How to Write a Compelling Cover Letter

cover letter

You’ve searched several job placement websites, LinkedIn, and job groups on Facebook; told everyone in your neighbourhood that you are job hunting, finally, you’ve found a job that aligns with your skills and expertise. Now you are expected to apply for the job, usually through a curriculum vitae (CV) and a cover letter. You understand that the chances of getting the job depend on your ability to submit a befitting application to the company, and that is why you are here to learn the art of crafting a compelling cover letter so that you won’t miss out on the opportunity to land your dream job. This is the step-by-step guideline you have been looking for.

Why do you need a compelling cover letter?

Presently, almost all job application requires you to forward your curriculum vitae (CV) with a cover letter. In circumstances where recruiters do not request for your CV, you are often expected to write a proposal or brief introduction to show why you are the right fit for the job. This shows that beyond just being a document that accompanies and introduces your CV, a cover letter is an important document that determines whether you proceed to the next stage of the job application or you miss the opportunity.

The purpose and audience of the cover letter

I understand that you are aware that the cover letter is meant to introduce you to the recruiters. However, a lot of cover letters do not convey that purpose well enough. Everyone who comes across your cover letter should be convinced that if they don’t employ you, they will miss a lot. Yes, that is the essence of the letter, to sell yourself. As it applies to all forms of marketing, here are some basics you must consider before writing a cover letter.

What do you know about the company and job position?

“Yes, it is a fashion brand. It’s a commercial bank; in fact, I have an account with them.” Is that all you know about the organization? You should have an idea of the type of products they are selling. Everybody is selling something, be it goods or services. You must understand the brand’s target market and the strategies they are using to penetrate the market.

It is assumed that most, if not all, job adverts come with the job description. This is simply the role you are expected to play and the duties you are meant to carry out in the organization. Your cover letter writing should start with a thorough understanding of the two points as that is what determines the flow of the cover letter.

Do you have the key requirements and qualifications for the role?

Now that you know the duties expected of you in the role, you are also meant to check the job requirements you be sure you have what the company needs. Although some individuals have applied for jobs they are not qualified for and were able to get in, do not forget that those are the exceptions and not the rule. Once you are convinced that you meet the qualification in terms of skill, education, and experience, you must ensure that your cover letter reflects those details.


Contract of Employment

What Qualifies as a Work Experience

What are the pain points of the employer?

Just like every buyer of a product, employers are not looking for how to spend excess funds when the vacancy was advertised, they have a pain point to heal and a problem to solve. Your ability to show that you are the solution the organization needs is one thing that will determine your application’s success. Do not forget that all companies are set up to make a profit and you must be able to show how you will increase the company’s profit or reduce its loss.

How to structure and format a cover letter

  • The letter should not be more than 300-350 words and a single page. This is to ensure that it is brief and straight to the point. Recruiters have a lot of cover letters to go through and the shorter the better, as long as it conveys the relevant points.
  • Ensure you include your name and contact information. You don’t want to meet the requirement and there is no way to contact you.
  • You should address the recipient correctly. Understandably, you want to use the first name of the recipient as a means of showing respect. However, that’s the rule in corporate settings. Your Salutation should not be “Dear Sir/Ma,” or “To whom it may concern,” it will not concern anybody. That will only show that you’ve not done a diligent review of the job advert. In the event you searched everywhere but could not find the name of the recruiter, you can use “Dear Hiring Manager.”
  • Use a clear font such as Arial, Times New Roman, or Verdana with a size of 10 or 12.
  • Do well to have space between your paragraphs and space your lines.
  • I won’t say you should not use technical jargon; how will you show that you are an expert in your field? However, always use it sparingly and avoid it when you can. This is because the cover letter will likely be read by an HR personnel before it gets to the department you want to work in.

Writing a compelling cover letter

1. Start with an attention-grabbing opening sentence

Recruiters sometimes have hundreds of cover letters to read, if she is not using Applicant Tracking System, you need to ensure that the opening sentence is enough to catch his/her attention to read what you have to say. Put your best foot forward and make it as catchy as you can.

2. Clear and concise introduction

Your introduction should be clear enough to show who you are and how your education, skills, and experience make you the perfect fit for the job. You need not be too verbose and don’t forget to only add what you can do.

3. Explain why you are the best candidate for the role

The best candidate is one who has the right skills, educational qualifications, and required experience for the role. If you have any unique qualities that set you apart for the role, do not hesitate to mention it. A unique quality for an accountant would surely be the ability to pay attention to details and spot errors. If there is a situation where you’ve used the skill in the past, do well to share.

4. Show enthusiasm and genuine interest

Now you’ve ticked the qualification and experience boxes, but are you interested in the role? Are you enthusiastic about it? One of the ways that you can show recruiters that you are genuinely interested in a role is by expressing how the values of the organization or the requirements of the role align with your values and long-term plans.

5. Emphasize transferable skills and accomplishments

Perhaps, you’ve worked in other places in the past, do not forget to highlight how the skills you’ve acquired in the past, which could be soft and hard skills are relevant to the present role. You should also note some of the major achievements you’ve recorded in past roles. Introducing a new system or process; performing a difficult task that had baffled the team for a long time are some of the things you should include.

6. Avoid repetition of resume/cv content

Your cover letter is not to regurgitate the contents of the resume/cv, don’t forget that you are sending the same thing to two different individuals. So, ensure they are not reading the same things in different documents.

7. Don’t use the same cover letter for all job applications

I understand that you just saw the job and you can’t wait to drop your CV and Cover letter before it gets crowded. However, endeavour to tweak the cover letter to suit the job you are presently applying for. Even if it is in the same industry, some organizations use Applicant Tracking System and if the necessary keywords are not found in your letter, it won’t get to the recruiter before the software disqualifies you.

8. Use specific and quantifiable examples

When you refer to your achievements in a previous role or your educational achievement, do well to use specific and quantifiable examples. This includes, “Graduated top 3% in a class of 300 students.” If you are applying for a marketing role, you can say “I was able to increase the company’s sales by over 20% by leveraging on a social media campaign.”

9. Proofread for grammar and spelling errors

You will agree with me that reading a letter or any document that contains numerous spelling errors is a turn-off for every reader. Ensure you read, re-read, edit, and proofread before sending your cover letter. You might not have another opportunity to correct a wrong first impression.

11. Avoid generic and cliché phrases

“Work effectively under pressure,” “Goal getter,” “People person,” and “Team player.” These phrases are not bad in themselves but they have been overused by job applicants and it no longer carries weight. Ensure that you are creative, almost all jobs out there will require your creativity, including the one you are doing now. This is your opportunity to show how creative you are to the recruiters.

12. Convey a strong closing statement

Now you are at the closing part of the letter. Do not forget a strong closing statement that leaves your recruiter asking for more. Show how confident you are in your ability so that they will look forward to having an interview with you. Don’t tell the recruiter that you believe you can do the job, no. Don’t believe or hope, be assertive in your ability to deliver on the job.


The article has considered the major points you need to include in your cover letter such as the formats, the keywords, checking out for grammatical errors, and proper research on the company and the role. Do well to implement the tips mentioned above as they will ensure that your cover letter stands out from the crowd.


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