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Written by Paul DruryPaul Drury

The CVapp.ie guide to writing effective cover letters

11 min read
How to write an effective cover letter
Here is exactly how you can write a cover letter that will stand out from the crowd, and help you land that interview.

At CVapp.ie, we know writing cover letters isn't always easy. In fact, cover letter writing can be downright intimidating – that’s why we’re here to help! In this guide, we’ll walk you through our top tips and tricks for creating a killer cover letter that will make hiring managers and potential employers excited to learn more about you. Regardless of whether you're applying for a graduate job or an executive position, we'll cover everything you need to know, including:

  • The best way to format your cover letter
  • Why cover letters are so important
  • Tips on crafting an effective opening
  • Guidance for writing your cover letter
  • How to wrap things up in a compelling way
  • Common cover letter mistakes to avoid

Why do we need a cover letter, anyway?

Cover letters allow job seekers to showcase their unique professional backgrounds and express their passion for the position they are applying for. Unlike CVs, which are limited by bullet points and standardised formatting, cover letters give candidates the freedom to present themselves in their own words.

What sets great cover letters apart is how well they convey the "why" behind the candidate's application. A great cover letter can give hiring managers and potential employers insight into the motivations, values, and aspirations that drive a candidate's career path. By sharing their story in a free-flowing format, applicants can capture the attention of a hiring manager and demonstrate why they are the perfect fit for the job. At CVapp.ie, we’ve helped millions of professionals land their dream job roles and find their way to professional success. We’ve created this guide to help you create an effective, engaging cover letter – let’s get started!

How to format an effective cover letter:

Formatting is an essential part of creating a compelling cover letter. In general, most cover letters follow this structure: 

  • Header
  • Greeting
  • Introduction
  • Body paragraphs
  • Conclusion

Cover letters are your professional secret weapon

A well-crafted cover letter can be a valuable addition to a job application, particularly when job seekers are facing tight competition and competing with other applicants for the role. While a CV can concisely summarise an applicant's qualifications and experience, a cover letter can provide more comprehensive context to the applicant's background, highlight their unique strengths, and allow them to connect personally with the hiring manager. It's definitely worth taking the time to include a cover letter whenever possible unless it's explicitly discouraged in the job description. Think of cover letters as your professional secret weapon!

Where do we begin?

To start your cover letter off, you'll need three key components: the header, greeting, and introduction, each of which play a unique role. In this guide, we'll delve into these elements and how to write a winning cover letter.

If you're feeling daunted by a blank page, don't worry: you're not alone! When it comes to starting a cover letter, you might be wondering: What should I include in the header section? How should I introduce myself in the greeting? What details should I touch on in the introduction? What tone should I strike? And how do I ensure it matches the job description?

We’ll address all of these questions and more, so you can nail that cover letter and showcase your skills and experience in the best light. With our CVapp.ie cover letters and guides, we’ll help you make the most memorable impression possible. 

Start off strong with an impressive cover letter header

It's important to make it easy for potential employers to invite you for an interview. To do that, you'll want to include essential contact information in the header of your cover letter, including your full name, phone number, email, and even your LinkedIn profile if requested or appropriate. The header can create an impression of professionalism and ease for the reader as they take in the message of your letter. So don't overlook these small details that can make a big difference!

Our quick guide to greetings

To begin with, it’s important to understand that the way you start your letter sets the tone for the entire cover letter. Therefore, it's essential to be mindful of the recipient's expectations and preferences. If you are applying for a job and addressing an individual, you can use a greeting like "Dear Mr Gallagher" to show respect and personalise the letter. On the other hand, if you are unsure of who the specific recipient is, you can use "Dear Hiring Team" or "Dear Company X" to stay professional while addressing the company as a whole.

When crafting a greeting, you should consider the culture of the company and try to adapt your tone accordingly. For example, some businesses may appreciate a more formal tone, while others may appreciate a more casual approach. You can gather some clues about the culture of the company by visiting their website or social media profiles and taking note of the language and tone they use to communicate with their audience.

Adapting your greeting to match the tone of voice and culture of the employer is a great way to create a good first impression. Taking the time to personalise your message shows that you did your research and are genuinely interested in the role you are applying for!

Writing a cover letter introduction

After the greeting, the first paragraph is where the real work begins. Is your cover letter introduction up to the task of competing for this job? Capture the attention of potential employers with a brief yet intriguing hook that leaves them wanting more. Amp up their interest by highlighting a noteworthy achievement with an impressive figure, dropping the name of a prestigious employer, or mentioning a well-deserved accolade. Most importantly, ensure that your introduction is relevant to the position you're after. You want to make them eager to read further. While your career is much more than just a single sentence, it's essential to kick things off with an impactful opener that sets the tone for your entire application. The cover letter's opening paragraph should leave the employer wanting to hear more, whether by revealing a personal anecdote, showcasing your experience, or recounting a game-changing contribution. Get creative! 

Cover letter body paragraphs

When crafting the body paragraphs of your cover letter, it's essential to focus on the role requirements and convey how your experience makes you an excellent fit for the position. To do this, you'll need to be specific and use examples that demonstrate your skills and accomplishments. Using numbers, stats and figures are the best way to do this. Remember to be confident and assertive but also concise and to-the-point.

To showcase your credentials effectively, bullet points can be a powerful tool, allowing you to highlight your achievements and skills in an organised and easily digestible way. Additionally, using bold fonts strategically can draw attention to essential sections of your cover letter and make it easier for potential employers to navigate. We have some great examples of how to achieve this with our CVapp.ie cover letter templates – check them out in our cover letter builder! 

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that walls of text can be overwhelming, so it's vital to break your cover letter up into shorter paragraphs and use white space effectively. Remember, your main goal is to make a great impression and convince potential employers that you're the best candidate for the job. So, choose your words and examples carefully and tailor your cover letter for each application.

Stand out with accomplishments 

A successful cover letter should focus on your accomplishments rather than just listing your duties and responsibilities. 

To make your accomplishments stand out, it's essential to choose the most relevant stories to tell and elaborate on them during the interview. You should also provide context and a timeline for your achievements, highlighting the specific tasks you completed and the outcomes that resulted from them.

Using powerful action verbs to demonstrate your skills can also be a critical tool in crafting an impactful cover letter. To structure your accomplishments effectively, you might consider breaking them down into three parts: the action verb, the specific task you completed, and the quantifiable outcome for your company.

Remember: writing a cover letter, it's essential to focus on your achievements, highlight your skills using powerful action verbs, and choose only the most relevant accomplishments to share. With these tips in mind and our CVapp.ie tools and resources, you'll be sure to craft a persuasive cover letter that sets you apart from other candidates.

Closing your cover letter

Your conclusion is just as important as the introduction and the middle paragraphs as it contains your call-to-action. Rather than ending on a dull note, be sure to put thought into how you end your cover letter. It’s important to get the tone right to leave a positive impression on the hiring manager. Consider how you want the hiring manager to feel after reading your cover letter, and don't be afraid to express your excitement and enthusiasm about the possibility of an interview.

When it comes to closings and sign-offs, there are other options besides "sincerely" or "best regards". It's important to choose a closing that fits the tone and characteristics you’ve highlighted in your application. Consider describing how your personal characteristics align with the role you're applying for, such as being a committed team player or a meticulous planner. And try painting a picture of what it's like to work with you to show off your personal approach and compassion. Remember that your conclusion is your final chance to showcase your personal characteristics and leave a lasting impression on potential employers. Keep it polite, upbeat and professional – and you’re ready to export your files and start sharing your cover letter with the world!

Land your next job with CVapp.ie today!

Here at CVapp.ie, we want to make the job search process as easy as possible. Our website provides a range of top-quality resources and tools that can help make your application stand out from the crowd, and give you the best chance of landing your dream job.

With our CV and Cover Letter Builders, you can be sure that your application documents will be polished and effective. Our team of experts have curated a wide range of pro tips and helpful articles that can guide you through the job search process and make sure you're presenting yourself in the best possible light.

We understand that the job search can be overwhelming, and we're here to help you every step of the way. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out in your career, CVapp.ie has everything you need to put your best foot forward and make an excellent impression with employers. So what are you waiting for? Start creating your standout cover letter today, and open the doors to your ideal job. 

Wishing you the very best of luck!

Team CVapp.ie

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