What is a Cover Letter

Think Cover Letters Are Dead in 2024? Think Again

In an era where quick clicks and instant submissions dominate the job application process, a growing chorus claims that the traditional cover letter is obsolete. "Just send your resume," they say, suggesting that in 2024, brevity is the foolproof path to employment. 

However, this notion overlooks a critical puzzle piece: the undeniable value of a tailored, thoughtful cover letter. While sending off a resume alone might take a matter of seconds, it often fails to convey genuine interest or effort. 

On the other hand, a meticulously crafted cover letter demonstrates your dedication and aligns your unique skills with the job's specific needs. So, what is a cover letter? We say the answer is ‘essential’, among other things.

In this blog, we're going back to basics, answering “What is a cover letter?” and exploring why, far from being dead, the cover letter is your secret weapon in standing out in a sea of impersonal applications.

Jump to:

What is a cover letter for a job?
What should I say in a cover letter?
What should be avoided in a cover letter?
How to write a simple cover letter
What are the three main things needed in a cover letter?
How should a cover letter look?
What do hiring managers look for in a cover letter?
How to write a perfect cover letter

What is a cover letter for a job?

Let’s start at the logical place; the beginning. What is a cover letter? It’s a document typically submitted with your resume during a job application process. It serves as a personal introduction and is crafted to complement your resume by highlighting your relevant skills, experiences, and motivations for applying to a specific position. 

The purpose of a cover letter is to provide additional insights into your professional background and to persuade the employer that you are the ideal candidate for the job. It allows you to explain in more detail how your previous achievements and experiences make you a perfect fit for the role you are applying for.

What is a Cover Letter

What should I say in a cover letter?

Now you know the answer to the million-dollar question, what is a cover letter? here’s a general overview of the contents.

Compelling introduction

In your cover letter, start by introducing yourself with a touch of personality—perhaps mention how you came across the job or a small yet interesting detail that connects you to the company. You could say something like, "When I read about [Company]'s recent project on [specific project], I was immediately inspired to apply because..."

Your reason for applying

Next, dive into why this role excites you. Don’t just state that you’re interested; share what specifically draws you to the company and how it aligns with your career aspirations or personal values. For instance, "I've always admired how [Company] champions [specific value or practice], and I see a great opportunity to contribute with my skills in..."

Why you’re the ideal candidate

Then, highlight your relevant experiences, but go beyond just listing your past job duties. Instead, tell a compelling story about a time you solved a problem or made a significant impact that relates directly to the responsibilities of the job you're applying for. Use active language and quantify your achievements to make your experiences come alive. "In my previous role at [Previous Company], I spearheaded a project that..."

Keep it relevant

Connect your skills directly to what the company needs. If they are looking for someone to enhance their team dynamics, discuss your background in team-building and collaboration, giving examples of your interpersonal skills and success in previous team environments.

Leave a lasting impression

Conclude your letter by expressing your enthusiasm about the possibility of contributing to the team. Make it clear that you are eager to bring your expertise to the table and discuss how you can help the company grow and achieve its goals. "I am excited about the prospect of bringing my unique skills to [Company] and am very much looking forward to the possibility of discussing how I can contribute to your team."

End on a warm note, inviting the hiring manager to initiate further conversation. Something like, "Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss how my background, skills, and enthusiasm align with the goals of [Company]." Wrap up with a polite sign-off, like "Warm regards," followed by your name.

What is a Cover Letter

What should be avoided in a cover letter?

So, now we’ve covered the all-important what is a cover letter and what you should say in a cover letter, the next logical step is to talk about the “don’ts”. 

When crafting a cover letter, it’s important to avoid certain pitfalls that can undermine your application. So what is a cover letter’s greatest flaws? Consider the following key points that will help clarify your understanding:

  • Generic greetings and content
  • Using "To whom it may concern" or not personalizing the letter for the specific company and job can make your application feel impersonal and rushed

  • Overly long letters
  • Keep your cover letter concise; ideally, it should not exceed one page

  • Repetition of your resume
  • Avoid merely summarizing your resume; instead, use the cover letter to expand on key points and relate your skills to the job requirements

  • Negative language
  • Steer clear of mentioning conflicts with previous employers or talking down your own experiences

  • Spelling and grammatical errors
  • Errors can give a bad impression; always proofread and consider using tools like Grammarly or having someone else review your letter

  • Lack of evidence
  • When you claim to have certain skills or experiences, back them up with specific examples

  • Overly casual tone
  • Keep the tone professional and respectful throughout the letter

  • Making demands
  • Avoid stating salary requirements or job perks before you’ve even been offered an interview

  • Clichés and overused buzzwords
  • Try to be original in your language and avoid tired phrases like "think outside the box"

    So far we’ve covered answers to what is a cover letter, what not to say in a cover letter, and more. Let’s move on to how to write a cover letter when you want to keep it relatively simple.

    What is a Cover Letter

    How to write a simple cover letter

    What is a cover letter’s must-have inclusions when you’re looking to keep it short and sweet? Let’s take a look.

    • Include your name and contact details at the top
    • Address the letter to a specific person if possible. If not, addressing it to the “Hiring Manager” works
    • State the job you're applying for and express your enthusiasm briefly
    • Highlight your key skills and experiences that align with the job using one or two specific examples
    • Express your eagerness to discuss your qualifications in an interview and state that you look forward to their response
    • End with "Best regards" or "Sincerely," followed by your name
    • Check for errors to ensure professionalism

    All in all, keep it concise in explaining why you’re the right fit for the company and this position.

    What are the three main things needed in a cover letter?

    What is a cover letter’s must haves? Let’s dive in…

    A personalised introduction

    Begin with a greeting addressed to the specific hiring manager if possible, and introduce yourself while stating the position you are applying for. This sets a professional tone and shows that you have tailored the cover letter to the company and role.

    Your relevant qualifications and experiences

    Detail your skills and experiences that directly relate to the job description. Highlight achievements and provide specific examples where you successfully utilized your abilities in a way that would be beneficial to the potential employer.

    A strong closing statement

    Conclude with a compelling closing that reiterates your interest in the position. Express your eagerness to further discuss how you can contribute to the company in an interview, and thank the reader for considering your application.

    What is a Cover Letter

    How should a cover letter look?

    By now, we’ve ticked a lot of points off the list; we’ve covered what is a cover letter, what to say on a cover letter, what not to say on a cover letter, and many other hot topics. Now, let’s talk about the visual expectation.

    For an aesthetically pleasing cover letter, focus on visual and structural elements:

    • Use a professional font like Arial or Times New Roman in size 10 to 12, and maintain uniform margins of about one inch. The overall design should be balanced and clean to make your cover letter both readable and visually appealing
    • Start with a clean header including your name in a larger font, followed by contact details like phone number, email, and LinkedIn profile
    • Place the date below your header, aligning it neatly to the far right for a clean vibe
    • Address the letter directly to the hiring manager using "Dear [Name]" or "Dear Hiring Manager/Team" if the name is unknown
    • Keep the introduction brief, mentioning the job you're applying for and how you found out about it
    • In 1-2 paragraphs, focus on experiences and skills relevant to the job; consider using bullet points for clarity
    • Conclude by expressing your eagerness for an interview and thanking them for considering your application
    • End with "Best regards" or "Sincerely," followed by your name; leave space for a signature if sending a hard copy

    What do hiring managers look for in a cover letter?

    Hiring managers look for several key elements in a cover letter to assess a candidate's suitability for a position:

    • Cover letters that are specifically tailored to the position and company, showing that the candidate has taken the time to understand the role
    • A letter that clearly and concisely conveys why the candidate is a good fit for the role
    • Mentions of specific skills and experiences that directly relate to the job description, particularly interested in examples that demonstrate how a candidate has successfully applied these skills in previous roles
    • A genuine interest and enthusiasm for the job and the company
    • A professional tone, language, and formatting; including proper spelling, grammar, and adherence to standard business letter formats
    • The  unique qualities or experiences the candidate brings to the table
    • A sign that the candidate will fit well with the company’s culture and team dynamics
    What is a Cover Letter

    How to write a perfect cover letter

    So, in summary, what is a cover letter but a ticket to your next exciting career move (when written correctly)? At Monday & Co., we are professional resume writers who know how to write a cover letter that secures you an interview. In today’s competitive job market, having a standout CV is crucial, but pairing it with a compelling cover letter can make all the difference. It’s your first opportunity to make a positive impression on potential employers, showcasing your enthusiasm and fit for the role.

    Embark on your journey to career success with Monday & Co.’s professional cover letter writing service. The process is straightforward and designed to be hassle-free. Just provide us with some basic information on our project requirements page, and let us handle the rest. Keep in mind that we also offer ATS-friendly resume writing services to really help you put your best foot forward. In addition, if you’ve enjoyed this deep dive answer to the common question, what is a cover letter? be sure to check out our other blog posts.