28 Best Tips for Writing a Great Cover Letter in 2023
It is not easy to write a cover letter, but this does not mean that you should neglect it! Sometimes we lose patience. We can't find the motivation and we send it off quickly... anyway, will it ever be read?
Yes, it will! The cover letter is indeed read by recruiters! And it is often what sets candidates apart. For some recruiters, it is even what counts the most because it says the most about your personality, your qualities and your soft skills.
So how to write a compelling cover letter in 2023? What to include in it? How to structure, start and end a cover letter? We will give you 28 tips and examples to help you write a successful cover letter and get the job of your dreams!
The recruiter already has your CV, so don't copy your professional background into your cover letter, it's useless! It's even counterproductive.
The cover letter allows you to show the recruiter why you are the ideal candidate, to explain in detail the skills and qualities you have developed from your various professional experiences listed in your resume.
Do not repeat what is already in your resume. Instead of describing your experience in a particular company like this:
❌ I was in charge of creating product sheets for an online underwear store.
Write instead what hard and soft skills you acquired thanks to this experience:
As a marketing manager for the fashionista website, I gained a thorough understanding of online sales optimization techniques and learned how to write simple, compelling product descriptions that convert.
Resume and cover letter should complement each other: List your experiences in your resume and list the skills that each experience brought you in your cover letter.
In 9 out of 10 cover letters, candidates explain why the company is a perfect fit for them, what they could learn there and that such experience would really add to their resume. This is probably the most common mistake.
Put yourself in the recruiter's shoes for a moment: what would interest you most?
To know that a candidate would benefit from working in your company or what they could bring to the table?
The CV is used to list your experiences, the cover letter on the other hand should be used to show what you are capable of and what you will bring to the company if it hires you. Talk about your assets, your qualities, your strengths.
It is perfectly possible to write in a cover letter what you will be able to do if you are hired for the position you are applying for. (➜ read the exceptional cover letter written by Leonardo da Vinci)
💡 Our advice:
Read the job offer carefully and try to determine the qualities and skills they are looking for. Then show in your cover letter that you have these qualities and will be able to accomplish what is required.
Students and recent graduates obviously have little professional experience but often make the mistake of focusing only on their academic background.
What interests the company is the opposite!
It is your professional experience or anything that could be related to it, such as internships, volunteer work or extracurricular activities that are close to a professional activity. The recruiter wants to know if you will be operational from day one.
If you don't have some of the skills required for the position, don't even mention it. Some candidates even go so far as to apologize or try to justify themselves.
Talk about your strengths, not your weaknesses!
Show that the qualities you possess and the skills you have acquired correspond to what the company is looking for, that they will be an asset for the job.
A simple and fun way to know which qualities and skills to highlight in your cover letter is to create a word cloud. Just copy and paste the text from the job ad and you will see the most important keywords.
Would you rather read a cover letter that starts like this:
Your company in the field of online sales of racing bikes is exactly what I am looking for. I would love to join your team and contribute to your company's success.
or like that:
I have always been passionate about bicycles. When I was 9 years old, I received a subscription to the magazine Bike Plus; at 12, I bought my first Peugeot to cross the Mont Blanc mountain pass and at 14, I repaired my friends' bikes in my workshop, which was finally transformed into a bike repair shop. I know quite a bit about bikes and would love to work for you.
Stories add emotions, make your cover letter much more vivid, personal and memorable than cold arguments. And they immediately stick in the reader's mind. That's how your cover letter will stand out!
This tip follows on from the previous one. Avoid banalities, clichés and empty formulas. Don't be too formal, which would make your application letter too impersonal and less credible.
I would like to express my interest in the position to be filled in your internationally renowned company...
This doesn't really give the impression that the candidate is very interested... nor very sincere. Stay authentic and try to show your human qualities (sympathy, open-mindedness, curiosity) in your cover letter.
It is better to write a short and personal cover letter in which you sincerely explain why you are applying for the position and what attracts you to the company rather than a long and bland standard letter.
Your company The little yellow shoes as well as the position you are proposing correspond perfectly to my expectations. I am convinced that my skills will be put to full use and that I will be successful in the position I will be given.
It doesn't take a genius to see that this is a standard cover letter sent to all recruiters. Don't take the recruiters for fools, they will see it immediately! Even if you have copied and pasted the name of the company in your letter...
💡 Our advice:
Personalize each cover letter. It takes more time but it is a profitable investment and the results will be there. Without it, you will certainly take less time to apply, but the chances of your application being accepted and of you being invited to a job interview will be very, very slim.
If you're applying to a large, traditional company, a formal resume with a formal cover letter is best.
On the other hand, if you're applying to a startup with an average age of 25, a social or a humanitarian organization whose employees would be surprised to see someone come to work in a suit, then there's no need for an ultra-formal cover letter. And even less so when it's an unsolicited application or when you apply per email!
Adapt the style of your cover letter to the culture of the company you are applying to.
It's fine to be interested in the company or the position, but explain the reasons why, otherwise the reader, here the recruiter, will remain hungry. Explaining why an offer attracts you makes your story more credible and interesting. For example:
I would like to work at your company for three reasons:
1. I am passionate about the robotics industry and all the innovations related to it. Robotix and iRobot blogs are part of my daily reading.
2. I am attracted by the innovation culture within your company, being innovative, creative and having participated in the creation of a startup in the field of artificial intelligence.
3. I have read many articles about your company and am fascinated by your machine learning based speech recognition technology.
Numbers and figures speak for themselves and are more convincing. Judge for yourself:
I have been a member of a wine association and organized many tastings.
Isn't it better with some numbers:
As president of the wine association, I organized 38 tastings in 2 years and generated a turnover of 18 500€.
Recruiters and human resource managers receive dozens of cover letters a day and are tired of reading the same thing over and over again... so avoid all the banal, common, hollow, flat, boilerplate formulas... well you get the idea.
Instead of saying that you are very sociable or that you are a team player, which 95% of cover letters contain, be more specific or give an example. This will carry more weight and be more convincing.
I have always liked meeting people, exchanging and discussing. I lead a network around the topic of entrepreneurship gathering 170 students from 12 different countries and have been organizing two meetings per month for the past 3 years.
With some exceptions, the cover letter should not exceed one page. This is part of the basic rules. Some recruiters even prefer half a page. It is better to have a concise half-page letter that is straight to the point than a one-page letter with repetition, length and filler.
Having trouble getting your letter started? Lacking inspiration? Don't hesitate to take a cue from other cover letters that have proven to be effective. Ask your friends if you can take a look at their cover letters.
Unless you are applying to a traditional company or administration, being creative and original can in some cases be a winning strategy. A cover letter in the form of a story or in a different format: website, video, slideshare presentation, etc.
Originality has its limits... and don't forget that you are applying for a job offer, so stay professional!
A cover letter in which you honestly describe (in your own words) your motivations and skills will always be more effective than an overly formal letter in which you apply advice read in career guides.
When you speak, you don't say that you are honored to be able to apply to a company, that a job offer has aroused your curiosity and that you would be extremely grateful to receive a favorable response to your application.
Write naturally, as if you were talking to someone, without being too oral or too familiar of course.
Here is a very useful tip if you can't write about yourself.
Imagine yourself in the shoes of another person who has to write about you. This text must showcase you in order to get you a job. You will see that this technique is very effective and can even make writing your cover letter much more fun.
Don't forget to replace the first person personal pronouns at the end.
Long sentences can make your text unnecessarily cumbersome. Give preference to short sentences! Your cover letter will be more pleasant to read for the recruiter.
When formatting your cover letter, avoid large blocks of text or long paragraphs. It is more pleasant to read a letter spaced out with short paragraphs.
Save your cover letter as a PDF before sending it by e-mail.
The advantage of the PDF format is that the formatting of the documents (font, images, layout, etc.) remains unchanged, regardless of the software used to open it. The risk with Word or Libre Office is that the recruiter does not have the same version as you and that your cover letter is not displayed correctly.
Even in pdf format, make sure that the document has been properly saved (we have received several times a pdf resume or cover letter that we could not open...).
An application letter with spelling mistakes may be deleted before it is even read... so be careful and follow these two tips.
Never send an application in a hurry, even if it is an unsolicited application! Once you have finished your cover letter, don't touch it anymore, let it sit overnight and then read it again the next day. You'll sometimes discover huge mistakes...
Have a friend or relative read your cover letter and ask them these two questions:
- Based on this letter, am I the best candidate for this job?
- Does this letter really make you want to meet me?
If the answer to either question is no, or the person is hesitant, your cover letter is not yet perfect. Then rework it to make it perfect.
All of these rules are important, but remember that the number one rule is to stand out.
The most memorable cover letters are the ones that were written without any of these rules in mind, and were written to express their motivations in the most personal and sincere way.
Job in Berlin's Founder
As a recruitment expert and founder of Job in Berlin, I have corrected over 1,000 resumes. Since 2015, I've been sharing my expertise and delivering tips on resume and cover letter writing, as well as techniques for a successful job interview.