Chances are you have had to write one or two cover letters (we’re being generous) in your lifetime, and you’ll probably have to write several more before you land your end-all dream job or reach retirement. As frustrating and tedious as cover letters can seem, we are here to help you through it. With the right template and instruction, they aren’t so bad!
A generic cover letter should be used when a job application specifies that a cover letter is either optional or required. We recommend sending one even if the posting does not mention a cover letter, as they can help increase your chances and show the employer you took the time to write one anyway!
Generic cover letters should be like a game of professional Mad Libs. You should save a template with text that you can easily and quickly replace to meet the job and company to which you are applying. But the trick is to not make it too generic, as you do not want the employer to know what you're doing. It should seem like you genuinely took the time to rewrite an entire cover letter for this specific position. When you’re on the hunt for a job, generic cover letters will be the time-saving life hack that you come to swear by.
Your generic cover letter should not just be a retelling of all the information on your resume, but rather, it should go into the relevant and important job details you didn’t have room for on that one single sheet. Use your cover letter to further explain why you would be right for the position based on your previous duties that have prepared you for this job in particular.
Become your own marketing committee in this letter. Speak of specific tasks and assignments you completed well and how they benefited your past company. If you have any hard data on your performance, or any policies you enacted that had a great effect on business, elaborate on those in this letter. Describe how your past work experience will make you the right candidate for this position. Be specific and find the right line between conversational and professional. You don’t want to sound like a robot, but you also want them to know you are taking this very seriously.
You should always work to find the hiring manager so you can list her name on the cover letter, rather than using the general “Dear Hiring Manager” greeting, which should only be listed if you absolutely cannot find the person’s name.
Be sure to also add how you heard about the position and if you were referred by anyone in particular within the company. And end your letter by promising to follow up on this opportunity — this will let them know you are serious and that they can expect to hear from you again. End with “Sincerely,” “Yours truly,” or something to that effect, followed by your signature (if a hard copy) and your name fully typed out.
Always fact check any information you include about the company, from the name of the hiring manager to any statistics you may include. Do this for your own information as well — make sure your company details are correct, as well as any other pieces of information from your own career history that you include.
Always spell check your cover letter (that’s a given). But spell check does not grab every error that you may include. Read through your letter for grammatical errors, read it aloud to hear how it sounds and have someone else go through it as well. Be as thorough as possible, too — one simple error could place your application at the bottom of the pile.
Or, paragraphs that are simply way too long. Employers will look over your letter and may decide not to even read it if it appears too long or wordy. Make sure each paragraph has around five or six lines and around three sentences. Put one space between each paragraph as well to make sure it reads easily and looks appealing to the hiring manager.
Avoid speaking negatively about your previous companies, managers, etc. This type of language could be perceived as negativity in the workplace and a negative attitude, in general. Plus, you want them to believe you will be loyal to them if you are given the position; you do not want the hiring manager to think you would speak negatively about them in the future.
Finally, check out (and save!) this generic cover letter template. Insert your own information and add details that pertain to the desired position, company and to yourself as an employee.
Your City, State Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Recipient's City, State Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. [Last Name of Hiring Manager]:
I am writing to express my interest in filling the position of [Name of Position] for [Name of Company]. Having worked at my [Current/Recent] position of [Name of Most Relevant Position] for [X Amount of Years], I believe I have gained extensive experience in [X, X and X] that would help me excel at [Name of Company] in this role.
I have followed [Name of Company] for [X Number] of years and have always been fascinated by the [Product] and company mission of [X]. In the past, I have worked with [Similar Brands/Companies] as a [Name of Position(s)] where I learned [Applicable Skill Mentioned in Job Listing]. I was in charge of launching [Something Specific You Accomplished] within my previous team that helped to benefit the company in [This Specific Way]. I was also able to strengthen my [Another Applicable Skill], as well as my [Another Applicable Skill], which I believe would make me an ideal candidate for this position. I enjoyed taking on these leadership roles and working on a team of [X Number] in order to achieve [X Goal].
It has been my professional goal for a long time to achieve [Position Level] within a company that I admire and am inspired by, and I have always had [X Company Name] in mind. I believe my past work experience, as well as my [X Relevant Skill or Experience], would make me an ideal candidate for the [Position] position.
I am eager to discuss my candidacy for this position, and invite you to visit my resume and [LinkedIn Profile/Portfolio] as my work experience is highlighted in more detail. If you wish to contact me, I can be reached via phone or email. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. I look forward to staying in touch.
Your Signature (hard copy letter)
Your Typed Name