Next Stop: Your Magazine Dream Job

The Cover Letter Template That Always Works for Me

By Erin Maher

My name is Erin, and I’m here to help you write a good cover letter for your job application. Because I’m tired of everyone asking me to write one for them.

First things first: what qualifies me?

I’ve been reading/writing/editing professionally for the past seven years. Secondly, as “just” an English major, I’ve managed to successfully land jobs at multiple major sports and entertainment corporations in a competitive field, without having an “in” and knowing someone who worked there. Thirdly, Chandra Turner, the founder of Ed2010 and Talent Fairy, saw another version of this post on Linked In and loved it so much she asked me to tweak it just for you.

So how did I, a liberal arts student, with absolutely no discernible skills, get these coveted positions? (If I was actually good at those jobs is another post!)

My cover letters. 

Yes, recruiters will often tell you that they don’t read cover letters. But hiring managers do, especially if the cover letter is sent directly to their inbox, and has a captivating opening sentence. 

Is this a guaranteed way to get a job? No. Nothing’s guaranteed. But I just wanted to share with everyone during this tough time how I’ve managed to set myself apart from the pack, and hopefully, you can glean something to help you on your journey to a new job. 

Let’s get started. 

Step One: Find a Job Posting

For a job you really, really want. 

Wondering who is hiring at the moment? LinkedIn keeps an updated list of employers who are hiring during the time of COVID. 

For the cover letter we’re about to write, we’ll use an example job posting as we walk through the cover letter writing steps.  

Open Position: Digital Content Creator

Company: Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory

Posting: Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory is looking for a full-time Digital Content Creator to share the whimsy and wonder of the Wonka Brand and provide a digital world full of pure imagination for customers around the globe. 

Responsibilities: 

  • Conceive, pitch and write SEO-optimized blog posts for the Willy Wonka website
  • Copy edit all social media and video content; work with both social media and video teams to ensure complementary coverage of content
  • Manage the editorial calendar
  • Write all C-level internal and external communications 
  • Must have strong knowledge of the brand and familiarity with all products, including Fizzy Lifting Drinks, Everlasting Gobstoppers, Golden Eggs, etc. 
  • Work closely in collaboration with mercurial CEO, certified crackpot, and “Forbes Top Entrepreneur of 1964,” William Wonka.

 

Alright, cool. This will be sweet. Pun intended. 

Step Two: Write the Cover Letter

A: Format the cover letter properly.

Correct use and placement of date, signature, etc. If you don’t know how to do this, Google it. 

B: Give ’Em a Good Opening Sentence/Paragraph

Your opening sentence is the most important part of your letter. Give them something enticing to read that will make them want to know more about you, your background, and why you would be a good fit for the job. 

Before you begin the cover letter writing process, make sure that you read the company’s mission statement or any literature on the company’s website. 

Being informed and educated on a company will allow you to write an opening sentence that will prove that you understand the brand  on a deeper level. Convince the reader that you are familiar with its work or mission. Anyone can apply for a job, but understanding why a company does what it does or showing interest in the brand elevates your resume. Having a personal connection to a brand or product makes you that much of a better hire, as you will be the perfect advocate for the company and employer. 

So, in the first sentence, we want to:

1. Demonstrate that we know the brand/employer on a more intimate level.

2. Show that you want the job.

Easy enough, right? 

Now, we’re educated and informed. Let’s write.


“Wonka Candy has defined millions of childhoods around the world with sweet treats and the inspiration to dream big. I’d like to inspirit the next generation of dreamers and introduce them to the world of pure imagination as a Digital Content Creator for Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.”

Below, find more examples of opening sentences to help you out. 

Examples of first sentences/paragraphs that I’ve used:

Position: Administrative Assistant

Employer: USTA

Sentence: 

“In the game of tennis, you may get to serve twice, but in the game of life, you only live once. And I would really love to spend my one life working for the fantastic organization that is the USTA.” 

Position: Associate, Special Events

Employer: The Wildlife Conservation Society

Sentence: 

“While I admit that I have not personally protected gorillas in the Congo or aided wolverines in the Yellowstone Rockies, I can say in full confidence I would be honored to work and help raise funds for the world’s preeminent conservation organization, the Wildlife Conservation Society.”

Position: Administrative Assistant

Employer: NY Mets

Sentence: 

“Inscribed on the walls of Citi Field are American hero and baseball legend Jackie Robinson’s prolific words, ‘A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.’ And I would really love to spend my one life impacting the lives of every New York Mets fan by working for the fantastic organization that is the New York Mets.”  

Now that we’ve captured the reader’s attention, let’s display why we are a great candidate for the position. 

C: The Body Paragraph 

This paragraph is much easier.

First, identify yourself. Put this sentence between the first sentence/paragraph, and your body paragraph:

“My name is [insert your name here], and I am a recent applicant for the [title of role] position for [name of company].”

Great, now to the meat of the body paragraph. 

For this example, we’ll pretend that you currently work at a brewery, and have held multiple positions there. Your current role is as Assistant Social Media Manager. 

Go back to the job posting. Review it. What are the shared responsibilities between your current job/former job and this job posting? Highlight three or more action words that you did in your last job. 

Responsibilities: 

  • Conceive, pitch and write SEO-optimized blog posts for the Willy Wonka website
  • Copy edit all social media and video content; collaborate with both social media and video teams to ensure complementary coverage of content
  • Manage the editorial calendar
  • Write all C-level internal and external communications 
  • Must have strong knowledge of the brand and familiarity with all products, including Fizzy Lifting Drinks, Everlasting Gobstoppers, Golden Eggs, etc. 
  • Work closely in collaboration with mercurial CEO, certified crackpot, and “Forbes Top Entrepreneur of 1964,” William Wonka.

Great. Now the whole point of the body paragraph is to show how you are qualified for the position. Demonstrating that you already conduct the required responsibilities proves that you are an excellent candidate. 

So, now we take those words and actions that we highlighted and include them in the body paragraph, ideally peppering in other key words from the job description (i.e., “editorial calendar,” “social media,” “blog”). Here’s what that looks like:

“I have extensive experience working in the digital forefront of the food and beverage industry, holding multiple positions for The Lil’ Brewing Company, where I have worked since 2016. When I first started at my company, I was a waitress in the tap room, but during my slow days I interviewed staff in different positions and departments around the brewery. I pitched those interviews as a blog series for The Lil’ Brewing Company. I wrote all 25 of the blogs, and collaborated with the video team to adapt the blogs into a video series, and I also collaborated with the social team, helping to craft and copy edit all posts that accompanied the series. In 2018, I was promoted to my current role as Assistant Social Media Manager. Since joining my team,  I’ve helped to more than double The Lil’ Brewing Company’s social media followers from just 6,000 in 2018, to over 15,000 in 2020. In addition, I manage the editorial calendar and write weekly blog posts for the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory website that highlights the company, customers, and new products. I continually cross-collaborate with all departments in the brewery to develop new content ideas and strategies.” 

D: The Personal Paragraph

This a short paragraph that reflects how you relate to the job/work/company on a personal or emotional level. The goal is show the employer that you get their brand better than the average Joe. (When The Talent Fairy read this post, she even felt like this could be your opening graph. Go with what works for you. Obviously you don’t want to lead with something unless it’s authentic!) 

Here is an example paragraph for our Willy Wonka Digital Content Creator position:

“Besides my extensive experience working on the digital side of the food and beverage industry, I also have a deep affinity for Wonka products. After every report card in elementary school, my parents always gifted me with a Golden Egg for a job well done. My childhood and some of my greatest memories are punctuated with Wonka products, and I’d love to share that magic and nostalgia with future generations.”

This short paragraph not only shows that you are familiar with the products, but that there is sentimentality and a personal tie to the brand.  

E: The Closer

So close to the finish line. Let’s write one final paragraph to tie it together. 

We want to reiterate the skills that we mentioned in the body paragraph, and thank the employer for its consideration:

“I believe that with my extensive digital experience, strong collaboration skills, and background in the food and beverage industry, that I would be the perfect Digital Content Creator to help inspire the next generation of Wonkas.  Attached please find my resume for consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.”

And now, let’s put it all together:

Dear [Recruiter/Hiring Manager/Etc.]

 

Wonka Candy has defined millions of childhoods around the world with sweet treats and the inspiration to dream big. I’d like to inspirit the next generation of dreamers and introduce them to the world of pure imagination as a Digital Content Creator for Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

My name is Erin Maher, and I am a recent applicant for the Digital Content Creator position for Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

I have extensive experience working in the digital forefront of the food and beverage industry, holding multiple positions for The Lil’ Brewing Company, where I have worked since 2016. When I first started at my company, I was a waitress in the tap room, but during my slow days I interviewed staff in different positions and departments around the brewery. I pitched those interviews as a blog series for The Lil’ Brewing Company. I wrote all 25 of the blogs, and collaborated with the video team to adapt the blogs into a video series, and I also collaborated with the social team, helping to craft and copy edit all posts that accompanied the series. In 2018, I was promoted to my current role as Assistant Social Media Manager. Since joining my team,  I’ve helped to more than double The Lil’ Brewing Company’s social media followers from just 6,000 in 2018, to over 15,000 in 2020. In addition, I manage the editorial calendar and write weekly blog posts for the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory website that highlights the company, customers, and new products. I continually cross-collaborate with all departments in the brewery to develop new content ideas and strategies.

Besides my extensive experience working on the digital side of the food and beverage industry, I also have a deep affinity for Wonka products. After every report card in elementary school, my parents always gifted me with a Golden Egg for a job well done. My childhood and some of my greatest memories are punctuated with Wonka products, and I’d love to share that magic and nostalgia with future generations.

I believe that with my extensive digital experience, strong collaboration skills, and background in the food and beverage industry, that I would be the perfect Digital Content Creator to help inspire the next generation of Wonkas.  Attached please find my resume for consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely, 

Erin Maher

And we’re done.

Did it take time, energy, and effort? Absolutely. But all the best things in life do. If you really want something, invest that time to put your best foot forward, you never know what will happen. 

Want your beautifully crafted cover letter to directly hit the inbox of the hiring editor? Check out Ed2010’s list of media company email formats.

Happy job hunting! 

 

Erin Maher is a freelance writer and sunscreen’s No. 1 fan. Her writing has been featured on USOpen.org, Prevention, and Consumer Reports. When she’s not busy applying sunscreen or writing about life as a millennial, she’s writing for laughs on her personal blog. Follow her: Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


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