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How to Write a Job Application Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter is essential when applying for jobs. This is the perfect way to express how your specific skills are relevant to the open position. Wow your future employer with this simple cover letter example format.

Write a First Draft

Writing a first draft makes your letter concise and professional, states The Balance Careers. Organize your thoughts by making a list of what you’re trying to convey. Make sure you prioritize certain aspects like your previous job experience and why you would be a good fit for the position. Clearly state what position you’re interested in and why. Think about why you’re applying and what caught your eye about this specific position. Your cover letter will be easier to write after your thoughts are collected and organized.

Customize Your Salutation

When writing a salutation, make sure you know who you are writing to. Is this person the owner of the company or a Human Resources administrator? If you’re not sure, research the company to find out. Addressing your cover letter to a specific person shows initiative and attention to detail. After your salutation, start your letter with a short introduction of yourself. This gives future employers insight into who you are and the purpose of your cover letter.

Write Intentionally

Your cover letter should be no more than one page, so keep your points brief. Clearly state what position you are interested in and why. Explain why you are a good fit for the company because of your past job experience. If you have no similar job experience, let the employer know why you are changing career paths. Expand on your skills and give specific examples of how that skill set helped you at your last position. Name projects you’ve worked on and show results.

Close Your Letter

End your cover letter with a brief sentence and sign off. Thank the employer for their time and express your interest towards the job again. Let them know you’ll follow up with them if you do not hear back within a week and leave your contact information. Sign off with a professional farewell and leave room for a signature if sending a hard copy.

Edit and Proofread

As you finish writing your cover letter, make sure you take time to edit and proofread your document. Make sure it’s structured in a professional format with the company’s information, the salutation and introduction, the body of the letter, a brief closing sentence and farewell. Check for spelling and grammar mistakes to ensure a formal result. Make sure all names are spelled correctly, as well.


how to get cover letter noticed

how to get cover letter noticed

How to Write a Cover Letter That Sounds Like You (and Gets Noticed)

Do the research, start off strong, and emphasize your value.

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Where your work meets your life. See more from Ascend here .

I hate cover letters. They add so much stress to the already uncomfortable and grueling job hunt. Every time I’m writing one, I find myself wondering: Do people even read these?

Unfortunately, the answer is “yes.” But, there are some ways to make the process a little less terrible. I asked Amy Gallo, Harvard Business Review editor and author of “ How to Write a Cover Letter ,” for her advice. From doing the research, to starting off strong, to emphasizing your value — Gallo taught me exactly what I need to do to get my cover letters noticed by hiring managers. I even wrote a new cover letter that has her blessing. (Scroll down if you’re in need of an expert-approved example.)

Subscribe to HBR Ascend on YouTube for more videos on work, life, and everything in between.


ELAINY MATA: So you want to know how to tackle the cover letter. I do too. I actually really hate cover letters. I hate cover letters. I hate cover letters.

But the cover letter is important. It’s time to face our fears, and just figure out how in the world we are actually going to write it.

I got you, and we’re going to do this together. These tips are going to help you go through the process a lot easier. So if you are ready to tackle the cover letter, stick around and keep watching.

In front of me right now are three cover letters that I’ve written in the past, for three different jobs. And I’m just embarrassed. I’m embarrassed to read these.

To whom it may concern, to whom it may concern, to whom it may concern. I would like to respectfully submit this cover letter. I would like to respectfully submit this cover letter. I am a passionate, detail-oriented person. I am passionate, detail-oriented person.

This sounds like I’m — this doesn’t sound like me at all. I think you want me to talk this way. Here we go like. Hire me.

I talked to Amy Gallo, an HBR editor, and the author of one of our most popular articles, “How to Write a Cover Letter.”

AMY GALLO: First of all, you’re not alone. I write about how to write cover letters, and I also hate them.

ELAINY MATA: She’s done the research. She’s talked to the experts. And I’m going to tell you exactly what she told me.

Make it one page

ELAINY MATA: So how long does a cover letter actually have to be? Just one page, one.

AMY GALLO: Don’t play with the font, and make it like eight point font, and like make your margins really wide. Just really figure out what is the most essential things that need to go on one page.

Do research, find a name

ELAINY MATA: This should be a no-brainer, but let’s get specific. Let’s say you’re applying for a job here, at Harvard Business Review. Go on the company’s website, go to their “About Us” section, and read what they’re about, see their mission statement, see their tone, see what that company is actually looking for, and what they stand for.

So you’ve got the broad stuff, but let’s dig a little bit deeper. What is the company that you’re applying for talking about now? You should actually go into their LinkedIn, their Twitter, see what they’re sharing, see who are they’re talking to, see what they’re talking about, so you can get a sense of what is currently happening. Lastly, find that hiring manager. It is so much better to address your cover letter to an actual person and a name rather than, to whom it may concern. So I have to kind of creep a little bit, and be like a private investigator.

AMY GALLO: Yeah, creeping is definitely part of the process. Usually, with LinkedIn, you can see who’s posted the job, who is sharing it with their network. You may not know for sure that that’s the hiring manager, but at least it’s a little more personable. Sometimes, I’ve heard people just reach out and say, “Who’s the hiring manager for this job? I’d like to address my cover letter to that person.”

Start strong

ELAINY MATA: You’ve probably written this 100 times before. “Hi, my name is this. I’m based here, and I’m applying for this job.” No, no, no, no, don’t do that. The hiring manager has a stack of cover letters. So you have to write yours to grab their attention. Amy, can you please give me an example of a strong, bold, opening line for cover letter. I promise I won’t steal it.

AMY GALLO: You’re allowed to steal it. Anyone should be able to steal it:

“I saw your listing on this website, and I was thrilled to see it, because it’s exactly the kind of job I’ve been looking for to apply my skills in X.”

Write something that’s short, to the point, but shows both enthusiasm, as well as experience that’s relevant to the job.

Emphasize your value

ELAINY MATA: Figure out what problem the company is facing. They’re hiring for a reason. Figure out what that reason is, and how you can best solve that problem. Amy also found the top two qualities that people generally look for is adaptability, and the ability to learn quickly.

How about if I just got out of college, and I’m looking at these jobs that are asking for three to five years or more of experience. How can I write a cover letter if I feel like I don’t have enough to write about?

AMY GALLO: Yeah, so that’s a good question, because the cover letter shouldn’t be focused so much on the past. That’s the resume’s job. The cover letter is really about the future. So how are you going to take what’s in that resume, your past, and apply it to where you’re going.

Convey enthusiasm, not desperation

ELAINY MATA: This is really hard to balance. You want to show them that you’re excited to work there, and that you’re going to bring a lot of energy to the team. But don’t be too strong, because over eagerness can actually work against you.

Find a proofreader

AMY GALLO: Write the letter you want to write. Then share it with someone else, someone who knows you well, but someone who also will tell you like it is. We’re not good judges of our own writing.

ELAINY MATA: So getting a second pair of eyes will help you look for any errors, typos, and most importantly, they can tell you if you make sense.

Amy, this sounds like a lot. Is there even like a sort of a shortcut to this, or a sort of scalable way that I can do this for multiple different jobs?

AMY GALLO: I mean, you’ve probably heard the phrase looking for a job is a full-time job. It does take a lot of time. You’re tweaking some things. You’re not writing a whole new letter. So you’re going to have a template. Write your best cover letter for the first job you apply for. Share that with your friend to check the tone. Do the research on the company, right? Do that the first time. Then and adjust the cover letter accordingly. Does that seem more reasonable?

ELAINY MATA: Yes, much more reasonable.

So my task is to apply for a job here at HBR, and to write a new cover letter using the advice that Amy gave me. Let’s do it.

This is hard. I never said it was going to be easy, maybe easier than what you were doing before, but definitely not easy.

The first draft

Dear Maureen and hiring team, I saw your listing on Linkedln and am excited because this is exactly the job that I’ve been looking for to showcase my skills in video production and production management to assist the creative center in producing compelling content. Working in news and movie production has taught me to hear an idea and a concept and be able to fully plan out the logistics needed to make the desired final visual product. I have been able to work with software like Adobe Creative Suite and TriCaster, and have worked with other team members to write scripts and compose story boards. Being part of the Creative Center team will give me the challenges to grow as a skilled producer and assist in production, help the production planning process, create a quick tum around for video publication, and manage content.

AMY GALLO: You did well on length. It is very short. That’s good.


AMY GALLO: I read this, I’m like, that first sentence is spot on. And then it gets a little bit stilted. And then it goes into what’s probably on your resume. And I want a little more personality.

The final draft

ELAINY MATA: So Amy, after many back and forths — How do you think I did?

AMY GALLO: All right. So I’m looking at it right now. And I think you did a really good job.

You’ve got the main components here. There’s some personality in it. There’s some flattery in it about the company you’re applying to, but it’s not like over the top. I have to tell you, I would have you in. I think it’s a great letter.

ELAINY MATA: That’s it for me. I wrote the cover letter. You got to see the whole process. And I feel like I definitely have a better outlook on how to approach it. These are not easy to write, so good luck out there. Watch as many times as you can. Practice makes perfect. I’ll see you soon.

Cover letter example 

Dear Maureen and hiring team, I was so excited to see your post on LinkedIn because it’s exactly the type of job I’m looking for: an opportunity to bring my experience with video production and enthusiasm for storytelling to an organization that sets the standard for high-quality management content. In addition to five years of experience in broadcast journalism, research, and video production, I would bring an organized and systems-level perspective to this role. I view video production as a puzzle, and like to think about which parts need to come together in order to make a great final product. My approach is to have in-depth conversations with my team members, and the various stakeholders, before each project. This helps me nail down the logistics — from location to talent. From there, the fun begins: fleshing out the concept and identifying what visuals will best represent it. Ideation and storyboarding are essential in this step. I know I’m not right all the time, so I enjoy working with a diverse team that can bring in new perspectives, brainstorm, and pitch ideas that will make the final product stronger. Whenever possible, I also try to seek out other sources for inspiration, like magazines, which allow me to observe different ways of expression and storytelling. This approach has served me well. It’s what has allowed me to enter the film industry and grow as a creator. On my website, you can see examples of how I use the above process to create fun, engaging content. Given this experience and my enthusiasm for the work you do, I believe I’d make a great addition to your team. I recently had a chance to try out your Patient Zero product at my current organization. The simulation is both challenging and engaging. I was impressed by your ability to apply  different storytelling methods to an online training course (which, let’s admit, can often be a little dry). Your work exemplifies exactly what I believe: There’s an opportunity to tell a compelling story in everything — all you have to do is deliver it right. I’d love to come in and speak with you more about what I’d be able to offer in this role. Harvard Business Publishing is my top choice and I believe I’d make valuable contributions to your team. Thank you for your time and consideration!

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How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job

Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts.

how to get cover letter noticed

What Is a Cover Letter?

How to Write a Cover Letter

Customize Your Cover Letter

Show the employer that you’re a fit.

Do you need to write a cover letter to apply for a job? In most cases, the answer is yes. Your cover letter may make the difference between obtaining a job interview or having your  resume  ignored, so it makes good sense to devote the necessary time and effort to writing effective cover letters.

Here's all the information you need to write a cover letter that will get your job application noticed. Review these tips for what to include in a cover letter, how to format it, and examples of many different professionally written cover letters.

Before you start writing a cover letter, you should familiarize yourself with the document's purpose. A cover letter is a document sent with your resume to provide additional information on your skills and experience.

The letter provides detailed information on why you are qualified for the job you are applying for. Don't simply repeat what's on your resume. Instead, include details on why you're a strong match for the employer's job requirements. Think of your cover letter as a sales pitch that will market your credentials and help you get the interview. As such, you want to make sure your cover letter makes the best impression on the person who is reviewing it.

When to Write a Cover Letter

A cover letter typically accompanies each resume you send out. Employers use cover letters as a way to screen applicants for available jobs and to determine which candidates they would like to interview. If an employer requires a cover letter, it will be listed in the job posting. Even if the company doesn't ask for one,  you may want to include one anyway .

It will show that you have put some extra effort into your application.

If your cover letter stands out from the crowd of applicants, it can be the key to securing an interview.

How to Get Your Cover Letter Noticed

What’s the best way to get your cover letter noticed when the employer has to look through a pile of them? First of all, take the time to write a good one. Some hiring managers expect to receive a cover letter. In those cases, it should be mentioned in the job posting.

Even if it’s not required, though, a well-written cover letter gives you the opportunity to sell your credentials to the company and to show them why you’d be a good fit for the job.

A CareerBuilder survey reports that 40% of employers are more likely to pay attention when a cover letter is included with an application. Another CareerBuilder survey notes that 10% of hiring managers wouldn't hire a candidate who didn't include a cover letter.

Watch Now: 7 Ways Your Cover Letter Can Get You Hired

There are some quick and easy steps that you can take to write a cover letter that will impress the hiring manager. Take a look at these tips and see which ones will work best for you. Even a few small changes can make a big difference.

Types of Cover Letters

Before you start writing a cover letter, be sure that you’ve chosen the right type of letter . The style will be different depending on whether you’re writing a letter to send or upload with a resume, inquiring about job openings, or mentioning a referral.

There are three general types of cover letters. Choose a type of letter that matches your reason for writing.

When you are applying for a job that has been posted by a company that's hiring, you will be using the "application letter" style.

Cover Letter Writing Guidelines

Here's an outline of the items that should be included in every cover letter. Before you get started, it can be helpful to review some  cover letter samples , just so you have a visual of how everything fits on the page.

These cover letter examples, both written and email, are designed for a variety of different types of job applications and employment inquiries. Do be sure to take the time to personalize your letter, so it's a strong endorsement of your ability to do the job for which you're applying.

Heading A cover letter should begin with both your and the employer's contact information (name, address, phone number, email), followed by the date. If this is an email rather than an actual letter, include your contact information at the end of the letter, after your signature. Your contact information should include:

First and Last Name Street Address (optional) City, State Zip (optional) Phone Email

Salutation Begin your  cover letter salutation  with "Dr./Mr./Ms. Last Name." If you are unsure if your contact is male or female, you can write out their full name. If you do not know the employer's name, simply write, "Dear Hiring Manager." This is better than the generic and formal, " To Whom It May Concern ."

Review information on  how to choose the right cover letter greeting  to select one that works for the job and company you're applying to.

Introduction Begin your introduction by stating what job you are applying for. Explain where you heard about the job, particularly if you heard about it from a contact associated with the company. Briefly mention how your skills and experience match the company and/or position; this will give the employer a preview of the rest of your letter. Your goal in the introduction is to get the reader's attention. To get started, see examples of engaging  opening sentences for cover letters .

A referral can put in a good word and help you get hired. It’s worth taking a few minutes to see if you know anyone who can refer you to the job. Check your LinkedIn network, your college alumni network, and your Facebook friends to identify anyone who works at the company who could refer you. If you find someone, here’s how to ask them for a referral .

Body of the Letter In a paragraph or two, explain why you are interested in the job and why you make an excellent candidate for the position. Mention  specific qualifications  listed  in the job posting , and explain how you meet those qualifications. Do not simply restate your resume, but provide specific examples that demonstrate your abilities.

Remember, actions speak louder than words, so don't just "tell" the reader that you are, for example, a great team player with strong communication skills and excellent attention to detail. Instead, use tangible examples from your work experience to "show" these traits in action. Here's more information on  what to include in the body section of a cover letter .

Closing In the closing section of your cover letter, restate how your skills make you a strong fit for the company and/or position. If you have room (remember, just like your resume, your cover letter should be no longer than one page—here's more information on  how long a cover letter should be )—you can also discuss why you would like to work at that specific company.

State that you would like the opportunity to interview or discuss employment opportunities. Explain what you will do to follow-up, and when you will do it. Thank the employer for his/her consideration.

Signature Use a  complimentary close , and then end your cover letter with your signature, handwritten, followed by your typed name. If this is an email, simply include your typed name, followed by your contact information, after the complimentary close.

How to Format Your Cover Letter

Cover Letter Length. Cover letters don’t need to be long. In fact, all a lengthy letter will do is make the reader’s eyes glaze over. A few paragraphs are plenty , and your letter should never be longer than a single page. If your letter is too long, don’t use a smaller font. Edit and cut words instead.

Cover Letter Font Options. Your cover letter should be  formatted like a professional business letter . The font should match the font you used on your resume, and should be simple and easy to read. Pick a font that’s easy to read. Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, and other similar non-script, sans-serif fonts work well for body text.

Font Size. Size is important too—make your text too small, and the hiring manager may not want to make an effort to read it. Depending on the font, somewhere between 10- and 12-point font size is usually best for readability.

Page Margin Settings. Standard margins are 1" on the top, bottom, and left and right sides of the page. You can adjust them as necessary to make more room on the page.

Letter Spacing. Add a space between the header, salutation, each paragraph, the closing, and your signature. You can reduce the font and margin sizes to keep your document on a single page, but do be sure to leave enough white space for your letter to be easy to read.

Follow these  cover letter formatting guidelines  to ensure your letters match the professional standards expected by the hiring managers who review applications. Follow  these guidelines  if you are sending your cover letter by email.

It is very important that your cover letter be tailored to each position you are applying to. This means more than just changing the name of the company in the body of the letter.

Each cover letter you write should be customized to include:

Here's more on how to  personalize your cover letter .

One of the most important steps to writing a cover letter that stands out is showing the company that you’re a professional candidate who meets the job requirements. When you do so, you’ll make it easier for the hiring manager to decide that you’d be a candidate worth interviewing.

Match Your Cover Letter to Your Resume. Choose the same font for both your resume and cover letter, and your application will look polished and professional. Don’t mix and match fonts. It’s fine to have a different font for your page headers, but be consistent with the font you use in your cover letter and resume content.

Match Your Skills With the Job Qualifications. One of the most important ways to get your cover letter noticed is to make a clear match between the job requirements listed in the help wanted ad and your credentials. Don’t expect the employer to figure it out. If you do it for them, it will up your chances of getting an interview.

Highlight Your Most Relevant Skills. Don’t use your cover letter to rehash and repeat everything in your resume. This is an opportunity to focus on the specific skills and attributes you have that will benefit the employer. Focus your letter on the top few skills that best qualify you for the job.

What Not to Include in a Cover Letter

You want your cover letter to stand out for the right reasons. There are some things you shouldn’t include in your cover letter if you want to make a good impression. It's not helpful to include personal information or mention how you left your last job. Stay focused on the job at hand and your qualifications for it.

Finally, never include salary requirements unless the employer specifically requests that you do. Even then, be careful how you respond. You don’t want to knock yourself out of contention for the job because you’re asking for too much money. You also don’t want to get an offer for less than you’re worth.

Make Sure Your Cover Letter Is Perfect

Before you send your letter, you should review every detail carefully. Even a small typo could be enough to take your application out of consideration for the job.

Check for Typos and Grammatical Errors

Don't click send or upload your letter before you have taken the time to proofread it thoroughly. Read your letter out loud, and you may pick up some more mistakes. You can even try  reading it backward  to really focus your attention.

Include an Email Signature

When you email a cover letter, be sure to include a signature with your name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile URL if you have one. That will make it easy for the recruiter to get in touch with you.

Email It to Yourself

There’s one more thing to do before you send your letter: Email a copy to yourself for a final check. Make sure the formatting is just as you want it—and proofread it one more time.

Cover Letter Samples

Printed or uploaded cover letter sample.

Liz Johnson 60 Main Street, Apt. 2C Centerville, NH 03071 203-555-4343

January 7, 2022

Joseph Chang ABC Corp 100 Business Road, Ste 100 Centerville, NH 03071

Dear Mr. Chang,

I’m writing to express my enthusiastic interest in the role of senior tech support specialist at ABC Corp. I have 10 years of experience in tech support roles, including my current job at XYZ LLC, and I’d love to put my skills to work for ABC.

In addition, I have the following qualifications:

In the job listing on Indeed, you mentioned that you were specifically looking for someone who was willing to work evening shifts and be on call over the weekend. I worked evenings and weekends in my previous position as Lead Help Desk Technician at LMK Inc., and I enjoy the schedule. (Plus, that’s when the really interesting calls come in!)

I’d love to talk to you about the position and how my skills and experience can help make your team’s job easier. I’m available via cellphone at 203-555-4343 or email at

Liz Johnson ( signature hard copy letter )

Liz Johnson

Email Cover Letter Sample

Subject: Project Coordinator Position

I am a project manager with experience managing complex projects across diverse settings. My project management skills are complemented by customer service experience and data analysis expertise, skills that I believe would make me an excellent fit for the Project Coordinator role at Cumbria Holdings.

Most recently, I was responsible for project management across all aspects of the business. This included the development of programming initiatives, analyzing and managing data, managing market research endeavors, conceptualizing and implementing marketing projects, amongst other activities. I relied on my strong communication, interpersonal, and organizational abilities to oversee numerous moving parts internally, while also managing internal and external relationships along with project budget and finances.

I was also responsible for customer service and client communication. As this was a fast-paced environment that required me to interact with numerous stakeholders and manage numerous projects simultaneously, I developed strong time-management skills. I am highly skilled in Excel and data analysis, especially as it relates to project reporting. I am now looking for a role where I can build on my project management skills.

Thank you so much for your consideration for this position! I look forward to hearing from you. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions at all.

Marlena Ortiz 555-123-4576

More Cover Letter Examples and Templates

Need more inspiration for your own cover letters? Review these cover letter examples and downloadable templates for many different types of jobs.

CareerOneStop. " How Do I Write a Cover Letter? "

CareerBuilder. " How to Create a Cover Letter That Gets Attention ."

CareerBuilder. " Employers Share Their Most Outrageous Resume Mistakes and Instant Deal Breakers ."

SHRM. " Employee Referrals Remain Top Source for Hires ."

Pressbook. " Formatting Font for Readability ."

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How to Write a Cover Letter That Gets Noticed

14 Min Read | Nov 17, 2022

Ken Coleman

Job hunting isn’t for the faint of heart. You’re putting in extra hours after work, chipping away at application questions, polishing up your resumé, and hoping for the best. And to top it all off, you have an extra item to check off your list: writing a cover letter.

What’s a cover letter? you ask. A cover letter is a formal note attached to your resumé that explains your interest and goals for a new job. Don’t worry if you’re not a professional writer—anyone can learn how to write a cover letter that gets noticed with a few pointers (and it will give you better odds of landing your dream job!).

Let’s take a look at what to include in your cover letter to make a great impression.

What You’ll Learn

What is a cover letter.

Cover Letter Examples

Stand out in the job search with a strong resumé.

A cover letter is a short letter written directly to the person who will read your job application and resumé. Since you only have 7.4 seconds to get a recruiter’s attention, you want to make a strong first impression. 1  Attaching a cover letter to your resumé is another chance to show off how great you and your qualifications are.

how to get cover letter noticed

Get Everything You Need to Land the Job You Love!

Traditionally, while your  resumé  is more of a high-level overview of your past experience, cover letters tell your story and what you want to do. A cover letter is an opportunity to showcase your skills and motivate the hiring manager to consider you for the position.

Not all companies require a cover letter these days, but it’s a good idea to add one to your application anyway. So, create something unique! You want your cover letter and resumé to pop out of that pile of papers on the recruiter’s desk and grab their attention. After all, the whole point is for them to read it. Let’s walk through my top tips for writing an engaging cover letter.

How to Write a Cover Letter 

The goal of a cover letter is to convince the hiring manager that you deserve an interview . Here’s how you can put your cover letter together to make an impact.

1. Choose a template. 

There are plenty of easy-to-use, free cover letter templates that can help you figure out how to format your document. But it doesn’t need to be cookie-cutter—it should still show who you are and why you want to work at this specific company.

Think about it: When you’re writing a letter to a friend (or a text message, in this day and age), you make it personal and conversational. Each cover letter you write should be personalized for the company you’re applying to. Put yourself in their shoes. If you were hiring for this position, what would you be looking for?

No matter which cover letter template you choose, you should learn everything you can about the company and the position. Use that information to make your letter relevant and show you’ve done your homework. Keep it to around 300 words (that’s about one page), and remember, just like your resumé, don’t overdo the design. Leave the crazy fonts alone, folks. The goal is to look professional, not tacky!

2. Include your contact information in the header. 

Even if your contact information is already on your resumé, you should still put it in the header of your cover letter. Here are the important things to include:

This header can go at the top of the page underneath your name or in the top right corner. If you want to get  really  formal, you could also include the name of the person you’re addressing, the name and address of the company you’re applying to, and the date of application. This info can go on the left side of the page below the header.

how to get cover letter noticed

3. Start with the right greeting. 

Don’t start out with “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To whom it may concern.” You’re not Shakespeare! Think about how you’d say hello to someone if you were sending them a polite and professional email. Here are some options:

how to get cover letter noticed

4. Use an eye-catching headline. 

Treat your opening line like a hook. It needs to grab the reader’s attention and give them a reason to stick around. Make it count! Remember, you’ve only got 7.4 seconds. For extra oomph, you can write this in large (and maybe even bold) letters to mimic a newspaper article headline.

Think of the headline like a great social media post. When you’re mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, what causes you to pause, squint your eyes, and take a closer look at what you see?

Here are a few approaches to try out when writing headlines:

Once you’ve snagged their attention, it’s time to make your case about why you’re a good fit for the job.

5. Explain why you want the position. 

This is your chance to wow the recruiter with your knowledge and enthusiasm about the company and role. Show them you’ve done your homework by touching on the mission, vision and values of the business. Then, explain why you’d be thrilled to contribute to their work.

6. Talk about your skills and passions. 

This is the meat of the letter—but I want you to think lean. The HR team reading your application doesn’t have time for a novel. Write a couple of paragraphs, but make sure each one is only a few sentences.

Be humble—but confident—as you talk about your talents and skills. What makes you a good fit for this job? Include both hard skills (like coding or project management) and soft skills (like how you’re curious and always ready to learn something new).

Also,  describe the passion  that drives the work you do. What makes you come alive? What activities cause you to lose track of time? Let the recruiter sense your excitement for work.

7. State what you can bring to their team. 

This is where it gets fun. When you’ve found a job that combines what you do best with what you love to do most, you’ll be producing results that matter.

Talk about the core motivation that helps you wake up every morning. Tell the hiring manager how you’ll contribute your skills and passions to help move the company forward.

8. Don’t use clichés.

While you’re writing about what makes you a strong candidate for the job, make sure your words are bold too . Challenge yourself to come up with two or three new ways to say common phrases so you can avoid these clichés:

9. Wrap it up.

Thank the hiring manager for their time and attention. Let me be clear about something: It’s not your job to follow up. It’s their job to reach out to you. If you lay out your case like I’ve described, they’ll have plenty of motivation to reach out to you for an interview. You’ve done the best you can do—now relax and let the chips fall where they may.

10. Review your cover letter.

Grammar, spelling and accuracy  matter . Every detail should look, feel and sound excellent. Don’t let a few typos rob you of your shot at your dream job! Here are a few ways to triple-check your cover letter for excellence: 

Once you’ve perfected your cover letter, all you need to do is submit it along with the rest of your application! Don’t overthink the process, guys. Keep it brief, but clearly explain why you’d be a good fit. Your resumé will do the rest of the talking.

how to get cover letter noticed

Whether you’re brand new to the workforce, finding the right fit for you, or an old pro moving up the ladder, there’s a way to write a cover letter that’s best for you and your experience. Here are a few examples of cover letters for entry-level professionals, midlevel managers and executives that you can use as a guide.

Entry Level

If you’re applying for an entry-level position, you probably don’t have a ton of work experience to talk about in your cover letter. That’s okay! You can focus on relevant classes, volunteer work and other opportunities you’ve had to lead. The point is to focus on the mission of the company and how you want to contribute. Here’s an example of how you can boost your application with an entry-level cover letter.

Toby Griffith 332 Maple Street Mayberry, NC 27030 (555) 555-5555 [email protected]

Artie Crowley Foley’s Grocery Store 180 Main St. Mayberry, NC 27030  

Dear Mr. Crowley,

My name is Toby Griffith, and I’m a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina’s business program. I’m curious to learn more about the associate marketer position listed for your grocery store corporate office. I first learned about this opportunity through my friend Bobby Anderson, who was just hired in the accounting department. I’m familiar with your chain of grocery stores because I grew up in Mayberry. I’ve even shopped at the stores with my family and know some of the staff well. I’m excited to see you’re hiring for marketing positions because I’m interested in pursuing a career in business with a focus on food service. I think my previous work experience and community leadership would make a strong foundation for an associate marketer at your company. For example, in high school, I worked in the concession stands during football and basketball season, and I learned the basics of food safety and customer service. Last summer, I completed an internship at a catering company where I shadowed the catering director. I learned how the director markets the business, orders ingredients, and plans meals and deliveries for large events. I know these experiences would be helpful in a grocery store setting. You’ll find more details about my extracurricular activities and community service on my resumé. Thank you for considering me, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely, Toby Griffith

Middle Management

Middle managers will have a few more years of experience under their belts and a better understanding of how their skills produce results at work. This is all great information to include! Here’s an example of what a middle manager’s cover letter will look like:

Lori Gilmore 214 Oak Tree Lane Stars Hollow, CT 06101 (555) 555-5555 [email protected] Elizabeth Smith Human Resources Mayflower Hotel 120 Woodridge Road Washington, CT 06793  

Dear Ms. Smith, On a recent weekend trip through New England, I was lucky to stay at the beautiful Mayflower Hotel. During checkout, I had a conversation with the concierge who mentioned an open position for a hospitality manager. As a former concierge myself, and now innkeeper at the Independence Inn, I’m interested to learn more about this opportunity.

The Independence Inn is a cozy property for travelers looking for a calm and quiet getaway. In the 12 years I’ve been employed at the inn, I’ve worked my way up from an entry-level maid to concierge and now innkeeper. These roles have given me valuable insight and experience into housekeeping, customer service and business finance as the inn has grown. Now, I’m ready to take the next step in my career by managing a larger hotel property that serves more guests. In addition to this hands-on work experience, I also teach a community college course, Hospitality 101, where I train students in hotel and travel operations. I truly enjoy giving back to the community and sharing my knowledge in these areas. If you find my experience is a fit for the Mayflower Hotel, I would be thrilled to train other staff and serve your guests as the new hospitality manager. Thank you for your time. I look forward to learning more about this position.

Sincerely, Lori Gilmore

C-Suite Executive

For anyone applying for executive positions, your cover letter will need to be top-notch. You’ll want to focus on how you’ve solved big problems and share your professional wins. On this level, it’s helpful to include numbers and data to support your experience. Check out this example of a C-Suite cover letter.

Josh Jobseeker 1000 Sunset Blvd San Francisco, CA 27030 (555) 555-5555 [email protected] Michael Maloof Human Resources StarTech Enterprises 12 Market Street Palo Alto, CA 94020

Dear Mr. Maloof,

I’m thrilled for the opportunity to apply for the role of Executive Vice President at StarTech Enterprises. I started my career as a software engineer, and I have a deep understanding of the challenges, needs and culture of tech firms like StarTech. Throughout my career, I’ve grown into managerial and leadership positions through proven problem-solving, vision and systems development. I believe these skills will serve StarTech as the company looks to expand into the artificial intelligence market.

My knack for problem-solving and creating systems has served me well throughout my career. Because of this natural skill set, I found technology to be a perfect fit for my passions and technical abilities. Over time, I honed my leadership skills and grew a small developer team into a large-scale department, all while earning the trust and respect of my direct reports. Under my leadership, the developer unit grew from a team of four to a department of 36 people, and we increased productivity. Coding output increased by 18% through new, highly organized and effective workflow and review systems. I’m confident I can help continue to grow and train StarTech’s developer teams and increase productivity for future projects.

I appreciate you taking time to consider my application and experience. I’ve been following StarTech’s growth in the tech space for several years, and I have high hopes to contribute to the firm’s rapid expansion and industry impact. I would be proud to share my combination of vision and execution with the team as the new Executive Vice President.

Sincerely, Josh Jobseeker

To stand out even more in your job search, you'll want to put just as much time and effort into your resumé as your cover letter. Check out my  free Resumé Guide  to set your job application up for success. You've got this! If you want to get noticed, it's time to make your resumé stand out. Follow this simple five-step guide and get noticed in the hiring process.

Ken Coleman

About the author

Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is a career expert and author of the national bestselling book From Paycheck to Purpose and the #1 national bestseller The Proximity Principle. He hosts The Ken Coleman Show, a nationally syndicated, caller-driven show that helps listeners discover what they were born to do. Ken makes regular appearances on Fox News, and he co-hosts The Ramsey Show, the second-largest talk show in the nation with 18 million weekly listeners. Through his speaking, broadcasting and syndicated columns, Ken gives people expert career advice, providing strategic steps to grow professionally, land their dream job, and get promoted. Learn More.

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How to Find Your Dream Job

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Writing a Cover Letter That Will Stand Out

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First thing about how to write a cover letter

Use fewer words to say more, tailor your cover letter to a specific job, be proud of your past accomplishments, address the hiring manager personally, use keywords from the job description, throw in numbers and examples, more ‘don’ts’ when writing a cover letter, proofread your work.

In this age of digital recruiting, do you really need to write something to accompany your resume or job application? Is writing a cover letter really important?

The short answer: Yes!

Yet, far too often, job seekers treat the process of writing a cover letter as an afterthought to submitting a resume. Or they don't bother to write one at all.

Your cover letter is your introduction to a prospective employer. It’s also an opportunity to make a great first impression and to showcase why you’d make a great hire. So don't squander it.

These days, it’s unlikely a cover letter, like your resume , would be something you’d print and mail to a hiring manager. In fact, it may not be a letter at all. The savviest job seekers will include the modern equivalent of a targeted cover letter in the body of an email message or an online job application.

Take a look at these tips for writing a cover letter that will convince hiring managers and HR professionals to call you for an interview.

Don't rehash your resume. Your words should do more than restate salient details from what's already in your resume. The cover letter is where you should promote yourself, describe your ambition and express your enthusiasm for a new role and company in a way that is distinct from your resume.

Check out this brief checklist of important functions of a targeted cover letter:

The barrage of information coming at all of us today has created attention spans that are shorter than ever before. Cover letters are no exception. Managers are often inundated with applications, so economy of words matters.

In fact, keep it brief with a three-paragraph format, using each paragraph to focus on an aspect of your application.

For more details on that last paragraph, read about how to write a cover letter closing .

Don’t use a one-size-fits-all cover letter template for all the positions you apply for. If you do, you’re missing the point: Only a letter that’s targeted to the job at hand will make a positive impression.

Write a cover letter employers can't ignore by tying it to the elements of the job that match your unique skills and experience. What are they asking for that you’re especially good at? What would make your contribution unique? Those are the points to stress when writing a cover letter.

Just as important, gather facts and figures that support your claims. For example, if you're applying for a managerial role, mention the size of teams and budgets you’ve managed. If it’s a sales role, describe specific sales goals you've achieved.

In addition to highlighting your talents, you can further personalize your cover letter by demonstrating your familiarity with the specific industry, employer and type of position.    

Companies want confident employees who love their work. They know these are the people who tend to perform better, serve as stronger team members and have greater potential to grow along with the business.

Draw attention to specific examples of projects you’ve worked on that make you an ideal candidate, and don’t hesitate to brag a little about your most pertinent achievements. Consider adding a sentence or two — or even a bullet list, as long as you’re not duplicating your resume — of key achievements backed up with quantitative data. Did you increase revenue by identifying tax savings worth $50,000 a year, win six design awards, quadruple the company’s social media following? Here’s the place to mention it.


How would you feel if you got an email addressed, To Whom It May Concern? Just as you personalize your resume to the role, you should also address the cover letter to the person actually hiring for the position, as opposed to Dear Employer. If it’s not spelled out in the job posting and you can’t find it on LinkedIn, be proactive and call the organization’s main phone number and ask for the name and title of the hiring manager.

If you’re still in school or just out, your career services office may be able to help you identify the right contact at a company.

Many employers use resume-filtering software that scans for keywords and evaluates how closely resumes and cover letters match the preferred skills and experience. That means your cover letter should incorporate key phrases you've identified in the job description — if they honestly match with your background and strengths.

During the writing process, carefully review the job ad for the type of degree required, the number of years' experience needed, and desired software skills, organization and communication abilities, and project management background.

If you want to know how to write a cover letter that stands out, show how you've had a measurable impact on an organization. Did you bring in new clients, make a process more efficient, spearhead some campaigns? Provide specific numbers, percentages to show growth, or a range or estimate to quantify results.

Offering examples can also help you illustrate what you’ve achieved or elaborate on the specifics. Show, don’t tell, whenever possible when you describe what you’ve done and what you can bring to your next position.

Last, but decidedly not least in these suggestions for how to write a cover letter, proofread your work. After you've made a strong argument for your candidacy and given your letter a final polish, ask a friend or family member with a strong eye for typos and good grammar, punctuation and spelling skills to review it. Include a copy of the job posting to make sure you've hit all the right points.

Then do it. Press send!

how to get cover letter noticed

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The 12 Best Cover Letter Examples: What They Got Right

Amanda Zantal-Wiener

Published: February 16, 2023

Fun is not something typically associated with writing a cover letter. However, with a few tweaks, writing one doesn’t have to be a burden.

job seeker reviewing best cover letter examples

The cover letter examples below demonstrate that it is possible to have a little fun with your job search — and maybe even make yourself a better candidate in the process.

→ Click here to access 5 free cover letter templates [Free Download]

What is a good cover letter?

A cover letter is used to demonstrate your interest in the role, passion for the company, and the impact you've had in previous positions. Cover letters should include a standout opening, relevant skills and qualifications, and a strong finish with a call-to-action — all within one page and unique to each application.

It may be true that only 35% of recruiters admit that cover letters do not materially influence the hiring process for them , but that doesn't mean yours has to contribute to that statistic. In fact, it might be that cover letters are deemed insignificant because so few of them stand out. Here's an opportunity for you to exercise your creativity at the earliest stage of the recruitment process.

Personalization, after all, goes beyond replacing the title and company name in each letter you send to recruiters.

What’s on a cover letter?

Before you can get started writing your cover letter, there are a few components you must have.

Greeting: A simple, but pleasant greeting to address the recruiter or hiring manager.

Opener: Write a catchy introduction that explains why you’re interested in the role.

Summary of Skills/Qualifications: This is the heart of your cover letter. It outlines your relevant experience and why you’d be a great fit for the role. You can highlight special skills, experiences, professional achievements, or education to help make your case.

Closing: In this paragraph, provide a call-to-action by expressing interest in an interview. Provide your contact information and sign-off.

What does a cover letter look like?

In addition to showing off your skills and qualifications, cover letters give you the opportunity to present a clear, concise, and compelling writing sample that shows off your personality and ability to convey ideas. Check out our fillable examples below to see how you should organize the content of your cover letter.

Customizable Cover Letter Examples

In a hurry for a cover letter example you can download and customize? Check out the ones below from HubSpot’s cover letter template kit .

1. Standard Cover Letter Example

cover letter examples: standard cover letter

This standard cover letter hits all the right notes: It includes a space to give a brief summary of your experience, as well as a space to delve in-depth into the specific responsibilities at your current role. You also have the chance to describe the challenges you’ve mastered at previous roles, showing that you’re capable of facing any problem that comes your way.

Why We Love It

We love this cover letter because it allows you to describe the high points of your career while still being professional, personalized, and succinct.

2. Data-Driven Cover Letter Sample

cover letter examples: data driven cover letter

Numbers are worth a million words — or that’s how the saying should probably go (if only we could include pictures in cover letters). Citing data and statistics about your achievements at your current company is an assured way to capture a hiring manager’s attention. Most hiring managers don’t read the entire letter, so a bulleted summary of your achievements can be a powerful way to increase the effectiveness and scannability of your message.

We love this cover letter because it’s adaptable to any role. Even if you don’t work in a data-centric role, you can include any enumerable achievement. If you’re in a creative industry, for instance, you can include the number of creative assets you designed for your current company.

3. Entry-Level Cover Letter Example

cover letter examples: entry-level cover letter

Download a Customizable Copy of This Cover Letter Example

Applying to your first job can be stress-inducing, to say the least. You can increase your chances of getting that first interview by including a cover letter that explains how your education can help you succeed in the role you applied for.

Look no further than this example from HubSpot. While other cover letter samples give experienced professionals the opportunity to share their experience at length, this one gives you the chance to describe your personal and professional attributes. You can then convey how you can leverage your knowledge to help your target company reach their goals.

We love this cover letter because it’s easy and simple to use for a student who has little experience in their target industry — including those who haven’t yet completed an internship.

Looking for more? Download the entire kit below.

5 Professional Cover Letter Templates

Fill out the form to access your templates., best cover letter examples.

What does a good cover letter look like in practice, and how can you make yours stand out? We found six examples from job seekers who decided to do things a bit differently.

Note: Some of these cover letters contain real company names and NSFW language that we've covered up.

1. The Cover Letter That Explains 'Why,' Not Just 'How'

We’ve already covered the importance of addressing how you’ll best execute a certain role in your cover letter. But there’s another question you might want to answer: Why the heck do you want to work here?

The Muse , a career guidance site, says that it’s often best to lead with the why — especially if it makes a good story. We advise against blathering on and on, but a brief tale that illuminates your desire to work for that particular employer can really make you stand out.

cover letter that explains "why" with a story about a childhood experience with the chicago cubs

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Here’s another instance of the power of personalization. The author of this cover letter clearly has a passion for this prospective employer — the Chicago Cubs — and if she’s lying about it, well, that probably would eventually be revealed in an interview.

Make sure your story is nonfiction and relatable according to each job. While we love a good tale of childhood baseball games, an introduction like this one probably wouldn’t be fitting in a cover letter for, say, a software company. But a story of how the hours you spent playing with DOS games as a kid led to your passion for coding? Sure, we’d find that fitting.

If you’re really passionate about a particular job opening, think about where that deep interest is rooted. Then, tell your hiring manager about it in a few sentences.

Why This Is A Great Cover Letter

This example demonstrates how effective personalization can be. The writer is passionate about the employer, drawing from her own childhood experience to communicate her enthusiasm.

2. The 'We're Meant for Each Other' Cover Letter

This cover letter example is a special one because it was submitted to us here at HubSpot. What does the letter do well? It makes a connection with us before we've even met the letter's author.

We're meant for each other cover letter submitted to HubSpot

"Content Marketing Certified" indicates the applicant has taken the content marketing certification course in our HubSpot Academy (you can take the same course here ). Our "records" indicate he/she did indeed give an interview with us before — and was a HubSpot customer.

The cover letter sang references to a relationship we didn't even know we had with the candidate.

The letter ends with a charming pitch for why, despite him/her not getting hired previously, our interests complement each other this time around.

(Yes, the applicant was hired).

This cover letter example does an excellent job of building rapport with the employer. Despite not getting hired for previous roles they applied for at HubSpot, the writer conveys exactly why they are right for this role.

3. The Cover Letter with H.E.A.R.T.

HubSpot has a lot of H.E.A.R.T. — Humble, Empathetic, Adaptable, Remarkable, Transparent. Our Culture Code is the foundation of the company's culture, the driving force behind our mission to help millions grow better , and serves as the scaffolding for our hiring practices. Recruiters at HubSpot look for applicants that demonstrate how they embody the Culture Code and job description, paying extra attention to cover letters that are super custom to HubSpot.

In another HubSpot submission, a HubSpot applicant writes about how she found out about HubSpot, why she likes the company, and how her professional experience aligns with H.E.A.R.T.

cover letter that details experience according to hubspot values: humble, empathy, adaptability, remarkable, and transparent.

HubSpot's recruiting team was impressed with her dedication to the company and how she went beyond what was asked for by linking her portfolio in her closing paragraph.

Featured Resource: 5 Free Cover Letter Templates


Download our collection of 5 professional cover letter templates to help you summarize your professional journey and land your dream job – whether it's at your first or fifth company.

Short Cover Letter Examples

4. the short-and-sweet cover letter.

In 2009, David Silverman penned an article for Harvard Business Review titled, “ The Best Cover Letter I Ever Received. ” That letter contained three complete sentences, as follows:

Short and sweet cover letter example with only three sentences

One might argue that this particular letter is less than outstanding. It’s brief, to say the least, and the author doesn’t go into a ton of detail about what makes him or her qualified for the job in question. But that’s what Silverman likes about it — the fact that the applicant only included the pieces of information that would matter the most to the recipient.

“The writer of this letter took the time to think through what would be relevant to me,” writes Silverman. “Instead of scattering lots of facts in hopes that one was relevant, the candidate offered up an opinion as to which experiences I should focus on.”

When you apply for a job, start by determining two things:

The key to this standout cover letter is research — by looking into who you’ll be reporting to and learning more about that person’s leadership style, you’ll be better prepared to tailor your cover letter to focus on how you provide solutions for them.

5. The Short Story

Basha Coleman began her cover letter with a short story. The goal of this short story is two-fold:

short cover letter example from basha coleman that starts with a short story about her existing experience with pepsi

You'll notice that her short story follows a typical narrative arc: It has a conflict/obstacle, a turning point, and a positive outcome, all created with a goal to emphasize a theme or point. In this case, Coleman is emphasizing her existing affinity with the brand and her triumphs within the program so that she can continue on her career path.

Like the second example in our list, this cover letter does an excellent job of conveying the applicant’s existing affinity for the brand. If you are applying to a company you love, don’t be shy about showing it and explaining why.

6. The Bare Bones Cover Letter

In today's job market, cover letters aren't always necessary. Even though many recruiters won't ask for or even read them, cover letters can still be effective and convey personality to a reader. Writing a strong cover letter can help you better convey your interest in the position and company.

This template from The Balance Careers puts together the essential components of a short cover letter: excitement about the position, your qualifications, and a call-to-action for the recruiter to follow up with you. Combining these central aspects in a well-written, compelling narrative will go a long way in convincing readers to hire you.

short cover letter example with summarized bullet points

This letter is organized and concise. The inclusion of bullet points to highlight key skills and help the recruiter skim the document is a nice touch.

7. The Breezy Follow-Up

In this cover letter, Amanda Edens is following the instructions the hiring manager gave by forwarding an email with resume and writing samples attached.

short cover letter example from Amanda Edens with bullet points and breezy language

Not only does Amanda provide links to relevant writing samples that are live on the web, but she also closes with a strong final paragraph that:

8. The Administrative Assistant Cover Letter

In this cover letter the candidate, Brenda, plays up her prior music industry experience to build a connection with Epic Music Group. If you have specific industry experience for the role you are applying for, be sure to highlight that.

Cover Letter Example: Admin Cover Letter

It’s clear that she’s passionate about not only the music industry, but Epic as a whole. She’s done so much research on the company that she knows what software programs they use, and happens to be proficient in it to help convey value to the hiring manager.

This example further illustrates the importance of research. Make sure you understand the culture of the company to which you’re applying before you send a completely unfiltered cover letter — if you don’t, there’s a good chance it’ll completely miss the mark.

In just three short paragraphs, the applicant uses their company research to drive home why they are the perfect fit for the role — emphasizing industry experience as well as software knowledge specific to the company. All of this communicates that she’d be able to start with very few hiccups getting up to speed.

9. The Internship Cover Letter

Maybe you’re just getting started in your career and looking to land the right internship to gain experience in your field. In this case, you’ll need to highlight more of your educational background and transferable skills since you won’t have as much professional experience to highlight.

Cover Letter Examples: Internship Cover Letter

The cover letter above is a great example of how to emphasize your skills and accomplishments when applying to internships or entry-level positions. A few things the applicant does well:

This cover letter example illustrates how you can leverage your education and background to get the gig even when you don’t have much working experience. Highlighting previous internships or experience in related fields can go a long way in convincing hiring managers you’re the perfect candidate for the role.

Creative Cover Letter Examples

10. the brutally honest cover letter.

Then, there are the occasions when your future boss might appreciate honesty — in its purest form. Livestream CEO Jesse Hertzberg, by his own admission, is one of those people, which might be why he called this example “ the best cover letter ” (which he received while he was with Squarespace):

Brutally honest cover letter example

As Hertzberg says in the blog post elaborating on this excerpt — it’s not appropriate for every job or company. But if you happen to be sure that the corporate culture of this prospective employer gets a kick out of a complete lack of filter, then there’s a chance that the hiring manager might appreciate your candor.

“Remember that I'm reading these all day long,” Hertzberg writes. “You need to quickly convince me I should keep reading. You need to stand out.”

The applicant did their research on the company’s culture and executed this cover letter flawlessly. It’s funny and shows off the applicant’s personality all while demonstrating why they are a good fit for the role.

11. The Pivot Cover Letter

Making a career switch? Your cover letter can be an excellent opportunity for you to explain the reasoning behind your career change and how your transferable skills qualify you for the role.

Cover Letter Example: Creative Pivot Cover Letter

Since the role she is applying for is more visual, it’s important to both show and tell why you’re a good fit.

This cover letter strikes the perfect balance between creativity and simplicity in design while putting the applicant's career change into context. The copy is clean, with a creative font choice that isn’t distracting from the content, but still demonstrates the applicant’s knack for design.

12. The Graphic Design Cover Letter

When applying for more creative roles, the design of your cover letter can say just as much as the words on the page. Take the graphic designer letter example below.

Cover Letter Examples: Grpahic Design

It’s got so much going for it:

In addition to the style elements, this example also doesn’t skimp on the key skills recruiters are looking for. Using metrics, the applicant demonstrates their value and why they would be a great fit.

This cover letter thoroughly conveys the applicant’s skills and qualifications using a variety of visual elements and by emphasizing their greatest achievements.

We’d like to add another stage to the job search: experimentation.

In today’s competitive landscape, it’s so easy to feel defeated, less-than-good-enough, or like giving up your job search. But don’t let the process become so monotonous. Have fun discovering the qualitative data we’ve discussed here — then, have even more by getting creative with your cover letter composition.

We certainly can’t guarantee that every prospective employer will respond positively — or at all — to even the most unique, compelling cover letter. But the one that’s right for you will. That’s why it’s important not to copy these examples . That defeats the purpose of personalization.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Professional Cover Letter Templates

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How to Write a Cover Letter | 10 Tips for Getting Noticed

Emily lamia.

Illustration of two sheets of paper, one a resume and the other a cover letter, with a circled check mark on the cover letter.

The. Dreaded. Cover. Letter.

We all hope to find ways to stand out during our job search, and how best to convey “ I’m perfect for this job !” to prospective employers. We also know that taking the time to write something meaningful can result in hours of procrastination and getting lost down internet rabbit holes.

So how can you make the best use of your precious time? A little preparation and intention can go a long way. Here are ten tips for how to write a cover letter that will get you noticed.

Before you start writing

Our first steps will help you organize your thoughts before you put them on paper.

1.   Read the job description thoroughly

What is the purpose of the position? What are the main responsibilities of the role and key experiences they’re looking for? Be sure to note words that appear multiple times.

2.   Summarize the responsibilities

Pretend you’re chatting with a good friend and telling them about the job you just saw on Idealist . Write down three bullet points or sentences that would sum up the job responsibilities if you were describing them to your friend. Try to communicate the job description as plainly as you can.

3.   Summarize the experiences and skills

Write down the top three skills or past experiences you think would be important to be successful in this job. What skills, experiences, or talents are they looking for based on what’s written in the description? Which stand out as the most important?

4.   Connect it to your career history

Reflect on your answers to the above questions. Think about the examples from your career that tie most directly to those responsibilities, skills, and experiences. Can you list three to five examples of times that you’ve performed those duties or responsibilities in your career?

Now that you have completed the first four steps in the process, you should have:

Armed with your responses to these questions, you’re now ready to start writing.

Drafting your cover letter

5.   set up your simple formatting.

Think about which member of the team this position would report to, and address it to them. Not sure who the hiring manager might be? Check out the organization's website to see if you can figure out the organizational structure. If that’s not available, try using LinkedIn. Even if the person you address your materials to isn’t the person reading it, they’ll know you took the time to familiarize yourself with the team.

If you still can’t find the right person, you can always address it “To the Programs Team” or “Dear [ORGANIZATION NAME] Team.”

As for formatting, the top of your cover letter should look like this:






6.   The first paragraph

The opening of your cover letter is where you want to whet their appetite.

State the job you’re applying for and convey that you have top-level experience that translates to the position and organization. You also want to communicate your excitement about the organization:

I'm writing to express interest in the [JOB TITLE] position with [ORGANIZATION]. Given my previous experience in/with [EXAMPLES: managing operations for nonprofits, analyzing complex data and systems for improvement, or communicating vision and purpose for educational institutions], I believe I would be a great addition to your team. [A SENTENCE ABOUT WHY YOU CARE ABOUT WHAT THE ORGANIZATION DOES].

7.   The second paragraph

And now for the main course!

Go back to Step 4 above. This is where you want to showcase the examples from your career that directly tie to the responsibilities, experiences, and skills they are looking for. This will likely take four to six short sentences. The goal is to hit the top three things they’re looking for so they want to read your resume and learn more about you. You don’t want to tell them everything. There’s no exact prescription for this part of the cover letter, and there are many ways to convey you’d be a good fit .

Your sentences might start like this:

From reading the job description, it seems you are looking for someone who can [NAME THE THREE KEY RESPONSIBILITIES]. I have previous experience in all of these areas.

Currently, I serve as the [YOUR CURRENT JOB TITLE] for [CURRENT ORGANIZATION NAME] where I … I also have experience doing [EXPERIENCE] at [ORGANIZATION]. Additionally, from my time at [ORGANIZATION] I was able to …

8.   The third paragraph

The sweet dessert!

This is the section of your cover letter to really show you’re going to care about this work day after day. It should answer the following questions:

Just saying “ the mission so clearly matches my own” isn’t especially compelling. Tell them why it's a good fit! You might have one sentence about why this role is truly exciting to you, why this role makes sense for you now, or why you care about their mission. This is particularly critical if you’re applying for an organization that is fairly different from the one that you're currently working for.

I am really excited about the opportunity to utilize my [X and Y] skills to contribute to [ORGANIZATION OR TEAM’S SPECIFIC WORK.] [ONE TO TWO SENTENCES ON WHY YOU ARE EXCITED ABOUT THIS ROLE AND THE WORK.] Thank you for your consideration.

9.   Proofread!

This is a critical step you must make sure not to skip!

10. Sending your application

You’re almost done!

Remember, the goal is to make it as easy as possible for the people receiving your application to open your materials and read them. Because there are so many versions of Word, it could mean that sending your materials in Word files could result in some less-than-ideal formatting. By making your document a PDF, you ensure that what you are seeing on your screen is exactly what a hiring manager will see when they open it.

Copy the text of your letter into the body of the email you’re sending and attach your PDF (along with your resume) so that the reader is able to see your beautifully formatted cover letter without even having to open the PDF.

Looking for more cover letter advice? Hoping to spruce up your resume? Need help assessing your current skills, or planning actionable next steps to move forward in your job search? Try Designing Your Dream Career , Idealist's free professional development course dedicated to helping you set yourself up for success.

Emily Lamia is the Founder of Pivot Journeys , which offers career coaching, group programs, and organizational consulting to teams that want to build strengths-based cultures that increase engagement, collaboration, and productivity.

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Career Tips

4 tips for writing a cover letter that will get noticed, discover how important it is to share your story.

Searching for a job can be intense! You would think that with the advancements in technology, finding a job would be much easier than ever before! That is not exactly the case. If you have been online job searching lately, you probably have noticed that employers have their own process. Just cross your fingers the next time you have to apply!  Hopefully you won’t have to complete a lengthy application, attach your resume, write a cover letter, upload your credentials, share your portfolio, and perhaps even take a behavioral assessment. The tasks can feel endless! We know the process can be quite tedious; however, there is one essential piece to the puzzle that some job seekers overlook – the importance of a cover letter! Don’t fall into the trap of not taking the time to attach a personalized letter to every application.  The amount of time and effort you spend carefully crafting a cover letter could result in getting the job you want!

A cover letter serves a very important role in the recruitment process. Employers are looking for a narrative that explains how you are qualified for the job based on your skills, experience, and education. They want to hear about your achievements and how they positively impacted the company’s bottom line. The key is to connect how your previous positions have contributed to achievements and how that success can translate to a new role. Furthermore, employers want to know if you will be a good fit for the role, as well as, the culture of the organization. With the average cost of hiring a new employee being a little over $4,000, employers want to get it right the first time. 

If you are ready to put your best foot forward, check out the following tips that will help you get closer to an interview:

Remember that this is your opportunity to explain what your resume cannot! Build you experience into a compelling story that will ensure you stand out from the crowd!

Written by Melanie Rebottini.

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how to get cover letter noticed

Traditional cover letter wisdom tells you to start a cover letter with something to the effect of:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to apply for the marketing manager position with the Thomas Company.

We say: A cookie cutter cover letter intro feels as outdated as a Hotmail address.

SEARCH OPEN JOBS ON THE MUSE! See who’s hiring here , and you can even filter your search by benefits, company size, remote opportunities, and more. Then, sign up for our newsletter and we’ll deliver advice on landing the job right to you.

Your cover letter is the best way to introduce yourself to a hiring manager—who you are, what you have to offer, and why you want the job—but you have an extremely limited amount of space to do it. So if you really want to get noticed, you’ve got to start right off the bat with something that grabs your reader’s attention.

What do we mean? Well, we won’t just tell you, we’ll *show* you—but first, a few super quick tips!

Tips for writing an effective cover letter

Here are a few pointers to guide you as you use our example cover letter openings—we’re getting there, we promise!—to craft your own:

30 strong cover letter openers

We’ve come up with 30 examples and separated them by the method they use to grab the reader’s attention. We don’t recommend copying and pasting them because, well, your cover letter should be unique to your stories, background, and interests, but you can most definitely use them to get inspired for your next application. (If you’re looking to see what an entire cover letter might look like, check out our article on the best cover letter examples for every type of job seeker . )

Start with passion

Employers want to hire people who care about what they’re doing. If you start your cover letter off talking about your passions and how they relate to the job, you’re telling the reader that you’ll be an engaged and motivated employee who’s likely to stick around. Plus, it’s a good way to tell the company a bit about who you are as a person right off the bat. Just be honest and realistic.

Start with admiration

Companies often want to hire people who already know, love, eat, and sleep their brand. What better to kick off your cover letter than a little flattery? Of course, remember when you’re telling a company why you love it to be specific and genuine. Because while everyone likes a compliment, no one likes obvious self-serving B.S.

Start with accomplishments

For any given job, you’re going to be competing with a lot of other people—presumably, a lot of other similarly qualified people. So a great way to stand out in your cover letter is to highlight something about yourself—a character trait, an accomplishment, a really impressive skill—that’ll quickly show how you stand out.

Start with humor and creativity

OK, before you read any of these, we have to stamp them with a big, blaring disclaimer: Do your homework before trying anything like this—learning everything you can about the company and the hiring manager to gauge whether or not they appreciate some comedic relief or a bit of snark. If they do, it’s a great way to make them smile (then call you). If they don’t? Try a different approach.

Jenny Foss , Erica Breuer , and Regina Borsellino also contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.

how to get cover letter noticed


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