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How to Write Effective Cover Letters

October 25, 2018
by Holly Ocaya 
Holly started freelance writing in 2010. As someone who has not graduated from college, she is living proof that you don't need a degree, education, or experience to be a good freelancer. Nowadays, Holly provides support for aspiring freelancers and works on her own writing endeavors.

You don’t want to write just any cover letter- you want to write an effective one!

And as far as I know, there is only one type of effective cover letter – the one that gets you hired. 😉

As a freelancer, you’ll often browse through job posts and respond with cover letters. It can be hard searching for jobs that match your skills.

So when you finally find some, it's tempting to copy-and-paste generic templates like:

Dear Hiring Manager,

My name is Holly and I’m writing to express my interest in your recent job post.

STOP!

This kind of letter might have worked in corporate.

But it won’t work in the online world where clients have to skim through 50+ applications and don't have lots of time.

As a freelancer and a client myself, let me share what I've learned from cover letters that work.

5 Quick Tips on Writing Effective Cover Letters:

1. Empathize with the client.

Empathize is an effective way of writing cover letters

Photo by Kim Stiver from Pexels

The first tip to writing a successful cover letter is to show empathy.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in one's shoes.

Clients post jobs online because they have a business problem that needs solutions. Be sure to include a sentence or two that shows you understand.

You could acknowledge how time-consuming that certain problem could be. Then, talk about how you’re willing to ‘assist’ them with the task.

No need to say that you’re writing to express your interest because that’s stating the obvious.

2. Show your personality.

Show your personality is an effective way of writing cover letters

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Avoid sounding too formal in your cover letters.

Keep your tone casual yet professional by using proper grammar and punctuation.

Avoid using phrases such as ‘attached herewith is my resume’ hoping to sound smart. (Seriously, no one talks like this in real life so it sounds too impersonal.)

Don’t be afraid to let your personality come through in your cover letter.

If you want to stand out, show your unique personality through your choice of words!

If you’re witty, insert some good-natured humor into your cover letter.

If you’re applying as a Virtual Assistant to a music store owner, don’t be afraid to mention your favorite songs or better yet, start with a catchy lyric.

3. Exude confidence.

Exude confident is an effective way of writing cover letters

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

You know why you’re good for the job. Share these reasons with your potential client by expressing how you can help him/her.

If you’ve never done some of the tasks on the job post, don’t fret.

Simply tell the client about your other related skills and how you could apply them to their business.

There’s no need to mention anything about your inexperience.

I’ve seen cover letters mentioning, ‘even though I’m a newbie’ or ‘I really hope you become my first client.’

This is a no-no and only leaves a bad impression.

4. Attach relevant portfolio items ASAP.

Attachment of portfolio is an effective way of writing cover letters

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Attach relevant portfolio items immediately, even if the job post doesn’t specify so.

These can be certifications or work samples you’ve done that are similar to the tasks on the job post.

This will prove that you can do the job immediately as the clients read your proposal. ?

5. Don't copy and paste.

Don't copy and paste in writing an effective cover letters

Photo by Studio 7042 from Pexels

Do NOT copy-paste or recycle your old cover letters for new job posts.

Effective cover letters are personalized and tailored to the client’s need.

It’s rare for two job posts to have the same exact need unless they’re from the same industries. So you should not be re-using any cover letters.

Copy and pasting will only make you appear lazy and lacking work ethic.

And trust me, clients can tell copy-and-pasted cover letters from personalized ones.

Here’s a sample of a high-quality cover letter for this job post:

guidelines and tips in writing an effective cover letters

Cover Letter:

Hi, I’ve been reading about energy healing and it sounds really interesting. I would love to learn more about it while helping you with your tasks.

As a detail-oriented Virtual Assistant, I can follow through tasks quickly. My proficiency in email management, social media management, WordPress, and Excel (among many other skills) make me a strong candidate for this role.

Please see attached samples of my past works, for your reference. Working daily from Monday-Friday, up to 10 hours a week, is very doable for me.

I’d love to discuss how we could successfully work together, are you available for a quick chat or call? Hope to hear from you soon.

Remember, this cover letter works for this job post because I wrote it specifically for this client.

But if you copy-and-paste the same exact words to respond to other job posts, it will lose its effect.

You can learn from best practices but use your own words & write from scratch. Don't forget to empathize, show your personality, and be confident. 🙂

In the VA Bootcamp, we discuss writing effective cover letters more in detail.

And since every job post is different, we give intensive review and feedback to individual cover letters during our 30-day Hustle Challenge at the end of the course. 😉

Cover letter writing is only daunting at the start. But as you keep sending high-quality proposals, you'll find it easier to write cover letters that work.

Good luck in your applications! Aja! ??

by Holly Ocaya 
Holly started freelance writing in 2010. As someone who has not graduated from college, she is living proof that you don't need a degree, education, or experience to be a good freelancer. Nowadays, Holly provides support for aspiring freelancers and works on her own writing endeavors.

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2 comments on “How to Write Effective Cover Letters”

  1. Wow,you're do very good mentor to us specially to me as a high school graduate only,you teach me alot,and i've learned a lot from it at the same time..
    Thank you so much and GOD BLESS YOU!

  2. Its wonderful to read your ideal cover letter.As a begginer it inspire and teach me how to write ..I' ve learned a lot at the same time..thank you for being mentor to us...God Bless..

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