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List of Strengths for Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews
Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts.
How to Use This List of Strengths
- Top Strengths Employers Seek
Dependability, teamwork and leadership, information technology (it) skills.
- Resume Example
Examples of Weaknesses
Theresa Chiechi / The Balance
When you’re job searching, employers will be looking for evidence that you possess the right strengths to get the job done as they screen your resumes , cover letters , and job applications. You will also be asked questions aimed at uncovering your strengths during job interviews.
What are employers looking for? Which are the best strengths to share with employers when you're job hunting?
Keep in mind that the lists will vary based on the job for which you're applying and the employer's job requirements.
It is a good idea to have a list of strengths, as well as a list of weaknesses , ready to share with the hiring manager.
You can use this list of strength words throughout your job search process. First, look through the list and circle the strengths that you possess, and that are also important for the job you’re applying for. You can look back at the job listing to get a sense of the job requirements. Take a few minutes to match your qualifications to the requirements listed in the job posting.
Once you have a list of words that match both the job and your set of strengths, you can use these words in your resume . In the description of your work history , you can include some of these keywords.
You can also use these words in your cover letter . In the body of your letter, try to mention one or two of these strengths, giving a specific example of a time when you demonstrated each of them in the workplace.
Finally, you can use these words in an interview. Make sure you have at least one example of a time you used each strength to achieve results in your work, volunteer, and/or academic experiences.
In your interview, be prepared to mention the situations involved, the actions that you took, and the results that you generated while applying your key strengths. This is known as the STAR (situation, task, action, response) interview response technique. You can use this to highlight your most relevant strengths during job interviews.
Top Strengths Employers Seek in Employees
Analytical skills refer to your ability to collect and analyze information, problem-solve , and make decisions. Nearly every job requires this kind of critical thinking on some level. An employee’s analytical strength can help solve a company’s problems and increase its productivity. Showing the employer that you can gather and analyze information, resolve problems, and make decisions will enhance your candidacy.
- Assessing the needs and preferences of customers
- Assessing outcomes
- Creative thinking
- Designing innovative products
- Good judgment
- Logical thinking
- Open minded
- Solution oriented
- Solving complex problems
- Statistical analysis
Written and oral communication skills are critical for almost any job. Whether you are giving a presentation, talking on the phone to a client, or emailing a colleague, you need to be able to communicate effectively and appropriately.
Your communication skills will be evaluated in the written materials you use to apply for a job. The hiring manager will also focus on how well you handle the interview and communicate with the people you meet during the hiring process.
Employers will also want to see that you can effectively engage with people. They want to know that you can listen to others, respond to their concerns, and demonstrate empathy for others. These interpersonal skills are particularly important in jobs that involve customer service or working on a team. You can demonstrate these skills in the way you engage with the interviewer.
- Business storytelling
- Calming agitated clients
- Clearly conveying features and benefits of products/services
- Composing engaging copy for websites
- Creating compelling presentation slides
- Friendly and engaging personality
- Nonverbal communication
- Public speaking
- Technical writing
- Verbal communication
Employers want to know they have employees they can depend on, and who are responsible and professional. You need to be able to show up on time and get your work done by designated deadlines. When asked about dependability, good examples to share are ones that describe how you were able to meet project deadlines or how you have a great track record of attendance and timeliness.
You can also demonstrate your professionalism in the way you present yourself during the interview. Be sure to arrive early and dress professionally. Look the employer in the eye, and maintain good posture . These small details will show the employer that you are a dedicated, responsible candidate.
- Attention to detail
- Consistently meeting deadlines
- Effectively managing multiple projects simultaneously
- Recovering quickly from setbacks
- Strong work ethic
- Tact and diplomacy
- Time management
Most jobs require teamwork of some sort. Employers want job candidates who are willing to work with others, and can do so effectively. Hiring managers will be interested both in how you have worked as part of a team and how you manage teams (if you are interviewing for a leadership role).
- Collaborating effectively with business partners
- Cultivating team orientation among staff
- Drawing consensus on group goals
- Facilitating productive meetings
- Managing difficult people
- Mentoring staff
- Motivating staff
- Providing constructive criticism
- Resolving conflicts
- Strategic planning
These days, pretty much every job requires some level of information technology or computer skills . Whether you are working in administration or education or engineering, you will need some familiarity with computers and various computer programs.
The specific tech knowledge you will need depends on the job. Make sure to carefully read the job description, and mention any relevant computer skills you have in your resume and cover letter. You might even include a “Computer Skills” section on your resume.
If possible, provide an example of a tech skill you picked up easily.
You can also emphasize in your cover letter and interview that you are a fast learner who picks up on the latest technologies quickly.
- Creating clean computer programs in the latest languages
- Debugging computer programs
- Diagnosing mechanical malfunctions
- Driving traffic to websites
- Facility for learning the latest computer technology
- Familiarity with graphics programs
- Knowledge of enterprise systems (Oracle, PeopleSoft)
- Making and updating spreadsheets (Excel)
- Organizing and managing data (Access)
- Presentation tools (PowerPoint, Prezi)
- Social media
Resume Example With a Focus on Strengths
This is a resume example with a list of strengths. Download the resume template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or read the example below.
Resume Example With a Focus on Strengths (Text Version)
Edward Naughton 110 116th Street Madeira, FL 12110 firstname.lastname@example.org 555.123.1234 (C)
Summary of Strengths and Qualifications
Dependable and dedicated Customer Service Manager, energized by collaborative workplaces and motivational goal-setting. Proactively communicates across organizational levels, displaying positivity, humor, and enthusiasm in enhancing work climate and heightening staff morale.
Analytics: Solutions-oriented and proactive at analyzing processes and customer feedback to identify opportunities to improve service standards and resolve complex problems. Able to leverage strong logical and creative thinking skills to predict project outcomes, control risk, and lay groundwork for success.
Communications: Easily communicates both orally and in writing with peers, supervisors, clients, and stakeholders. Employ active listening and mediation skills to identify requirements and build consensus.
Leadership and Teamwork: Willingly assumes leadership of team projects, promoting collective success through open dialogue, goal-setting, informed decision-making, providing constructive criticism, and immediately addressing potential conflicts to prevent escalation.
Technical Proficiencies: Solid command of Microsoft Office Suite. Able to swiftly learn and apply emerging technologies.
Ambleside insurance Associates – Tampa, FL Customer Service Team Leader , 2016 to Present Provide world-class customer service and support to clients, communicating via telephone and email to address queries and implement solutions to issues.
- Gathered and analyzed customer feedback to develop a new process that reduced trouble ticket response time by 40%.
- Led a team that excelled at a company-wide initiative to increase customer satisfaction, growing positive reviews by 25%.
- Earned certification in new proprietary software, subsequently training 10 team members in its use.
United Group – Tampa, FL Customer Service Associate , 2012 to 2016 Gained valuable experience in customer service and client relationship management. Actively listened to customer’s concerns, instilling trust through careful assessment of individual needs and creative problem-solving.
- Provided responsive customer care for hundreds of customers each week.
- Chosen by senior management to write client response scripts that were adopted across the department.
- Earned three “Employee of the Year” awards within a four-year tenure.
Tampa University, Tampa, FL Bachelor of Science in Communications Studies, 2012
The interviewer will probably ask you questions about your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Be prepared to mention some weaknesses during job interviews.
However, be careful that what you mention doesn't exclude you from consideration from the job. While you want to emphasize strengths that are necessary for the job, you want to mention weaknesses that are not relevant to the position.
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Cover Letters Are Hard to Write—But These Templates Make It a Breeze
So you’ve found a job posting that feels like it was made for you. You feel like you’d enjoy and excel at the role, and the company seems like a great place to work. You know it’s important to tailor your resume , so you’ve spent time customizing it to show off everything that qualifies you for this position.
What’s the worst thing you could do next? Just swap the position title and company name on the cover letter you used for your last job application and hit submit.
OK, well maybe that’s not the worst thing, but it would negate all the time you just spent on your resume. When it comes to cover letters, you want to provide a super concise highlight reel that shows why your background and experiences make you an ideal fit for the position in question . So using the same cover letter each time and just swapping in company names and job titles (at the bare minimum don’t forget to do that!) robs you of a golden opportunity.
But that doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch every time—each cover letter you submit can follow the same basic structure and formulas. That’s why we’ve come up with two cover letter templates that will save you some of the time (and possibly agony) that comes with writing a new cover letter for each application. We’ve also included tips for using these templates and a list of elements to include in every cover letter whether you use a template or not (and we’ve also got a few full-fledged cover letter examples for inspiration).
Cover letter template #1: Highlight your past positions
Our first template is position-based. In other words, it’s arranged so that each of your body paragraphs focuses on one of your past jobs or experiences. If you’ve followed a fairly linear career trajectory and it’s easy to highlight how each of your past experiences has fed into the job you’re applying for, you might choose this template.
[Hello/Hi/Dear] [Hiring Manager’s Name],
When I saw the posting for the [job title] position at [Company Name], I was immediately drawn to [something that immediately excited you about the job/company]. [Company] is [unique feature of company that makes you want to apply]. I’d love to bring my [experience/quality/knowledge that qualifies you for the job] to help [Company Name] [way you would help the company in this position].
For [time period], I worked as a [job title for current or past position that gives you the most relevant experience for this role] for [Company], where I [description of key responsibilities and impact emphasizing what’s most relevant to the job you’re applying for]. Through these experiences, I learned [describe a relevant insight or skill you gained]. As your [position title], I’d apply this knowledge to [how you would help the company].
I also spent [time period] as a [other relevant past position title] for [Company]. In this role, I worked on several projects, including [mention two or three relevant projects]. When I worked on [most relevant project] I was able to [something significant you achieved] by [method you used]. I believe that this past experience would allow me to [something else you’d do for the company].
Again [Company/job]’s [quality that drew you to the position] has [how it’s affected you]. I’d love to bring my [one or two most relevant experiences or skills] to your team. [Optional closing line that further highlights why you’d be a great hire.]
Download this template!
Cover letter template #2: Emphasize your skills
For many of us, tying together three tangentially related experiences, a side gig, and some outside-of-work interests or volunteer work to explain why we could do a job will be more useful than a straightforward career history. That’s why our skills-based template is laid out so each body paragraph highlights one of your transferable skills . This template is ideal if your career hasn’t followed that perfectly trodden path but you still want to thoughtfully showcase why you’re the right one for the position .
With the utmost enthusiasm, I would like to express my interest in the [position title] position at [Company]. My interest in [field, industry, or other theme] has taken me from [experience] to [experience]. I believe that my passion for [aspect of your field or background], strong commitment to [aspect of your field or background], and interest in [aspect of your field or background] make me an ideal candidate to join the [department] staff at [Company].
There are several skills I’d immediately bring to the table, as I am:
An effective [descriptor that reflects transferable skill #1]: In my role as a [previous job] at [Company], I [action or accomplishment]. I was also able to showcase my [skill] abilities as a [role] in [project name] project by [what you did].
A disciplined [descriptor that reflects transferable skill #2]: I have always displayed my careful approach to [job duty] by [action]. At [Previous Company], I frequently [action]. In addition, I had the opportunity to [action or accomplishment], which further shows my dedication to [aspect of your field].
A passionate [descriptor that reflects transferable skill #3]: Everything I have engaged in so far has been driven by my keen interest in [aspect of your field]. Even as a [previous role], I made sure to dedicate some part of my day to [action]. It is this passion that has motivated every one of my career decisions thus far.
I look forward to contributing my skills and experiences to the [position title] position at [Company] and hope to have the opportunity to speak with you further about how I can be an asset to your team.
Pro-tip: You can tailor these templates however you want!
These templates aren’t set in stone: They’re made to be customized so they work as well as possible for each individual job seeker.
For example, in the experience-based template, each of the body paragraphs is a bit different. Maybe you want to swap their order or use one of them twice and not use the other. Perhaps you have three experiences you want to highlight—go ahead and use one of the paragraphs twice or pull the sentences that help you most to frame your third paragraph. Same goes for the paragraphs in the second template.
You may even choose to pull from both templates. For example, maybe you’re applying for a management position and want a paragraph that shows off your leadership skills and another paragraph that focuses on your current job.
Feel free to mix and match and adjust according to you and your specific situation!
But here’s what goes in a cover letter no matter what:
Whichever template you pick (or even if you decide to go without a template), these are the components you should include in every cover letter:
- A salutation: Always try to address your cover letter to a specific person. It shows you’re willing to do your research. If the job posting doesn’t include a name, search for the person in charge of the department you’d be joining. If you’re still striking out, try these advanced techniques to avoid the always-cringey “ To Whom It May Concern .”
- A strong opener: Start off strong by telling the hiring manager you understand what makes this organization and job special. If you’re having trouble, look at the company’s site, social media, and Muse profile (if they have one), as well as employee LinkedIn accounts and so on. Home in on the main reasons you want this job at this organization. Oh, and make sure you’re describing how you can help the company, rather than just how the company can help you! For ideas and inspiration, check out these examples of cover letter opening lines that really grab your attention.
- A few body paragraphs : Here’s where you back up your claims that you’d be great at this job. Spend several paragraphs highlighting your accomplishments and qualifications that are most relevant to this job by telling short anecdotes, giving specific examples, incorporating numbers wherever you can , and connecting all of it to how well you’d do in this role.
- A thoughtful ending: Don’t waste valuable real estate with some version of, “ Thanks for reading, looking forward to hearing back .” This is a great place to proactively answer potential concerns. For example, let’s say you’re currently living in Atlanta, but you want to move to Portland. To ensure the reader knows location won’t be an issue, you might end with: “ I am relocating to Portland in May and look forward to working in the city .” Or perhaps you’re not quite qualified for the position or are making a pivot. Try something like: “ My background in [industry or profession], combined with my passion for your company and this role, would make me uniquely qualified to tackle [specific responsibility ].” (You should never say anything like, “ I know I’m not as qualified as other candidates, but… ”)
- A signoff: Wrap it all up with a professional sign off and your full name. If you’re pasting your cover letter in the body of an email , you may also choose to include your pronouns, job title, contact information, or LinkedIn profile after your name. If you’re sending the cover letter in its own doc, this info should be placed at the top of the page before the salutation.
Aja Frost , Lily Zhang , and Regina Borsellino contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.
5.1 The Cover Letter
- Conduct the preliminary work needed to write a cover letter that has purpose and gets noticed.
- Learn the three basic sections of a cover letter.
Is it worth writing a cover letter knowing it might never be read? The short answer is yes. Some recruiters don’t read cover letters and go straight to the résumé, but other recruiters read and carefully weigh the information in cover letters. You don’t know which recruiter will receive your résumé and letter, so write the best cover letter you can. A well-written cover letter is an opportunity to present yourself well and influence a recruiter, so always take full advantage of that opportunity. A cover letter can also be viewed as your first conversation with a future employer, so be certain its quality is exceptional.
Your cover letter should be engaging, informative, and show your command of the written word. It should flow easily from a reader’s perspective, making the connection between the opportunity and your ability to succeed if given the chance. The tone should be compelling. You should be excited about the opportunity and you should be confident of your ability to succeed (even if you truly lack the confidence).
Cover Letter Preliminary Work
Preparation and practice are critical to every step of the job search process, and the cover letter is no different. Five actions can help make your cover letter compelling:
- Make a list of your top ten strengths.
- Make a list of your top five weaknesses (also known as areas you’d like to strengthen).
- Decipher the job description to identify each separate skill and qualification.
- Compare the two lists to see if they are in alignment. Also identify the gaps—does the job description list something that you haven’t done?
- Highlight your top three skills that align with the job description as you will use them in your cover letter.
List Your Top Ten Strengths
Knowing your top strengths is vital to your job search efforts. To find your top strengths, assess your past successes. Fill out the following chart, and, next to each strength, list a detailed example of how you have excelled at this particular strength. Quantify as much of your example as possible, and ensure you include a clear beginning, middle, and end. Table 5.1 "Chart of Top Strengths" lists an example for your reference:
Table 5.1 Chart of Top Strengths
Notice that the example is very detailed:
- Time was referenced (in a few ways): This project was during your last internship, and you had two weeks to complete the task. The work was actually finished ahead of schedule—in one week versus two.
- The duties were defined: You had to organize the contents of boxes of paper work for the year’s real estate transactions.
- The action was emphasized: You took the initiative to organize the work into four categories and you checked with your manager to make sure you were going in the right direction.
The accomplishment was highlighted: You completed the task in half the time, and you automated the process. Most of all, you enabled your employer to close 25 percent of the outstanding transactions, adding about $100,000 in revenue to the bottom line.
(Whenever possible, identify the result(s) of your actions. Future employers will hire you because you have proved your worth to your past employers.)
Other strengths and skills could include (in alphabetical order):
List Your Top Five Weaknesses
Many job search candidates are uncomfortable talking about their weaknesses. This should not be the case. Knowing your weaknesses is just as important to your job search as knowing your strengths. Three very strong reasons exist to speak fluidly and confidently about your weaknesses:
- Employers want to hire individuals who are self-aware, and you can be self-aware only if you know both your strengths and weaknesses. Being self-aware is the only way you can improve.
- Employers know it takes a certain level of maturity to talk about your weaknesses. They want to ensure you have achieved that level of maturity before extending an offer.
- Your weaknesses should in no way contain a hint of the skills necessary to excel at your target position. Your weaknesses should in no way contain a hint of the skills necessary to excel at any position.
Remember that everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses, including every CEO, every country’s president, every manager, and every one of your coworkers. You will be in good company when considering and discussing your weaknesses.
The trick, if there is a trick, to your weaknesses lies in your plan to strengthen them. Having a plan to strengthen a weakness is impressive, especially if you’ve already taken steps to do so.
Table 5.2 "Chart of Weaknesses" will help you identify five weaknesses, or areas you’d like to improve.
Table 5.2 Chart of Weaknesses
Notice that the weakness is specifically described with a plan for improvement:
- You are aware that public speaking is a weakness, yet you‘ve already given presentations, are not an abysmal failure in this area, and have already achieved some success.
- You quantified where you are on a scale of one to ten and consider yourself a six. You have shown that you know the topic well, but haven’t yet mastered it. You mention two important aspects to being a good presenter: (1) you do best when you are prepared and (2) rehearsal and practice help you as well.
- You already have a plan to strengthen this skill: (1) you will take a public speaking class, (2) you are raising your hand as much as possible in class (which is a form of public speaking), (3) you are volunteering to present whenever you can, and (4) you are reading a book about presenting and it’s already helped.
In addition, it’s important to note that a weakness should never be a core component of the job. For example, if you perceive your weakness to be public speaking, you wouldn’t apply for a position as a trainer. If you perceive your weakness to be analytical skills, you wouldn’t apply for a position as an accountant. A weakness can be a part of a job, for example, if you are applying for a position as an accountant, you would predominately do financial work and only sometimes present (e.g., share your findings with management), so using public speaking as a weakness in this case is fine.
Decipher the Job Description and Identify Each Skill and Qualification
Most job descriptions can be copied from the employer’s website. Copy the job description and do the following (if you only have a hard copy, it’s worthwhile to retype it as you’ll want to manipulate each requirement for the position):
- Put each skill and qualification on a separate line.
- Group like with like. If communication skills are listed as important, in addition to giving presentations to potential clients, list one after the other.
In the following sample, each component of the job description is considered and deciphered, in preparation for applying and eventually interviewing for the position.
Job Description Sample
The CML Company, a leading provider of recruiting and staffing services, is currently seeking motivated, career-oriented individuals to join our recruiting team.
Our recruiters work with our clients and inside sales team identifying, screening, interviewing, and presenting qualified candidates for contract and permanent positions.
CML promotes from within. Entry-level sales staff start as recruiters. Once they master that role and have a desire to become a member of our sales team, they can be considered for promotion.
Qualified Candidates for the Recruiter Position Will
- Develop recruiting strategies designed to identify qualified candidates through various recruiting tools.
- Evaluate candidates’ strengths compared with clients’ requirements by evaluating, screening, and interviewing the candidate.
- Negotiate wage rates and other terms and conditions of employment with candidates, and gain commitment from candidates for current and future job requirements.
- Complete necessary preemployment processes, including reference and background checks and drug tests.
- Work with account executives to identify top accounts, client skill sets, and key market segments, and to assess clients’ staffing requirements.
- Communicate effectively with others to create a productive team environment.
- Communicate with peers by sharing recruiting best practices and providing accurate, thorough documentation on contract employees in our applicant-tracking system or by using other documentation tools.
- Maintain relationships with industry contacts to provide customer service, gain industry knowledge, and get referrals and sales leads.
Qualified Candidates for the Recruiter Position Must
- Have a bachelor’s degree or related sales or recruiting experience
- Be available to work before and after typical office hours as work may demand
- Possess strong written and oral English communication skills
- Be familiar with Microsoft Word and MS Outlook (or similar e-mail applications)
- Have work experience in a service-oriented business
- Have a desire to learn and advance in a fast-paced sales environment, and be capable of regularly using good judgment and discretion to accomplish goals and work requirements
- Be currently authorized to work in the United States for any employer
- Bachelor’s degree
- Able to work flexible, long hours
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Computer literate
- Desire to learn in a fast-paced sales environment
- Good judgment
- Currently authorized to work in the United States
Review the Job Description Sample
Consider the preceding sample. Study each component of the job description and how it relates to your skills so you can apply for and gain an interview for the position:
- Eight items are listed in the requirements section. Do your skills match all of these requirements, or the vast majority of them? It would be wise to compare this list to your list of strengths.
- An additional three requirements are not stated as obviously: (1) individuals must be motivated, (2) they must have the ability to master the work, and (3) they must have a desire to be a part of the sales team in order to be promoted. These requirements are found in the first section of the job description.
- Don’t count out the opportunity if you don’t fit every requirement. Do your best to think of something that is somewhat related. For example, if you have never worked in a fast-paced sales environment, focus on your desire to learn. Focus on the fact that you’ve observed fast-paced sales environments, and those situations appeal to you. At the very least, you could think of the fact that although you don’t have direct experience in that particular environment, you have always been very proactive in completing tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- If you are a strong match for the majority of the requirements, ensure you have specific, results-oriented examples to demonstrate these skills.
- You will not have a clear indication as to which skills are more important than others, so use your best judgment call. Treat each skill as if it’s the most important. For example, consider communication skills—have a specific, results-oriented example of your verbal skills and your written skills. At some point, however, you will want to select the three skills you think are most important, match them to your strongest skills, and then write your cover letter.
Consider Future Responsibilities of the Job
Note that it’s not necessary for you to know how to develop recruiting strategies. You can learn that on the job. However, a proactive candidate may research recruiting strategies and the identification of talented individuals.
Compare the Two Lists and Find the Alignment between Your Strengths and Weaknesses
You now have taken the following two steps:
- Deciphered the job description into each individual skill and requirement needed
- Listed your top ten strengths, with examples for each
Your next step is to check if the two lists are aligned:
- If there is alignment, you have a potential good match and you should apply for the job.
- If there isn’t alignment, it’s a clear indication that the job is not the right fit for you and it’s best to continue your search.
Highlight Your Top Three Strengths
The last step in this section is to select the top three skills needed in the job description, and decide which skills fall within your strengths and which you will highlight in the cover letter. These three skills, if positioned properly, will make the case for why you should be hired.
The Cover Letter Template
The cover letter template includes three main sections:
- The introductory paragraph
- The last paragraph, which reiterates your interest
- The magic middle
The Introductory Paragraph
In the introductory paragraph, you introduce yourself to the hiring manager or recruiter. The paragraph should include five general items:
- Why you are contacting them
- How you heard about the position (If someone referred you, mention the name of your contact.)
- Whether you are still in school and, if so, your major and minor
- How your work experience pertains to your desired or targeted job
- Why you are interested in the position
The Last Paragraph
In the last paragraph, you summarize and close, taking the following five steps:
- Reiterate your interest.
- State you would be a perfect match because your strengths match the key skills necessary to succeed at the job.
- Inform them that you will contact them in a week.
- Ask that they contact you should they have any questions or an interest in moving forward.
- Thank them for their time and consideration.
The Magic Middle
The middle of the cover letter is magical because it makes the case for why you’d be an exceptional hire. Select three strengths necessary to excel and assign each strength to a bulleted section or brief paragraph. Boldly indicate your strengths and include your best examples of how you excel at each strength. See the following sample cover letter as an example of how to highlight your strengths.
Sample Cover Letters
Figure 5.2 "Cover Letter Sample 1" and Figure 5.3 "Cover Letter Sample 2" are sample cover letters. There are more sample cover letters at the end of this chapter, and some of them correspond to the sample résumés at the end of the previous chapter.
Figure 5.2 Cover Letter Sample 1
Figure 5.3 Cover Letter Sample 2
Creating a Portfolio: Show and Tell
If you have examples of your expertise in a particular discipline, consider creating a portfolio of that information to share with potential employers. For example, perhaps you are a communications major and have written several documents that showcase your talent in this area. Include five or six samples of your communications to help build the case for why you should be hired. Perhaps you are a graphic design candidate, and you created several visuals that were used by neighborhood businesses, or for a class project. Include those visuals in a portfolio to help prove your talent to a future employer.
How would you share this information with future employers? You can either attach your samples, along with your résumé and cover letter, in your e-mail to a future employer, or bring them with you when you have secured an interview. Either method is an acceptable way to impress a future employer. A portfolio that you can carry to an interview could simply be a neat and professional-looking folder that contains hard copies of your work. Or you can include a virtual portfolio of online work with a link an employer can use to view your samples. You can include this information in a cover letter and you can also include it in a résumé. Either way, having samples and presenting them can prove to future employers that you have the talent to succeed.
Miscellaneous Things to Consider
Formatting is important and must be neat and professional. It’s recommended that you flush all text to the left, as various software programs can wreak havoc with indentations and tabs.
Put extra effort into identifying the name of the hiring manager, so that your letter can be appropriately addressed to the specific person who will be reviewing résumés. Employers do not make this an easy step for you, and you have to do your research. Helpful exercises include researching the company website, reading news releases, and even calling the company to ask. Laziness will hurt your job search effort if this special effort is not made. If, after doing all the preceding, you still do not know the name of the person to whom you are sending your information, by all means, address it using Dear Hiring Manager or Dear Recruiter.
- A cover letter should not repeat a résumé.
- You need to specifically align your strengths with the job qualifications to create a compelling cover letter.
- A cover letter includes three things: the introductory paragraph, the closing paragraph, and the magic middle, where you highlight how your strengths align with the job.
- Simple is best when considering a cover letter format.
- What are your top ten strengths, and what examples will you use to prove those strengths?
- Identify three to five weaknesses (or areas you’d like to strengthen). Create a plan to strengthen each of your weaknesses.
- Find a job description that interests you and decipher it into each individual skill.
- Find at least two to three job descriptions where you are a strong match.
- What resources can you use, in addition to this textbook, to write your cover letter?
- Draft your cover letter and pair up with a peer in your class and critique each other’s letters.
Cover Letter Examples That Will Help Get You Hired
If you're wondering how to write a cover letter , you're in the right place! Monster's library of cover letter examples can help you do exactly that.
It doesn't matter what industry you're in or level you're at in your career—to get noticed by potential employers, your professional cover letter needs to knock their socks off. Writing a good cover letter is about much more than friendly greeting; it's a tool that lets hiring managers know that you're the candidate they've been hoping for.
Because recruiters and hiring managers have seen every type of cover letter format imaginable, for maximum wow-factor, you must build a cover letter that highlights your industry-specific experience, accomplishments , and credentials.
Is a Cover Letter Necessary?
If the job ad calls for a cover letter, yes, it is necessary to include one. Failure to have a cover letter for a job can immediately disqualified you from consideration if it’s explicitly stated that one is required. As a job seeker, you need to demonstrate that you’re able to follow directions. An employer might interpret your missing cover letter to mean that you didn’t pay attention to what was asked of you. Not a good look.
If a job ad doesn’t say a cover letter is required , then you do not need to include one with your application. That said, if the job application has a section for any additional information you would like to share with an employer, it’s highly recommended that you copy and paste the text of your cover letter into this area. The same is true if you’re required to email your application; copy and paste your cover letter into the body of the email.
As good a source of candidate information as a resume is, it doesn’t really give you the same kind of opportunity to share your personality with an employer. Culture fit is very high on the list of determining factors that can cause you to be hired, and a good cover letter can mean the difference between you getting called in for an interview or not.
Cover Letter Length
A cover letter shouldn't be longer than one page; three or four paragraphs will suffice. Aim for about 250 to 400 words. Any longer, and your efforts risk being wasted.
First of all, hiring managers and recruiters are busy people who don’t have time to read through pages and pages of copy. Second, you should be able to succinctly hit your selling points. This may take a few rounds to perfect, but it’ll be worth it. Nobody wants you to spend time and energy writing scrolls of copy that a hiring manager won’t even both reading on account of you being long-winded.
Tips for Using Cover Letter Templates
1. Customize your cover letter for each job. In the examples below, you’ll see the advantage of having a dedicated space to engage with an employer, but don't rely on a generic cover letter to get noticed. Create a different cover letter for each job to which you're applying. Companies want to feel special, like you're applying to their job, not just any old job. Tell a brief story or two that demonstrates how your skills and experience can benefit the company’s particular needs.
2. Don't simply reiterate your resume. In a cover letter, you don’t just list facts about your work history—you use emotion and storytelling to add some life to the page. For example, if you see on a company’s website that they’re in the process of rolling out new products to the international market, you can talk about how you’ve been involved in a number of successful global product launches and really loved developing marketing campaigns for different countries and customs, which strengthened your dedication to connecting with customers all over the world.
3. Put your personality into it. Whatever you do, do not simply copy and paste these cover letter examples and pass them off as your own. The whole point of a cover letter is to convince an employer of your one-of-a-kind value.
Steps to Write a Cover Letter
Start with the proper greeting: Address your cover letter to the person who will be reading it. If you do not know the person's gender, write out their full name.
- Dear Ms. Smith / Dear Mr. Jones / Dear Lee Caroll
Introduce yourself with an opening : Write a personable, inviting opening paragraph that highlights how your skills are a perfect fit to the company and position.
- I was so excited to see your product photographer job posting on Monster, and I am confident I can support your creative department in producing high-quality product shots for marketing and social media—especially for your highly anticipated upcoming summer catalog.
Get them interested with a compelling hook: Highlight your past achievements as they relate to the job you're applying for.
- Skilled at creating images that capture attention on social media, I've had thousands of my images appear on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr. I play a key role in the visual storytelling and branding of leading consumer product companies and contribute to successful marketing campaigns.
Promote your skills : Highlight your additional relevant skills, such as computer languages or certifications.
- I have expert knowledge of Photoshop, InDesign, Lightroom, Bridge, Illustrator, and Capture One Pro; studio and lighting setups; and equipment including ZZY cameras (I currently shoot with an EOS 5D Mark IV). I love learning about and applying the latest advances in photography tools, services, and equipment to enhance photo quality and streamline workflows.
Thank them in the close : Briefly recap your strengths as a candidate, thank the reader for their time, and include your contact information.
- I would love the opportunity to discuss with you how I can create images that bring your brand's strategic vision to life. I can be reached at (555) 555-5555 or [email protected] Thank you so much for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.
A professional cover letter is worth all the effort. If you need writing help, check out these cover letter templates for various careers and career levels in the following industries:
Administrative/Support Cover Letter Examples
- Midlevel Administrative Assistant Cover Letter
- Manager Cover Letter
- Office Manager Cover Letter
Art/Design/Media Cover Letter Examples
- Artist Cover Letter
- Graphic Design Cover Letter
- Journalism Cover Letter
- Photographer Cover Letter
Business Cover Letter Examples
- Accounts Payable Cover Letter
- Business Analyst Cover Letter
Child Care Cover Letter Examples
Babysitter Cover Letter
Education Cover Letter Examples
- Admissions Counselor Cover Letter
- Elementary School Teacher Cover Letter
- Librarian Cover Letter
- Teaching Assistant Cover Letter
Engineering Cover Letter Examples
- Civil Engineering Cover Letter
- Electrical Engineering Cover Letter
- Mechanical Engineer Cover Letter
Finance/Accounting Cover Letter Examples
- Bookkeeper Cover Letter
- Financial Analyst Cover Letter
- Investment Banker Cover Letter
Health Care Cover Letter Examples
- Caregiver Cover Letter
- Dental Assistant Cover Letter
- Dental Hygienist Cover Letter
- EMT Cover Letter
- Lab Technician Cover Letter
- Massage Therapist Cover Letter
- Medical Assistant Cover Letter
- Midlevel Pharmacy Technician Cover Letter
- Occupational Therapist Cover Letter
- Personal Trainer Cover Letter
- Psychologist Cover Letter
- Social Worker Cover Letter
- Vet Assistant Cover Letter
- Vet Tech Cover Letter
Human Resources Cover Letter Examples
- HR Generalist Cover Letter
- Recruiter Cover Letter
Job Search Cover Letter Examples
- Approach Cover Letter
- Career Change Cover Letter
- Early Career Change Cover Letter
- Mid-Career Cover Letter
- Monster Job Posting Cover Letter
- Interview Thank-You Letter
- Unemployed Cover Letter
Law Enforcement and Legal Cover Letter Examples
- Firefighter Cover Letter
- Judicial Clerkship Cover Letter
- Lawyer Cover Letter
- Paralegal Cover Letter
- Police Officer Cover Letter
- Security Officer Cover Letter
Marketing and PR Cover Letter Examples
- Account Manager Cover Letter
- Brand Ambassador Cover Letter
- Marketing Manager Cover Letter
- Project Manager Cover Letter
Military Cover Letter Examples
- Military-to-Civilian Cover Letter
Nurse Cover Letter Examples
- Nurse Cover Letter
Real Estate Cover Letter Examples
- Property Manager Cover Letter
Restaurant and Hospitality Cover Letter Examples
- Barista Cover Letter
- Bartender Cover Letter
- Chef Cover Letter
- Event Coordinator Cover Letter
- Restaurant Manager Cover Letter
- Waitress Cover Letter
Retail Cover Letter Examples
- Retail Cover Letter
Sales Cover Letter Examples
- Sales Cover Letter
Science Cover Letter Examples
- Research Assistant Cover Letter
Student Cover Letter Examples
- College Graduate Cover Letter
- Internship Cover Letter
Technology Cover Letter Examples
- Computer Science Cover Letter
- IT Professional Cover Letter
- Software Engineer Cover Letter
- Web Developer Cover Letter
Trades Cover Letter Examples
- Cosmetology Cover Letter
- Custodian Cover Letter
- Hair Stylist Cover Letter
- Janitor Cover Letter
- Makeup Artist Cover Letter
- Mechanic Cover Letter
- Welder Cover Letter
Transportation and Warehousing Cover Letter Examples
- Flight Attendant Cover Letter
- Logistics Cover Letter
- Pilot Cover Letter
- Truck Driver Cover Letter
Finished Writing a Cover Letter? Now Get Your Resume in Shape
Once you've used Monster's cover letter examples to complete your own, it's time to focus on that other important piece of paper: your resume. Could you use a little help with that? Get a free resume evaluation today from Monster, and you'll get detailed feedback in two business days. It's a quick and easy way to make sure your candidacy for the job is as strong as possible.
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How to write an effective cover letter (with samples)
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You will have to prepare a number of materials for employers while looking for a job. One type of document is the cover letter, which is included with your resume when requesting a job interview. An effective cover letter is directed towards a specific position or company, and describes examples from your experience that highlight your skills related to the role.
You want to convince the reader that your interest in the job and company are genuine and specific. You also want to demonstrate ways that your experience has prepared you for the role by sharing a few brief stories that highlight your qualifications. This takes time and research; use the job description and the company’s web site or LinkedIn page to identify traits and skills the company values.
Cover letter structure and format
A cover letter should be no longer than one page with a font size between 10-12 points. Be sure to include your contact information and address it directly to the hiring manager, using their name. If you are not sure who to address the letter to, write “Dear Hiring Manager.” If the role you are applying for has a reference number or code, be sure to include it in your letter so that human resources is able to accurately track your application. The reference code is usually included
Cover letters typically take the following structure:
Introduction (1st paragraph)
- State clearly in your opening sentence the purpose for your letter and a brief professional introduction.
- Specify why you are interested in that specific position and organization.
- Provide an overview of the main strengths and skills you will bring to the role.
Example : I am a second year master’s student in MIT’s Technology and Policy Program (TPP) writing to apply for a consulting position in Navigant’s Emerging Technology & Business Strategy group. After speaking with John Smith at the MIT career fair, I realized that Navigant’s values of excellence, continuous development, entrepreneurial spirit, and integrity align with the principles that guide me every day and that have driven me throughout my career. Moreover, I believe that my knowledge of the energy sector, passion for data analysis, polished communication skills, and four years of consulting experience will enable me to deliver superior value for Navigant’s clients.
Body (2-3 paragraphs)
- Cite a couple of examples from your experience that support your ability to be successful in the position or organization.
- Try not to simply repeat your resume in paragraph form, complement your resume by offering a little more detail about key experiences.
- Discuss what skills you have developed and connect these back to the target role.
Example : As a graduate student in MIT’s Technology and Policy Program, I spend every day at the cutting edge of the energy sector. In my capacity as an MIT Energy Initiative research assistant, I use statistical analysis to investigate trends in public acceptance and regulation related to emerging energy technologies. Graduate classes in data science, energy economics, energy ventures and strategy, and technology policy have prepared me to help Navigant offer the expert services that set it apart from competitors. Furthermore, I will bring Navigant the same leadership skills that I used as the student leader for the MIT Energy Conference’s Technology Commercialization round-table, and as the mentorship manager for the MIT Clean Energy Prize.
Even before MIT, my four years of work experience in consulting—first at LMN Research Group and then at XYZ Consulting—allowed me to develop the skillset that Navigant looks for in candidates. As a science writer and policy analyst at LMN Research Group, I developed superb technical writing and visual communication skills, as well as an ability to communicate and collaborate with clients at federal agencies such as EPA and DOE. As a research analyst at XYZ Consulting, I developed an in-depth understanding of data analysis, program evaluation, and policy design.
Closing (last paragraph)
- Restate succinctly your interest in the role and why you are a good candidate.
- Thank the reader for their time and consideration.
Example : I take pride in my skills and experience in several domains: critical thinking and analysis, communication, and leadership. I note that Navigant values these same ideals, and I very much hope to use my abilities in service of the firm and its clients. Thank you for your time and consideration, I look forward to speaking with you further about my qualifications.
Additional cover letter tips
- Be sure that each cover letter is specifically tailored to the company you are writing to. Research the company to help you determine your approach. Check the company’s website and other resources online. You can also use MIT’s extensive alumni network through the Alumni Advisors Hub to seek first-hand knowledge, advice, and insight about the company.
- Are you seeking a position in a field or industry that does not have an obvious parallel or connection to your academic training? Be explicit about why you are interested in that particular field, organization or job, and what value you bring. For example, if you are an electrical engineer applying to a finance or consulting position, highlight your quantitative skills and ability to problem-solve.
- If you are applying for a summer job or internship and do not yet have any experience that is directly related to the position, focus on transferable skills that will add value to the role – leadership, communication, problem-solving, project management, etc.
- Lastly, cover letters are a chance to demonstrate the communication skills necessary to most jobs. Careful composing and revision are essential. To put your best foot forward and ensure your cover letter will be effective, schedule an appointment with a CAPD career advisor.
Tips & advice.
- Recruiting Guidelines for Employers
- Application Materials for a Faculty Job Search
- Life After College: A Guide for Undocumented Students
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- Handshake 101: What it is & how to use it
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- “Workshop Your Why MD” – Prehealth Advising’s guide to writing your personal statement for medical school
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- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Writing the Personal Statement
- Guide to careers in financial planning
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- Medical school interviews: strengthen your answer to one of the most important questions
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- How to negotiate your tech salary ft. levels.fyi (video)
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Your cover letter should introduce the recruiter to your strengths and point to your resume, portfolio, recommendations, and any other sources
Accuracy · Attention to detail · Consistently meeting deadlines · Dedicated · Detail-oriented · Determination · Effectively managing multiple projects
Best cover letter skills · Communication · Customer service · Teamwork · Leadership · Problem-solving · Time management · Adaptability · Dependability.
Try something like: “My background in [industry or profession], combined with my passion for your company and this role, would make me uniquely qualified to
The middle of the cover letter is magical because it makes the case for why you'd be an exceptional hire. Select three strengths necessary to excel and assign
Eliminate clichés and unnecessary formalities. · Focus on 'fit. · Keep your language and sentence structures lean, muscular, and compelling. · Key your background
The standard cover letter might have three to four paragraphs, each one three to five sentences long. Cut through the word-clutter by relating your strengths in
A cover letter shouldn't be longer than one page; three or four paragraphs will suffice. Aim for about 250 to 400 words. Any longer, and your efforts risk being
Your cover letter is a marketing tool you'll use to promote your background and highlight skills ... My strengths as a recognized leader, effective manager
Cover letter structure and format ; Introduction (1st paragraph) · Provide an overview of the main strengths and skills you will bring to the role. ; Body (2-3