If you’ve read  our Guide to a Great Resume, then you’re well on your way to creating a professional, appealing profile for yourself as a job applicant with the vital next step:

The cover letter.

It’s amazing how tricky it can be to talk about yourself for even a page, especially when you need to focus on your skills, accomplishments and goals.

Whether you’re overwhelmed by the idea of writing a cover letter or are just looking for some tips take your current one to a new level, we’re here to help.

Do I really need to write a cover letter?

It is highly advisable to include a cover letter with every application you send.

It acts as the perfect complement to your resume by helping employers understand how you want to utilize your skills and experience highlighted on your resume for their position.

It also helps them get an early indication of essentials like your writing style and abilities, and what kind of a cultural and skill-based fit you’d be in their organization.

Overall, it is a truly effective and necessary part of the job application process.

How long should my cover letter be?

Short and simple: we strongly recommend keeping it down to one page if you can.

Want more tips on why you need a cover letter and how long yours should be? Find your local YMCA Employment office and book an appointment today.

How do I write a cover letter? What goes into one?

  • Your name and contact information. Generally this information should adorn the top of the document, centered and with your name as the focus.

Applicant Name
123 Address Road
City, Province P0L 1D2
(905) 555-5555

  • The date. Place the date of writing in the top left corner, a full space below your name and contact information.
  • Employer’s name and contact information. This should go on the top left hand side, a space below the date.

September 27, 2017

Ms. Firstname Lastname
Company Name
123 Company Street
City, Province N0T 2R1

  • A professional greeting. Keep it simple, but businesslike. If you don’t know who will be receiving it, try “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To Whom It May Concern.”
  • Your qualifications, interest in the position, and why you’d be a good fit. Here’s where it can get a little overwhelming, so let’s try to break it down a bit more. Remember, try to keep this one page.
  • Your first paragraph should delve into the reasons for your communique: the position you are applying to and why.

Dear Mr./Ms. Employer,

I am writing to you today to inquire about the position of (job title) at (Organization Name), for which I recently saw a posting online. I believe that my background in (industry) has provided me with the proper qualifications for this role, and I am certain I would be a highly valuable addition to your organization.

  • Your second and third paragraphs should go into bit more detail on your background, experience and qualifications.

With (# of months/years) of experience in (industry), I am particularly skilled in (list areas of expertise 1, 2, 3, etc). Furthermore, my experience with/in (list volunteer work, specific tasks at a previous job, etc.) are additional qualifications that would allow me to excel in this role.

I also have extensive experience with/in (example), most of which I gained while a (student/employee) at  (education/volunteer work/previous role). This has helped me (list benefits of experience), which has helped me further hone the skills necessary for this position.

  • Your final paragraph should emphasize your excitement and eagerness in hearing back regarding your application. Thank the employer for their time and consideration.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration. I look forward to your response regarding my application, and am eager to speak further with you regarding my background, qualifications and experience.

I can be reached by phone at (###) ###-#### or by email at email@address.com.


Your Name

Want more tips on what should go in your cover letter? Find your local YMCA Employment office and book an appointment today.

Can I use the same cover letter to apply for different jobs?

We don’t recommend it.

It is important to ensure that your cover letter is tailored to the position to which you are applying. Things to focus on changing:

  • Employer and organization name and details. Make sure these are accurate with each application: getting any of this wrong is almost a guarantee to get yourself out of the ‘potential candidates’ pile.
  • Background and experience. Depending on the position, you’ll probably want to highlight different examples of past jobs and specific skills you possess: some will apply to certain postings where others won’t.

How many times should I proofread and edit my cover letter?

Our resume guide advises “as many times as you can without going crazy”, and the same applies here. Make sure you ask a few others to take a look as well: fresh eyes always help.

As with the resume, not only could they find a few typos you missed, but they might also be able to offer some extra tips in terms of your cover letter’s content.

Where can I get additional pointers for creating an eye-catching cover letter?

If you’re still looking for some extra help with your cover letter, the YMCA’s Employment Services professionals are here to help you present your background, skills and qualifications in a strong, confident and professional manner.

They’ll work with you one-on-one to continue perfecting your cover letter, help ensure it gets the attention of employers, and find the right fit for your background, skills and qualifications.