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The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Cover Letter

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The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Cover Letter

Nowadays, companies have a computerized system that puts resumes through an online scanner which will automatically reject some applicants and push other applicants through depending on their qualifications.

So, What does this mean for you as a job seeker? Well, the cover letter attached to your application is more important than ever.

We’ve crafted this ultimate guide to cover letters. You’ll find out how to write one that gets read, what to include, and browse tons of templates to gain inspiration.

You can dive straight in, or jump to the section you’d like to read.

How long should a cover letter be?

OK, so you’re all fired up and ready to craft the cover letter of the hiring manager’s dream. But how do you manage the fine balance between in-depth and overwhelming?

A good cover letter is long enough to communicate why the recruiter should pick you but not long enough to bore them.

One page is usually enough to cover everything you’ll need to include, without losing the recruiter’s attention. Let’s go into those items in more detail:

Your Name and Address

Kick-off your cover letter by adding your name and address to the document.

This step is pretty self-explanatory, but it allows the recruiter to easily connect your cover letter to your resume (especially if they’re being printed).

Your name and address also make it easier for the recruiter to get in touch with a job offer. And that’s the aim of our letter, right?

Their Name and Address

Similarly, you should add the name and address of the company or person you’re writing to.

This shows you’ve done your research and allows the hiring manager to receive your letter if it’s sent to a generic company email address.

The Date of Writing

Make it easier for the hiring manager to file your application by including the date on your cover letter.

Even if you’re not successful this time around, the company might store your letter and refer back to it when they’re hiring for another position.

Why You’re Writing the Letter

We know that the aim of a cover letter is to persuade the hiring manager you’re the best fit for their job.

Before you get to the good stuff, be sure to highlight the role you’re applying for, as that can get lost.

Something like this will usually do the trick:

“I’m writing to discuss the content strategist role at HubSpot.”

Why You’re a Perfect Fit for the Job

The next section of a cover letter structure is the fun part. It’s where you’ll convince the hiring manager they should hire you.

In this section, answer these questions:

  • Why should this company hire you?
  • What skills do you have that will help complete the job better than anyone else?
  • What makes you a good employee?
  • What qualifications do you have that are relevant to the role?

Once you’ve answered these, the recruiter will have a solid understanding of who you are, and (hopefully) be convinced to bring you on for an interview.

What You Can Offer the Company

Have you ever heard the advice to “always sell yourself in a job application”? That concept can be applied to cover letters as well.

Businesses measure success in terms of results. The company looking for a new employee will want to know what they bring to the table and how you fit into their business goals. New candidates are rarely brought on board solely for the soft skills listed in their resume.

That’s why this part of your cover letter structure is arguably the most important.

In two paragraphs or less, show the business what you can do — and provide examples of how you’ve done it before.

Not only does this give you the opportunity to show off your skills, but the company can picture the success you’ll bring to their business by hiring you.

Your Availability

In the marketing world, we’re always told the importance a call-to-action can make.

Great cover letters end with a brief section on the candidate’s earliest start date.

How to Format a Cover Letter

How to Address a Cover Letter

Earlier, we mentioned the importance of addressing the hiring manager by their name and address. This proves you’ve done your research and ensures the cover letter lands in the right place.

Personalized letters will always outperform generic ones, so including the first name of the recruiter can go a long way.

But in a world where privacy is held close to our chest, you might need to do a bit of digging before finding the hiring manager’s name.

Luckily, you can use the power of the internet to do this.

How to Find a Hiring Manager’s Name

Head over to LinkedIn and find the company’s profile page.

You can do this by entering their name into the search bar or searching for a link to their LinkedIn page on their company website.

Then, click the number of employees to see all employees who are on LinkedIn:

how to look up employer details to format cover letter

You’ll then see a list of all employees along with their titles. Simply work your way through this list to find the most relevant contact.

Keep in mind that some employees do not have LinkedIn profiles, so you may not find them using this tactic. If you’re unable to track down the hiring manager’s name, a simple “Dear Hiring Manager” will work.

How to Open a Cover Letter

After you’ve addressed the cover letter to the most relevant person, you’ll want to:

  • Introduce yourself.
  • List the role you’re interested in.
  • Explain your interest.

Here’s an example:

Dear Hiring Manager,

As an avid reader of the HubSpot Blog for the past five years, I am thrilled to submit my application for the content strategist role. I believe that my five years of experience working for B2B SaaS companies have equipped me with the skills needed to thrive in this role.”

In the next two paragraphs, highlight your relevant experience and include key details from each role.

How to Close a Cover Letter

Once you’ve covered

Here are some great options:

  • Looking forward to hearing from you
  • Sincerely
  • Best Regards

Then, sign the cover letter with your full name.

Should you include salary requirements?

The cover letter should focus on why you are a good fit for the role. Discussing salary requirements doesn’t fit at this stage of your application.

Instead, it’s best to wait until you speak to a recruiter or someone from HR to discuss your expectations.

Are cover letters necessary?

Today, in many industries, cover letters are listed as optional. The question is, should you include one if it’s optional?

The answer isn’t exactly clear-cut.

Some research would suggest that cover letters may not hold the same weight as they once did. However, a cover letter can help you stand out among the competition.

Are cover letters necessary job seekers believe getting a job will be harder than in previous years

In a 2021 Job Seeker Nation Report by JobVite, 69% of surveyed workers believed getting a job will be much harder or somewhat harder than in previous years. With this in mind, adding a cover letter to your application is a great way to stand out.

Writing a cover letter will allow you to:

  • Communicate with the hiring manager.
  • Rely on more than just bullet-pointed lists in your resume.
  • Build your personal brand.

In short: Cover letters aren’t absolutely necessary, but they do have stark advantages. If there’s an option to upload one when applying for any job, do it — even if it’s not required.

How to Write a Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter can be tricky. Even the best writers can struggle with communicating their skills in the right manner, but these tips will help you create a job-winning document.

The structure of your cover letter is arguably the most important thing about writing one.

Not only does a good structure help you to organize your points effectively, but it can help a hiring manager to quickly review the details you’re sharing.

Featured Resource: 5 Free Cover Letter Templates

Cover-Letter-Templates

Download these free cover letter templates to write a stand-out cover letter.

7 Tips for Writing Great Cover Letters

So, you’ve crafted a cover letter and you’re almost ready to hit send.

Before attaching to your resume and hoping for the best, use these seven tips to make sure your cover letter is as great as can be.

1. Keep it succinct.

Earlier, we mentioned how the best cover letters strike the perfect balance in their length.

Our best tip for writing cover letters is to avoid adding fluff that fails to add value. Every line should highlight why you’re the best fit for the role.

In addition, cut the jargon and corporate-speak that hiring managers have heard before.

Yes, professionalism is important, but be harsh and critical when editing your cover letter. If a sentence doesn’t add value, get rid of it.

2. Tailor it for the company and position you’re applying for.

The one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit well with cover letters.

You’re applying for different roles at various companies, but don’t let a change in name and address be the only updates you make.

Remember that a cover letter should explain why you should be hired for a specific role instead of anyone else. It’s highly unlikely that multiple companies will hire for exactly the same position, so take some time to personalize your cover letter for every position you’re applying for.

3. Don’t repeat what’s on your resume.

Although cover letters are submitted along with resumes, be wary of making them carbon copies of one another.

Instead, use the documents to compliment each other by:

  • Including new skills.
  • Elaborating on how your qualifications would help you in the role.
  • Sharing how specific experience gives you an advantage over other candidates.

If you need to include the same thing in both documents, add “as listed in my resume …” rather than copy and pasting the same content.

4. Include data-backed examples.

When referencing experience from your resume, use your cover letter as an opportunity to explain in detail — with examples.

Examples allow the company to picture the success you could bring if they hired you, rather than the person next in their resume pile. But, data-backed examples give an extra edge.

Let’s use an example. Which of these options is more impressive?

  1. I increased leads for the company.
  2. I increased leads by 35% in one month through a single blog post, which became the company’s highest lead driver.

It’s option B, right? That’s because it’s descriptive and shows results.

5. Tell a story.

Following on from the previous step, you could elaborate on your data-backed examples by telling a story.

Storytelling helps with relatability and gives a hint of your personality in a cover letter. It also makes the recruiter remember your cover letter amongst a sea of other one-page documents in their review pile.

However, this cover letter tip comes with a warning: Don’t overdo it and make sure it’s relevant.

6. Get a second pair of eyes on it.

Even the best writers make mistakes, but they can leave a negative first impression.

That’s why our sixth cover letter tip is to get a second pair of eyes on it.

Email it to a friend or ask a family member to glance over it before you hit “send.” Ask them to highlight any spelling mistakes or suggestions to improve how you’re communicating with the person reading it.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Seeing as though a cover letter is one of the first documents a recruiter sees, try to make it perfect.

7. Be unique.

Finally, make your cover letter unique.

If you’re applying for a creative role, experiment with colors, subheadings, and layouts.

If you’re applying for more of a traditional role, be wary. Not everyone is a fan of bright, bold cover letters, but you can scope your limits by getting a feel of their company culture.

Are they strict and professional, or does the company like to have fun? (You can usually get a feel of this from their website or social media profiles.)

Testing the level of uniqueness can be a case of trial and error. If you’re not getting great reactions from your cover letter, revise and try again.

Cover Letter Examples

We understand that inspiration can go a long way. That’s why we’ve created a one-stop-shop for cover letter examples, which are available to view here.

You’re also free to browse our collection of cover letter samples for extra inspiration on formatting your cover letter and learning from those who’ve helped to land dream jobs.

Now you’re fully equipped to write a cover letter that will help you get your foot in the door.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Professional Cover Letter Templates


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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

Creating content isn’t always a walk in the park. (In fact, it can sometimes feel more like trying to swim against the current.)

While other parts of business and marketing are becoming increasingly automated, content creation is still a very manual job. (more…)

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

Are data clean rooms the solution to what IAB CEO David Cohen has called the “slow-motion train wreck” of addressability? Voices at the IAB will tell you that they have a big role to play.

“The issue with addressability is that once cookies go away, and with the loss of identifiers, about 80% of the addressable market will become unknown audiences which is why there is a need for privacy-centric consent and a better consent-value exchange,” said Jeffrey Bustos, VP, measurement, addressability and data at the IAB.

“Everyone’s talking about first-party data, and it is very valuable,” he explained, “but most publishers who don’t have sign-on, they have about 3 to 10% of their readership’s first-party data.” First-party data, from the perspective of advertisers who want to reach relevant and audiences, and publishers who want to offer valuable inventory, just isn’t enough.

Why we care. Two years ago, who was talking about data clean rooms? The surge of interest is recent and significant, according to the IAB. DCRs have the potential, at least, to keep brands in touch with their audiences on the open internet; to maintain viability for publishers’ inventories; and to provide sophisticated measurement capabilities.

How data clean rooms can help. DCRs are a type of privacy-enhancing technology that allows data owners (including brands and publishers) to share customer first-party data in a privacy-compliant way. Clean rooms are secure spaces where first-party data from a number of sources can be resolved to the same customer’s profile while that profile remains anonymized.

In other words, a DCR is a kind of Switzerland — a space where a truce is called on competition while first-party data is enriched without compromising privacy.

“The value of a data clean room is that a publisher is able to collaborate with a brand across both their data sources and the brand is able to understand audience behavior,” said Bestos. For example, a brand selling eye-glasses might know nothing about their customers except basic transactional data — and that they wear glasses. Matching profiles with a publisher’s behavioral data provides enrichment.

“If you’re able to understand behavioral context, you’re able to understand what your customers are reading, what they’re interested in, what their hobbies are,” said Bustos. Armed with those insights, a brand has a better idea of what kind of content they want to advertise against.

The publisher does need to have a certain level of first-party data for the matching to take place, even if it doesn’t have a universal requirement for sign-ins like The New York Times. A publisher may be able to match only a small percentage of the eye-glass vendor’s customers, but if they like reading the sports and arts sections, at least that gives some directional guidance as to what audience the vendor should target.

Dig deeper: Why we care about data clean rooms

What counts as good matching? In its “State of Data 2023” report, which focuses almost exclusively on data clean rooms, concern is expressed that DCR efficacy might be threatened by poor match rates. Average match rates hover around 50% (less for some types of DCR).

Bustos is keen to put this into context. “When you are matching data from a cookie perspective, match rates are usually about 70-ish percent,” he said, so 50% isn’t terrible, although there’s room for improvement.

One obstacle is a persistent lack of interoperability between identity solutions — although it does exist; LiveRamp’s RampID is interoperable, for example, with The Trade Desk’s UID2.

Nevertheless, said Bustos, “it’s incredibly difficult for publishers. They have a bunch of identity pixels firing for all these different things. You don’t know which identity provider to use. Definitely a long road ahead to make sure there’s interoperability.”

Maintaining an open internet. If DCRs can contribute to solving the addressability problem they will also contribute to the challenge of keeping the internet open. Walled gardens like Facebook do have rich troves of first-party and behavioral data; brands can access those audiences, but with very limited visibility into them.

“The reason CTV is a really valuable proposition for advertisers is that you are able to identify the user 1:1 which is really powerful,” Bustos said. “Your standard news or editorial publisher doesn’t have that. I mean, the New York Times has moved to that and it’s been incredibly successful for them.” In order to compete with the walled gardens and streaming services, publishers need to offer some degree of addressability — and without relying on cookies.

But DCRs are a heavy lift. Data maturity is an important qualification for getting the most out of a DCR. The IAB report shows that, of the brands evaluating or using DCRs, over 70% have other data-related technologies like CDPs and DMPs.

“If you want a data clean room,” Bustos explained, “there are a lot of other technological solutions you have to have in place before. You need to make sure you have strong data assets.” He also recommends starting out by asking what you want to achieve, not what technology would be nice to have. “The first question is, what do you want to accomplish? You may not need a DCR. ‘I want to do this,’ then see what tools would get you to that.”

Understand also that implementation is going to require talent. “It is a demanding project in terms of the set-up,” said Bustos, “and there’s been significant growth in consulting companies and agencies helping set up these data clean rooms. You do need a lot of people, so it’s more efficient to hire outside help for the set up, and then just have a maintenance crew in-house.”

Underuse of measurement capabilities. One key finding in the IAB’s research is that DCR users are exploiting the audience matching capabilities much more than realizing the potential for measurement and attribution. “You need very strong data scientists and engineers to build advanced models,” Bustos said.

“A lot of brands that look into this say, ‘I want to be able to do a predictive analysis of my high lifetime value customers that are going to buy in the next 90 days.’ Or ‘I want to be able to measure which channels are driving the most incremental lift.’ It’s very complex analyses they want to do; but they don’t really have a reason as to why. What is the point? Understand your outcome and develop a sequential data strategy.”

Trying to understand incremental lift from your marketing can take a long time, he warned. “But you can easily do a reach and frequency and overlap analysis.” That will identify wasted investment in channels and as a by-product suggest where incremental lift is occurring. “There’s a need for companies to know what they want, identify what the outcome is, and then there are steps that are going to get you there. That’s also going to help to prove out ROI.”

Dig deeper: Failure to get the most out of data clean rooms is costing marketers money


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Ascend | DigitalMarketer

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Ascend | DigitalMarketer

At this stage, your goal is to generate repeat buys and real profits. While your entry-point offer was designed for conversions, your ascension offers should be geared for profits—because if you’re serving your customers well, they’ll want to buy again and again.

Ascension offers may be simple upsells made after that initial purchase… bigger, better solutions… or “done for you” add-ons.

So now we must ask ourselves, what is our core flagship offer and how do we continue to deliver value after the first sale is made? What is the thing that we are selling? 

How we continue to deliver value after the first sale is really important, because having upsells and cross sales gives you the ability to sell to customers you already have. It will give you higher Average Customer values, which is going to give you higher margins. Which means you can spend more to acquire new customers. 

Why does this matter? It matters because of this universal law of marketing and customer acquisition, he or she who is able and willing to spend the most to acquire a customer wins.

Very often the business with the best product messaging very often is the business that can throw the most into customer acquisition. Now there are two ways to do that.

The first way is to just raise a lot of money. The problem is if you have a lot of money, that doesn’t last forever. At some point you need economics. 

The second way, and the most timeless and predictable approach, is to simply have the highest value customers of anyone in your market. If your customers are worth more to you than they are to your competitors, you can spend more to acquire them at the same margin. 

If a customer is worth twice as much to you than it is to your competitor, you can spend twice as much trying to acquire them to make the same margin. You can invest in your customer acquisition, because your customers are investing in your business. You can invest in your customer experiences, and when we invest more into the customer we build brands that have greater value. Meaning, people are more likely to choose you over someone else, which can actually lower acquisition costs. 

Happy customers refer others to us, which is called zero dollar customer acquisition, and generally just ensures you’re making a bigger impact. You can invest more in the customer experience and customer acquisition process if you don’t have high margins. 

If you deliver a preview experience, you can utilize revenue maximizers like up sells, cross sales, and bundles. These are things that would follow up the initial sale or are combined with the initial sale to increase the Average Customer Value.

The best example of an immediate upsell is the classic McDonalds, “would you like fries with that?” You got just a burger, do you also want fries with that? 

What distinguishes an upsell from other types of follow up offers is the upsell promise, the same end result for a bigger and better end result. 

What’s your desired result when you go to McDonalds? It’s not to eat healthy food, and it’s not even to eat a small amount of food. When you go to McDonalds your job is to have a tasty, greasy, predictable inexpensive meal. No one is going there because it’s healthy, you’re going there because you want to eat good. 

It’s predictable. It’s not going to break the bank for a hamburger, neither will adding fries or a Coke. It’s the same experience, but it’s BIGGER and BETTER. 

Amazon does this all of the time with their “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought …” But this one is algorithmic. The point of a cross sell is that it is relevant to the consumer, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be aligned with the original purchase. What you don’t want to do is start someone down one path and confuse them.

You can make this process easy with Bundles and Kits. With a bundle or a kit you’re essentially saying to someone, “you can buy just one piece, or you can get this bundle that does all of these other things for a little bit more. And it’s a higher value.”

The idea behind bundles and kits is that we are adding to the primary offer, not offering them something different. We’re simply promising to get them this desired result in higher definition. 

The Elements of High-Converting Revenue Maximizers (like our bundles and kits) are:

  1. Speed

If you’re an e-Commerce business, selling a physical product, this can look like: offering free shipping for orders $X or more. We’re looking to get your customers the same desired result, but with less work for them.

  1. Automation

If you’re a furniture business, and you want to add a Revenue Maximizer, this can look like: Right now for an extra $X our highly trained employees will come and put this together for you. 

  1. Access 

People will pay for speed, they’ll pay for less work, but they will also pay for a look behind the curtain. Think about the people who pay for Backstage Passes. Your customers will pay for a VIP experience just so they can kind of see how everything works. 

Remember, the ascension stage doesn’t have to stop. Once you have a customer, you should do your best to make them a customer for life. You should continue serving them. Continue asking them, “what needs are we still not meeting” and seek to meet those needs. 

It is your job as a marketer to seek out to discover these needs, to bring these back to the product team, because that’s what’s going to enable you to fully maximize the average customer value. Which is going to enable you to have a whole lot more to spend to acquire those customers and make your job a whole lot easier. 

Now that you understand the importance of the ascend stage, let’s apply it to our examples.

Hazel & Hem could have free priority shipping over $150, a “Boutique Points” reward program with exclusive “double point” days to encourage spending, and an exclusive “Stylist Package” that includes a full outfit custom selected for the customer. 

Cyrus & Clark can retain current clients by offering an annual strategic plan, “Done for You” Marketing services that execute on the strategic plan, and the top tier would allow customers to be the exclusive company that Cyrus & Clark services in specific geographical territories.



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