How to Write a Cover Letter That Lands Jobs in 2024

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Cover letters have a bad reputation. They can suck up a lot of time and mental energy, which is often in short supply when you’re busy hunting for your dream role. 

And yet, these little letters can be powerful. Let’s uncover how to write a cover letter and, more importantly, simplify the process! 

What is a cover letter, and why is it important?

Most job applications are made up of a resume and a cover letter. While your resume will list your education and experience, a good cover letter is a letter to the hiring manager, explaining what makes you a great fit for the role. 

While you’ll likely send out the same resume whenever you apply for a role, it’s important that a cover letter is tailored to the company and position you are applying for. A great cover letter will make you stand out from the other candidates that are applying for a role, and could be just the thing that gives you a competitive edge. Its importance can’t be underestimated!

 

It’s time to stand out.

Do you still need cover letters in 2024?

The short answer is yes! 

While some companies no longer require a cover letter to apply for their roles, you’ll find that most hiring managers still request one. Even if a cover letter is listed as only ‘optional’ during a company’s job application process, we promise you that hiring managers will take notice if you make the effort to provide a good one. 

Put yourself in their shoes; what seems like a more appealing candidate to you? Someone who has flicked you a generic resume with no accompanying info, or someone who has taken the time to explain why they want to work at your company and how their experience will help them navigate the specifics of the role? We know which one we would be calling!

How to write a cover letter: What should you include? 

We get it, cover letters are a time suck. But trust us, writing them gets a lot easier when you’ve had a little practice. We would even say that there’s a winning structure that you can tap into – tailoring the content every time you’re applying for a new position.

 

Win hearts, win minds, win jobs.

How to write a cover letter

1. A polite greeting

Remember, a cover letter is a letter above all else! So make sure you address the reader before your opening paragraph. 

If you know the name of the hiring manager, write to them directly. Otherwise you might have to go for something more generic. Do a vibe check of the company you’re applying for to pick the tone of your greeting. 

For example, if you’re applying for a job at a workplace that’s more casual – maybe a young tech company, a pub or a fun agency – a ‘Hi [Name],’ a ‘Hi there,’ or ‘To the hiring manager’ could be a good fit. For a workplace that’s more formal – maybe a bank, a fine dining restaurant or a law firm – stick to the classic ‘Dear [Name],’ or ‘Dear hiring manager’.  

2. The role you’re applying for

You would be surprised at how many applicants forget to include the role they are applying for, or even worse, get the role wrong! 

This is the first way you can show the hiring manager that you care about your application in your opening paragraph. This makes them feel like they’re not just one of many companies you’re approaching (even if they are, wink wink!). 

All it takes is a simple; ‘I’m excited to be applying for the position of [Role] at [Company].’ 

3. Note the mission of the organisation

A company’s mission is an encapsulation of everything that they are trying to achieve with their product or service. For example, Google’s mission is;

“To organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” 

Most businesses will have some kind of mission statement available, and you’ll generally be able to find these on their website’s ‘Careers’ or ‘About Us’ pages. 

Citing a company’s mission is a powerful way of demonstrating that you are familiar with the business and their goals. It’s an easy but high-impact inclusion for your cover letter that will immediately get the hiring manager’s attention.

4. Match your experience to the job description

Sometimes cover letters can feel like a guessing game: how do you write what the hiring manager wants to read?

The answers are hidden in the job ad and job description. Go back and really read the selection criteria. What examples can you link from your own experience and responsibilities to what they’re looking for? Which tools have they mentioned in the job posting that you have utilised in previous roles?

For most applications, you don’t need to speak to every single selection criteria (or dot point of responsibilities), but make sure that you do speak to the ones that are at the top of the list, or highlighted several times.

5. Avoid listing your experience

A very common mistake in cover letters is just listing the experience that’s on your resume. A cover letter is not just a wrap up of your career so far. 

The person reading your application has already seen your resume. They’re aware of the experience under your belt and don’t need to read through it again. Instead, you want to show how your experience can be applied.

This may mean that not every role you’ve ever had is mentioned in your cover letter. The hiring manager for an administrative job doesn’t need to know in your cover letter that you’ve worked as a barista and can make a mean cappuccino (although that does sound like a great skill to have).

 

Caption: Coffee is life, but it’s not necessarily relevant here.

6. Mention and link to any relevant achievements

As well as highlighting relevant skills and experience, it’s a good idea to mention any achievements which can show your work in action.

We think the best way to do this, in an interview or a cover letter, is to use the STAR (situation, task, action, result) technique. For example, if you’re applying for a social marketing role you could say something like:

“A key objective for the social media team was boosting Instagram followership (situation), I needed to create a high-impact campaign (task). I ran a competition and users had to tag a friend in our comments to enter (action) and through this was able to boost followership and engagement by 15% in a 2 month period. (result)

It’s tempting to want to put down your most amazing achievements, but be wary. If you can’t find a way to link them to the job you’re applying for, it might look like you don’t understand what the role involves. 

7. Use keywords and phrases from the job ad

Talent managers, hiring managers and recruiters often scan resumes and cover letters (themselves or using technology) for key skills to help them begin to sift through large quantities of applications. Using these also shows that you can speak the ‘language’ of that company and team. 

This is why it can be advantageous to use keywords and phrases from the job description. Look out for how these can be incorporated – while always being honest, of course! 

8. Keep it snappy

Unless you’re applying for a role where the application demands that each of the selection criteria be addressed, or a senior role that requires a very detailed application, you really want to make sure your cover letter is succinct! 

When it comes to cover letters, less is truly more. There is rarely a need for a cover letter to be more than one page long, and writing an essay-length letter about your suitability for the role will likely work against you.

9. Think about whether or not to use design

Thinking about adding a little razzle dazzle to your cover letter? Maybe you want to put in a fancy border or make it colourful. 

For some roles, like graphic design or marketing, this might be highly valued. Showing off your creative flair will be expected and appreciated. For others, like administration or law, jazzing up your cover letter or resume is likely to make you look unprofessional. 

In short, choose the aesthetic of your cover letter wisely!

 

Razzle dazzle em’… or not.

9. A positive sign-off

Like your opening greeting, provide a positive sign off with the appropriate level of formality. You could even suggest a future interview if you’re feeling bold, with ‘I look forward to discussing my skills and experience with you soon. Kind regards, [name]’.

Cover letter template and examples

Below are three short cover letter examples for people applying for a job as a social media coordinator at a garden centre, from three different perspectives. 

Generic cover letter example

To the hiring manager, 

I’m excited to apply for the position of Social Media Coordinator at Green Thumb Garden Centre. I love your mission of ‘making gardening easier and more rewarding than ever’, and I believe my unique set of digital skills – plus passion for all things plants – would make me a great candidate.

I am currently working as a Social Media Assistant for Cool Beans Cafe, where I have been essential in growing our social media presence. In this role I create Instagram, TikTok and Facebook video content, taking full ownership of the scripting and shooting process. 

A key objective in my role was boosting our TikTok engagement. I wanted to create a piece of content that would be fun and interactive, so I shot and scripted a TikTok video titled ‘What your coffee order says about you’. This video was one of our strongest performers, with over 70 duets and a total reach of 8.5k users over a week long period. 

I’m eager to stay ahead of all social media trends and use social media platforms in an advanced way, which is why I recently completed my Social Media Certificate at City University, building on my Bachelor of Marketing completed in 2021. Through this I gained a deep understanding of the latest content trends and how to access powerful analytics on Facebook Business Manager and TikTok for business. I’m eager to apply these learnings to Green Thumb’s social media channels. 

I look forward to discussing my skills and experience with you soon.

Thank you for considering my application,

Jane Smith

 

 

Career change cover letter example

To the hiring manager, 

I’m excited to apply for the position of Social Media Coordinator at Green Thumb Garden Centre. I love your mission of ‘making gardening easier and more rewarding than ever’, and I believe my unique set of skills – plus passion for all things plants – would make me a great candidate.

I am currently working in administration for Cool Beans Cafe, where I have been responsible for organising orders, managing events calendars and liaising with suppliers. In this role I have supported the business by creating streamlined processes, and in January I successfully implemented a rostering software which has received great feedback from the team. I believe these organisational, technological and communication skills will be highly valuable in a social media role.

In my personal time I run a design Instagram account @minimalistvibes, which has taught me so much about creating interesting content for those who care about home decor. By experimenting with different content types – photography, carousels, videos and Reels – I have been able to create a small but dedicated followership, with each post averaging 30 comments and shares.

To support my development as a social media marketing professional I completed the Social Media Certificate at City University. Through this I gained a deep understanding of the latest content trends and how to access powerful analytics on Facebook Business Manager and TikTok for business. I’m eager to apply these learnings to Green Thumb’s social media channels. 

I look forward to discussing my skills and experience with you soon.

Thank you for considering my application,

Jane Smith

 

Fresh graduate cover letter example

To the hiring manager, 

I’m excited to apply for the position of Social Media Coordinator at Green Thumb Garden Centre. I love your mission of ‘making gardening easier and more rewarding than ever’, and I believe my unique set of skills – plus passion for all things plants – would make me a great candidate.

I have recently completed my Bachelor of Marketing at City University, and I am now seeking my first full time role where I can apply my up-to-date knowledge of digital marketing. 

During my studies, I completed a work placement at Dynamic Social Media Agency. Assisting the Manager of Social Growth, I was able to gain a useful understanding of what makes a great social media content calendar, which analytics are the most helpful to monitor while growing a following, and which content types work best on different platforms.

I’m a great team player and will always go above and beyond to support my team members and customers. In my part time role of Sales Assistant at Clothing Shop, I received a Customer Service Award for my ability to respond effectively to customer queries. I believe that these communication skills will be especially useful for community management on Green Thumb’s social media channels. 

I am always learning in my spare time and often take steps to gain a deeper understanding of the latest content trends and analytics. I have recently completed the Facebook Blueprint certification which has expanded my knowledge on developing brands and creating paid campaigns across Facebook and Instagram. I’m eager to apply these learnings with Green Thumb.

I look forward to discussing my skills and experience with you soon.

Thank you for considering my application,

Jane Smith

 

How can you use AI to write a great cover letter?

AI can certainly help you get started when writing a cover letter, and can be a great tool for developing a letter which will get your job application seen! Don’t forget to thoroughly read and edit your cover letter before you send it off, to make sure it hits all the right marks and sounds like you.

At Swag, our powerful AI tools can help you create a standout job seeking profile. Sign up to create your profile today.

How to write a cover letter FAQs

Is it necessary to address the hiring manager?

If the hiring manager’s name is included on the job advertisement, it’s a great idea to address them by name in your cover letter. If this isn’t the case, which is common, it’s ok to give a more generic greeting. 

How can I make my cover letter stand out?

Knowing a little bit about the company and articulating why you want to work for them in your cover letter will give you a competitive edge. Learn more about ways to make your job application shine

What is the difference between a cover letter and a resume?

A resume is a list of your previous work history, education and skills. A good cover letter is addressed to the hiring manager, and should include the reason why you want to work for their company, and how your experience and skills are relevant for that particular position.

Can I use the same cover letter for multiple job applications?

If you have a copy/paste cover letter, it’s likely to be very obvious to the hiring manager! It’s ok to borrow elements from other cover letters but make sure each one is tailored to the job and the company you’re applying to.

Reading a copied cover letter can be… awkward. Especially if you forget to change the name of the company.

 

Should I mention salary expectations in my cover letter?

Nope! It’s too early in the process, leave discussions about salary expectations for your interviews.

What should I do if I have limited work experience to include in my cover letter?

Relevant skills and experience can come from work, hobbies, internships, volunteering and education! Don’t be afraid to discuss how different elements of life experience have built your professional knowledge. Check out our top tips for starting your career. 

Smash your job search in 2024

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