How to Write a Good Cover Letter? Score Your Dream Job with 5 Paragraphs

Cover Letter Outline
  Part 1 - Introduction
  Part 2 - Motivation
  Part 3 - Qualification
  Part 4 - Supplementary Information
  Part 5 - Contact Information

In this era, unless there are some special reasons, I believe you must have a Facebook account.

Let us imagine that a stranger sent a friend invitation to you today. Before you accept it, he sent an image file of his business card to you. How would you feel?

cover letter for job application

Won’t you be a bit surprised? In fact, similar situations happen every day in the process of our job search. There is a job opening at your preferred company and your resume is ready for submission. You find its application portal, attach the files, type a few sentences and click “Send”! You are pleased that you completed your application before the deadline, but you did not realize that you might just make a wrong move.

Although Facebook is not exactly the same as job search, we can more or less understand the feeling of being "treated rudely" in the similar situation.

Therefore, what should we do?

letter of interest for job

Let us review the process mentioned earlier. When do you think was the moment your first impression was established on the recruiters? Was it the moment receiving your resume or your job application letter?

Let us imagine. When someone you do not know sent you a friend request via Facebook, would you like him to at least send you a greeting message?

In the process of job hunting, although resume and interview play a big part, the initial contact between both parties is actually the first letter. In other words, this letter should have two main influences:

  • Greeting
  • Establishing first impression

Usually, this letter sent along with resume is called “Cover Letter”, "Job Application Letter", or "Letter of Interest".

It is not difficult to write a good cover letter. As long as you adhere to the following five instructions, you can also write an excellent cover letter.


As mentioned in the beginning, the purpose of Cover Letter is for greeting and establishing a first impression. Think about how we greet someone when we meet for the first time?

"Hi, I am John Doe, PR Specialist at CakeResume. Nice to meet you."

Remember, there is a formula to write good cover letters. It needs to be natural and genuine. If you made the letter too formal, it will make recruiters think you are pretentious. The best situation is making it look naturally but just right.

At the beginning of a cover letter, simply explain who you are. You can start with “how are you”, “Hello” ... and other different greetings. According to the attribute of the company you are applying for, state clearly who you are and your current identity/status, such as fresh graduates or career changers.

📍 Reminder

Simply mention your status without too many details, since recruiters should be able to find other information on your resume.


When you want to add others as friends on Facebook, the ideal situation is to first send a message explaining why. It could be because you have met the person on a certain occasion or you have been following his/her blog. It is the same as job application.

In a cover letter for job application, it is suggested to mention the following topics.

  • How you learned the recruiting information.
  • Reasons why you chose this company instead of other companies.
  • Concerns you had while applying for this job.

This information would leave a good impression on recruiters, since it indicates that you are not applying for the position blindly without any further consideration.

For example, you can include information like you have always been a fan of this company's products, or you got to know this job vacancy due to friend’s recommendation.

📍 Reminder

The key point is to make recruiters realize that you have a reason to choose this job and have carefully thought about it.


If you have prepared a qualified resume, a 30 seconds self-introduction will not be a problem for you as well. In this segment, you can tell the recruiters why you are special and the best candidate for this position by briefly mentioning your core strengths or competencies.

Do keep in mind that you do not need to include too many details in this paragraph. All your information can be found on your resume, so this should be like a prelude, drawing interest in recruiters, and let them have a general impression on you.

You can specify your best experience by applying the "STAR Method", and also mention your "core competence" in this paragraph. As long as you write these two points well, you can basically end this paragraph. Do not write too much as this is only the first letter.

💡 [STAR Method]

STAR method refers to four words: situation, task, action, and result.

  • Situation : Under what scenario?
  • Task : What was the problem encountered? What was the goal to be achieved?
  • Action : What actions did you take to complete the task?
  • Result : What was the final result achieved? (Use data to support it!)

You can write more specific content by describing an experience or event through these four stages.

It is not necessary to include all four stages under every event. However, you can start by using this method to review your experiences, and construct powerful sentences to narrate them.

 💡 [Core Competence]

Core competence refers to your unique characteristics, which may be soft skills or transferable skills.

Core competence may not be obvious, but it can make you more efficient and effective in any employed role. For example, "sense of beauty" is a core competence, and "being sensitive to the correlation between numbers" is another. These are core competencies that cannot be diminished even with job changes.

Explaining how your core competencies can be applied to the position helps you stand out from other candidates.

Supplementary information

Basically, a complete cover letter for job application is finished in the first three paragraphs. If this paragraph is included, it can gain you some extra points. There is no harm not having it either.

The "Supplementary information" here refers to any information not included in the resume, but can be mentioned in this paragraph, such as portfolios, video resume, recommendation letters from others, personal special circumstances, etc. This information is not essential, but can potentially bring a positive impact, just like icing on a cake.

cover letter examples
Portfolios on CakeResume

Further reading:  3 Tips to Build a Professional Portfolio Resume

Some people might worry that whether it is necessary to explain special circumstances (such as physically challenged or with special needs) in the first letter. Why can’t I wait until interview?

Please remember that job searching is like a war of attrition. If you don’t mention unchangeable conditions right from the start, you might still be rejected at the end due to the same reason, which is actually a waste of your time. Although there is something to learn from every experience, it is more reasonable to focus on the best job opportunity according to the concept of opportunity cost.

Remember, honesty is the best policy.

Contact information

At the end of your cover letter, remember to leave your contact information and convenient time to contact you. Unless there are special circumstances, it is necessary to leave a contact number that can reach you. If you are unable to answer phone calls at a specific time (such as during working hours or school hours), please indicate your convenient time.

You do not want to miss your favorite job because you missed a call, right?

In the end, expressing gratitude can be used to wrap up your cover letter, such as “Thank you for your time. Have a wonderful day!” This is a form of politeness, and also to announce that the letter is over.

The five paragraphs above are the fundamentals of a complete cover letter. In addition, there are three things you should pay attention to.

  • Adopt an affirmative tone. Be confident but not conceited.
  • Incorporate foreshadowing in your cover letter for resume, to arouse recruiters' interest in meeting you.
  • Control the length of your cover letter / job application letter. Recruiters should be able to browse through it with a glance in 30 seconds.

I believe that now you’ve had a more concrete understanding on how to write a cover letter for job application. If you have never written a cover letter before, you can start writing your first one now. For first timer, you might find it difficult to make it short and precise at once. What you can do is keep writing, modifying and seeking opinions from others. The courage to try is always the best method to break the status quo.

Hope you can find your ideal job successfully!

Still finding it hard to write a good cover letter? Here are some Cover Letter Examples for you! Check out Cover Letter Samples for software engineers, designers, marketing positions, internship applications, and career changers.

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