When it comes to writing a cover letter for your dream job, know that this is your moment to shine!
Your cover letter is where you knit together elements like your personality, qualifications, work experience, and accomplishments to demonstrate a few key points:
- That you’re a great fit for them
- That they’re a great fit for you
- That you’ll be able to add value and contribute to company goals from Day 1
Where your résumé is very direct and dry, the cover letter is where you add your personal flair, painting yourself as their absolute wish-list candidate, like in this cover letter example here:
If you’re looking to upskill your cover letter game, or even reorient your relationship to writing them, check out our previous post on The 9 Essential Elements of a Cover Letter + Templates, Examples, and Tips, where we go in-depth on what goes where (+ why) within a cover letter. Each of the formatting and content elements are discussed in detail, too.
If you’ve already short-listed a few of your dream job opportunities but haven’t reviewed the ins and outs of what makes for a good cover letter in a while, consider opening that post in a new tab to reference as you start your next one.
Let's find out exactly how to write a cover letter.
What is a cover letter?
Well I guess it would be helpful to define what exactly a cover letter is, right? Can't write a cover letter for your dream job if you don't know what a cover letter is.
A cover letter is a document that further clarifies information found, or not found, on your resume. It is used to explain things like gaps in your employment history, details of your job responsibilities, and why you want to work at the company at which you're applying.
The cover letter represents a chance to show the hiring manager who you are. It's an opportunity to stand out amongst other applicants. A story or two about your achievements at work are great additions to the cover letter, and perfect for showcasing your personality.
What are the importance and benefits of a cover letter?
First of all, a lot of people aren't writing cover letters. Whether they're too lazy, don't want to bother, or think cover letters are a waste of time, plenty of applicants are skipping this step altogether.
Which means you already have an advantage just by drafting one.
If you submit a cover letter, even if it's not a great cover letter, you're already ahead of the game. This will show potential employers that you're willing to go above and beyond and put in serious effort in order to reach your goals.
Beyond that, cover letters are able to show hiring managers who you are beyond the statistics on your resume or LinkedIn. Are you personable, funny, serious, dedicated? Show that through your writing. Don't be afraid to type how you talk (within the bounds of professionalism).
If a hiring manager can get more of a feel for who you are, they're more likely to advance you than the person who is merely a collection of talking points and numbers. They will also be able to tell more easily whether or not you'd fit in to the company culture.
When it comes to the actual content of the cover letter, this is where it can really be beneficial.
Where your resume will list basic responsibilities and tasks that you took on at your job, your cover letter is a place where you can share a project you worked on, a problem you solved, or relate your experiences directly to the responsibilities of the job for which you're applying.
This is a great opportunity to prove to the hiring manager that you're the perfect candidate.
Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter for Your Dream Job
#1: Pick the right cover letter template for the job
Whether you’re trying to get out of a bad writing mindset rut, need to abandon your stale cookie-cutter draft, or are looking for a way out of starting from scratch, consider taking one of our free cover letter templates for a spin:
Our templates above describe what info goes where, plus the ‘why’ behind it, as it relates to our discussion in the previous blog post: The 9 Essential Elements of a Cover Letter + Templates, Examples, and Tips.
Here's one of our cover letter examples, using Template 1:
After writing several letters, you may find you have some key catch phrases that describe some of your skill sets or qualifications well or show off your personality/flair for a certain industry or position type. They might not come easily or quickly, but such tidbits usually come out over time and with practice.
Once you have them together, you can save them into the template to reuse when appropriate!
#2: Begin with your header / contact information
The most important part of your cover letter is your contact info. You'll need the hiring manager to be able to reach out if they like what they see!
Here's a list of the contact details you should be including:
- Your Full Name
- (Optional) Your Role or Title
- Email Address
- Phone Contact
- Location or Address
- (Optional) Website
- (Optional) Portfolio
- (Optional) LinkTree
- LinkedIn URL
- (Optional) Other Social Media Link/Handle
#3: Greeting the hiring manager
There's a formula to this, too.
If you're addressing a singular person, you'll want to start with Mr./Ms./Mx./etc. Next comes their last name, followed by a colon (:) or a comma (,). "Dear hiring manager" just isn't going to cut it.
Example: "Dear Mr. Dave,"
If you're addressing a team, you'll just use the team name. However, it's best to address a particular person, be it a manager, supervisor, or otherwise, before listing the team.
Example: "Dear Ms. Khan and the Growth Marketing Team:"
#4: Write an opening paragraph that grabs the reader's attention right away
The first sentence of your opening paragraph is really important. This will set the tone for the rest of your letter, and determine if the hiring manager will even keep reading.
Use a statistic, a "fun fact" about a project or job you've worked on, or relate it back to the company for which you're applying.
The rest of the paragraph should flow well with the first sentence, either summarizing a quick anecdote, relating to the company's mission statement, or further illustrating why you would be perfect for the job.
This is also where you should mention any contacts you may have at this company, so the reader knows that you're in good standing with a current employee.
This past month, my shining face helped QuillBot reach 10 million monthly active users around the world.
I’m a natural-born influencer with a knack for connecting and creating relationships with both people and products, as evidenced by my unplanned rise to fame. I’m at the top of my game in school, as an influencer, and as a mascot for Quillbot; I’m only looking to learn from the best. I would love the opportunity to use my established online presence and high levels of professionalism to represent and support We R Legit Co. as a Brand Ambassador intern━no other internship offers the kind of robust mentorship or level of hands-on experience with great products.
#5: In your body paragraphs, explain why you're qualified for the job
Your cover letter is used to clarify things on your resume, not to regurgitate it. Instead of listing responsibilities, use each paragraph to talk about a particular project or problem you solved and how it would relate to the job for which you're applying.
Cover letters should only be about one page, so make sure you're succinct in your storytelling.
I didn’t set out to be QuillBot’s mascot. This life chose me, and I’ve embraced it to deepen my knowledge of the digital marketing landscape. After being scouted by their designers when I started my BS in 2017, I have acted as the face of the company, posing for the logos, advertisements, social media posts, and various product campaigns. By harnessing my quirky brand voice and modeling a wide range of emotions for my projects, we were able to amass millions of users for our platform. I would welcome the opportunity to recreate this growth at We R Legit Co., increasing site traffic, social media followers, and loyal users, just as I’ve done for QuillBot.
One of my favorite projects was QuillBot’s 404 Error page. It can be frustrating for users when they can’t find the page they were looking for, so by posing serenely amidst the backdrop of a calming sunset, I was able to gently redirect users to our homepage without any problems. This remains one of my greatest accomplishments, and one of the reasons users keep coming back to the site.
#6: Finish strong with a conclusion paragraph and a professional signature
Your conclusion should be short and to the point. Remind them that you're excited about the position and thank them for their time and consideration.
Use a word like "sincerely," "thank you," or "best regards" when signing your name at the end.
Using my marketing experience, knowledge of brand identity, and customer service skills, I would be able to support and augment the We R Legit Co. Team right from the beginning of my internship. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to talking more about this role.
All the best,
Cover Letter Tips
These have been pulled from our first cover letter post, The 9 Essential Elements of a Cover Letter + Templates, Examples, and Tips. It's chock-full of good info.
- Do the work. Cover letters allow you to link your experience, qualifications, and skills directly to the needs of the open position. Use the opportunity to write one to define yourself as the ideal candidate for not only the job, but also for the company's needs as a whole. Even if you don’t have to write a cover letter to be considered, doing so will set you apart.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use a cover letter template, like our 3 free options, for a professional, polished layout that also reminds you what goes where. If you’re applying to different types of positions or to different fields or industries, consider making annotated templates for each grouping by adding in relevant information from your résumé. This will help you remove some friction and hit the ground running with each new letter.
- Keep it short. Your professional cover letter should be one page total in length. Sure, there are always exceptions to this, but think about how many letters the hiring manager will read for one position━lots! Take the time to hone your language and points to say more with less, since that will make you memorable. Remember, the paraphraser is your secret weapon for this!
- Be the solution to their problems. Don’t focus solely on your past accomplishments. Instead, couple your qualifications with recognizing what the company needs and what their pain points are. Show them you understand their business by coming up with you-based solutions to their problems. This will make the company much more interested in bringing you to the table. Make yourself their missing ingredient; be what they need to succeed.
- Don’t be afraid to be you. Of course, a great cover letter needs to be professional━the whole point of writing one is to land a job. However, hiring managers also like being able to get a sense of who you are as a person. A funny anecdote or using a witty tone throughout your cover letter can set you apart from the competition and show yourself to be a three-dimensional person, rather than just another piece of paper with a list of qualifications. Keep it professional, but don’t forget to strike a balance with being true to your personality.
- Follow through on the follow up. Add a reminder, along with the follow-up date you specified, to your calendar, if you included a call to action within the closing statement/paragraph of your letter.
- Polish to perfection. Read your cover letter out loud to check for flow, clarity, and as a final proofread. If you’re not confident in your grammar skills, use a free grammar checker, like ours, for an easy final polish.
- Double check the details. If you’re using a cover letter template, you’ll need to be careful that you’ve changed all the details for the current company you’re applying for. There’s nothing worse than sending off an application, only to realize that you left an old company’s name or position title on your cover letter to a different employer.
Final Thoughts on Writing a Cover Letter for Your Dream Job
Hey, it's your dream job. It's not going to be easy to get, but it's definitely within reach. Especially with our tips.
Writing a professional cover letter using key words from the job description is a great start. Tailoring your previous responsibilities to the job opening is taking it a step further in terms of locking down a great new opportunity.
Take your time, get multiple opinions from trusted friends and QuillBot tools, and don't be afraid to take a few risks to stand out.
Your dream job is just a successful cover letter away.