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8 Crucial Pointers for Writing a Polished Cover Letter

How a Cover Letter Can Improve Your Chances of Getting Hired

Written by HRCap, Inc.

February 16, 2023

During the job application process, candidates often skip out on an essential part: the cover letter. A cover letter is a personalized document that highlights an applicant’s qualifications and experience, and explains their interest in the specific job opportunity. This is often submitted along with a resume to provide additional context to potential employers.

Many job seekers believe that writing a cover letter is optional or even unnecessary because they think that hiring managers do not have the time to look at it. In fact, 6 out of 10 candidates don’t write a cover letter, regardless of whether it is optional or not.

Contrary to what job seekers may think, 83% of HR leaders say cover letters are important for their hiring decision and can secure job applicants an interview even if the resume is not good enough (Resume Lab). Therefore, job seekers should maximize their chances of standing out to land a job interview by writing a polished cover letter.

Not only does it raise the chances of landing an interview, but candidates can take the time to elaborate on information that a resume might not be able to portray. According to HR leaders, cover letters serve the following purposes:

  1. Revealing Motivation to Join the Company (63%)

  2. Explaining Career Objectives (50%)

  3. Describing Career Progression (50%)

  4. Elaborating on Employment Gaps (49%)

  5. Highlighting Professional Achievements (47%)

8 Crucial Pointers for a Cover Letter

As helpful as a cover letter can be to a job seeker’s candidacy, 33% of hiring managers say a terrible letter can also hurt a strong applicant. With that in mind, job applicants should follow these eight crucial pointers to write a polished cover letter.

1. Convey Personality and Passion with a Professional Tone

The cover letter is a chance to stand out and to show the candidate’s personality and passion for the role while maintaining a formal, professional tone. Writing a cover letter with a unique yet professional voice demonstrates the applicant’s strong written communication skills.

2. Nail Down All the Header Components

Many applicants don’t know how to format a cover letter. As the header, candidates should include their most recent contact information, starting with their name, home address, phone number, and email address. It is very important to use a professional email address separate from their work email address at another employer.

Then after the contact information and the date, applicants should skip a line and write the hiring manager’s name along with their proper title, company name, and company address.

By including the hiring manager and company information, job seekers are going the extra step and showing the company that they have done their research.

Then candidates type on a separate line that indicates what position this cover letter is in regard to by writing "Re: [Position] Application".

The following are two typical examples of how to format the header:

There are certain components of the header that are based on personal preference, such as the alignment or full address, but as long as it is kept in a professional and clean format, candidates may choose what they would like to do.

We recommend choosing the first example only because the header will be consistent with the resume header and there is a clear distinguishment between the candidate's information and the employer's information.

3. Personalize The Greeting, Always

Rather than writing a generic greeting, such as “To whom it may concern,” job applicants should start their cover letter with a personalized greeting addressed to the hiring manager. Candidates should also do the same when writing a “thank you” letter following up after the interview.

To find the hiring manager’s name, job seekers can get creative by looking at the job posting, either on the company website or on LinkedIn, which may show who posted the job ad, whether it is the hiring manager, recruiter, or team member. If there is still no name, candidates should address the cover letter to the specific team they are applying to. (Example: Dear Executive Search Leadership or Dear HRCap Hiring Team).

4. Create a Captivating Opening (First Paragraph)

Since employers read multiple cover letters, job seekers should write a short, captivating introduction that conveys how they are excited to apply for the position and the key qualities that make them the perfect candidate. Based on the job description, applicants should mirror the adjectives and qualities that the employer is looking for in a prospective employee.

5. Include Relevant Skills/Experience to the Role (Second Paragraph)

Candidates should highlight their specific experiences, qualifications, and skills that make them perfect for the role. Instead of listing out what is already on the resume or making a generic list of accomplishments, job seekers should customize their cover letter for each position by pinpointing the keywords, skills, and requirements on the job description. Candidates should also elaborate on key accomplishments or specific figures that demonstrate the measurable impact that they have made on the organization.

6. Display Genuine Motivation to Join the Company (Third Paragraph)

Job applicants must show their motivation to apply and explain why they want to join the company. To do this well, job seekers should research the company’s mission, success, values, Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives, and products and services. Then based on their research, job candidates should highlight what excites them about the company and any of its goals or values that align with their own.

This initial research can help prepare talking points and meaningful questions for the interview.

7. Conclude with Strong Finisher with Call To Action (Closing Lines)

For this last section, job applicants should finish strong with sentences that portray their enthusiasm for the position and interest in hearing back from the employer. Job seekers can indicate that they are open to hearing back about the opportunity and provide them with their phone number and email address.

Afterward, candidates should thank the employer for their time and consideration and finish with a complimentary close, such as “Best regards,” “Sincerely,” “Respectfully,” or “Best,” along with the candidate’s full name.

8. Proofread Multiple Times

The cover letter is not complete without thorough proofreading. Proofreading is crucial because minor mistakes can cause hiring managers to drop the application altogether.

Cover letter includes grammar and syntax errors (67%)

We recommend job candidates look over their cover letter multiple times and get a second opinion from a friend or a professional.

Not customized for a specific position (45%)
Doesn’t show candidate’s skills (44%)
Copies resume directly (41%)
Too long, don’t read (30%)
Has bad formatting (25%)


By going the extra mile with researching and personalizing the cover letter, candidates will also naturally develop a genuine interest and passion for the role and company, which will naturally come through in their writing and their interview answers.

At HRCap, we highly coach all job seekers and applicants to maximize every chance they can get to learn about the company so that they can best understand the fit and confirm ongoing interest in the opportunity. These eight tips on the cover letter have set up our candidates for success, and we highly encourage all to carefully review these crucial pointers to polish their cover letters and their ultimately, professional brand.

Sources: HRCap, Resume Genius, ResumeLab, GetCoverLetter, The Muse, Monster, Investopedia, Indeed


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