How to Write a Cover Letter in 2024 + Examples

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After weeks of heavy job search, you’re almost there!

You’ve perfected your resume. 

You’ve short-listed the coolest jobs you want to apply for.

You’ve even had a friend train you for every single interview question out there.

But then, before you can send your application and call it a day, you remember that the job ad requires a cover letter.

Now you’re stuck wondering how to write a cover letter ...

Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered. Writing a cover letter is a lot simpler than you might think. 

In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to write a cover letter that gets you the job you deserve.

  • What’s a cover letter & why it’s important for your job search
  • How to write a convincing cover letter that gets you the job (step-by-step!)
  • How to perfect your cover letter with the Novoresume free checklist
  • What excellent cover letter examples look like

New to cover letter writing? Give our resumes 101 video a watch before diving into the article!

So, let’s get started with the basics!

What is a Cover Letter? (and Why It’s Important)

A cover letter is a one-page document that you submit as part of your job application (alongside your CV or Resume). 

Its purpose is to introduce you and briefly summarize your professional background. On average, your cover letter should be from 250 to 400 words long .

A good cover letter can spark the HR manager’s interest and get them to read your resume. 

A bad cover letter, on the other hand, might mean that your application is going directly to the paper shredder. So, to make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s essential to know how to write a convincing cover letter.

How does a good cover letter look, you might ask. Well, here’s an example:

how to write cover letter

Keep in mind, though, that a cover letter is a supplement to your resume, not a replacement. Meaning, you don’t just repeat whatever is mentioned in your resume.

If you’re writing a cover letter for the first time, writing all this might seem pretty tough. After all, you’re probably not a professional writer.

The thing is, though, you don’t need to be creative, or even any good at writing. All you have to do is follow a tried-and-tested format:

  • Header - Input contact information
  • Greeting the hiring manager
  • Opening paragraph - Grab the reader’s attention with 2-3 of your top achievements
  • Second paragraph - Explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job
  • Third paragraph - Explain why you’re a good match for the company
  • Formal closing

Or, here’s what this looks like in practice:

structure of a cover letter

How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter (And Get Hired!)

Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, we’re going to guide you through the process of writing a cover letter step by step. 

Step #1 - Pick the Right Cover Letter Template

A good cover letter is all about leaving the right first impression.

So, what’s a better way to leave a good impression than a well-formatted, visual template?

cover letter templates

You can simply pick one of our hand-picked cover letter templates , and you’ll be all set in a jiffy!

As a bonus, our AI will even give you suggestions on how to improve your cover letter on the go.

Step #2 - Start the Cover Letter with a Header

As with a resume, it’s important to start your cover letter with a Contact Information section:

contact information on a cover letter

Here, you want to include all essential information, including:

  • Phone Number
  • Name of the hiring manager / their professional title
  • Name of the company you’re applying to

In certain cases, you might also consider adding:

  • Social Media Profiles - Any type of profile that’s relevant to your field. Social Profiles on websites like LinkedIn, GitHub (for developers), Medium (for writers), etc.
  • Personal Website - If you have a personal website that somehow adds value to your application, you can mention it. Let’s say you’re a professional writer. In that case, you’d want to link to your blog.

And here’s what you shouldn’t mention in your header:

  • Your Full Address 
  • Unprofessional Email - Make sure your email is presentable. It’s pretty hard for a hiring manager to take you seriously if your email address is “[email protected].” Whenever applying for jobs, stick to the “[first name] + [last name] @ email provider.com” format.

matching resume and cover letter

Step #3 - Greet the Hiring Manager

Once you’ve properly listed your contact information, you need to start writing the cover letter contents.

The first thing to do here is to address the cover letter to the hiring manager .

That’s right, the hiring manager! Not the overly popular “Dear Sir or Madam.” You want to show your future boss that you did your research and are really passionate about working with their team.

No one wants to hire a job seeker who just spams 20+ companies and hopes to get hired in any of them.

So, how do you find out who’s the hiring manager? There are several ways to do this. 

The simplest option is to look up the head of the relevant department on LinkedIn. Let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Communication Specialist at Novoresume. The hiring manager is probably Head of Communications or Chief Communications Office.

So, you do a quick lookup on LinkedIn:

linkedin search cco

And voila! You have your hiring manager.

Or let’s say you’re applying for the position of a server. In that case, you’d be looking for the “restaurant manager.”

If this doesn’t work, you can also check out the “Team” page on the company website; there’s a good chance you’ll at least find the right person there.

Here are several other greetings you could use:

  • Dear [Department] Hiring Manager
  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • To whom it may concern
  • Dear [Department] Team

Step #4 - Write an Attention-Grabbing Introduction

First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your job search.

Recruiters get hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of applications. Chances are, they’re not going to be reading every single cover letter end-to-end.

So, it’s essential to catch their attention from the very first paragraph .

The #1 problem we see with most cover letter opening paragraphs is that they’re usually extremely generic. Most of them look something like this..

  • Hey, my name is Jonathan and I’d like to work as a Sales Manager at XYZ Inc. I’ve worked as a sales manager at MadeUpCompany Inc. for 5+ years, so I believe that I’d be a good fit for the position.

See the issue here? This opening paragraph doesn’t say pretty much anything except the fact that you’ve worked the job before.

Do you know who else has similar work experience? All the other applicants you’re competing with.

Instead, you want to start off with 2-3 of your top achievements to really grab the reader’s attention. Preferably, the achievements should be as relevant as possible to the position.

So now, let’s make our previous example shine:

My name’s Michael and I’d like to help XYZ Inc. hit and exceed their sales goals as a Sales Manager. I’ve worked with Company X, a fin-tech company, for 3+ years. As a Sales Representative, I generated an average of $30,000+ in sales per month (beating the KPIs by around 40%). I believe that my previous industry experience, as well as excellence in sales, makes me the right candidate for the job.

See the difference between the two examples? If you were the hiring manager, which sales manager would you hire, Jonathan or Michael?

Now that we’ve covered the introduction, let’s talk about the body of your cover letter. This part is split into two paragraphs: the first is for explaining why you’re the perfect person for the job, and the latter is for proving that you’re a good fit for the company.

So, let’s get started...

Step #5 - Explain why you’re the perfect person for the job

This is where you show off your professional skills and convince the HR manager that you’re a better fit for the job than all the other applicants.

But first things first - before you even write anything, you need to learn what the most important requirements for the role are. So, open up the job ad and identify which of the responsibilities are the most critical.

For the sake of the example, let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Facebook Advertiser. You scan the job ad and see that the top requirements are:

  • Experience managing a Facebook ad budget of $10,000+ / month
  • Some skills in advertising on other platforms (Google Search + Twitter)
  • Excellent copywriting skills

Now, in this section, you need to discuss how you fulfill these requirements. So, here’s how that would look for our example:

In my previous role as a Facebook Marketing Expert at XYZ Inc. I handled customer acquisition through ads, managing a monthly Facebook ad budget of $20,000+ . As the sole digital marketer at the company, I managed the ad creation & management process end-to-end. Meaning, I created the ad copy , images, picked the targeting, ran optimization trials, and so on.

Other than Facebook advertising, I’ve also delved into other online PPC channels, including:

  • Google Search

Are you a student applying for your first internship? You probably don’t have a lot of work experience to show off in this section. Learn how to write an internship cover letter here.

Step #6 - Explain why you’re a good fit for the company

Once you’ve written the last paragraph, you might be thinking - I’m a shoo-in for the job! What else do I need to write? I’ll just wrap up the cover letter and hit that sweet SEND button.

Well, no. You’re not quite there yet.

The HR manager doesn’t only look at whether you’ll be good at the job or not. They’re looking for someone that’s also a good fit for the company culture.

After all, employees that don’t fit in are bound to quit, sooner or later. This ends up costing the company a ton of money, up to 50% of the employee’s annual salary . 

Meaning, you also need to convince the HR manager that you’re really passionate about working with them.

How do you do this? Well, as a start, you want to do some research about the company. You want to know things like:

  • What’s the company’s business model?
  • What’s the company product or service? Have you used it?
  • What’s the culture like? Will someone micro-manage your work, or will you have autonomy on how you get things done?

So, get to Googling. Chances are, you’ll find all the information you need either on the company website or somewhere around the web.

Then, you need to figure out what you like about the company and turn that into text.

Let’s say, for example, you’re passionate about their product and you like the culture of innovation / independent work in the organization.

You’d write something like:

I’ve personally used the XYZ Smartphone, and I believe that it’s the most innovative tech I’ve used in years. The features such as Made-Up-Feature #1 and Made-Up-Feature #2 were real game changers for the device. 

I really admire how Company XYZ thrives for excellence for all its product lines, creating market-leading tech. As someone that thrives in a self-driven environment, I truly believe that I and Company XYZ will be a great match.

What you don’t want to do here is be super generic for the sake of having something to write. Most job seekers tend to mess this one up. Let’s take a look at a very common example we tend to see (way too often):

I’d love to work for Company XYZ because of its culture of innovation. I believe that since I’m super creative, I’d be a good fit for the company. The company values of integrity and transparency really vibe with me.

See what’s wrong here? The example doesn’t really say anything about the company. “Culture of Innovation” is something most companies claim to have. 

The same goes for “values of integrity and transparency” - the writer just googled what the values for the organization are, and said that they like them.

Any hiring manager that reads this will see through the fluff.

So, make sure to do a lot of research and come up with good reasons why you're applying.

Step #7 - Wrap up with a call to action

Finally, it’s time to finish up your cover letter and write the conclusion.

In the final paragraph, you want to:

  • Wrap up any points you couldn't in the previous paragraphs. Do you have anything left to say? Any other information that could help the hiring manager make their decision? Mention it here.
  • Thank the hiring manager for their time. It never hurts to be courteous, as long as you don’t come off as too needy.
  • Finish the cover letter with a call to action. The very last sentence in your cover letter should be a call to action. You should ask the hiring manager to take some sort of action.

And now, let’s turn this into a practical example:

So to wrap it all up, thanks for looking into my application. I hope I can help Company X make the most out of their Facebook marketing initiatives. I'd love to further discuss how my previous success at XYZ Inc. can help you achieve your facebook marketing goals.

Step #8 - Use the right formal closing

Once you’re done with the final paragraph, all you have to do is write down a formal “goodbye” and you’re good to go.

Feel free to use one of the most popular conclusions to a cover letter:

  • Best Regards,
  • Kind Regards,

And we’re finally done! Before sending off the cover letter, make sure to proofread it with software like Grammarly, or maybe even get a friend to review it for you.

Does your cover letter heading include all essential information?

  • Professional email
  • Relevant Social Media Profiles

Do you address the right person? I.e. hiring manager in the company / your future direct supervisor

Does your introductory paragraph grab the reader's attention?

  • Did you mention 2-3 of your top achievements?
  • Did you use numbers and facts to back up your experience?

Do you successfully convey that you’re the right pro for the job?

  • Did you identify the core requirements?
  • Did you successfully convey how your experiences help you fit the requirements perfectly?

Do you convince the hiring manager that you’re passionate about the company you’re applying to?

  • Did you identify the top 3 things that you like about the company?
  • Did you avoid generic reasons for explaining your interest in the company?

Did you finalize the conclusion with a call to action?

Did you use the right formal closure for the cover letter?

5+ Cover Letter Examples

Need some inspiration? Read on to learn about some of the best cover letter examples we’ve seen (for different fields).

College Student Cover Letter Example

college or student cover letter example

Middle Management Cover Letter Example

Middle Management Cover Letter

Career Change Cover Letter Example

Career Change Cover Letter

Management Cover Letter Example

Management Cover Letter Example

Senior Executive Cover Letter Example

Senior Executive Cover Letter Example

Want to discover more examples AND learn what makes them stand out? Check out our guide to cover letter examples .

Next Steps in Your Job Search - Creating a Killer Resume

Your cover letter is only as good as your resume. If either one is weak, your entire application is for naught. 

After all, a cover letter is just an introduction. Imagine going through all this effort to leave an amazing first impression, but flopping at the end because of a mediocre resume.

...But don’t you worry, we’ve got you covered on that end, too.

If you want to learn more about Resumes & CVs, we have a dedicated FREE guide for that. Check out our complete guide on how to make a resume , as well as how to write a CV - our experts will teach you everything you need to know in order to land your dream job.

Or, if you’re already an expert, just pick one of our resume templates and get started.

resume examples for cover letter

Key Takeaways

Now that we’ve walked you through all the steps of writing a cover letter, let’s summarize everything we’ve learned:

  • A cover letter is a 250 - 400 word document that convinces the hiring manager of your competence
  • A cover letter goes in your job application alongside your resume
  • Your introduction to the cover letter should grab the hiring manager’s attention and keep it all the way until the conclusion
  • There are 2 main topics you need to include in your cover letter: why you’re the perfect candidate for the job & why you’re passionate about working in the company you’re applying to
  • Most of the content of your cover letter should be factual , without any fluff or generalizations

At Novorésumé, we’re committed to helping you get the job you deserve, every step of the way! Follow our blog to stay up to date with the industry-leading advice. Or, check out some of our top guides…

  • How to Write a Motivational Letter
  • How to Write a Resume with No Work Experience
  • Most Common Interview Questions and Answers

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Resume and Cover Letter Writing Guide

how write a resume cover letter

  • What's the Difference?

Getting Started

How to build your resume, review resume writing techniques, review resume samples.

  • More Resume Examples

How to Write a Cover Letter

Review cover letter writing techniques, review cover letter examples, more cover letter examples, the end game.

Resumes and cover letters alone won't get you a job; rather, they'll help you win an interview. Here is comprehensive information that will guide you through the process of writing a targeted resume and cover letter.

What's the Difference?

What should you communicate on a resume versus a cover letter? Before you begin, review the  key differences between the two  and information on what each should focus on.

Keep in mind that the more specifically you can tailor your resume and cover letter to address the requirements of the position, the better your chances of earning an interview.

Below, you'll find step-by-step information on how to create your resume, along with formatting tips and insight into which words to use, and which words to avoid. The guide also features techniques for writing cover letters that showcase your accomplishments and form a clear connection between your experience and the position you are applying for. If you follow these steps, you'll increase your chances of securing job interviews.

Before delving into writing a resume, ask yourself some basic questions that will shape your direction.

  • Are you seeking an entry-level job?
  • Changing careers?
  • Are you re-entering the workforce after a lengthy time off?
  • Do you need to refresh and update your current resume?

The first step to writing an eye-catching resume is determining what you're trying to accomplish. While you might not include an "Objective" section on your resume, write one just for yourself to serve as a guiding principle for your overall resume.

Build your own professional resume quickly and easily with this step-by-step guide . It will help you through every step of the resume writing process.

A resume includes information on your education, work history, and skills . Get started writing your resume by creating a list of your accomplishments in each job that you have held.

From there, you can decide which details are most important to highlight and work on phrasing information in a way that will get the attention of both hiring managers and searchable databases. These resume writing techniques will help you write an interview-winning resume .

There are power words you can use to enhance your resume , and there are others that won't make a good impression . Write your resume so it focuses on the attributes that best qualify you for the job.

You may simply read the resume sample below or download the Word template by clicking on the link. Also see below for more examples.

Resume Example (Text Version)

Bethany Booker 3242 Magnolia Avenue • Memphis, TN 38108 • (123) 456-7890 • bbooker@email.com  www.linked.com/in/bethanybooker

SCHOOL LIBRARIAN

Dedicated to supporting the literacy and growth of children grades K-8

Highly organized and engaging School Librarian and Information Specialist experienced in instructing and mentoring students in the use of library resources including instructional media and educational technology.   

Partner well with teachers and staff to plan cooperative lessons and class activities, identify curricular needs, and order new library materials. Fluent in written and spoken English and Spanish.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

MEMPHIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS, Memphis, TN

SCHOOL LIBRARIAN (September 2008 – Present) Optimize library programs for multiple public elementary schools. Plan and implement library media programs, supporting students in the use of print and digital materials. Ensure available library resources comply with school district’s curriculum standards.

Selected Contributions:

  • Developed highly successful visiting children’s author program and after-school book groups.
  • Coordinated Scholastic book fairs and other fundraising events that raised over $10K earmarked for new book and media purchases.

KNOXVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY, Knoxville, TN LIBRARY AIDE (September 2006 – June 2008) Concurrent with graduate education, supported children and adult patrons of public library. Helped with book location and selection, shelved materials, and assisted in issuing library cards and collecting overdue fines.

  • Selected to lead well-attended semi-weekly story times in children’s library.
  • Willingly worked overtime and on weekends to ensure adequate library staffing.

EDUCATION & CREDENTIALS

UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE , Knoxville, TN

Master’s Degree in Library Science EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY , Johnson City, TN

Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts (Major: U.S. History) Valid Tennessee State Teacher certificate with library science endorsement

More Resume Examples 

Get inspiration for your own resume by  reviewing these sample resumes , including  chronological ,  functional , and mini, as well as templates for resume writing.

A cover letter typically accompanies each resume you send out. Your cover letter may make the difference between obtaining a job interview and having your resume ignored. Where a resume focuses on your work experience and accomplishments, a strong cover letter will make a connection between what the company needs and what you can offer .

There are several different types of cover letters , including  application letters ,  inquiry letters ,  referral cover letters , and prospecting letters . Here's where you'll be able to see examples of different kinds of cover letters used to apply for jobs or inquire about open positions.

The body of your letter tells the employer what position you're applying for, why the company should select you for an interview, and how you will follow up.

Grab the reader in your first paragraph with some specific information about the job you're seeking and a few core strengths that demonstrate your suitability for the position.

Then delve into what you have to offer the employer by highlighting examples of the work performed and achieved results. Detail your knowledge of the company based on your research and the ways in which you can contribute to their goals. Finally, close the letter by suggesting a meeting or next steps.

It makes sense to devote the necessary time and effort to write an effective, targeted cover letter. Your letter should convey how your skills and accomplishments will benefit the company. These tips will help you craft a cover letter that's a strong match for the job for which you're applying.

You may review the cover letter sample below or download the Word template by clicking on the link. Also see below for more examples.

Cover Letter Example (Text Version)

Bethany Booker 3242 Magnolia Avenue • Memphis, TN 38108  (123) 456-7890 • bbooker@email.com  www.linked.com/in/bethanybooker

March 11, 2019

Ms. Harriet Williams, Principal Liberty Bell Middle School 718 Morningside Drive Johnson City, TN 37604

Dear Ms. Williams:

Please accept the accompanying resume as a sign of my sincere interest in the School Librarian / Media Specialist position that has opened at Liberty Bell Middle School. As a school librarian with eleven years’ experience optimizing elementary and middle school library programs in Memphis, Tennessee, I can offer you strong capabilities in lesson and activity coordination, materials sourcing and acquisition, and student advocacy.

My qualifications for this position include:

  • Proven effectiveness guiding students in the use of library resources, instructional media, and educational technology.
  • A proactive stance in developing supplemental after-school literacy programs for students and their parents.
  • Annual success in planning book fairs and other major fund-raising activities that have raised thousands of dollars for library programs.
  • A Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a valid Tennessee State Teacher certificate.

Supporting the growth and welfare of young people through reading and literacy has been my life-long passion. Eager to return to my hometown of Johnson City, I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss my candidacy for this role in greater detail. Thank you for your time, consideration, and forthcoming response.

Bethany Booker

With about 100 sample cover letters and templates to choose from , you will get plenty of guidelines on how to write the perfect cover letter for your situation, regardless of your occupation and employment situation.

When you've finished perusing the step-by-step guide, you'll have a resume and cover letter(s), which will be polished, professional, and ready to send to prospective employers.

ResumeCoach

The Ultimate Cover Letter Writing Guide

The complete guide to writing an effective cover letter.

Greg Faherty

Certified Professional Resume Writer

CV template Classic

Any of these sound familiar? The simple answer is yes, having an effective cover letter is completely necessary and highly recommended and we’ll tell you  why you need a cover letter as well as a resume!

When you’re applying for a job, whether it be for an  entry-level  position after graduating or for a high-level executive vacancy with a  professional resume , a  cover letter is essential to make your application stand out .

Without this extra introductory letter, a resume alone could easily be discarded by a hiring manager. CareerBuilder  estimates you’re  10% more likely to miss out on an opening  if you don’t include a cover letter.

Writing a good cover letter  it’s not a skill many many people master, but that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible feat!

With our complete  cover letter guide , you’ll learn  how to write a cover letter  that will attract the hiring manager and convince them to read your winning resume.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is an extension to your job application.  It is not obligatory but including a well-written cover letter is  strongly advised by all human resource experts . By definition, a cover letter is an accompanying, explanatory letter.

All  jobseekers need a sales pitch  of sorts, they need to hook the reader and demonstrate to the hiring manager why they are the right person for the vacancy on offer. This style of  self-marketing for a job application  must come in the form of a  winning resume and cover letter combination  that complement one another.

A simple cover letter is an introduction to the candidate  behind the qualifications and experience. The aim is to show a prospective employer how you can take on the role and  what you can offer the company  in question.

Cover letters generally  follow a basic structure  and can be in either hard or digital format, that is to say, either printed and sent via regular mail or as a document scanned and attached to send digitally, or written directly in an  email cover letter .

Why include a cover letter on a job application?

If you want to stand any chance at all of  catching the eye of a potential employer , it is  imperative to include a cover letter  with your job application.

Simple – even if you  create an effective, outstanding resume , using all the right keywords and qualifications etc. it’s possible there are candidates more qualified than you or with more experience so it’s necessary to  add a cover letter to back up your resume  and allow the hiring manager to see more of your personal side that is relevant to the vacancy.

  • The cover letter demonstrates your communication skills.
  • The cover letter serves as an introduction to the resume.
  • The cover letter can be used to emphasize certain skills, or mention skills that you couldn’t fit on the resume (it serves as an addendum).
  • The cover letter is what you customize for each position, to show why you are the right person for “That” role, as opposed to the resume which stays pretty much the same for all applications.

A cover letter is the added value  that you need in a job application to ensure the call-back you’ve been waiting for.

To  create a unique, tailor-made job application , each candidate should use a cover letter to highlight their strengths and  elaborate on relevant achievements  that demonstrate their ability to take on the new responsibilities.

Is it practically always sensible and  appropriate to write a cover letter to accompany a resume for a job application  that should be customized for the role you’re applying to including any explanations of information that might be missing from the resume, such as employment gaps, traveling, periods of study etc.

The only time it is acceptable to not include a cover letter in your job application is if the job listing specifically requests that you do not.

Advantages of Writing a Cover Letter

A cover letter directly adds to the likelihood that you are called in for an interview and  gives you a better chance of being hired .

If you’re successful in  writing an effective cover letter , it will offer you the following advantages:

  • Hiring managers will see your added effort
  • Demonstrates you put in the time to learn about the company
  • It will add a personal touch to your application
  • It shows your enthusiasm for the opening
  • Hiring managers will become acquainted with your best qualities

Knowing exactly what is in a cover letter will ensure that it gives you a  major advantage  over the other applicants.

What are the 3 Types of Cover Letters?

Adding a cover letter is almost always essential, but  choosing the appropriate letter  will also be key. Depending on the job post you are applying for, you will need to select the best type of letter to send along with your resume.

There are  3 types of cover letters  that you can send to a hiring manager. The 3 types are:

  • Application cover letters
  • Letters of Interest
  • Email Cover letters

The letter you write is influenced by  whether you are going to apply for a job directly , citing a referral, or asking about vacancies that are not advertised.

Whatever the case may be, ensure that the cover letter is  specific to the job vacancy . It’s always important to avoid making a generic cover letter for every single job you apply for.

So, what are the 3 types of cover letters you should consider sending to a job recruiter?

Application Cover Letter

This is your  classic cover letter  that you send to a hiring manager when you spot a company advertising a job opening. When you want to directly apply for a position, it is mandatory to send this, unless you are specifically asked not to.

Using this letter, you can mention why you want to work for a specific company and why you are the perfect candidate for the position.

Letter of Interest

Say you notice a company that you would really like to work for. It fits your sector, and you know it offers great benefits and good pay. However, you  can’t find any openings  that match your skill set.

If that’s the case, you don’t need to sit around and wait for the company to have a job vacancy. You can take action with a letter of interest. This type of cover letter  states your interest in being employed  by a company that isn’t currently advertising any vacancies.

This type of letter goes by a couple of other names, such as:

  • Letter of intent
  • Statement of interest

Of course, since there is no vacancy there is no role you can specifically mention, which is the major difference between a letter of intent and a traditional cover letter. Your objective will be to  advertise yourself well enough  that an employer will just have to interview you.

Email Cover Letters

Over the years, the job application process has shifted to a nearly  100% online hiring process . Due to this, it may be necessary to send your cover letter  in an email  as part of your job application.

While applying, there may not be an option to upload your cover letter. Or maybe you would just like to send it in the  body of your email along with your resume . You can send it in one of two ways, in the body of your email or as an attachment (in PDF).

How to write a cover letter

A cover letter, although  short in length  generally, can take time to elaborate as it is important to get it right. Sometimes, due to the scarce space for writing, candidates find it difficult to know  what to include in a cover letter  and  what to leave out .

However, knowing  how to do a cover letter  can make all the difference to your job application and be the just the thing to capture the attention of a hiring manager.

A  professional cover letter  should be well-formatted, following a structure with a header, an opening paragraph, a second main paragraph, a final closing paragraph and a closing with signature/electronic signature.

To  begin writing a cover letter for a job application , candidates should analyze their skills, qualifications, accomplishments and experience to  decide which are the most fundamental aspects to include  in their personalized cover letter.

Next, each jobseeker will have to  select the most job-relevant  of these elements to include by  comparing them with the required or desired qualifications and experience  in the job description.

Finally, the applicant should choose some  memorable examples which demonstrate evidence  of each element included in their cover letter, aiming to  tell a story  which shows their aptitude concerning each skill or qualification.

Jobseekers should also ensure to explore  how to make a cover letter  for their specific role or industry because, similarly to resumes, each cover letter should be  tailored for the vacancy  and company to which it will be sent.

It is vital for candidates to  consider several factors when it comes to writing their professional cover letter . A jobseeker must review their  resume work history section  as well as any skills and honors included to find the  most pertinent experiences  that can be explored further. Detailing examples of when a candidate demonstrated certain abilities or expertise is how a candidate can convince a hiring.

One way to create a winning cover letter is to use an  online cover letter creator  or take advantage of cover letter templates as a stepping stone as well as checking out cover letter examples that can serve as a great source of inspiration for you to make your own  unique cover letter .

Our  cover letter builder  forms part of our resume builder and allows jobseekers to create a more complete job application. Users can write their cover letter with pro tips and design help thanks to our pre-designed templates. Read our  cover letter writing guide  to get to grips with  cover letter writing techniques  and tips before using our online cover letter builder!

How to Structure a Cover Letter

The  structure and layout of a cover letter  is essential to make sure the letter displays each point that you wish to get across  clearly and concisely . This means it’s necessary, in general, to follow a commonly-accepted format for an effective cover letter.

Similarly to a  resume format , designing and  writing a cover letter has certain rules  which should be adhered to in order to convey the necessary information in a brief and to the point introductory letter.

Check out some of the  cover letter best practices  as advised by human resources experts below:

  • It’s imperative to  begin a cover letter with a header , including the candidate’s name and contact information as well as the date. This  primary cover letter section  can also include the job title, website and other relevant personal information.

Following this, the  letter should include the details of the company  and person to whom you are writing, with the full name, job title or team, company name and address.

  • The main body of a cover letter should be divided into  three sections : an introduction, a bullet list of accomplishments followed by a paragraph highlighting skills, and a closing paragraph inviting the hiring manager to contact you. By using bullet points when detailing your achievements and capabilities, you can make sure that recruiters will be able to quickly pick out key information. This is especially important as studies have found that recruiters spend very little time reading each individual application.
  • Finally, the letter should be electronically or physically signed with your full name in a formal manner.

The universally-accepted  cover letter length  is no longer than one letter page, which in total has about  250-300 words  for the main body of text.

Don’t  repeat information  or be too detailed because hiring managers simply do not have the time to read it all and will simply skip to the next one.  Resumes that run over 600 words  get rejected 43% faster and cover letters can easily fall into this trap too.

Keep your cover letter short and sweet and to the point!

Get more  cover letter formatting advice  in our guide on  how to format a cover letter  with tips and information about all aspects of a good cover letter structure.

Cover letter advice

The  importance of including a cover letter  with your job application is often overlooked by jobseekers of all categories, however this can seriously reduce your possibilities of getting an interview with a prospective employer.

Therefore you need not ask yourself  when to write a cover letter  because the answer is just that simple – it is  always appropriate to include a cover letter in your job application , unless the listing explicitly requests that you do not.

Check out the following  expert cover letter tips  to create a winning cover letter that will convince the hiring manager to give you a call:

  • We may be quite repetitive with this one but the sheer quantity of resumes and cover letters that are disregarded simply for forgetting this  vital and basic rule  is incredible:  USE A PROFESSIONAL EMAIL ADDRESS  for your contact details and that does not include your current work email but a personal, suitable email address.
  • It is essential to remember to  maintain your focus on the needs of the company  you’re applying to and the requirements and desired abilities of the ideal candidate for the role.  Do not focus on how you can benefit  by becoming a member of their team, but on how the team can make the most of your experience and knowledge.
  • Remember to  highlight your transferable skills , especially in cases where you may not meet all the required qualities in the job description such as in student resumes and cover letters.
  • Each  cover letter for a job application, cover letters for internships , for further study or even volunteer experience should be  tailored to their specific organization  and position with the pertinent keywords.
  • Use specific examples to demonstrate the candidate’s individual capacity to take on the role and  tell a story with your cover letter  to convey more of your personality and passion towards the sector or profession.
  • Towards the  end of a cover letter , each candidate should write a convincing finish to entice the hiring manager and in sales terminology “ seal the deal ”.
  • Finally when you have completed your polished cover letter, potentially  one of the most important steps  in the process is to  PROOFREAD . Candidates should request that a friend, mentor, teacher or peer takes a look at their cover letter for not only  grammatical and spelling errors  but also any  unwanted repetition or unrelated information .

Some jobseekers doubt  whether a cover letter is necessary or not , but as most human resource professionals agree without a well-written cover letter, candidates lose the  possibility to demonstrate different aspects of their profile  from those included in their resumes which could easily be the deciding factor in your application!

An easy and fast way to write an effective cover letter for a job application is to employ an  online cover letter creator  that will offer advice on  how to complete a cover letter with examples  and HR-approved templates.

Cover Letter FAQs

What do employers look for in a cover letter, can a cover letter be two pages, what is the difference between a cover letter and a resume, should you put a photo on a cover letter.

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How to write a great cover letter in 2024: tips and structure

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A cover letter is a personalized letter that introduces you to a potential employer, highlights your qualifications, and explains why you're a strong fit for a specific job.

Hate or love them, these brief documents allow job seekers to make an impression and stand out from the pile of other applications. Penning a thoughtful cover letter shows the hiring team you care about earning the position.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to write a cover letter — and a great one, at that.

What is a cover letter and why does it matter?

A professional cover letter is a one-page document you submit alongside your CV or resume as part of a job application. Typically, they’re about half a page or around 150–300 words.

An effective cover letter doesn’t just rehash your CV; it’s your chance to highlight your proudest moments, explain why you want the job, and state plainly what you bring to the table.

Show the reviewer you’re likable, talented, and will add to the company’s culture . You can refer to previous jobs and other information from your CV, but only if it helps tell a story about you and your career choices .

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What 3 things should you include in a cover letter?

A well-crafted cover letter can help you stand out to potential employers. To make your cover letter shine, here are three key elements to include:

1. Personalization

Address the hiring manager or recruiter by name whenever possible. If the job posting doesn't include a name, research to find out who will be reviewing applications. Personalizing your cover letter shows that you've taken the time to tailor your application to the specific company and role.

2. Highlight relevant achievements and skills

Emphasize your most relevant skills , experiences, and accomplishments that directly relate to the job you're applying for. Provide specific examples of how your skills have benefited previous employers and how they can contribute to the prospective employer's success. Use quantifiable achievements , such as improved efficiency, cost savings, or project success, to demonstrate your impact.

3. Show enthusiasm and fit

Express your enthusiasm for the company and the position you're applying for. Explain why you are interested in this role and believe you are a good fit for the organization. Mention how your values, goals, and skills align with the company's mission and culture. Demonstrating that you've done your research can make a significant impression.

What do hiring managers look for in a cover letter?

Employers look for several key elements in a cover letter. These include:

Employers want to see that your cover letter is specifically tailored to the position you are applying for. It should demonstrate how your skills, experiences, and qualifications align with the job requirements.

Clear and concise writing

A well-written cover letter is concise, easy to read, and error-free. Employers appreciate clear and effective communication skills , so make sure your cover letter showcases your ability to express yourself effectively.

Demonstrated knowledge of the company

Employers want to see that you are genuinely interested in their organization. Mention specific details about the company, such as recent achievements or projects, to show that you are enthusiastic about joining their team.

Achievements and accomplishments

Highlight your relevant achievements and accomplishments that demonstrate your qualifications for the position. Use specific examples to showcase your skills and show how they can benefit the employer.

Enthusiasm and motivation

Employers want to hire candidates who are excited about the opportunity and motivated to contribute to the company's success. Express your enthusiasm and passion for the role and explain why you are interested in working for the company.

Professionalism

A cover letter should be professional in tone and presentation. Use formal language, address the hiring manager appropriately, and follow standard business letter formatting.

excited-woman-in-her-office-how-to-write-a-cover-letter

How do you structure a cover letter?

A well-structured cover letter follows a specific format that makes it easy for the reader to understand your qualifications and enthusiasm for the position. Here's a typical structure for a cover letter:

Contact information

Include your name, address, phone number, and email address at the top of the letter. Place your contact information at the beginning so that it's easy for the employer to reach you.

Employer's contact information

Opening paragraph, middle paragraph(s), closing paragraph, complimentary close, additional contact information.

Repeat your contact information (name, phone number, and email) at the end of the letter, just in case the employer needs it for quick reference.

Remember to keep your cover letter concise and focused. It should typically be no more than one page in length. Proofread your letter carefully to ensure it is free from spelling and grammatical errors. Tailor each cover letter to the specific job application to make it as relevant and impactful as possible.

How to write a good cover letter (with examples)

The best letters are unique, tailored to the job description, and written in your voice — but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a job cover letter template.

Great cover letters contain the same basic elements and flow a certain way. Take a look at this cover letter structure for ref erence while you construct your own.

1. Add a header and contact information

While reading your cover letter, the recruiter shouldn’t have to look far to find who wrote it. Your document should include a basic heading with the following information:

  • Pronouns (optional)
  • Location (optional)
  • Email address
  • Phone number (optional)
  • Relevant links, such as your LinkedIn profile , portfolio, or personal website (optional)

You can pull this information directly from your CV. Put it together, and it will look something like this:

Christopher Pike

San Francisco, California

[email protected]

Alternatively, if the posting asks you to submit your cover letter in the body of an email, you can include this information in your signature. For example:

Warm regards,

Catherine Janeway

Bloomington, Indiana

[email protected]

(555) 999 - 2222

man-using-his-laptop-while-smiling-how-to-write-a-cover-letter

2. Include a personal greeting

Always begin your cover letter by addressing the hiring manager — preferably by name. You can use the person’s first and last name. Make sure to include a relevant title, like Dr., Mr., or Ms. For example, “Dear Mr. John Doe.”

Avoid generic openings like “To whom it may concern,” “Dear sir or madam,” or “Dear hiring manager.” These introductions sound impersonal — like you’re copy-pasting cover letters — and can work against you in the hiring process.

Be careful, though. When using someone’s name, you don’t want to use the wrong title or accidentally misgender someone. If in doubt, using only their name is enough. You could also opt for a gender-neutral title, like Mx.

Make sure you’re addressing the right person in your letter — ideally, the person who’s making the final hiring decision. This isn’t always specified in the job posting, so you may have to do some research to learn the name of the hiring manager.

3. Draw them in with an opening story

The opening paragraph of your cover letter should hook the reader. You want it to be memorable, conversational, and extremely relevant to the job you’re pursuing. 

There’s no need for a personal introduction — you’ve already included your name in the heading. But you should make reference to the job you’re applying for. A simple “Thank you for considering my application for the role of [job title] at [company],” will suffice.

Then you can get into the “Why” of your job application. Drive home what makes this specific job and this company so appealing to you. Perhaps you’re a fan of their products, you’re passionate about their mission, or you love their brand voice. Whatever the case, this section is where you share your enthusiasm for the role.

Here’s an example opening paragraph. In this scenario, you’re applying for a digital marketing role at a bicycle company:

“Dear Mr. John Doe,

Thank you for considering my application for the role of Marketing Coordinator at Bits n’ Bikes.

My parents bought my first bike at one of your stores. I’ll never forget the freedom I felt when I learned to ride it. My father removed my training wheels, and my mom sent me barrelling down the street. You provide joy to families across the country — and I want to be part of that.”

4. Emphasize why you’re best for the job

Your next paragraphs should be focused on the role you’re applying to. Highlight your skill set and why you’re a good fit for the needs and expectations associated with the position. Hiring managers want to know what you’ll bring to the job, not just any role.

Start by studying the job description for hints. What problem are they trying to solve with this hire? What skills and qualifications do they mention first or more than once? These are indicators of what’s important to the hiring manager.

Search for details that match your experience and interests. For example, if you’re excited about a fast-paced job in public relations, you might look for these elements in a posting:

  • They want someone who can write social media posts and blog content on tight deadlines
  • They value collaboration and input from every team member
  • They need a planner who can come up with strong PR strategies

Highlight how you fulfill these requirements:

“I’ve always been a strong writer. From blog posts to social media, my content pulls in readers and drives traffic to product pages. For example, when I worked at Bits n’ Bikes, I developed a strategic blog series about bike maintenance that increased our sales of spare parts and tools by 50% — we could see it in our web metrics.

Thanks to the input of all of our team members, including our bike mechanics, my content delivered results.”

5. End with a strong closing paragraph and sign off gracefully

Your closing paragraph is your final chance to hammer home your enthusiasm about the role and your unique ability to fill it. Reiterate the main points you explained in the body paragraphs and remind the reader of what you bring to the table.

You can also use the end of your letter to relay other important details, like whether you’re willing to relocate for the job.

When choosing a sign-off, opt for a phrase that sounds professional and genuine. Reliable options include “Sincerely” and “Kind regards.”

Here’s a strong closing statement for you to consider:

“I believe my enthusiasm, skills, and work experience as a PR professional will serve Bits n’ Bikes very well. I would love to meet to further discuss my value-add as your next Director of Public Relations. Thank you for your consideration. I hope we speak soon.

man-reading-carefully-how-to-write-a-cover-letter

Tips to write a great cover letter that compliments your resume

When writing your own letter, try not to copy the example excerpts word-for-word. Instead, use this cover letter structure as a baseline to organize your ideas. Then, as you’re writing, use these extra cover letter tips to add your personal touch:

  • Keep your cover letter different from your resume : Your cover letter should not duplicate the information on your resume. Instead, it should provide context and explanations for key points in your resume, emphasizing how your qualifications match the specific job you're applying for.
  • Customize your cover letter . Tailor your cover letter for each job application. Address the specific needs of the company and the job posting, demonstrating that you've done your homework and understand their requirements.
  • Show enthusiasm and fit . Express your enthusiasm for the company and position in the cover letter. Explain why you are interested in working for this company and how your values, goals, and skills align with their mission and culture.
  • Use keywords . Incorporate keywords from the job description and industry terms in your cover letter. This can help your application pass through applicant tracking systems (ATS) and demonstrate that you're well-versed in the field.
  • Keep it concise . Your cover letter should be succinct and to the point, typically no more than one page. Focus on the most compelling qualifications and experiences that directly support your application.
  • Be professional . Maintain a professional tone and structure in your cover letter. Proofread it carefully to ensure there are no errors.
  • Address any gaps or concerns . If there are gaps or concerns in your resume, such as employment gaps or a change in career direction, briefly address them in your cover letter. Explain any relevant circumstances and how they have shaped your qualifications and determination.
  • Provide a call to action . Conclude your cover letter with a call to action, inviting the employer to contact you for further discussion. Mention that you've attached your resume for their reference.
  • Follow the correct format . Use a standard cover letter format like the one above, including your contact information, a formal salutation, introductory and closing paragraphs, and your signature. Ensure that it complements your resume without redundancy.
  • Pick the right voice and tone . Try to write like yourself, but adapt to the tone and voice of the company. Look at the job listing, company website, and social media posts. Do they sound fun and quirky, stoic and professional, or somewhere in-between? This guides your writing style.
  • Tell your story . You’re an individual with unique expertise, motivators, and years of experience. Tie the pieces together with a great story. Introduce how you arrived at this point in your career, where you hope to go , and how this prospective company fits in your journey. You can also explain any career changes in your resume.
  • Show, don’t tell . Anyone can say they’re a problem solver. Why should a recruiter take their word for it if they don’t back it up with examples? Instead of naming your skills, show them in action. Describe situations where you rose to the task, and quantify your success when you can.
  • Be honest . Avoid highlighting skills you don’t have. This will backfire if they ask you about them in an interview. Instead, shift focus to the ways in which you stand out.
  • Avoid clichés and bullet points . These are signs of lazy writing. Do your best to be original from the first paragraph to the final one. This highlights your individuality and demonstrates the care you put into the letter.
  • Proofread . Always spellcheck your cover letter. Look for typos, grammatical errors, and proper flow. We suggest reading it out loud. If it sounds natural rolling off the tongue, it will read naturally as well.

woman-writing-on-her-notebook-how-to-write-a-cover-letter

Common cover letter writing FAQs

How long should a cover letter be.

A cover letter should generally be concise and to the point. It is recommended to keep it to one page or less, focusing on the most relevant information that highlights your qualifications and fits the job requirements.

Should I include personal information in a cover letter?

While it's important to introduce yourself and provide your contact information, avoid including personal details such as your age, marital status, or unrelated hobbies. Instead, focus on presenting your professional qualifications and aligning them with the job requirements.

Can I use the same cover letter for multiple job applications?

While it may be tempting to reuse a cover letter, it is best to tailor each cover letter to the specific job you are applying for. This allows you to highlight why you are a good fit for that particular role and show genuine interest in the company.

Do I need to address my cover letter to a specific person?

Whenever possible, it is advisable to address your cover letter to a specific person, such as the hiring manager or recruiter. If the job posting does not provide this information, try to research and find the appropriate contact. If all else fails, you can use a generic salutation such as "Dear Hiring Manager."

Should I include references in my cover letter?

It is generally not necessary to include references in your cover letter. Save this information for when the employer explicitly requests it. Instead, focus on showcasing your qualifications and achievements that make you a strong candidate for the position.

It’s time to start writing your stand-out cover letter

The hardest part of writing is getting started. 

Hopefully, our tips gave you some jumping-off points and confidence . But if you’re really stuck, looking at cover letter examples and resume templates will help you decide where to get started. 

There are numerous sample cover letters available online. Just remember that you’re a unique, well-rounded person, and your cover letter should reflect that. Using our structure, you can tell your story while highlighting your passion for the role. 

Doing your research, including strong examples of your skills, and being courteous is how to write a strong cover letter. Take a breath , flex your fingers, and get typing. Before you know it, your job search will lead to a job interview.

If you want more personalized guidance, a specialized career coach can help review, edit, and guide you through creating a great cover letter that sticks.

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Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

3 cover letter examples to help you catch a hiring manager’s attention

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How and Why to Write a Great Cover Letter

Student working in career planning guide

A cover letter is a one-page business letter that you submit when applying to a job, along with your resume. As a piece of persuasive writing, your cover letter will aim to convey to the employer why you’re a great candidate for the role.

What is the purpose of a cover letter?

Your cover letter complements your resume by making it easy for the employer to see how your experience and interest connect to the position. Your goal is to convince the employer to interview you.

With your cover letter, you’ll aim to:

  • Highlight your qualifications:  You’ll show how your skills and experience relate to the employer’s needs for a specific position.
  • Showcase your motivation: You’ll demonstrate your enthusiasm for the specific position and the organization.
  • Reflect your voice and written communication skills: You’ll give the employer a sense of your personality and writing style.

When should I write a cover letter?

Not all jobs require cover letters. So, how do you decide whether to submit one?

Submit a Cover Letter when…

  • The posting explicitly requests that you do so
  • You’re applying to an opportunity at a mission-driven organization
  • You think that doing so could provide important information to the employer that they wouldn’t get from your resume

Consider Submitting a Cover Letter when…

  • It’s marked “optional” in an application, and you have the bandwidth to do so
  • You have content that you can easily recycle or repurpose into a tailored cover letter

No Need to Submit a Cover Letter when…

  • A posting specifically tells you not to submit one
  • There’s no way to submit one in an application portal, and doing so would require a serious workaround

If you’re applying to several similar opportunities, creating a draft cover letter in advance, geared toward that type of opportunity, can be a helpful way to save time in your actual application process.

How do I write a cover letter?

Your cover letter should articulate your qualifications and motivation for the position. Read the job description closely and research the organization. As you craft your cover letter, use examples that demonstrate your relevant skills, knowledge, and interests. The cover letter should be concise, clear, and well-organized.

Before Writing

Research the employer.

Learn enough about the organization to articulate why you are a strong fit for that firm. 

  • Review the firm’s website and LinkedIn page.
  • Speak with current or previous employees.
  • Read articles and social media for current news.

Analyze the job description

Look for skills, duties, and qualifications of the job so you can design your letter to match these as much as possible.

Reflect on your experience and motivation

Identify skills and personal qualities you have developed which will be useful in this role. Ask yourself:

  • What attracts you about this role/company/industry?
  • What have you have done in your work experiences, classes, internships, activities, projects, volunteer work, travel, etc., that is similar to the duties required of the job? 

Cover Letter Structure

As a business letter, the cover letter should include:

  • Heading: Include your name and contact information in the same format as your resume
  • Salutation: Address your letter to the specific individual who can hire you, if this is known. If the name is not included in the job description, address the letter to the Hiring Manager or title mentioned in the job description.
  • Body Paragraphs:  Discuss your experiences, interests, and skills to show the employer how you can add value to their team. See the section below for more guidance.
  • Signature Line: Include a closing and your name.

The cover letter should be one page, about three or four paragraphs, and single spaced. Use 10-12 point font and one inch margins. 

When applying online, upload your cover letter as a PDF file, unless another format is specified. When sending your resume and cover letter by email, you may write a short note or paste your cover letter in the body of your email (without the address header) and also attach the PDF file.

Cover Letter Content

Your cover letter should answer who, what, when, where and why you are applying for the opportunity. 

Introduction

State the position for which you are applying. If you have a referral or spoke with someone from the company, you can mention it in the introduction. Provide some basic information about yourself; this can include your class year and what you’re studying at Columbia. Briefly outline why you’re interested in the organization and what you bring in terms of relevant experience and skills. 

Body Paragraphs

These paragraphs will highlight your qualifications and strengths that are most relevant to the organization and position. Use the job posting and your research as clues to determine what the employer is seeking in a candidate. Have your resume beside you and reflect on what you want the employer to know about you. Are there experiences you want to expand upon that demonstrate your understanding of the role and ability to do the job requirements?

Structure the paragraphs based on relevance, not chronology. Lead with your most relevant skill or strongest experience.

Start each body paragraph with a clear topic sentence.  This can highlight a key skill set, a transferable experience, or a core area of knowledge you’ve built through your studies. Walk the reader through a project or experience, integrating the relevant skills you used and qualities you demonstrated. Provide details about your accomplishments and impact. Connect how these experiences have prepared you for this role and why you are motivated to do this job. There is no need to apologize if you feel you lack experience; focus on the accomplishments that you have.

Recap what you would bring to the organization and your interest in the position. Thank the employer for their consideration. Keep your tone positive and enthusiastic. 

Check out our example of how to structure your cover letter content . 

Editing Tips

Use our  Cover Letter Checklist to make sure your format and content is in line with best practices. 

  • Ensure that the content reflects the requirements in the job description
  • Keep the cover letter concise, at one page or less
  • Correct any errors in grammar, sentence structure, and spelling
  • Use the active voice
  • Avoid beginning too many sentences with “I”

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How to Write a Cover Letter That Will Get You a Job

Portrait of Alison Green

I’ve read thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of cover letters in my career. If you’re thinking that sounds like really boring reading, you’re right. What I can tell you from enduring that experience is that most cover letters are terrible — and not only that, but squandered opportunities. When a cover letter is done well, it can significantly increase your chances of getting an interview, but the vast majority fail that test.

So let’s talk about how to do cover letters right.

1. First, understand the point of a cover letter.

The whole idea of a cover letter is that it can help the employer see you as more than just your résumé. Managers generally aren’t hiring based solely on your work history; your experience is crucial, yes, but they’re also looking for someone who will be easy to work with, shows good judgment, communicates well, possesses strong critical thinking skills and a drive to get things done, complements their current team, and all the other things you yourself probably want from your co-workers. It’s tough to learn much about those things from job history alone, and that’s where your cover letter comes in.

Because of that …

2. Whatever you do, don’t just summarize your résumé.

The No. 1 mistake people make with cover letters is that they simply use them to summarize their résumé. This makes no sense — hiring managers don’t need a summary of your résumé! It’s on the very next page! They’re about to see it as soon as they scroll down. And if you think about it, your entire application is only a few pages (in most cases, a one- or two-page résumé and a one-page cover letter) — why would you squander one of those pages by repeating the content of the others? And yet, probably 95 percent of the cover letters I see don’t add anything new beyond the résumé itself (and that’s a conservative estimate).

Instead, your cover letter should go beyond your work history to talk about things that make you especially well-suited for the job. For example, if you’re applying for an assistant job that requires being highly organized and you neurotically track your household finances in a detailed, color-coded spreadsheet, most hiring managers would love to know that because it says something about the kind of attention to detail you’d bring to the job. That’s not something you could put on your résumé, but it can go in your cover letter.

Or maybe your last boss told you that you were the most accurate data processor she’d ever seen, or came to rely on you as her go-to person whenever a lightning-fast rewrite was needed. Maybe your co-workers called you “the client whisperer” because of your skill in calming upset clients. Maybe you’re regularly sought out by more senior staff to help problem-solve, or you find immense satisfaction in bringing order to chaos. Those sorts of details illustrate what you bring to the job in a different way than your résumé does, and they belong in your cover letter.

If you’re still stumped, pretend you’re writing an email to a friend about why you’d be great at the job. You probably wouldn’t do that by stiffly reciting your work history, right? You’d talk about what you’re good at and how you’d approach the work. That’s what you want here.

3. You don’t need a creative opening line.

If you think you need to open the letter with something creative or catchy, I am here to tell you that you don’t. Just be simple and straightforward:

• “I’m writing to apply for your X position.”

• “I’d love to be considered for your X position.”

• “I’m interested in your X position because …”

• “I’m excited to apply for your X position.”

That’s it! Straightforward is fine — better, even, if the alternative is sounding like an aggressive salesperson.

4. Show, don’t tell.

A lot of cover letters assert that the person who wrote it would excel at the job or announce that the applicant is a skillful engineer or a great communicator or all sorts of other subjective superlatives. That’s wasted space — the hiring manager has no reason to believe it, and so many candidates claim those things about themselves that most managers ignore that sort of self-assessment entirely. So instead of simply declaring that you’re great at X (whatever X is), your letter should demonstrate that. And the way you do that is by describing accomplishments and experiences that illustrate it.

Here’s a concrete example taken from one extraordinarily effective cover-letter makeover that I saw. The candidate had originally written, “I offer exceptional attention to detail, highly developed communication skills, and a talent for managing complex projects with a demonstrated ability to prioritize and multitask.” That’s pretty boring and not especially convincing, right? (This is also exactly how most people’s cover letters read.)

In her revised version, she wrote this instead:

“In addition to being flexible and responsive, I’m also a fanatic for details — particularly when it comes to presentation. One of my recent projects involved coordinating a 200-page grant proposal: I proofed and edited the narratives provided by the division head, formatted spreadsheets, and generally made sure that every line was letter-perfect and that the entire finished product conformed to the specific guidelines of the RFP. (The result? A five-year, $1.5 million grant award.) I believe in applying this same level of attention to detail to tasks as visible as prepping the materials for a top-level meeting and as mundane as making sure the copier never runs out of paper.”

That second version is so much more compelling and interesting — and makes me believe that she really is great with details.

how write a resume cover letter

5. If there’s anything unusual or confusing about your candidacy, address it in the letter.

Your cover letter is your chance to provide context for things that otherwise might seem confusing or less than ideal to a hiring manager. For example, if you’re overqualified for the position but are excited about it anyway, or if you’re a bit underqualified but have reason to think you could excel at the job, address that up front. Or if your background is in a different field but you’re actively working to move into this one, say so, talk about why, and explain how your experience will translate. Or if you’re applying for a job across the country from where you live because you’re hoping to relocate to be closer to your family, let them know that.

If you don’t provide that kind of context, it’s too easy for a hiring manager to decide you’re the wrong fit or applying to everything you see or don’t understand the job description and put you in the “no” pile. A cover letter gives you a chance to say, “No, wait — here’s why this could be a good match.”

6. Keep the tone warm and conversational.

While there are some industries that prize formal-sounding cover letters — like law — in most fields, yours will stand out if it’s warm and conversational. Aim for the tone you’d use if you were writing to a co-worker whom you liked a lot but didn’t know especially well. It’s okay to show some personality or even use humor; as long as you don’t go overboard, your letter will be stronger for it.

7. Don’t use a form letter.

You don’t need to write every cover letter completely from scratch, but if you’re not customizing it to each job, you’re doing it wrong. Form letters tend to read like form letters, and they waste the chance to speak to the specifics of what this employer is looking for and what it will take to thrive in this particular job.

If you’re applying for a lot of similar jobs, of course you’ll end up reusing language from one letter to the next. But you shouldn’t have a single cover letter that you wrote once and then use every time you apply; whatever you send should sound like you wrote it with the nuances of this one job in mind.

A good litmus test is this: Could you imagine other applicants for this job sending in the same letter? If so, that’s a sign that you haven’t made it individualized enough to you and are probably leaning too heavily on reciting your work history.

8. No, you don’t need to hunt down the hiring manager’s name.

If you read much job-search advice, at some point you’ll come across the idea that you need to do Woodward and Bernstein–level research to hunt down the hiring manager’s name in order to open your letter with “Dear Matilda Jones.” You don’t need to do this; no reasonable hiring manager will care. If the name is easily available, by all means, feel free to use it, but otherwise “Dear Hiring Manager” is absolutely fine. Take the hour you just freed up and do something more enjoyable with it.

9. Keep it under one page.

If your cover letters are longer than a page, you’re writing too much, and you risk annoying hiring managers who are likely sifting through hundreds of applications and don’t have time to read lengthy tomes. On the other hand, if you only write one paragraph, it’s unlikely that you’re making a compelling case for yourself as a candidate — not impossible, but unlikely. For most people, something close to a page is about right.

10. Don’t agonize over the small details.

What matters most about your cover letter is its content. You should of course ensure that it’s well-written and thoroughly proofread, but many job seekers agonize over elements of the letter that really don’t matter. I get tons of  questions from job seekers  about whether they should attach their cover letter or put it in the body of the email (answer: No one cares, but attaching it makes it easier to share and will preserve your formatting), or what to name the file (again, no one really cares as long as it’s reasonably professional, but when people are dealing with hundreds of files named “resume,” it’s courteous to name it with your full name).

Approaching your cover letter like this can make a huge difference in your job search. It can be the thing that moves your application from the “maybe” pile (or even the “no” pile) to the “yes” pile. Of course, writing cover letters like this will take more time than sending out the same templated letter summarizing your résumé — but 10 personalized, compelling cover letters are likely to get you more  interview invitations  than 50 generic ones will.

Find even more career advice from Alison Green on her website,  Ask a Manager . Got a question for her? Email  [email protected] .

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Lifehacker

How to Write Résumé and Cover Letter Templates That Don’t Suck

I t’s easy, and frankly common, to sink hundreds of hours into a job hunt. The longer your job hunt takes, the more desperate it can start to feel and the more hours you may feel like you have to commit. That’s where templates come in: We don’t want people to be able to tell you’re using a templated, but using templates behind the scenes will save you precious time and energy and enable you to apply to more jobs more quickly.

Think of your resume and cover letter not as manifestations of who you are as a human, but as marketing materials for yourself as an employee. Like a visually boring movie poster, your resume won’t ever be able to capture every little thing about the plot (you), but instead should just highlight the most compelling things (about your work experience) and leave them interested in learning more.

Here’s how to “template-tize” your resume, cover letters, thank you notes, and networking messages without actually sounding like a template.

Create a templated “master resume”

For some reason it’s painfully difficult to find a resume template online that isn’t full of graphics, photos, and in-depth color schemes. Your resume doesn’t need to be flashy or sexy (visually boring movie poster, remember?), it just needs to highlight the most relevant things about you. Canva has plenty of over-engineered templates, but with a little tweaking this “corporate” template or this “minimalist” template could do the trick. In my opinion, your resume should only contain these things in this order:

  • Your name and critical details (email, phone number, LinkedIn, general location)
  • Your professional experiences
  • Specific hard skills and proficiencies (like Zendesk, Greenhouse, Python, or Calendly)
  • Awards and recognitions, if relevant
  • Education and degrees

In every job you’ve had, you probably did 100 different things within that one job—whether that’s driving different kinds of projects, collaborating with stakeholders, working with customers, organizing information, or putting out random fires, I’m 99% sure you accomplished a lot . While you shouldn’t waste time cataloguing every little thing you did (“responded to emails,” “attended meetings”), spend some time coming up with the top 5-10 things you accomplished in each job. These should be accomplishments , not just your responsibilities . Some examples to get your wheels turning:

> Owned creation of Product X, which accounted for 20% of total company revenue, driving market research and experience design efforts. > Directed and produced a photoshoot that launched the new Company Y identity, partnering with internal and external stakeholders to ensure seamless operation. > Achieved 100% attendance rate for Program Z, a 50% increase from the previous year. > Led event teams up to 25 people, quickly addressing unexpected challenges while protecting guest experience.

Once you’re done, add all those bullets to your resume and then do the same thing for the job before that, and the job before that, and so on. The idea is to keep one long master resume that tracks of all the amazing things you’ve done in every job. When you find a job you’re ready to apply to, compare the job description to your master resume, and start removing the bullets that aren’t directly relevant.

When you’re done, you’ll now have a resume that feels customized and highlights only your most relevant experience, without you needing to do any extra typing or too much extra thinking. Save it as a new file (something like YOURNAME_Resume_COMPANYNAME) and fire it off.

Prepare your own cover letter template

There is zero chance a recruiter or hiring manager is going to spend as much time reading your cover letter as you have spent writing it, so keep it short, sweet, and easily copy-pasted ( or skip it altogether ). Your cover letter template will be sort of like your resume template in that we want to write a lot of it in advance.

Identify your top four to six soft skills you feel confident in and have a lot of proof of experience with. I specify soft skills because I’m almost never reading a cover letter to learn more about your hard skills—that’s already listed on your resume, and/or I’ll be testing you on those during the interview process. Your cover letter should highlight the not-so-easily-measurable skills you bring to the table, and go a little more in-depth into how you’ve used them in the past.

To continue on a bullet from the previous section, if the job description specifically calls out cross-collaboration, I might prepare to embellish on that second bullet (“ Directed and produced a photoshoot which launched the new Company Y identity, partnering with internal and external stakeholders to ensure seamless operation.”) and say something like:

While at Company Y, I owned the full planning and execution of a branded photoshoot meant to highlight Company Y’s new modern look and collaborated across the company and our vendors to deliver. I researched local photographers, prepared vision decks to illustrate our desired outcome, and partnered with the Company Y executive team to achieve buy-in. Thanks to regular alignment meetings and a variety of documents and plans to keep the photoshoot in motion, we were able to achieve our goals within our planned budget and timeline.

I admit this one will take a good amount of time up front, but once you have something like this written out for your strongest soft skills, you’ll be able to copy and paste together all your future cover letters. You can also do this preparation slowly over time—every time you write a new cover letter, grab and save some of those sentences about your soft skills that you’re naturally writing about already. Eventually you’ll have (another) long master cover letter repository that you can use to cobble together customized cover letters without wasting hours reinventing them every time.

Use this (personalized) thank you note template  

A thank you note should always be short and sweet, and as personalized as you can manage.

Hi [INTERVIEWER NAME]! I just wanted to send you a note to share how much I appreciated your time [DAY OF INTERVIEW]. [SENTENCE ABOUT ONE THING YOU BOTH TALKED ABOUT AND WHY YOU FOUND IT VALUABLE]. [SENTENCE ABOUT WHY THIS COMPANY SEEMS LIKE A GREAT PLACE TO WORK/AN EXCITING OPPORTUNITY]. Thanks again, and [SOMETHING PERSONAL THAT YOU TALKED ABOUT]/have a great rest of your week/have a great weekend! All the best/Warmly/Cheers/With appreciation/With care, [YOUR NAME]

If you really can’t remember anything specific or unique you talked about, you can remove the second sentence, but I would recommend jotting down notes or writing the thank you note immediately after the interview so you can make sure to personalize it well. Don’t send the note right away, though—they haven’t had time to forget you yet. Send it or schedule it to send the following morning.

Write a genuine networking message

Networking can be a powerful tool in your job search, but actually finding and reaching out to the people you want to network with can pose a challenge. Like thank you notes, my advice on networking requests is to keep things extremely personal and relatively brief. The worst networking requests I’ve ever received were clearly copy-paste jobs that didn’t even take a moment to validate my name, my company, or my background—I don’t feel excited about networking with someone if they can’t be bothered to take one second to look at my profile.

My core tenants of networking are: Take a genuine interest in the person you’re reaching out to (as opposed to an interest purely in securing a job referral), ask for specific outcomes (not just vague requests like “I would love to talk to you”), and write like a human.

Hi [NAME]! I hope you’re having a great day/morning/week. I’m [YOUR NAME]! I wanted to reach out because I saw you [EXPERIENCE OR THING FROM THEIR LINKEDIN] and I’m [SOMETHING IN COMMON WITH THEM OR PERSONAL CONNECTION TO/INTEREST IN THEIR EXPERIENCE/EXPERIENCE]. If you have the time, I would love to have a 30-minute informational interview with you to learn more about your career and any advice you might have for someone like me. Thank you!

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Critical Writing Seminar: Craft of Prose : Cover Letter Resources

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Cover Letter resources

  • Cover Letter Writing Guide - Penn Career Services  - A writing guide on cover letters prepared by Penn Career Services that covers the purpose of cover letters, cover letter etiquette,  
  • Job Search Letters - Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)  - These OWL resources will help you write job application letters, thank you and follow up letters, as well as effective acceptance and rejection letters. Also included are links to other OWL resources geared for entry-level and skilled labor positions.
  • Microsoft Office Templates - Access a wide selection of MS Word templates with formatting for various styles of resumes and cover letters. 

Cover Art

  • Skill Sumo Future Proof: How to Craft a Cover letter This video, from Academic Video, will teach you how to craft a cover letter.
  • What to Include in the Resume and Cover Letter. From Sage Video, this online tutorial provides tips for developing your resume and for writing cover letters.
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  • URL: https://guides.library.upenn.edu/WRIT0020-302

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COMMENTS

  1. How To Write a Cover Letter (With Examples and Tips)

    The key to writing an effective cover letter is to clearly show how your professional experience fits the needs of the open role and the culture of the hiring company. In this article, we explain how to write a cover letter that makes a great first impression on potential employers.

  2. How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job in 2024

    1. Learn what a good cover letter looks like Before getting started, it helps to know what a cover letter is and what yours should look like. Here's an example to show you how to make a professional cover letter in 2024: Using a pre-written cover letter outline is a great way to speed up the writing process. Download Cover Letter Example

  3. How To Format a Cover Letter (With Outline and Examples)

    A cover letter usually is three paragraphs long and outlines why you are applying for a specific position, a brief overview of your professional background and what makes you uniquely qualified for the job. While some employers require a cover letter to apply, others make it optional. Read more: What Is a Cover Letter? Image description

  4. How to Write A Cover Letter in 2022 (6 Tips

    Successful cover letters go something like this: Memorable introduction Specific, organized examples of relevant work done and problems solved Concise conclusion with a call to action The rest is up to you.

  5. How to Write a Cover Letter in 2024 + Examples

    Step #1 - Pick the Right Cover Letter Template Step #2 - Start the Cover Letter with a Header Step #3 - Greet the Hiring Manager Step #4 - Write an Attention-Grabbing Introduction Step #5 - Explain why you're the perfect person for the job Step #6 - Explain why you're a good fit for the company Step #7 - Wrap up with a call to action Step #8 - U...

  6. How to Write a Cover Letter in 2024 + Pro Tips

    How to write the perfect cover letter Step 1 Do your research

  7. How to Write a Cover Letter for Any Job in 2024

    Include your and the employer's contact details, and address the hiring manager by name. In 200-400 words, highlight your achievements, professional skills, and relevant experience that make you the best fit for the job. A bit too tl;dr? Let's now move on to detailed instructions on how to write a perfect cover letter: Prefer the video format?

  8. Step-By-Step Guide for Resume and Cover Letter Writing

    Alison Doyle Updated on August 6, 2021 In This Article View All What's the Difference? Getting Started How to Build Your Resume Review Resume Writing Techniques Review Resume Samples Photo: Roberto Westbrook / Getty Images Resumes and cover letters alone won't get you a job; rather, they'll help you win an interview.

  9. How to Write a Cover Letter and Get Noticed

    1. Research the company. Visit the company's website and pay close attention to the "About Us" section. If the company has a careers section, read over any information about workplace culture. Consider what interests you—either about what the company does or how it does it—and note it to include in your letter. 2.

  10. The Ultimate Cover Letter Writing Guide

    There are 3 types of cover letters that you can send to a hiring manager. The 3 types are: Application cover letters. Letters of Interest. Email Cover letters. The letter you write is influenced by whether you are going to apply for a job directly, citing a referral, or asking about vacancies that are not advertised.

  11. 200+ Professional Cover Letter Examples for Job Seekers

    The cover letter template below describes how to write each of these key sections: YOUR FIRST AND LAST NAME Your street address, City, State | Email | Phone number Today's date Employer name Company Name Street address City, State Salutation Dear [Hiring Manager's Name], Opening Paragraph (Introduction)

  12. How to Write a Standout Cover Letter in 2022

    Ah yes, the familiar cycle: You sit down to write a cover letter, open a blank document, check your email, browse cover letter examples, do some chores, watch that cursor blink a few more times, and finally Google something like "how to write a cover letter"—which hopefully brought you here.

  13. Cover Letter Writing Guide 2024: Examples and Tips

    Learn more about effective cover letters in the online course Writing Winning Resumes and Cover Letters from the University of Maryland. For more career planning assistance, consider courses like Successful Interviewing or Career Planning: A Path to Employment. Keep reading. Updated on Jan 17, 2024.

  14. How to Write a Cover Letter Guide + Examples

    How to write a cover letter Cover letter structure + templates Cover letter checklist + mistakes to avoid Cover letter examples Cover letter writing FAQ Want to skip the reading and finish your cover letter in 15 minutes? We also offer an incredible tool, our Cover Letter Builder!

  15. How to Write a Great Cover Letter in 2024 (+ Examples)

    Middle paragraph (s) This is the main body of your cover letter. Use one or two paragraphs to highlight your qualifications, skills, and experiences that make you a strong fit for the job. Be specific and provide examples of your relevant wins. Explain how your background aligns with the company's needs and values.

  16. How and Why to Write a Great Cover Letter

    With your cover letter, you'll aim to: Highlight your qualifications: You'll show how your skills and experience relate to the employer's needs for a specific position. Showcase your motivation: You'll demonstrate your enthusiasm for the specific position and the organization. Reflect your voice and written communication skills: You ...

  17. 12 Ways to Start a Cover Letter: Examples & Tips

    12 winning ways to start your cover letter. Our sample cover letter introductions will help you learn how to open a cover letter in a way that stands out and boosts your chances of landing an interview. 1. Mention a contact within the company. If you were referred by a former coworker, classmate, or friend who's highly regarded in their ...

  18. What Is a Cover Letter? (And What To Include in One)

    Tips for writing cover letters Here are some tips to help you write a cover letter that captures an employer's attention. Pick an appropriate voice and tone. Write like yourself, but research the company to get an idea of what tone and voice to use. For example, the voice and tone you use for a marketing design company may differ from a legal ...

  19. How to Write a Cover Letter

    1. First, understand the point of a cover letter. The whole idea of a cover letter is that it can help the employer see you as more than just your résumé.

  20. How to Write a Cover Letter (With Tips)

    How to write a cover letter Here are the steps you can follow to write your cover letter: Note the date Include your name and address Include the recipient's name and address Introduce yourself Make your opening paragraph about your interest in the position Include your background Focus on your qualifications

  21. How To Write A Cover Letter For Beginners (+ 6 Cover Letter Examples)

    Typically, a cover letter should not be more than 1-page long (the average time for hiring managers to read one resume is less than 20 seconds!), and within this 1 page, you should include the following 5 parts: contact information, greeting, hook, body, closing. Let's dig into each of them!

  22. How to Write an Application Letter—Examples & Guide

    Letters of application are essential in the job market, so don't risk losing to other candidates just because you didn't write one. 2. Address Your Letter of Application Properly. Addressing an application letter is simple. Firstly, include your contact information in the header of the application letter : Full name.

  23. Cover Letter Samples and Templates

    A cover letter should include the following parts: Header. Salutation. Introduction. Body paragraph. Closing paragraph. Letter ending and signature. The following cover letter samples and examples will show you how to write a cover letter for many employment circumstances. Browse cover letters by job title for inspiration.

  24. How to Write Résumé and Cover Letter Templates That Don't Suck

    Your cover letter template will be sort of like your resume template in that we want to write a lot of it in advance. Identify your top four to six soft skills you feel confident in and have a lot ...

  25. The 10 Best Cover Letter Examples of 2023

    The best cover letters always have examples and hard numbers that prove the applicant can produce results. 9. The creative cover letter. A colorful, creative letter like this is sure to stand out from the pile of traditional black and white cover letters that hiring managers see every day:

  26. Cover Letter Resources

    Knock 'em Dead Cover Letters (eBook) by Martin Yate. ISBN: 9780996662321. Publication Date: 2015. Step-by-step guide for how write cover letters and every type of letter you will use in a job hunt. How to build, edit and polish professional letters for maximum impact and how to use them to get four times the interviews.

  27. Free Cover Letter Template for Your Resume (Copy & Paste)

    CV Cover letter template Professional Templates A professional cover letter template suits experienced candidates applying to large companies. If you're an executive or seeking a senior position, use one of these templates to write a confident and authoritative cover letter. Minimalist

  28. Nursing Cover Letter Examples and Templates for 2024

    Your nursing cover letter should usually have five sections, in this order: 1. Heading. At the top of the page, include: Your name and contact information. The date. The recipient's name, title, organization, and contact information (when available) (Note: Feel free to omit this section if you send your letter by email and your contact ...