific requirements of the job.

Top 10 Cover Letter Pitfalls

Navigating the art of cover letter writing can be challenging, and common mistakes can inadvertently sabotage your chances of making a positive impression. Here are some standard mistakes people often make when crafting cover letters:

Generic and Unpersonalised Content:

  • Mistake: Using a generic template without tailoring the content to the specific job application.
  • Impact: Fails to showcase a genuine interest in the position and doesn’t address the unique needs of the employer.

Repeating the Resume:

  • Mistake: Rehashing the content of the resume without providing additional insights or showcasing your personality.
  • Impact: Misses the opportunity to tell a compelling story or highlight specific achievements that set you apart from other candidates.

Overly Formal or Stiff Language:

  • Mistake: Adopting overly formal language that lacks authenticity and a personal touch.
  • Impact: Creates a distant and impersonal tone, potentially failing to engage the reader.

Failure to Address Job Criteria:

  • Mistake: Neglecting to directly address the key requirements and competencies outlined in the job description.
  • Impact: Raises doubts about the candidate’s suitability for the position and shows a lack of attention to detail.

Excessive Length:

  • Mistake: Writing excessively long cover letters that may overwhelm or bore the reader.
  • Impact: A lengthy cover letter may discourage thorough reading, causing crucial information to be overlooked.

Lack of Quantifiable Achievements:

  • Mistake: Failing to include specific, quantifiable achievements and results.
  • Impact: Misses the opportunity to demonstrate the candidate’s impact and contributions in previous roles.

Ignoring Company Culture:

  • Mistake: Neglecting to research and incorporate information about the company’s values and culture.
  • Impact: Gives the impression of a candidate who is not genuinely interested in the company or its mission.

Typos and Grammatical Errors:

  • Mistake: Submitting a cover letter with typos, grammatical errors, or poor formatting.
  • Impact: Reflects negatively on the candidate’s attention to detail and professionalism.

Vague Language:

  • Mistake: Using vague or generic language without providing concrete examples or details.
  • Impact: Fails to make a memorable impression and may come across as insincere.

Failure to Express Enthusiasm:

  • Mistake: Neglecting to convey genuine enthusiasm for the position and the company.
  • Impact: The lack of enthusiasm may make the candidate appear disinterested or unmotivated.

It’s essential to proofread your cover letter avoiding these common mistakes. Approaching cover letter writing with a strategic mindset can significantly enhance your chances of making a positive impact on potential employers. 

Tailoring Your Cover Letter to the Job

As you can see by the above list, there are a number of pitfalls that can impact how successfully your application is received. There is another pitfall that I have observed over my years in career coaching, this is the misconception that preparing a cover letter absolves the need for tailoring the resume. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Your resume and cover letter should work in tandem, each complementing the other. Tailoring is not an either-or scenario; both documents must align seamlessly with the targeted position.

If a cover letter is requested or you have the option to attach one, seize the opportunity to showcase your understanding of the role and the unique value you bring. Address the key responsibilities outlined in the job description and explicitly connect your experiences and skills to these requirements. It’s about demonstrating that you’ve not only read the job description but also understand the nuances of the position.

Cover Letter Essentials

A well-written cover letter serves as your personal introduction to a prospective employer, providing a platform to showcase your skills, experiences, and enthusiasm for the job. Here are key elements to include in a cover letter:

Contact Information: Include your first and last name, email, LinkedIn URL and phone number at the top of the letter. Ensure it matches the information on your resume.

Salutation: Address your letter to a specific person if possible. If the name is not provided, use a general salutation such as “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Introduction: Start with a concise and engaging introduction that states the job you are applying for and briefly mentions where you found the job posting.

Opening Paragraph: Express your genuine interest in the job and the company. Briefly outline what makes you the best fit for the job.

Body Paragraph(s): Highlight your relevant skills and experiences. Relate your past achievements to the key requirements of the job. Use the CAR format (Challenge, Action, Result) to structure your examples.

Address Job Requirements: Specifically address the competencies and qualifications mentioned in the job description. Show how your skills align with what the employer is seeking.

Company Research: Demonstrate that you’ve researched the company by mentioning specific details, such as its values, recent achievements, or projects. Explain how you align with the company culture.

Enthusiasm and Unique Value: Convey your enthusiasm for the position and emphasise the unique value you bring. What sets you apart from other candidates?

Closing Paragraph: Summarise your key points, reiterate your interest in the position, and express your enthusiasm for the opportunity to discuss your application further.

Call to Action: Politely request an interview or express your availability for one. Provide contact details and let them know you look forward to the opportunity to discuss your qualifications in more detail.

Closing Salutation: Use a professional closing, such as “Sincerely” or “Best Regards,” followed by your full name.

Signature: If sending a hard copy, leave space for your signature. For electronic submissions, a typed name is sufficient.

Although these elements seem obvious, I have seen cover letters that miss many of them. Remember, your cover letter should be concise. The goal is to make a compelling case for why you are the ideal candidate for the position. Always tailor your cover letter for each job application, keep it concise and focused on key points that directly relate to the job requirements.

The Power of Action Words

How To Write a Cover Letter for Your Job Applications

Now, let’s look into the practical aspect of crafting an impactful cover letter. Action words, or verbs, inject dynamism into your writing and convey a sense of achievement and capability. 

Consider this: “Managed a team” versus “Led a cross-functional team to achieve a 20% increase in project efficiency.” The latter not only communicates leadership but also quantifies the impact of that leadership.

In your cover letter, use action words strategically to narrate your achievements and responsibilities. Instead of passively listing duties, infuse energy into your sentences. Whether it’s “implemented,” “negotiated,” or “innovated,” choose verbs that vividly paint a picture of your contributions.

Examples in Action

To illustrate, consider this excerpt for a sales-oriented role:

Rather than saying: “Responsible for meeting sales targets,”

Opt for: “Overachieved monthly sales targets by 25%, developing an outreach strategy that raised client acquisitions by 30%.”

See how the latter not only communicates responsibility but also quantifies success, leaving a lasting impression.

Example Cover Letter

Dear [Employer’s Name],

I am writing to express my interest in the Project Manager position posted on LinkedIn on [date]. This letter is supported by my resume, providing comprehensive details of my background, skills, and experiences that align with the requirements of the role.

In my most recent role as a [Your Previous Role] at [Previous Company], I have honed my skills in project management, specifically in the areas highlighted in the advertisement. My responsibilities included [Brief Overview of Responsibilities], where I successfully [Challenge, Action, Result].

[Job Requirements/Competencies] System Development, Configuration, and Management:

  • Spearheaded the development and implementation of a comprehensive system that streamlined project workflows, resulting in a 20% increase in overall efficiency.
  • Configured project management tools to align with specific project requirements, ensuring seamless communication and collaboration among cross-functional teams.
  • Managed system updates and enhancements, staying ahead of technological advancements to maintain a competitive edge.

[Job Requirements/Competencies] Client Services:

  • Led a client engagement initiative, fostering strong relationships and ensuring client satisfaction throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Initiated regular communication channels, addressing client concerns promptly, leading to a 15% increase in client retention.
  • Implemented client feedback mechanisms, resulting in enhanced service delivery and positive client testimonials.

[Job Requirements/Competencies] Data Management, Manipulation, and Integrity:

  • Implemented robust data management protocols, ensuring the integrity and accuracy of project data throughout its lifecycle.
  • Spearheaded a data manipulation project, optimising data processing times by 30% and reducing errors.
  • Conducted regular data audits, maintaining a 99% accuracy rate and ensuring compliance with industry standards.

I am confident that my hands-on experience and achievements in these key areas make me a strong fit for the Project Manager role at [Company Name]. My dedication to delivering successful projects, coupled with my commitment to client satisfaction and expertise in data management, aligns seamlessly with the requirements outlined in your advertisement.

I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to discuss in further detail how my skills, experience, and industry knowledge can contribute to the success of [Company Name]. I look forward to the possibility of meeting with you and advancing to the next stage of the interview process.

Thank you for considering my application. I can be reached at [Your Phone Number] at your earliest convenience.

Best Regards

[Your Full Name]

When to Submit a Cover Letter

It’s crucial to recognize that not every job application requires a cover letter. Submit one only if it’s explicitly requested or if there’s an option to attach it. Blindly sending cover letters where they are not expected can be perceived as a lack of attention to detail, and there is a chance that your application may be overlooked.

Furthermore, the effort put into crafting a tailored cover letter should not undermine the importance of a well-tailored resume. Both documents serve distinct purposes, and together they strengthen your candidacy. A cover letter without a corresponding tailored resume risks creating a disjointed impression.


The art of creating cover letters that stand out lies in the strategic combination of personalised storytelling and the effective use of action words. By tailoring your cover letter to the specific demands of the position and infusing it with dynamic language, you not only capture attention but also set the stage for a compelling narrative that resonates with potential employers.

Remember, a cover letter is not a mere formality – it’s your gateway to making a memorable first impression in the competitive world of job applications. Mastering this art, coupled with a well-tailored resume, positions you as the best candidate for the job, prepared to navigate career changes.

As a final note, once you embark on your professional journey, let it be guided by the principles of strategic reflection, intentional branding, and continuous growth. The path to professional excellence awaits in the year ahead, and your career progress serves as a testament to the effectiveness of weaving strategic narratives and fostering intentional career development. May your career endeavours be marked by insightful storytelling and purposeful advancement.

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