If you've found the perfect HR job, the last thing you want is for the opportunity to slip through your fingers. Understanding how to write a great HR cover letter allows you to frame your skills positively to grab the hiring manager's attention. Below, we'll explain how to make your human resources cover letter stand out from the pile.
Why Your HR Cover Letter Matters
While you don't need specific qualifications or training to secure your first HR job, employers want to know you have the right skills and attitude to succeed.
Many core skills required for an HR career are soft skills, and demonstrating these attributes on your resume can be challenging. Writing a strong HR cover letter allows you to show how you meet an employer's specifications— which in turn encourages them to call you in for an interview.
In addition to your skills, professionalism, and suitability for the role as a human resources professional, your cover can address:
- Interest and intent: A cover letter shows that you are genuinely interested in the specific HR position and the company.
- Addresses gaps or special circumstances: If you have gaps in your employment history or special circumstances that need explaining, a cover letter is the appropriate place to provide context and reassure employers.
- Communication skills: As an HR professional, effective communication is crucial. A well-written cover letter demonstrates your ability to convey your thoughts clearly and persuasively.
- Enthusiasm and fit: Your tone and approach to writing a cover letter help employers gauge how well you'll fit into their organization and their HR team.
- Career Changes: If you're making a career change into HR from a different field, a cover letter allows you to explain your motivation and transferable skills.
What Makes a Cover Letter Stand Out from the Pile?
Thinking of your cover letter as an opportunity for self-marketing can help you view it through the eyes of a potential employer. Just like marketing a product, employers want to understand what you bring to the table, and how you can help their business achieve its aims.
A strong HR cover letter always adheres to the following:
- It speaks to the employer's needs
- It outlines clear, unique selling points
- It communicates your value in a unique voice
Speaking to The Employer's Needs
Understanding what your target audience needs is crucial to the success of any marketing campaign, and writing an HR cover letter is no exception. Tailoring your cover letter to each position allows you to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of a prospective employer's requirements, which will boost your chance of an interview.
The job advert can help you determine which skills and attributes a specific employer values. Identify any points covered in the job description, paying particular attention to any skills mentioned more than once.
Outlining Clear, Unique Selling Points
Products have unique selling points that distinguish them from similar brands, and leveraging these points helps businesses make sales. Your job search is no different from a brand speaking to a potential customer.
As a job seeker, you also have unique selling points that can help you stand out from applicants with similar qualifications.
To increase your chance of success, identify what makes you uniquely valuable to a company and emphasize it in your HR cover letter. If possible, back up each point with a concrete example of your skills in action to make your cover letter more compelling. For instance, you could describe how your communication skills helped you resolve conflicts efficiently in your previous role.
Additionally, you may want to focus on your skills instead of your previous job titles to reflect recent changes in hiring practices. Increasingly, employers are leveraging skills-based hiring — assessing applicants on their skills— a key recruitment practice given that 9 out of 10 employers are struggling to fill positions due to skills gaps.
Presently, more than 75% of employers use skills-based hiring practices, so highlight your skills in your cover letter to quickly and efficiently show them what they’re looking for.
Communicating Your Value in a Unique Voice
Writing your HR cover letter in the right voice shows the hiring manager you understand industry conventions and their company's culture. Legal, business, and healthcare companies usually prefer a formal writing style, while creative companies and start-ups often appreciate more energetic or creative approaches.
If you're unsure of what the employer will consider as the appropriate tone for a perfect cover letter, check out their company website, social media, and LinkedIn profile. Assess how the business represents itself in writing and do your best to replicate their voice.
If you do opt for a more creative start-uppy writing style, remember to stay on topic. Your originality shouldn’t pull focus from your qualifications and key achievements. And remember — an overly informal tone will give a false first impression that you might not take your responsibilities as an HR professional seriously.
Checklist for Writing a Great HR Cover Letter
A well-planned outline is vital to creating a convincing HR cover letter. Use this checklist to ensure your cover letter includes all the information a hiring manager requires to assess your application.
A Named Contact Person
Ideally, you should address the hiring manager using their courtesy title and last name— for example, "Dear Mr. Garcia" or "Dear Ms. Okoye." Address the person by their full name without a courtesy title if you don't know their gender.
Often, you'll find the hiring manager's name on the job advert. If not, you can use a catch-all greeting like "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear [Company Name] Hiring Team."
Avoid "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To Whom It May Concern." Both phrases sound dated and could make your application read stiffly.
An Engaging Opening Statement
Chances are that the hiring manager will receive many job applications and read a high volume of HR cover letters while recruiting for HR roles. Therefore, the first sentence of your cover letter is crucial for grabbing their attention.
Keep your first sentence direct and future-focused. Hiring managers are interested in your previous experience, but they also want to know how your skills can help their company succeed. The opening of your human resources cover letter should state concisely why you want the job and why you're the right person for the role.
For example, you could begin with, "I'm an HR specialist with three years of experience supporting businesses in the legal sector, and I'm excited to bring my strong analytical and data management skills to your team."
A Clear Statement of Interest
Understanding what appeals to you about the company or specific role helps hiring managers assess how committed you’d be to the job. Include a clear statement of interest that explains why you want to work for their organization and which aspects of the job or business you care about most.
For instance, if applying for a Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Officer position, emphasizing your interest in strategic development is a smart move.
Many HR departments see their DEI initiatives fail because of inadequate planning and short-sighted objectives. If you show an interest and understanding of the hiring company’s wider organizational goals and explain how your expertise can inform their strategy moving forward, they’ll certainly want you on board.
Compelling Body Paragraphs
Use the body paragraphs in your HR cover letter to outline why you're the ideal candidate. Your body paragraphs should:
- Highlight your most relevant skills, certifications, and work experiences, ideally mirroring points from the job advert
- Provide examples of how you've used these skills using real-life scenarios from your schooling or career
- Explain how your skills and experiences can help your prospective employer
When outlining your skills, use examples that reflect specific skills required for the role and how you applied these skills to perform similar responsibilities in the past.
A Professional Sign-Off
Finish your HR cover letter by summarizing your suitability for the job. Express your interest in meeting for an interview and thank the potential employer for their consideration. You should end your letter with a professional closing, such as "Sincerely" and your full name.
Your sign-off is your final opportunity to make a stellar impression, so any job-specific attributes that make you a great potential hire are worth repeating. Here's an example of a compelling, professional sign-off and salutation for a recruitment officer cover letter:
"I believe that my strong relationship-building skills and detail-oriented approach can help [Company] attract and hire the best talent and am available for an interview at your convenience. Many thanks for considering my application, and I look forward to discussing how I can help your organization achieve its recruitment goals.
Follow your sign-off with contact information such as your phone number or email address.
Evidence of Industry Knowledge or and Understanding of the Role
HR is a dynamic and rapidly evolving sector. Showing that you are aware of current changes in HR can help demonstrate an understanding of the challenges facing HR professionals. If you are well-versed in new technologies and practices, it also signals to the hiring manager that you are a passionate person, eager to learn and stay at the forefront of your chosen career.
Examples of developments in the HR landscape to be aware of include:
- Task automation: The rise of AI recruiting tools allows businesses to delegate certain HR tasks to automated technology. In fact, research estimates that around 70% of companies will likely integrate AI into their operations by 2030. This uptake may increase the time HR professionals can dedicate to strategizing and planning.
- Remote work: The increase in remote and hybrid working patterns across the U.S. presents both opportunities and challenges to HR specialists. Professionals may need to generate new ways to handle activities usually performed in person, such as onboarding remote employees.
- Technology innovation: Rapid changes in the ways we use HR technology mean that the hard skills required for generalist and specialized HR careers are constantly evolving. However, soft skills and skills specific to leadership, such as communication and organization, remain with you throughout your career and are more in demand than ever.
- Specific technical abilities: While many HR jobs require general skills such as organization and flexibility, technical knowledge, like an understanding of human resource development or familiarity with learning management systems, are also important. Making sure your skill set is aligned with the requirements of an HR job before you apply will give you the best chance of success.
An Appropriate Writing Style and Tone for Your HR Cover Letter
The style and tone of your HR cover letter significantly impact how a hiring manager interprets it. For best results, you'll need to adapt the language and format of your cover letter to the employer’s preferred communication style.
Here are some key points to consider when deciding what tone to write your human resources cover letter in:
Role and Seniority
The tone of your cover letter should reflect the type of job you’re applying for and its seniority level. For example, when hiring for entry-level roles, hiring managers typically want to assess candidate enthusiasm, values, and interest in the company. So an engaging writing style that uses compelling language tools (e.g., action verbs) would be more appropriate for an entry-level cover letter.
For more senior positions, such as an HR manager, employers want to see evidence that you understand industry norms and can express expertise befitting a human resources manager. Use a writing tone that’s appropriate to your industry. You can include jargon sparingly, but only if it is relevant to a job-specific skill or responsibility as this can be a useful demonstration of your technical skills.
Confidence vs. Humility
Confidently presenting your skills and experiences is crucial to selling yourself. However, be careful not to go overboard. Overly confident HR cover letters risk coming across as arrogant. Avoid superlatives and ensure any statements you make are accurate.
The following example demonstrates how superlatives make a cover letter sound arrogant:
"My outstanding attention to detail and unbeaten track record for conflict management make me the best candidate for your organization."
Phrases such as "the best candidate" or “the perfect candidate" aren’t just big-headed to the reader — they’re vague and impossible to measure. If you want to highlight an impressive quality, consider how you can do so with accurate and detailed language. Here's the same sentence toned down to achieve a confident tone:
"I believe my detail-oriented approach to learning and development strategy and strong track record for conflict management can help your organization further its reputation as an employee-centric company."
Your cover letter demonstrates your communication style to a potential employer. An overly complex or jargon-laden letter may indicate you can't communicate in clear, concise English— a red flag in terms of managing employee relations.
Avoid jargon unless it's necessary to describe a job-specific skill.
These days, various AI writing tools can help you produce the content of your cover letter. Consider these an aid— a source of writing tips or a means to produce a rough draft of your cover letter format. Do not rely on AI for a finished product.
Because large language models are trained on existing content examples, and take a middle-of-the-road approach, any cover letter it produces will lack distinct personality or human inflection. AI tends to waffle and use catch-all language that is purposefully vague.
To produce a good cover letter, you’ll need to manually write content related to your unique value and how it overlaps with the specific job you’re applying for.
As a general rule, shorter is better. The standard length for a human resources cover letter is roughly 250 to 400 words. However, even shorter cover letters are perfectly acceptable provided you’re able to address your key points and make a strong case for being hired within the briefer word count.
HR Cover Letter Example
Reading strong HR cover letter examples can help you understand how to present your experience convincingly. Here's an example of a cover letter written for a Human Resources Officer job in the restaurant industry:
"Dear Mr. Ramirez,
As an HR professional with 13 years of experience supporting leading companies in the restaurant industry, I believe my strong written and verbal communication skills and organizational abilities can help [Company XYZ] continue its excellent reputation for employee-centered practices. I am writing to apply for the Human Resources Officer role advertised on Indeed.
Through my experiences working for [Employer A] and [Employer B], I understand that hiring and retaining top talent is crucial for delivering the service your clients expect. In my previous role, I was responsible for improving employee retention across three locations with over 60 team members. My key achievements include:
- Implementing an employee wellness program that reduced unplanned absences by 37% over two years
- Developing a comprehensive professional development schedule, contributing to a 50% increase in employee retention in 2022
- Improving employee onboarding processes, resulting in 98% of new hires meeting their targets on schedule between 2021 and 2023
Furthermore, my extensive experience managing employee data has given me a detailed understanding of confidentiality best practices. Since 2018, I have trained 12 new hires to improve their knowledge of data protection.
I am enthusiastic about updating my understanding of evolving security regulations and collaborating with colleagues to adapt data protection processes and ensure compliance.
Many thanks for considering my application. I look forward to discussing how my relationship-building skills and innovative employee retention strategies can help [Company XYZ] build on its success as a compassionate employer.
This HR cover letter is compelling because the applicant describes job-specific skills, including information on their interpersonal skills. The writer links their skills to the employer's mission to explain how their skills benefit the business and its employees.
Note the use of bullet points that make the candidate’s successes easy to read, as well as a clear call to action. The candidate has expressed that they want to be contacted for an interview
The compelling opening and closing statements also grab the hiring manager's attention and underscore why they're a good fit.
Pitfalls to Avoid When Writing Your HR Cover Letter
Lack of Personality
Failing to make an HR cover letter person-centered is a common mistake. As an HR professional, a large amount of the work you do involves interacting with employees. You should highlight your interpersonal and communication abilities to show you’re prepared to take on these tasks.
Using the wrong tone in your human resources cover letter can shrink your chances of success. Furthermore, it suggests to employers that you don't understand the company's voice or the standard of communication style in their industry.
Another cover letter no-no is writing negatively about previous employers or co-workers.
Even if you had a nightmare experience at your last job, keep your descriptions factual and positive. Otherwise, a hiring manager may worry about you bad-mouthing the company when you leave, creating a reputational risk.
Conclusion: Finding Your Role in HR
Many people find HR careers highly rewarding because their work has a profound influence on workplace culture. Furthermore, rapid changes in how we work, such as remote offices and increased automation, can make HR careers highly dynamic and stimulating.
For professionals, HR offers long-term stability. The demand for HR professionals is expected to grow by 8–10% between 2021 and 2031. This projected increase is faster than the average job growth across all industries, translating to around 81,900 new job openings by 2031.
A human resources career also provides more flexibility for employees. HR is essential in every economy and all business models, generating diverse opportunities in terms of location and industry. As of 2022, the median HR salary was $64,240 per year, providing a well-paid career path for people without degrees or post-school qualifications.
Furthermore, HR roles are highly accessible— fewer than 50% of HR roles require a bachelor's degree, and specialized training often isn’t necessary before starting your career.
To tap into all these benefits, your first point of call is submitting an application the hiring team will take note of. A strong HR cover letter significantly increases your chances of success in your job search. Be mindful to include personalization for each role and company, a focus on job-specific skills, enthusiasm for the role, and a unique yet appropriate writing style.
If you can show these things, you’ve won half the battle of landing your dream HR job.