Cover Letter Writing – Tips & Resources

by Dr. Alan June 22, 2020

Considering the difficulty level and doubts in mind, as to how to write a cover letter, we procrastinate the task, ending up just revising here and there the old cover letter we wrote or take up sentences from samples available on the net. This is the biggest mistake we tend to make when writing a cover letter. Alternatively over explaining in a cover letter as well as stating irrelevant information puts your candidature in a stake. This makes it a necessity to understand the steps and guidelines to create a winning cover letter.

Let your cover letter be the ticket to your dream job.

Cover letter template

A cover letter typically is covered in 3 main body paragraphs. Though specifications do exist a general format is as shown below:

The above template is just a general outline depicted for cover letters. The template is different based on different position. Based on the above-specified template, it is recommended to do some reading to know all details that are needed to be included as part of each of the specified sections.

Check the example below for better understanding:

Steps in writing a cover letter

  1. Be clear how you want to sell yourself for the open position. Based on the same try formulate points to depict your strength. Do not include information that not required.
  2. Preliminary research on the position and company and virtues being looked upon in the candidate needs to be known. The same can be learnt from doing a search using proper keywords in Google or alternatively from company websites and links.
  3. Strategically plan your approach based on matching your expertise to the requirement.
  4. Plan the opening. Use a grab rather than generalistic openings.

Check the example below:

  1. Look for specific employee name whom you can address the cover letter to. This adds value to the cover letter.
  2. Proofread your cover letter once completed and cross-check the job posting.


Read and Understand the basics of cover letter moves a step closer to your dream job


Based on the above steps mentioned, when writing the final cover letter the below-mentioned sections and contents needs to be arranged as per specified structure. The content depicted in the example is just a basic example, which can be further improved and improvised based on your strengths:

  1. Information about you, Date and Contact person details




  1. Salutation




  1. Opening Paragraph (The Grab)



  1. Second paragraph(The Hook)



  1. Third Paragraph(Depict your Knowledge)



  1. Fourth Paragraph (The Close)



  1. Conclude



Cover letter Formatting Guideline

When applying for a job position, the first impression of your cover letter would be very important. This makes it mandatory for all candidates to take care of all formatting guidelines. Formatting would majorly help give your cover letter a professional look.

Formatting step by step section wise would be a good way to go about. A few aspects to be considered include font size and type, margins, alignment as well as headings.

A few specific formatting guidelines to be considered is as mentioned below:

  1. Appropriate spacing and gap between the address and date specified.
  2. The spacing between all the paragraphs should be equal.
  3. Usually, single space among lines is recommended for a cover letter.
  4. All paragraphs is better to be left aligned.
  5. The top and bottom spaces for the letter should be equal. The letter should be spaced in the middle of the page.
  6. One inch margin in all sides of the page should be fine.

It is highly recommended to have a detailed understanding of all formatting guidelines of all the sections.


How to avoid mistakes in a cover letter?

  1. Start with a grab. That kind of compels the reader to complete reading through.
  2. Do not stretch and overuse the first person connotation “I” as it is not an autobiography.
  3. Keep the content different from that of your resume
  4. Avoid sounding loud and rude when stating your weakness by blaming it to an external factor.
  5. Customise the letter for different applications.
  6. Be specific. Avoid presenting vague information and also the irrelevant one.
  7. Before writing your cover letter you need to do a good background research about the position applying for and a detailed understanding of self by conducting a personal self-analysis.
  8. Every position you are applying for would definitely will have a set of specific instructions and guidelines to be followed when writing the cover letter. Not abiding by the guidelines be it word count, over information would be considered as an act over smartness leading to direct cancellation of your candidature.
  9. A cover letter is just like a sales pitching document for you. So be careful of the typographical errors. Be sure to proofread the document for grammar and sentence construction checks before submission.


Steps and Guidelines to create a winning cover letter


Cover Letter Writing FAQs

Q1. How to address “red flags” of your personal history in the cover letter?

“Red flags” should not be actually presented as “red flags” but rather information just as the other facts. Present it with a  spin so as to depict it as a strength in the long-term career aspirations.

Q2. How Do I Handle Sticky Situations In My Cover Letter?

It could the best of candidates who has somehow faced a sticky situation like layoff due to downsizing, the long gap at work, medical leave, career change or relocation. It is always a good idea to detail the same on your resume. What matters the most is how well you can justify your stand to be correct. Don’t try to burden the cover letter with loads of information in this regard, just state the point and one solid stand to spin around the panellists’ idea about you. It would be a good idea to check out practically how you can handle some prominent sticky situations.

Q3. What Is The Best Way To Include A Cover Letter Along With My Resume?

Usually, as part of an online application a cover letter can be send along with a resume. It is advisable to paste the cover letter as part of the body of the email and send the resume as an attachment. One needs to be careful of the fact that the email does not use fancy font and style. Read through a sample depicting an email cover letter for your understanding.

Q4. Do you think it’s a good idea to get your resume written by a professional ‘resume/cover letter’ online services?

Though professional services are easily available, somehow a personal touch for such work can amplify the quality of your resume and cover letter. The service providers are highly capable and also add a professional touch to the work. But with internet and resources on writing great cover letters and resume it would be a good idea to explore ways to try out writing your own cover letter and resume in the best possible manner. Online resources can be the highly made use of for the same.

Q5. What are some examples of cover letters with a creative approach?

What you wish to depict in your cover letter needs to be clear in your mind. Based on it you can choose and approach and follow it across the cover letter.

Like you have high achievements fitting to the applying job position in such a case it would be advisable to take up a capability based approach, where the main target is to depict and speak of your achievements.

Else for example you have weak academic and achievement record, then you should choose to depict a strong personality and extra-curricular achievements or even take up an honest approach, where you mention the backlogs but give a strong reaso to make the panellist believe that you have a strong and honest character which could be a benefit for the organization.

Q6. How do I write a good cover letter for a post-doctorate research position and how important it is to my candidature?

Getting your cover letter right is a very important criteria to move ahead.

The first step in this regard would be to have through understanding of the position requirement. This would require a good background check and preliminary research. The next step would be to depict your efficiency for the position by relating your capability with the position requirement. Then last would be to write down the actual cover letter in a very presentable language. It is highly important to avoid mistakes that are usually committed and include all necessary information as part of the cover letter.

Cover Letter Writing Resources

  1. 36+ Simple Cover Letter Templates
  2. Good Basic Cover Letter
  3. 7 Steps To Writing A Cover Letter That Will Actually Get You An Interview
  4. 5 Parts Of A Cover Letter (A.K.A. How To Write A Good One!)
  5. Download Microsoft CV Cover letter

Writing a cover letter is a challenge. To manage the challenge it is highly recommended to read and understand the basics of cover letter that can help you move a step closer to your dream job.

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