Read on to find out how to write a convincing cover letter that catches the reader’s attention. To stack all the odds in your favor, you can also take a look at our cover letter template – it’s customizable for all kinds of job offers.
Your goal: to stand out from the other candidates and get called in for a job interview.
Save yourself some writing time! Use our customizable cover letter templates.
Basic cover letter template
How to write a basic cover letter
It is well known that long, rambling cover letters instantly put off recruiters. Bear in mind that they only have a few minutes to look over each application file. This is why you need to aim to give a summary of your profile in just a few paragraphs. Your goal here is to make their lives easier.
Keen to make your cover letter straightforward, pleasant to read, all while staying competitive? Then make sure you include the following:
- Summary of your interest in the role
- Your career goals (ideally in line with your interest in this role)
- Your skills (only those which could be useful for the position)
- Your desire to come in for an interview
Layout for a basic cover letter
If you want the layout of your basic cover letter to be spot on, here are some ground rules:
- One side of A4
- Page not too crowded with 1.15 cm space between each line
- Professional easy-to-read font (Arial, Verdana, Calibri, Cambria, Times New Roman etc.)
- Clearly legible font size (12 to 14)
- Text left-aligned
- Short paragraphs (4 to 5 lines)
The structure of a basic cover letter
In general, recruiters prefer reading cover letters that have a simple and logical structure, such as the following:
- A letterhead
- A salutation/greeting to a real person (Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. etc.)
- A letter subject indicating the job title and the name of the company
- An attention-grabbing opener summarising the candidate’s profile
- A paragraph describing the candidate’s career goals as well as their interest in the post
- A summary of the candidate’s skills and attributes
- A closing paragraph expressing interest in proceeding to an interview
- A complimentary close
- Full name and signature (if providing a hard copy)
Writing the letterhead for your cover letter
This is definitely the easiest part of your cover letter. However, there are still a few rules you need to follow.
Align your contact information to the right-hand side of the page and be sure to include:
- Your name
- Your address: the country and city can suffice
- Your phone number: don’t forget to include the international dialling code if your cover letter is going to be submitted abroad
- Your professional email address
Writing the perfect opener for a basic cover letter
Now let’s get started with your first paragraph.
From the very first few sentences of your cover letter, recruiters need to be able to see:
- Your level of education
- The position you’re looking to secure within the company
Be sure to mention the main assets you have to offer (skills acquired during an internship, a summer job or another previous position, experience working the same job at another company, your level of experience, etc.)
Note that all this should be taken as a rule of thumb. Your opening paragraph needs to be adapted to line up with the reasons behind your application. For example, in a cover letter for a master’s course, the opener will differ slightly.
Example of a good opener for a cover letter
Example of a bad opener for a cover letter
Bringing up career plans in a cover letter
Once your opener has won them over, the recruiter will be keen to read on and find out more.
In this paragraph, you need to demonstrate that a very specific reason has prompted you to apply for the position.
First, talk a little about your professional ambitions. Next, make a connection between these goals and your interest in the job vacancy.
To ensure success, before launching into writing this paragraph, consider doing some research on the company. Go to their website and try to get a grasp on the products and services they have to offer, or any upcoming projects on the horizon. The idea here is to show recruiters that you are genuinely interested in their company’s activities. This will earn you some bonus points.
Basic cover letter – career plans example
Highlight your strengths and key skills in your cover letter
As you can see in the cover letter template below, the candidate dedicated a paragraph to showing off their skill set.
Keep in mind however that in a basic cover letter, you should only mention skills that are likely to be of interest to your potential employer.
To ensure you only include skills that will be useful for the company, take another look at the job posting. Tick off the skills that are the best fit for you as an employee and weave them into your cover letter. Try to strike the right balance between technical and social skills.
Don’t forget to indicate that these skills will be essential when it comes to successfully carrying out your future tasks and helping the company reach its objectives.
Rounding off your basic cover letter
In the closing paragraph of your cover letter, be sure to get straight to the point: request an interview.
To end your cover letter on a high note, don’t forget to include a classic complimentary close.
Requesting an interview: examples
- I am available to come in for an interview at your earliest convenience to further discuss my application with you.
- I would welcome the opportunity to meet in person during an interview to truly demonstrate my motivation.
- I hope that you will be interested in my profile, and I would be delighted to come in for an interview so that we can discuss our respective interests further.
Complimentary closes: examples
Summary: key points for writing a straightforward, first-rate cover letter
- Keep the layout simple to make your cover letter easier to read
- Write an attention-grabbing opener that encourages recruiters to read on
- Demonstrate that your career plans line up with your interest in the post
- Showcase any skills and attributes you have that are relevant to the job offer in question
- Make it clear that you are available to come in for an interview
Frequently Asked Questions for a Basic Cover Letter
What kind of resume should go alongside a basic cover letter?
Submit your cover letter with a resume that hammers home the fact that you’re the ideal candidate for the post. Every bit of information you provide in your cover letter needs to match up perfectly with that provided in your resume.
How should I write the email containing my cover letter?
When submitting your cover letter or resume by email, ensure you make the subject line specific. As for writing the body of the email, here are some good practices to adhere to:
- Start off with a polite greeting (‘Dear…’) and address a real person’s name. Not a generic ‘To whom it may concern’
- Express your interest in the job position
- Mention where you found the job posting
- Highlight skills that are relevant to the offer description
- Indicate that you have attached your cover letter to provide further details
- Round things off with a complimentary close (regards, kind regards, best regards) followed by your full name.