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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.
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.
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How to Write a Cover Letter That Sounds Like You (and Gets Noticed)
- Elainy Mata
Do the research, start off strong, and emphasize your value.
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.”
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.
ELAINY MATA: My gosh.
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!
- EM Elainy Mata is a Multimedia Producer at Harvard Business Review. ElainyMata
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How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job
Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts.
What Is a Cover Letter?
- When to Write One
- How to Get Yours Noticed
How to Write a Cover Letter
- Writing Guidelines
Customize Your Cover Letter
Show the employer that you’re a fit.
- What Not to Include
- Make Sure Your Letter Is Perfect
- More Examples and Templates
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.
- The application letter which responds to a known job opening ( see cover letter samples )
- The prospecting letter which inquires about possible positions ( see inquiry letter samples )
- The networking letter which requests information and assistance in your job search ( see networking letter examples )
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:
- Which job you're applying for (include the job title in your opening paragraph)
- How you learned about the job (and a referral if you have one)
- Why you are qualified for the job (be specific)
- What you have to offer the employer, and why you want to work at this specific company (match your skills to the job description, and read up on the organization's mission, values, and goals to mention in your letter)
- Thank you for being considered for the job
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
- Consistently excellent customer satisfaction, first call resolution, and quality scores
- Excellent communication skills, including the ability to resolve issues quickly and professionally over the phone, chat, or in-person
- The ability to translate complex technical terms into plain English
- A passion for technology and helping others
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 email@example.com.
Liz Johnson ( signature hard copy letter )
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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.
- How to Write 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.
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:
- Phone number
- Email address
- Any helpful follow-up information: a link to your portfolio, website or LinkedIn account (if you don’t have any of those, that’s okay)
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.
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:
- Name of hiring manager : If at all possible, directly address the person who will be handling your application. See if you can figure out who it is through a mutual connection at the company, through the website, or maybe even LinkedIn.
- Name of company you’re applying to : If you can’t find the name of a specific person, “Dear [Company Name] Team” is always a safe bet.
- Generic title or position : Another option is to just say “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear [Team You’re Applying For] Hiring Manager.”
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:
- Give your personal mission statement . A well-crafted mission statement is a great way to help the reader understand your goals and whether you’d be a good fit for the role. So, why not start out with your personal mission statement ? It’s basically an elevator pitch about who you are.
- Use words and phrases the company uses . Take a look at their website and social media to get an idea of their core values and culture. Using a phrase from the company itself can let them know you’re dialed in to their culture. Show them from the get-go that you’re speaking their language. Just don’t get too cheesy with this one.
- Tease out a cliffhanger . Start a story, stir up their curiosity, and motivate them to keep reading. For example, if you’ve used their product before, tell the story of how you discovered it or how you felt after using it. You could also share an important moment of your life when you discovered your true calling.
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:
- I have exceptional written and communication skills . When it comes to writing, show—don’t tell. If your writing is compelling, you won’t need to toot your own horn here.
- I’m a team player. Being a team player is great, but this phrase is overused—and boring. Instead, use an example and say something like, “I love helping my teammates win by . . .”
- I think outside the box. Well, so does everyone else applying for a job! Instead of using this common phrase, what if you told a quick story about a time when you offered a creative solution to a problem? Remember, show don’t tell. Actions speak louder than words.
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:
- Print it out and read it out loud.
- Double-check spelling and grammar.
- Ask a friend to edit it for you.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
About the author
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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Writing a Cover Letter That Will Stand Out
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:
- A cover letter specifically relates your skills and experience to the job description and requested qualifications.
- It explains why you would love to have the job in question.
- It shows you've done research on the company, by commenting on its mission or key leadership.
- It finishes with a call to action that invites the hiring manager to follow up with you regarding the job opportunity.
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.
- Start with an attention-grabbing introduction that expresses your enthusiasm about the position and the company. If you have a referral, drop their name here.
- This is your sales pitch where you address your top skills, accomplishments and attributes, and explain why your qualifications relate to this particular role or company.
- Finally, restate briefly how you can add value, thank the hiring manager for their consideration and initiate the next step by saying you’d like to follow up with a call or an interview.
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.
SUBMIT YOUR RESUME
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.
- Don’t overshare — Showing some personality is generally fine, but keep the focus on your career. Stick to pertinent facts and omit personal details unrelated to your ability to perform the job.
- Don’t go overboard with self-celebration — Employers expect job candidates to use the cover letter to toot their own horn. (That’s the whole point, right?) Instead of bragging about being the “world’s best UX designer” or a “marketing superhero,” job seekers should provide concrete information that conveys value and impact. Bold statements are OK, as long as you back them up with facts.
- Don’t make demands — Zero in on what you can do for the employer, not what you hope to gain from the company. It’s both presumptuous and off-putting to cite salary demands before you’ve even landed a phone or video interview . The same goes for bringing up the perks and benefits you expect.
- Don’t fail to follow directions — Employers often provide specific instructions in the job ad, such as submitting your resume and cover letter in a certain file format or referencing the job title or requisition number. Before you upload your letter or hit the send button, reread the job posting to make sure you’ve done everything the employer asked so you don’t raise red flags.
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!
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The 12 Best Cover Letter Examples: What They Got Right
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
"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.
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:
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:
- Who might oversee the role — that’s often included in the description, under “reports to.” Address your letter to that individual.
- Figure out what problems this role is meant to solve for that person. Then, concisely phrase in your cover letter how and why your experience can and will resolve those problems.
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:
- Detail the experience she already has with the organization.
- Stand out to the hiring team.
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.
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.
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:
- Summarizes the expertise she has relevant to the posting
- Emphasizes that she doesn't want to simply get a job but rather help the organization accomplish their goals
- The reader gets everything they need in an organized and thoughtful manner.
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.
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.
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:
- Highlights relevant extracurriculars and affinity networks. In this case, the applicant is applying to a business analyst position, so mentioning their involvement in a FinTech group makes sense.
- Previous internships in relevant fields: Our applicant points out that they’ve previously interned as a Business Analyst at another firm. Pointing out that they’ve done the role previously will help make their case for fit.
- Highlight other useful skills: This applicant is fluent in both English and German. If an international company or an organization needs bi-lingual support, knowing multiple languages is an asset.
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):
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.
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.
It’s got so much going for it:
- Pop of color
- Clean layout
- Interesting fonts
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.
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How to Write a Cover Letter | 10 Tips for Getting Noticed
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:
- Clarity on the most important elements of the job so that you can tailor your letter more effectively.
- Collateral for highlighting your most important skills and experiences in your cover letter.
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:
[NAME OF STAFF PERSON TO WHOM THIS LETTER IS ADDRESSED]
[TITLE OF ABOVE STAFF PERSON]
[ORGANIZATION ADDRESS CONTINUED]
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:
- Why do you want this job?
- What do you think you can uniquely bring?
- What about the organization inspires you?
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.
This is a critical step you must make sure not to skip!
- Take a few hours away from your computer, and then come back with a fresh set of eyes.
- Read it out loud so you can make sure it’s easy to read by someone other than you.
- Ask a friend to look it over for typos you might have missed.
- Keep an eye out for common grammar and punctuation mistakes .
- Also look out for cover letter cliches .
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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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:
- Be infectious – Have a positive attitude, be confident in terms of your experience, and convey gratitude for the opportunity.
- Prove why you are a good fit – Identify three to four of your strongest qualifications that you will be able to leverage to add value from the first day on the job.
- Align your goals to the career path – Share how your success in the past can translate to future success to further support the organization.
- Proofread – Take some time to review the letter once you have put it together. Check for spelling, grammar, and formatting errors. You might also want to have a friend or colleague take a quick look to confirm your intentions are clear.
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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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:
- Avoid boring or overused openers: Recruiters have read cover letters that start with lines like “I’m excited to apply for the front-end engineering position,” or “Your job posting on The Muse prompted me to…” so often they could wallpaper their homes with them.
- Be lively and personable: People like reading interesting, engaging stuff. The kind that paints a picture, tells a story, and maybe even makes them smile. People like it when you’re human, genuine, and memorable.
- Communicate that you’ll bring something to the company: You’ll get more into the details after your opening, of course. But your cover letter opener should still tell the reader, “This person can do something for us ,” rather than, “This job would really help them .”
- Stick to the point: Your opener, while creative, should still be relevant to the job. Don’t begin by highlighting an unrelated accomplishment or recounting an anecdote that never connects back to why you’re applying for the job.
- Find an alternative to “ To Whom It May Concern .” Seriously, banish those five words from your cover letter vocabulary forever.
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.
- If truly loving data is wrong, I don’t want to be right. It seems like the rest of the folks at [Analytics Company] feel the same way—and that’s just one of the reasons why I think I’d be the perfect next hire for your sales team.
- I’ve been giving my friends and family free style advice since I was 10, and recently decided it’s time I get paid for it. That’s why I couldn’t believe it when I found an open personal stylist position at [Company].
- After about three years of trying out different roles at early-stage startups around San Francisco, watching more “ find your passion “ keynotes than I’d like to admit, and assuring my parents that, yes, I actually do have a real job, I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I’m happiest when I’m doing two things: writing great content and getting it out into the world.
- The other day, I took a career assessment , which told me I should be a maritime merchant. I’m not quite sure what that is, but it did get me thinking: A role that combines my skills in business development with my lifelong passion for the ocean would be my absolute dream. Which is how I found this role at Royal Caribbean.
- As a kid, I once gave up a day of a family vacation to transport an injured lizard I found by our hotel two hours each way to the nearest animal hospital (and talked my dad into driving me pre-GPS!). When I was a bit older, I found out I could care for animals every day for a living, and I’ve been working toward that goal ever since.
- “I am constantly checking my LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds—and not because of FOMO. Because I’m someone who wholeheartedly believes in the power of sharing ideas in online communal spaces, and I’m positive that I can help spark meaningful conversations as your next social media assistant.”
- When I was growing up, I wanted to be one of those people who pretend to be statues on the street. Thankfully, my career goals have become a little more aspirational over the years, but I still love to draw a crowd and entertain the masses—passions that make me the perfect community manager.
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.
- I pretty much spent my childhood in the cheap seats at Cubs games, snacking on popcorn and cheering on the team with my grandfather. It’s that memory that’s shaped my career—from helping to establish the sports marketing major at my university to leading a college baseball team to an undefeated season as assistant coach—and what led me to apply for this position at the Chicago Cubs.
- It was Rudy, my Golden Retriever, who first inspired me to apply to your operations assistant opening—not only have we used your app to find other dogs to play with in our neighborhood, he’s really excited about the prospect of coming to work with me every day. As I learned more about how [Company] is using modern tech to help pets thrive in cities, I couldn’t help but get excited to be part of it, too.
- When I was seven, I wanted to be the GEICO gecko when I grew up. I eventually realized that wasn’t an option, but you can imagine my excitement when I came across your events manager position, which would have me working side by side with my favorite company mascot.
- When I attended SXSW for the first time last month, I didn’t want to leave. So I decided I shouldn’t—and immediately went to check out job openings at the company.
- If I could make the NYC apartment rental process better for just one person, I would feel like the horrors of my recent search would all be worth it. So a customer service role at [Apartment Search Company], where I could do it every day? I can’t think of anything more fulfilling.
- [Vacation Rental Company] is synonymous with luxury and escape, known for spaces that inspire. I’ve felt this firsthand every time I’ve stayed at one of your properties—whether I was throwing a bachelorette party or working from home in a new locale—and I would love the chance to contribute to this reputation as your destination manager.
- I was an hour out from hosting my first big dinner party when I realized I had forgotten to pick up the white wine. In a panic, I started Googling delivery services, and that’s when I first stumbled across [Delivery Service Company]. I’ve been hooked ever since, so I couldn’t help but get excited by the idea of bringing this amazingness to nervous hosts like me as your next social media and community manager.
- Though I’m happily employed as a marketing manager, seeing the job description for your company’s PR director position stopped me in my tracks. I’ve been wearing your glasses for many years, and have always been impressed by the way the company treats its customers, employees, and the community at large.
- A group of us IT folks were sitting around talking about our favorite Pacific Northwest companies this morning (coincidentally, over coffee). As you might figure, Starbucks was among the first names that came up. What makes you such a standout among Seattle-based corporations? Here’s the list we compiled:
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.
- My last boss once told me that my phone manner could probably defuse an international hostage situation. I’ve always had a knack for communicating with people—the easygoing and the difficult alike—and I’d love to bring that skill to your open office manager position.
- Among my colleagues, I’m known as the one who can pick up the pieces, no matter what amount of you-know-what hits the fan. Which is why I think there’s no one better to fill this customer service leader position.
- Last December, I ousted our company’s top salesperson from his spot—and he hasn’t seen it since. Which means, I’m ready for my next big challenge, and the sales manager role at your company is exactly what I’m looking for.
- After spending three years managing the internal communications for a 2,000-person company, I could plan a quarterly town hall or draft an interoffice memo in my sleep. What do I want to do next? Put that experience to work as a consultant for executives looking to level up their communications strategy.
- While you won’t find the title “community manager” listed on my resume, I’ve actually been bringing people together online and off for three years while running my own blog and series of meetups.
- If you’re looking for someone who can follow orders to the T and doesn’t like to rock the boat, I’m probably not the right candidate. But if you need someone who can dig into data, see what’s working (and what’s not), and challenge the status quo, let’s talk.
- I recently relocated my family to Texas. As we neared our new home, I noticed with intrigue the many wind turbines dotting the landscape. Suddenly, it hit me: “This is the career for me.” After unloading the moving van, I promptly researched companies in this sector that may benefit most from a skilled field engineer with expert electromechanical skills. And I discovered that [Company] is where I want to be.
- You might be wondering what a 15-year veteran of the accounting world is doing applying to an operations role at a food startup. While I agree the shift is a little strange, I know you’re looking for someone who’s equal parts foodie and financial expert, and I think that means I’m your person.
- Over the last 10 years, I’ve built my career on one simple principle: Work smarter. I’m the person who looks for inefficient procedures, finds ways to streamline them, and consistently strives to boost the productivity of everyone around me. It’s what’s earned me three promotions in the supply chain department at my current company, and it’s what I know I can do as the new operations analyst for [Company].
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.
- Have you ever had your mom call five times a day asking for a status update on how your job search is going, and then sound incredulous that you haven’t made more progress since the last phone call? That’s my life right now. But I’m hoping that soon my life will revolve around being your full-time social media manager. The good news is, I bring more to the table than just an overbearing mom. Let me tell you more.
- Thank you so much for offering me the marketing manager position at [Company]! I wholeheartedly accept. OK, I know we’re not quite there yet. But if we were, here are just a few ideas for what I would do once in the role.
- I considered submitting my latest credit card statement as proof of just how much I love online shopping, but I thought a safer approach might be writing this cover letter and describing all the reasons I’m the one who can take [E-Commerce Company]’s business to the next level.
- I never thought that accidentally dropping my iPhone out of a second story window would change my life (it’s a funny story—ask me about it). But thanks to my misfortune, I discovered [Phone Repair Company]—and found my dream job as an expansion associate.
- If we were playing “Two Truths and a Lie,” I’d say: I’ve exceeded my sales quotas by at least 20% every quarter this year, I once won an international pie-eating contest, and I have an amazing job at [Company]. The last, of course, is the lie. For now.
Jenny Foss , Erica Breuer , and Regina Borsellino also contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.
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