How to Write a Cover Letter in 2024 [Step-By-Step Guide With Examples]

I. Introduction

Hi everyone! This is Scott from Fetti. Thank you so much for joining us today! 

A little about me: I’ve spent the last 10 years working in undergraduate admissions and recruiting at places like UCLA and Meta. I have reviewed thousands of resumes, essays, letters, and profiles to find the world’s best talent, and now I’m here to share my top tips with you! Today, we will be covering the cover letter.

The Importance of a Cover Letter

Okay, let’s dive in. First, why is a cover letter important? A cover letter is meant to provide a hiring manager with more details on:

  • Your experiences and impact
  • How your skill set aligns with the role you’re applying to
  • What you can bring to a team
  • Why you want the position

Cover letters add more color and understanding to your application and resume.

II. Understanding the Basics

Definition and Purpose of a Cover Letter

A cover letter is a one-page application document that provides an employer with information about your qualifications, experience, and why you're interested in the role. Candidates may choose to describe their role-related skills, outline how the position aligns with their career goals, and provide a more in-depth review of their industry experience than what is included on their resume. A well-written cover letter can assist individuals in making a positive first impression on a hiring manager and securing an interview.

Different Types of Cover Letters: Job Application, Inquiry, Networking

There are three main types of cover letters:

  • Job Application: This is the most common type of cover letter and is typically sent along with your resume when applying for a job. It elaborates on the relevant parts of your work history. Similar to your resume, it's crucial to tailor your cover letter to align with the skills and desired qualifications outlined in the job description.
  • Inquiry: While not as commonly used today, the inquiry cover letter is still an option. It isn't a response to a specific job posting but rather allows a candidate to express their interest in a particular company. It can include a few examples of the skills you bring to the table and the type of work at which you excel.
  • Networking: This type of cover letter is usually quite brief and has been largely replaced by a popular professional social networking platform: LinkedIn! A networking cover letter is one you would send to former colleagues, managers, mentors, and other contacts, rather than to a hiring manager as part of a job application. The purpose of this letter is to inform the recipient of your status as a job seeker and to request their assistance in your job search.

Key Components of a Cover Letter

Regardless of the type of cover letter you are writing, each will adhere to the same basic framework:

  • Step 1 – Introduce yourself and explain why you are interested in the position.
  • Step 2 – Highlight your relevant skills and experience.
  • Step 3 – Thank the employer for their time and express your excitement for the role.

For today's discussion, we will be focusing on a job application cover letter. Now that we have a framework in place, let’s start preparing!

III. Preparing Your Cover Letter

Step 1: Researching the Company and Position

The first step here is to remember that job seeking is an intentional process, so before you start writing, conduct your research about the company and the role. While having a thorough understanding of the job description is great, be sure to also review the company’s website, employee profiles on LinkedIn, and their social media pages. 

This research will not only help you understand the company better but will also assist you in customizing your cover letter to align with the company’s mission or goals. Additionally, if possible, reach out to someone you know at the company before writing your cover letter for a quick virtual coffee chat. 

If that isn’t possible, you can send over a few tailored questions to them. This way, you can start your letter by referencing the interaction, and a hiring manager can take note that you know someone at the company!

Step 2: Identifying the Recipient

The recipient of your cover letter may not always be known. It may go to a sourcer, recruiter, hiring manager, a committee, or, more than likely, a combination of people. If you know the hiring manager, it is appropriate to list their name in the salutation. However, if the recipient is not known, another great practice is to open with “Dear Search Committee” or “Dear Hiring Team,” or something along those lines. This way, it’s addressed to anyone in the hiring process!

Step 3: Choosing an Appropriate Format

Cover letters, in general, should adhere to the same formatting guidelines with the following parameters:

  • Pick a legible cover letter font (I personally use Arial, but other fonts like Calibri work) and keep the font-size between between 10 and 12 points
  • Set margins to 1 inch on each side of the page
  • Double spacing between paragraphs and 1-inch spacing between lines
  • Left-align all content
  • Limit the length of your cover letter to one page
  • Save your cover letter in PDF format.
  • When saving, always begin the file name with your first and last name, followed by your job title, and then specify that it's a cover letter. For example, I would use Scott Wilson - Talent Specialist at Fetti - Cover Letter.pdf

Next Steps:

Now that we’ve got all our prep work out of the way, let’s start writing! 

IV. Structuring Your Cover Letter

Step 1: Opening Paragraph


Remember that a best practice is to keep your greeting general, so start off with something like, "Dear Search Committee:"

First Paragraph:

Your first paragraph serves as an introduction and states the purpose of the letter. It's your first chance to engage your reader. Start off by letting the reader know your excitement for the position you are applying for and specify which role you are applying for. If you know the hiring manager or have connected with someone at the company, be sure to mention that. 

Finally, include one sentence on why you believe you are a great fit for the role. Be sure to state that you "will" be a strong fit for the role because you will be! Avoid phrasing sentences like "I think I will be a good fit for this role" or "I believe my skills align with the job expectations" - while not terrible word choices, it's best to convey as much confidence as possible in your letter.


Dear Hiring Committee:
It is with great excitement that I submit to you my application to be a Talent Specialist at Fetti! I connected with Sam, the CEO, last week, and I was so impressed with her professional background and the company’s mission of transforming the job market for Gen Z. I have ten years of experience in talent acquisition in both the higher education and technology fields recruiting top talent with a constant eye toward diversity. My skills in recruiting, program management, and event planning make me a strong candidate for this role.

Step 2: Body Paragraphs 

After your first paragraph, you’ll want to spend 1 to 2 paragraphs doing the following: 

  • Highlighting relevant skills and experiences: What are some of the major skills you see listed in the job description? Make sure to emphasize those skills in your cover letter in more detail. Not sure about the most important skills? Typically, the most crucial aspects of the job will be listed toward the top. A second option is to copy and paste the job description into a word cloud and extract the most-referenced skills to highlight those.
  • Aligning your qualifications with the job requirements and needs of the company: This is where your research on the role itself and the company will come into play. What are the needs of the company? How will this role meet those needs? What skills and qualifications do you have that will help the company get what they’re looking for? These are all questions for you to consider.
  • And finally, you want to be sure you are providing specific examples and achievements. It is one thing to say you're good at something; it's another to have an example to back it up. Be sure to include some of your top, relevant accomplishments and any data that you may have to support how you drove impact!


As a Senior Assistant Director at UCLA, I was responsible for leading domestic high school recruitment initiatives, managing a team of seven professional staff as well as a highly visible internship program, reviewing and evaluating applications for admission, and running our social media channels with cross functional partners. Notably, I was responsible for organizing over 150 small and large scale recruiting events annually, running and managing an ambassador program of 40 interns, establishing and executing our social media strategy, and reviewing over 1000 applications for admission annually. 
I ensured that me and my team’s recruiting practices were data-informed and with diversity recruiting best practices kept top of mind. For example, I worked to double our recruiting initiatives in rural California, resulting in a 10% jump in applications and a 5% increase in enrollments from these priority areas. 
Additionally, I gained strong corporate technical sourcing and recruiting experience during my 1.5 years with Meta working to hire top university and early career software engineering talent to the company. In my last half at the company, I exceeded my overall hiring goal and, notably, exceeded my diversity hiring goal with 46% of my hires being diverse against a 29% benchmark.

Step 3: Closing Paragraph 

Once you've written a bit about your experiences, it's time to wrap up with a strong closing paragraph! A few things to keep in mind with your closing:

  • Express enthusiasm and interest in the opportunity (you should have also done this in your first paragraph).
  • Request an interview or express openness to address any questions they may have.
  • Thank the reader for their time and consideration.

Be sure to end your letter with a sign-off, such as “Sincerely, “Best, or “Regards” and your name! 


I am confident that my skills and experience make me an excellent fit for the Talent Specialist position and am excited at the prospect of joining your team. I welcome an opportunity to interview with you and the hiring team or to answer any questions you may have about my background. Thank you for your time and consideration and look forward to hearing from you soon.

V. Writing Tips and Best Practices

  • Use a professional tone and language! Do not use abbreviations or write as if you are texting your friends.
  • Keep the letter concise and focused! Include a few examples and results that showcase the impact you made.
  • And finally - be sure to tailor the letter to the specific job and company and use your examples to highlight your experience and impact for the specific role you are applying for.

Finalizing and Sending

Now, we're ready to send. Some final tips:

  • Review the cover letter for clarity and coherence.
  • Proofread and edit for grammar and spelling errors.
  • Save the letter in an appropriate file format (PDF or Word).

VI. Conclusion

Now you’re ready to send! Best of luck with your job search process. 

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