How to Write the Perfect HR Cover Letter (With Examples)
Whether you’re just getting started in your HR career or you’re already an accomplished people professional looking for a new and exciting job opportunity, a well-written cover letter is essential to making the best impression on a prospective employer.
While your CV proves useful in giving an outline of your overall experience, a cover letter should tell a story about your career journey, showing how your experience relates to the job you’re applying for.
Cover letters can be tricky to master, however, especially if you’ve not had the chance to write many in the past. So, if you’re serious about landing your next HR gig, take a look below at our handy guide on how to write the perfect HR cover letter.
Step #1: Dates, addresses, and contact information
Before you even get to the body of your cover letter, you need to work out the header layout of the relevant dates, addresses, and contact information for your cover letter.
Begin with your name and address in the top-right corner of the page, like this:
Then, a space below on the left-hand side, you’ll also want to add:
Hiring Manager’s Name
Hiring Managers Title (if possible)
Company Street Address
Including this information on your cover letter ensures that it gets to the right person at the right address and guarantees that potential employers have immediate access to your contact details - which we would say is a super important element to scoring an interview!
Step#2: Add a personal touch
Now that we’ve gone over the semantics of formatting all the key contact information in your header, it’s time to think about personalising your initial introduction.
To start your cover letter off right, your best bet is to address the hiring manager. If their name is not listed on the job posting, do a little investigating on the company website or make a quick call to the office to see if you can find out their name. If the hiring manager’s name is, say, Jane Smith, make sure you use a formal, full name salutation with a comma to follow. For example:
- Dear Ms. Jane Smith,
If you can’t find a name to personalise your introduction, you can also use:
- Dear Sir/Madam,
- Dear Hiring Team, or
- Dear Hiring Manager,
Only use the alternative introductions if you’ve genuinely exhausted all of your outlets to find the right name. Also, avoid using phrases like ‘To Whom It May Concern’ or ‘Greetings’ as they’re typically considered an outdated practice in the modern recruitment world.
Step #3: Write your elevator pitch
Now the next step is to write your opening paragraph, or what is better known as your elevator pitch. This is your chance to catch the hiring manager’s attention, introduce yourself and explain why you’re enthusiastic about applying for the specific job role and how it aligns with your career goals.
If you’re applying for a general HR role, for example, it should look something like this:
‘I would like to introduce myself as an applicant for the available Human Resources Generalist position at [insert company]. As an accomplished HR professional with [X years] experience, I strive for excellence in each role that I take on, and I am ready for a new opportunity that will both challenge me and build on my existing experience so I can continue to make a positive impact on the people profession.’
If you currently have no HR experience, however, you can try this on for size:
‘I am writing to apply for the available [insert title] position at [insert company], as advertised on [insert platform]. While I’d like to be transparent in saying I am new to the HR industry, I am enthusiastic about the chance to start building a career within your company. I pride myself on working hard to create opportunities from every challenge I encounter, and I am confident that my education and transferable skills would make me a great fit for this role.’
You can expand or condense as you see fit, just make sure to keep your elevator pitch at 1 to 3 lines - after all, it’s about selling yourself well, and to do that, you need to keep things quick and punchy so you don’t lose the hiring manager’s attention.
Top tip: Before you get started here, consider the tone of voice of your cover letter as well. You’ll want to personalise it to best suit the company you're applying for to make the strongest impact.
For example, if it's a big corporation you'd personalise your tone of voice with more formal language, while you could likely use a more relaxed style when applying for a start-up or a creative company.
A useful method for judging this would be to look at the style of writing on their website and social media - are they formal and serious or more friendly and casual? This can give you an indicator of how they like to communicate. (Be sure never to be too casual though - no emojis!)
Step #4: Focus on your qualifications, skills and experience
Following your first paragraph, you’ll want to hone in on your relevant qualifications and skills for your middle paragraph(s). You’ll want to offer up more details about the information you’ve included on your resume and how your experiences apply to the job.
Here is an example to get you started:
‘Currently, I work as a [insert title] at [insert company], where it is my responsibility to [insert duties], using my [insert HR-related skills] to improve the efficiency of communication in the workplace between the organisation and employees.’
Then go on to explain your past experience and education, and how they tie into the role you’re applying for:
‘My past experience includes [insert past role and company], where it was my job to [insert responsibilities]. While working in this role, I learned a lot about the HR industry through [provide examples], and I believe that applying the skills and professionalism I’ve learned through these experiences to your organisation would be of great benefit.’
It would be a good idea to mention any relevant HR qualifications you have here as well, such as a CIPD HR qualification, and how that’s contributed to enhancing your knowledge, skills, and credibility.
If you’re applying with little to no experience, it’s okay to simply just highlight your relevant qualifications and/or transferable skills instead:
‘My relevant experience includes undertaking a [insert qualification here], where I learned [insert main takeaways]...
‘As highlighted in my CV, I also have experience working in [relevant jobs], where I picked up a number of industry-related skills that I believe transfer well and benefit both myself and the company in this position, including:
- Communication skills
- Proactive decision-making
- Training, developmental and coaching skills
- Administrative skills'
In either instance, you can also include examples about relevant projects or situations that provide insight into how you solve problems and excel in your work, drawing attention to the positive impact of your actions in your current or past roles.
Top tip: When you write your cover letter, also try to include a few keywords from the original job description in these paragraphs.
Step #5: Explain any large gaps
If you’re worried about a glaring gap on your CV, the middle paragraph(s) is also a good place to address this and make it relevant to your application.
If you took some time off to travel, for instance, you can write something like:
‘Prior to starting in my current role, I took [X time] off of work to travel. This allowed me the opportunity to learn about different people and cultures, something that I believe has benefited me in the HR profession given that we interact with diverse groups of people and personalities on a daily basis.’
You can also mention any volunteer work or short courses you engaged in during your time away from work. The trick is to put a positive spin on these gaps and demonstrate how they’ve contributed to your development as a professional.
Step #6: Finish it strong
Finish off your cover letter by thanking the employer for their time and consideration and reiterating your enthusiasm. For example:
‘I’ve always been a strong supporter of the people profession and genuinely believe it to be an integral part of every organisation. This is why I would be enthusiastic about the opportunity to join your team as an [insert title] and to immediately start contributing to the success of [insert company name]’s mission, goals and objectives.
Thank you for your time and consideration, I look forward to hearing from you.
(Sign Your Name)
Your Printed Name
If you’re not a fan of using ‘sincerely’ as a sign-off, you can also use:
- Kind regards, or
Step #7: Revise and format
Once you’ve completed your cover letter, always (always!) make sure to read it over a few times to check for any spelling mistakes or other errors.
Also check that your margins are 1-inch all the way around and that you’re using a 10- or 12-point, single-spaced font size (in Arial or Calibri, for example) to ensure easy reading.
Don’t forget to add a space between each paragraph section either. This keeps things clean, structured and appealing to look at.
We hope that reading through our guide to writing the perfect HR cover letter has you feeling confident to get started with your job application and helps you land the role of your dreams. Good luck!
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