How to Start a Cover Letter - 4 Tips for the Perfect Opening
Here you are, looking at a blank document that’s supposed to be your cover letter.
You have a general idea of what your cover letter is supposed to be about, but you’re having trouble writing those first few sentences.
We get you! Whether you’re writing your resume, an article, research paper, or a cover letter, getting started is sometimes the hardest part.
Lucky for you, though, there is a very straightforward way to get started with your cover letter, and in this article, we’re going to teach you how to do that!
Read on to learn how to effectively get started with your cover letter!
- What should your cover letter opening contain
- What to include in your contact information
- How to start a cover letter greeting
- How to write an attention-grabbing opening paragraph
- 6 Examples of how to start your cover letter
What Should Your Cover Letter Opening Contain
To successfully get started with writing your cover letter, you should include these 3 main elements:
- The header with contact information. Includes your & the recipient’s contact information.
- The greeting to the manager. This is where you address the cover letter by greeting the hiring manager, department, or company.
- An attention-grabbing opening paragraph. The opening paragraph of your cover letter is your chance to grab the recruiters’ attention and get them to read the rest of your cover letter.
Below, we’ll teach you how to do each of them in the right way.
If you’re applying for an entry-level job and wondering what’s the best way to write your cover letter, head over to our article on entry-level cover letters .
What to Include in Your Contact Information
As we mentioned, the first thing to add to your cover letter opening is your contact information.
The header’s essential information include the following:
- Full name and professional title (if applicable)
- Phone number
- Email (a professional email, that is)
In some cases, you can also add the following:
- Social media profiles. By this, we mean profiles that are relevant to the position. This includes websites like LinkedIn , GitHub (for developers), or Medium (for writers).
- Personal website. If you have a personal website you’ve created for your industry (i.e. you’re a writer with a blog), then make sure to include the link to your website on your cover letter.
After you’ve added your information, you should add the date and continue with the recipient’s name and address. So:
- Manager’s name
- Manager’s job title
- Company’s name
- Company’s street address
Once you’ve done this, here’s what your cover letter will look like:
And just like the essential DOs, there are also some things you should NOT include in your cover letter header:
- Unprofessional email. It’s going to be difficult for a hiring manager to take you seriously if your email address is something you coined when you were still a teenager (i.e. [email protected] ).
How to Start a Cover Letter Greeting
After you’ve properly listed your contact information, it’s time to start writing your cover letter.
The first thing this includes is addressing the cover letter to the hiring manager.
Yeap, that’s right! And by greeting the hiring manager, department, or company, we don’t mean using the old-fashioned “Dear Sir/Madam,” or “To whom it may concern.”
Instead, you want to show your future employer that you’ve done your fair share of research about the job/company and that you’re not just using one cover letter template to apply for ten jobs. After all, one of the most common mistakes job seekers do (84% of them!) is not finding the hiring manager’s name and personalizing the application.
So, make sure to address the hiring manager that’s going to review your manager directly.
Now, there are a few ways you can do that.
The simplest - and most obvious - option is to look up the head of the department you’re applying to on LinkedIn.
Let’s assume that you’re applying as a Communications Specialist at Novoresume. The hiring manager is probably the Head of Communications or the Chief Communications Officer.
After a quick LinkedIn lookup, you can probably find out who that person is (that’s me!).
And just like that, you have your hiring manager! Piece of cake!
Not a fan of LinkedIn? You can also check the company’s website and look for the “Team” or " About Us " page.
If none of these work, consider using one of the following greetings when you’re addressing the hiring manager:
- Dear [Department] Hiring Manager,
- Dear Hiring Manager,
- Dear [Department] Team,
- Dear Director of [Department],
- Dear [Company Name] Hiring Team
How you conclude your cover letter is just as important as how you start it. To learn how to ace yours, head over to our guide on how to end a cover letter .
How to Write an Attention-Grabbing Opening Paragraph
The last, but the most important, part of your cover letter opening is your opening paragraph.
You want your opening paragraph to be engaging and attention-grabbing to ensure that the hiring manager will continue reading the cover letter.
After all, recruiters receive hundreds of applications daily. Obviously, they can’t spend all their working hours reading cover letters, so, instead, they simply skim your cover letter in a handful of seconds, and if it catches their attention, they re-read it more thoroughly.
And the part of the cover letter that helps catch their attention is usually the opening paragraph!
Compare these 2 cover letter openers and judge for yourself which one you’d rather read:
Dear Mr. Brown,
My name is Anna and I’d like to help your company exceed its sales target as a Sales Manager. My 5-year experience as a Sales Representative at XYZ Inc. has given me substantial skills in sales. During my last year working there, we beat KPIs by around 50%. I believe that my strong track record in sales makes me the perfect candidate for the position.
Hello, my name is Mary and I am interested in working as a Sales Manager for your company. I have 6 years of experience working as a Sales Manager for Company X, so I think I’m a good fit for the position.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the first example, it’s not all that imaginative. Chances are, every other applicant is going to use a similar opening statement.
The second example, on the other hand, is more customized and personal, helping the recruiter understand why Anna is a good candidate for the role.
In this section we’ll give you all the tips & tricks you need to ace your cover letter introduction:
Tip #1. Show Passion and Commitment
Showing the hiring manager that you’re passionate about the job will instantly boost your chances of getting hired. It’s not a secret that committed employees are more engaged and, therefore, more productive.
After all, research shows that engaged employees are 17% more productive than their peers.
So, it’s only logical that the hiring manager will greatly appreciate a candidate who shows commitment and enthusiasm.
As such, these are both qualities that you want to showcase right from the start of your cover letter. Here’s an example of how you can do that:
I have been immersed with human rights since I specialized in Conflict Resolution and started working with Amnesty International. During my 5 years of experience in the field, however, I haven’t seen any organization do the work that you’ve accomplished with human rights. Your dedication makes me want to work for your organization and put my skills to use for the work you do.
Tip #2. Mention a Mutual Contact (if Applicable)
If someone referred you to the position, the opening paragraph of your cover letter is a great place to mention that.
Referrals are key to securing an interview, but at the same time they’re not something you can mention on your resume, so take the opportunity to let the recruiter know at the start of your cover letter.
The idea is that if someone the hiring manager knows recommended you for the position, your skills and qualifications immediately become more credible.
I was excited to learn about this job opportunity from John Doe, who has worked at your firm for five years. John and I worked on an architectural project together for over one year and he thought I’d be a good fit for the role at Company X.
Tip #3. Prove You Have Researched The Company
A generic cover letter will not give you many points in the eyes of your potential employers.
The recruiter reading your cover letter wants to know that you’re excited to be applying for that particular company , and you’re not just applying to dozens of jobs randomly, hoping that one will stick.
As such, it’s very important to do some research about the company you’re applying for, and in the cover letter, mention why you’re a good culture fit.
I have always admired the work that your organization does with vulnerable communities. I have always been passionate about social justice and I think the mechanisms you have in place to empower those in need are really making an impact. I believe my previous experience as a social worker could bring value to your mission.
Tip #4. Lead With An Achievement
There’s no better way to grab attention than to lead with an achievement. It immediately gives you credibility and makes the hiring manager curious to read more about you.
To make sure your achievements stand out, though, do this:
- Whenever possible, make your achievements as quantifiable as possible. “Improved sales by 20% in 2 months” is more impressive than “improve sales.”
- Show how your past achievement is relevant or can add value to your current position.
As a Public Relations representative for Company XYZ, I worked with the press to improve its reputation and public image. This translated into a 40% increase in customer satisfaction and better public reception of the company’s values and identity. I am eager to yield the same results as the Head of Communications in your organization.
Tip #5. Start With a Powerful Belief
A short and impactful belief statement that represents your work ethic and professional values is another great way to attract the recruiter’s attention. Obviously, you get bonus points if said belief statement aligns with the company’s goals and objectives.
However, don’t just copy-paste the company’s mission statement to make a good impression. Rather, use your own words and beliefs to sound more genuine and original.
As a teacher, I believe every child should have access to quality education early on. This is the only way to ensure future generations’ equity and the best chance we have at improving our society. I admire your institution’s commitment to enabling quality education in the most remote areas of our country and I’d be honored to contribute to those efforts by becoming a teacher here.
Tip #6. Be Direct
Oftentimes, beating around the bush gets you nowhere. So, a great strategy to follow when you start writing your cover letter is to just be direct about the position you’re applying for and the reasons you believe make you the perfect fit for the job.
There’s another upside to this. Recruiters receive hundreds of applications daily - sometimes, even for different positions within the same department - so it helps them to know what position you’re applying for early on, as well as what exact qualifications make you the perfect fit for the job.
I’d like to officially apply for the marketing manager position at Company X. Over the past 7 years, I’ve worked with 6 clients, helping them drive more than $2,000,000 worth of sales. I am confident that my marketing skills and proven sales results make me a perfect match for the position.
Match your cover letter with your resume to make a better impression on the recruiter and reinforce your personal brand !
And that’s a wrap!
Hopefully, you’re now more confident about how you can start your cover letter!
Now, let’s do a small recap of the most important points we covered in the article:
- Your cover letter opening should contain a header with contact information, a greeting to the hiring manager, and an attention-grabbing opening paragraph.
- Your header should include your contact information, such as your name, phone number, and professional email, the date, as well as the contact information of the recipient.
- You should try to find the hiring manager’s full name in order to greet them. If you can’t find their name or title anywhere, then you should greet them using Dear Hiring Manager , Dear [Department] Team , or something similar.
- The opening paragraph of your cover letter should grab the hiring manager’s attention and make them want to read your cover letter. Some tips to write an attention-grabbing opening paragraph include being direct, starting with a strong belief statement, or leading with a relevant achievement.
- How to Write a Cover Letter in 2023
- Cover Letter Tips
- Cover Letter Mistakes
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How To Start a Cover Letter With Examples and Tips
- How to Start a Cover Letter
- Cover Letter Opening Sentence Examples
Personalize Your Cover Letter
- What to Write in the Rest of Your Letter
Cover Letter Sample
More cover letter examples and templates.
Theresa Chiechi / The Balance
What's the best way to start a cover letter for a job? The first couple of sentences of your cover letter are the most important ones. Recruiters and hiring managers often spend mere seconds scanning your application.
If your cover letter doesn't grab their attention right away, they may never even get as far as the second paragraph. What should these all-important first sentences say? Keep in mind that you're hoping to differentiate yourself from the competition. Your goal is to explain to the reader who you are, why you're writing, and how you can contribute to the employer's success.
This might mean highlighting a contact , providing a quick window into your relevant background and experience, or emphasizing a significant accomplishment that would make you an asset to the organization.
Think about why the hiring manager should select you, above all other candidates, for an interview, and you'll be on the right track.
How to Start a Cover Letter
Be direct. In these opening sentences, you want to explicitly let the reader know which position you're applying for. Hiring managers are often looking at candidates for several open jobs at any given time. Make sure it's easy for them to discover your intent. For example:
I am interested in the coordinator position at ABC company.
Mention a contact. If someone referred you to the position , include that information early on as well. Referrals are one of the key aspects to securing an interview, so be sure to mention yours right away. For example:
Jane Doe suggested I contact you about the job, as she feels my skills would be a good fit for the position.
State an accomplishment. Try to state an accomplishment from your previous job. If you can, show how you added value to the last company you worked for. You might even add the job title you had if it's similar to the one you are applying for. For example:
As coordinator at XYZ Enterprises, I have increased my group's output by 37% over the past 15 months.
Express excitement. Convey your passion for your work, and your excitement about the job and company. Your cover letter is an opportunity to sell yourself to the hiring manager, and to share why you're well qualified for the job. For example:
I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss what I have to bring to the position at ABC company.
Use keywords. If you can include any keywords from the job listing, do so. You can mention a skill you have that was included in the post. For example:
My track history of successfully managing teams and delivering projects on time and on budget makes me a good fit for this role.
Examples of Cover Letter Opening Sentences
- As an information technology professional with high-level management experience in the IT industry, I learned that the best way to achieve success was to utilize the resources I had by employing well-defined objectives and an attitude of empowerment.
- I am very interested in the entry-level position that is available at ABC Investment Partners. I recently graduated from XYZ college, and my courses in investments, finance, and business have equipped me with a solid base upon which I plan to build my career.
- I am writing to express my strong interest in the international marketing position open at WellCam, Inc. My colleague Janna Doling recommended that I contact you directly about this position, owing to the years I have spent developing successful campaigns for XYZ company.
- I'm writing to express my interest in the editorial assistant position listed on Monster.com. Given my five years of editorial experience and excellent capabilities, I would appreciate your consideration for this position.
- I have a very strong interest in pursuing a teaching career. With experience working at both elementary and high school levels, as well as in activities outside of the traditional classroom, I have a diverse background with much to offer.
- I have the pleasure of being acquainted with one of the counselors on your staff, Eleanor Seville. She let me know about the open position and recommended that I contact you.
- I was excited to read about the administrative assistant job opening at XYZ company. I have several years of administrative experience in a variety of fields, including insurance and finance.
- I understand that you have been deluged with resumes since Computer World released their list of the best companies to work for. Mine is one more, but I do have experience that is hard to come by.
- My proven track record of successfully performing complex analyses on various corporations makes me an ideal candidate for the analyst opportunity that you have advertised.
When you're not sure how to get started, it can be really helpful to review examples of cover letters . You can use these as a guide, but be sure to tailor your introduction to your personal circumstances and the job you're applying for.
The more closely you construct your cover letter to show that you're a match for the job requirements , the better your chances of getting selected for an interview.
What to Write in the Rest of Your Cover Letter
Of course, the rest of your letter is important too. You'll need to use an appropriate salutation , and make your cover letter closing polite and inviting. In the body of your letter , you have the opportunity to pitch your qualifications for the job in more detail than you have room for in your resume.
If there are specific events or accomplishments you feel are likely to make you stand out, you can briefly mention them and explain in more detail should you secure an interview.
Make sure your contact information is complete as well, and format your signature to match the letter style you are using.
Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs or Word Online) or read the example below.
Sample Cover Letter (Text Version)
John Smith 37 Oak Street Middle Village, New York 10502 555-555-555 firstname.lastname@example.org
March 22, 2021
Dr. Jane Doe All Smiles Dentistry 5 Main Street, Suite A Middle Village, New York 10502
Dear Dr. Doe,
My former coworker, Maria Rodriguez, suggested that I contact you to express my interest in the position of dental assistant in your office in Middle Village.
I’m a licensed dental assistant with over 10 years of experience helping dentists and hygienists make their patients smile. In my current role with ABC Dental, I have gained proficiency in the four-handed dentistry technique, as well as mastering Henry Schein Dentix software.
I also have the following skills and qualifications, as outlined in the job description on your website:
- Experience taking and developing dental X-rays
- Infection control expertise, including preparing and sterilizing instruments and equipment
- Knowledge of several different types of scheduling software
- Language skills (bilingual: English/Spanish)
- Excellent customer service skills and attention to detail
Most importantly, I love people. I consider it a great privilege to help dentists improve their patients’ lives by providing the very best support and customer care.
I’ve enclosed my resume, and I hope you’ll contact me at your convenience to arrange an interview.
Signature (hard copy letter)
Review cover letter examples for many different types of jobs, and get downloadable templates you can use to write your own cover letters.
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How to Start a Cover Letter: 7 Great Cover Letter Openings (+Examples)
Beginnings are always hard. The same goes for writing a cover letter. You know exactly what you want to say, but you’re not sure how to start a cover letter.
Generally speaking, the cover letter intro is a place where you should:
- introduce yourself in detail
- explain why the job is exciting for you
- show you’re a great fit for the position
Of course, there’s no single right way to do it. That means that you’ve got multiple options and can get a little creative.
Whether you’re looking for a traditional cover letter introduction, or something more unconventional, you’ll find it in this article — together with a quick guide and cover letter openings examples.
Alternatively, you can also just watch this quick video guide on how to write a cover letter below.
Successful cover letter introductions (examples)
We’ve gathered some really good opening lines from successful cover letters that got people hired in well-known companies such as HubSpot, Siemens, or Lush:
HubSpot Director of Business Development Cover Letter Sample
Account Executive Cover Letter Intro Sample
Sales Associate at LUSH Cover Letter Intro Example
Siemens SCADA Engineer Cover Letter Intro Template
Warner Bros. Public Relations Intern Cover Letter Example
Do you want to know how to craft such a strong cover letter opening yourself? Follow a quick guide below.
And if you prefer to see more examples from hired professionals or find a job-specific cover letter example for your industry, visit our cover letter library .
Intro paragraph: a quick guide on how to start a cover letter
When it comes to cover letter openings, rule number one is that you should always start your cover letter in a way that grabs a recruiter’s attention from the get go.
On the other hand, be careful and stay professional. Don’t overdo it.
So the question is — when should you pick a standard opening paragraph and when to go with something more creative?
Well, it all depends on a particular job and the company culture .
Take time to research each company where you’re applying for a job and identify its tone of voice.
Are they formal or casual? Look at the job description, their website, and social media accounts and you’ll be able to get the right idea.
Then in your cover letter opening, follow at least one of these 7 main principles :
1. Be direct
Employers are busy people who usually don’t have time to read long texts or overused cover letter phrases . What they want to know is simply whether you’re a good fit. Why not make it easier for them and be specific from the very beginning?
Let them know what position you’re applying for and use your cover letter opening to highlight years of experience in your field and any relevant hard or soft skills you bring to the table.
It’s a universal, yet effective answer to how to start a cover letter.
Cover Letter Intro Example #1
I am very interested in the Sales Specialist opportunity at [Company XYZ] that was advertised on LinkedIn. I am a hard-working and dedicated individual with over two years of extensive industry experience, a Business & Management degree from McGill University, and a strong determination to meet and exceed all business goals and objectives.
2. Respond to the company’s needs
Employers want to know how you can contribute to their company. The first paragraph of the cover letter is a great place to demonstrate that.
Have a look at the job offer, go over the company’s needs, and pick those that you can easily relate to.
Then take a look at your achievements and impressive skills, and use them to illustrate how you can bring value to the new job. Ideally by mentioning any quantifiable results from your previous jobs.
Cover Letter Intro Example #2
Over the course of last year, I more than doubled [Company XYZ]’s Twitter followers and ran two successful Instagram ad campaigns that generated $35K+ in revenue. I’d love to bring my expertise in organically expanding the social reach and delivering ROI to the social media manager position at [Company XYZ].
3. Include company facts and news
Companies want to see that you’re interested in them and their industry. If you show that you already know about them and have done your research, you can make a great first impression.
Browse their website and scour the internet for related news articles. They can provide you with interesting facts that pertain to your role.
It can be anything — a specific event, fact, notable statistic, or an award that the company has recently received.
Cover Letter Intro Example #3
When I saw that [Company XYZ] was featured in Fortune Magazine last month for its commitment to renewable energy and reducing waste in the workplace, I was truly inspired. With my track record of reducing costs by over 30% and promoting sustainable technologies, I’m excited about the opportunity to take on the account executive role to expand your company’s growth and work towards a greener future.
4. Highlight a mutual connection
Referrals can work like magic when it comes to getting invited to a job interview . So if someone has recommended you for a position or you know anyone at the company who can vouch for you, mention their name right away.
After reading your cover letter, recruiters will most likely want to learn why your referrer thought you’d be a good fit. If nothing else, it will make recruiters pay attention to the rest of your cover letter.
Cover Letter Intro Example #4
I was excited to learn of this job opportunity from my former colleague, Lucy May. We’ve worked closely together for several years, most recently on a complex data analysis project at [Company XYZ]. She advised me to apply as she thought I’d be a good match for this position on your team.
5. Show passion for what you do
Employers love job candidates who are enthusiastic about what they do. These candidates tend to perform better and are more dedicated to their roles.
So if you’re all hyped up about your job, don’t hesitate to infuse your cover letter with a couple of sentences demonstrating your excitement about what you’re doing.
Cover Letter Intro Example #5
I knew I had a knack for writing ever since I was the main editor of our high school magazine. Thanks to my 15+ years of experience, I’ve transformed my passion into a fashion blog with 30K+ monthly readers, featured articles on Time and Cosmopolitan that have garnered over 50K views, and a writer’s workshop I founded for young up-and-coming writers.
6. Open with a relevant accomplishment
Hiring managers like achievers. If you’ve accomplished something noteworthy while with your previous employer, there’s a good chance you can bring the same value to your next job too.
What’s more, it shows that you’re an expert in your field.
If you have any special skills or accomplishments that will make you stand out from other job candidates, mention them right away in your cover letter opening.
However, try to make no general claims without providing evidence. Support your arguments with real numbers and statistics.
Cover Letter Intro Example #6
Over the past year as digital marketing manager at [Company XYZ], I’ve generated $50k+ in revenue, increased organic traffic to our blog by 18%, and almost tripled our social media ROI.
7. Use humor and creativity
Recruiters are human beings, too (shocking). In a pile of boring resumes and repetitive cover letters and motivation letters , they may find a good joke, juicy pun, or funny opening line a nice refreshing break.
It can even be a reason to call you up for an interview.
So if the company seems to have an easygoing vibe, use humor to bring attention to your skills or relevant personal traits that are needed for the position you’re targeting.
Cover Letter Intro Example #7
Before I flood you with all the reasons why I’m going to be your next writer, I would like to tell you a little about myself. I didn’t learn to hold a pencil until I was about six years old, which made everyone think I’d never pen a single letter. And now here I am, bidding to become your next Shakespeare.
Cover letter beginning: What other things to include?
Now that you saw some great examples of cover letter openings, you may wonder what else can you do to perfect your cover letter introduction.
Well, there are a few other key elements that a good cover letter beginning should include :
- contact information both for you and the company
- headline (optional)
- personalized greeting
To know where to put this information, just scroll down.
Find out your resume score!
This is the place for your and your company’s contact information.
Make sure that right at the top of the page you list your contact details such as:
- phone number
Optionally, you can also include:
- your professional title
- date of birth
- current date
- personal website/LinkedIn
Additionally, never forget to add company-related information . You should always include the manager’s recruiter’s name (if it was made available to you), job title department, the name of the company, and their address.
Left align all of this information. Or make it easy for yourself and choose a pre-designed cover letter template and only fill in the details.
You don’t have to include it, but it can help you grab the hiring manager’s attention.
In your cover letter headline, you can use numbers, questions, or interesting adjectives .
It can be something like “5 Ways I Can Help You Improve Your Company’s Marketing.”
Alternatively, you can just state the name of the position you’re applying for.
Salutation (or how to address a cover letter)
Try to avoid using “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam” . This form of address, while correct, has become so overused it won’t help you stand out at all.
Instead, try to research the hiring manager’s name online . Look at the job posting, and check the company’s website or LinkedIn . (Did you know that you can turn your LinkedIn profile into a great resume with just one click?)
Alternatively, you can address it to the whole team or HR.
Generally, stick to these rules:
- How to address a cover letter to a recruiter or hiring manager: The best practice is to use a personalized greeting in the following form: “Dear [first name]” or “Dear Mr./Mrs. [last name]” for formal companies.
- How to address a cover letter to multiple recipients: If you’re addressing your cover letter to the entire team or human resources, you can use “Dear [name of the company/department] Team” or “Dear Human Resources” .
- How to address a cover letter to an unknown person: If you fail to find the hiring manager’s name and don’t want to address your cover letter to an entire team or HR, use “Dear Hiring Manager” , or “Dear Recruitment Officer” .
After the salutations, you can continue with an attention-grabbing intro paragraph.
HR expert tip: Christy’s word of advice
“In general, a traditional formal cover letter is the safest bet. But there are times when you can totally throw that advice out the window and have a bit of fun putting your personality on paper! Take a look at how the company brands its ‘voice’ on its website and in the job description. Do they sound relaxed and personality-driven? Is formality anathema to them? If yes, don’t be afraid to reciprocate (while still keeping it professional). After all, you’re not just applying for a job: you’re applying to be part of the company’s culture”. — Christy Morgan, Resident HR Expert
Key takeaways: How to begin a cover letter
To sum up — the beginning of your cover letter will determine whether the hiring managers will read the rest of it or not.
If you want them to pay attention to what you have to say, make sure your cover letter opening:
- Uses a personalized greeting
- Says who you are
- Shows you’re passionate about the job or the company
- Highlights your top (and relevant) accomplishments and skills
- Mentions a mutual contact
- Reflects the company’s tone of voice
- Is tailored to a specific position and company’s needs
- Uses keywords from the job description
- Is short, nice, and direct
Of course, the rest of your cover letter is important too.
If you’d like to know what to write in the rest of your letter, check out our complete cover letter guide , get inspired by cover letter examples , or learn how to end a cover letter .
This article was recently updated. The original article was written by Nikoleta Žišková in 2021.
Kaja Jurcisinova is a fresh graduate and a junior copywriter at Kickresume. Kaja completed her undergraduate degree in Art History at the University of St Andrews in 2018 and graduated with a Master’s in Arts and Culture from the University of Groningen in 2021. She was an intern at multiple cultural institutions across Europe, including the Dutch Museum Association in Amsterdam, the Matter of Art Biennale in Prague, and the European Cultural Centre in Venice. At the moment, she resides in Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland.
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15 Cover Letter Templates to Perfect Your Next Job Application
Published: August 10, 2022
Are cover letters necessary? I'm not in HR, but I've been approached by applicants who wondered whether their cover letter would actually be read. My answer is one not many of them wanted to hear: "sometimes." Sometimes it will be read. Other times, you can get away with just sending in your resume — like when you network your way into applying for a position.
The truth is, you can't really predict on a case-by-case basis — and you're better safe than sorry. For the most part, having a cover letter will give you an upper hand in ways your resume doesn't. It allows you to show off your writing skills, provide details that you couldn't fit on your resume, demonstrate your passion, and show your willingness to put in as much time and effort as possible.
If you’ve ever rolled your eyes or balked at an application that required a cover letter, this guide is for you. We’ll go over how to write a cover letter and provide cover letter templates to help you perfect your own.
An application letter is a written document addressed to an employer by a job applicant, explaining why they're interested in and qualified for an open position. More commonly known as a cover letter, this document can come in the form of an email, MS Word document, or similar application template offered by the employer.
Seems fairly basic, right? Cover letters can hold different levels of importance to an employer depending on the industry you're in and the job you're applying for. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 49% of recruiters say sendign a cover letter along with your resume boosts your chance of landing the role.
If you do plan to write a cover letter, keep in mind there are certain qualities it should have that are not included in the definition above.
5 Free Cover Letter Templates
Five fill-in-the-blank cover letter templates to help you impress recruiters.
- Standard Cover Letter Template
- Entry-Level Cover Letter Template
- Data-Driven Cover Letter Template
You're all set!
Click this link to access this resource at any time.
What to Include in a Cover Letter
So, what should you include? We'll let the 11 templates below this list do most of the talking. No matter which one you download, pay attention to the following elements — all of which should shine through in the letter you send to your future manager.
Fill out this form to access your templates.
1. contact information.
Cover letters shouldn't just carry your contact information, but also that of the company to which you're applying. Contact info includes your phone number, email address, and any social media accounts you're willing to share and receive connections to.
Home addresses aren't required, but they can be a helpful reassurance to the employer that you already live nearby and would have no trouble coming into the office.
Avoid offering phone numbers, email addresses, or actual addresses that belong to your current employer. Using your personal Gmail address over your work email, for example, ensures your correspondence with recruiters remains separate from all of your current work communication.
2. A Personal Address Line
For as often as you see "to whom it may concern" at the top of cover letters today, do your best to avoid writing this exhausted line.
Address lines that specify a person or company grab your reader's attention much more quickly, and show the employer that you've taken the time to tailor your application letter to them. Don't have the name of the hiring manager? "Employers at [company name]" will do just fine.
A "hook" is a clever introduction that "hooks" your reader into wanting to learn more. Think about yourself as a job candidate — what makes you unique? What about your career might a recruiter be intrigued by that you can package into an interesting first sentence?
4. Why You're Qualified
It's a no-brainer that you should summarize your professional experience in your cover letter. However, today's best applications describe why this experience qualifies the applicant for the job they're applying for. For example, don't just state that you spent three years writing for a company blog. Explain that this type of work lends itself to managing your new potential employer's content calendar every week.
5. General Knowledge of the Business
Grammatical errors could mean your application is thrown in the trash, but that's not the only thing that could get your letter tossed aside. Using a generic "one-size-fits-all" cover letter — especially if you forget to change the name of the company — will also hurt your chances of landing an interview.
So, if you take the time to write a cover letter, take the time to comment on the business itself. Why are you applying to this company? What about their business stuck out to you as a professional?
Now, let's take a look at an example cover letter , what makes it effective, along with 11 templates you can download or draw inspiration from.
Cover Letter Example
The example above illustrates how to write a marketing cover letter using the elements we listed.
Besides the contact information and the address line, the first few paragraphs explain why the candidate is qualified for the position. This example uses specific data to show why they would be a good fit.
Additionally, in the second to last paragraph, the candidate discusses why they're interested in the specific company, demonstrating general knowledge of the business.
By combining all the elements to a cover letter, this is a great example to use for inspiration.
Featured Resource: 5 Professional Cover Letter Templates
14 Free Cover Letter Templates for Your Next Job Application
Template 1: basic.
The example above is a basic (but great) cover letter. The numbered sections are explained in more detail below.
The level of formality your header has will depend on the company to which you apply. If you're applying to a formal business, it's important to use a formal header to open your cover letter, like in the sample above. Put your address, the date, and the company's address. But if you're applying to a company that isn't as formal, you don't need to include yours and the company's addresses. You can still include the date, though.
Using "To Whom It May Concern" is okay, but you may want to take the time to research the name of the recruiter or hiring manager online. If you do your research and aren't confident you found the right name, then you should definitely use the generic greeting — but if you are sure, then it shows you put in the effort to find their name and it will catch the recruiter's eye.
If you have the recruiter's name, do you greet them by their full name, or by their courtesy title (i.e. Mr., Ms., or Mrs.)? Similar to the header, it depends on the company's level of formality. If you're applying to a corporate business, you may want to consider using "Mr. Snaper" instead of "Jon Snaper." If you're applying to a start-up or a business with a more casual culture, you can use "Jon Snaper," as shown in the example.
Your opening paragraph should, in 1-3 sentences, state why you're excited to apply and what makes you the perfect candidate. Get right to the point, and don't worry about explaining where you found the posting or who you know at the company. This isn't a place to go into detail about why you're a great candidate — that's for the second paragraph. Here, simply list a few key reasons in one sentence to set up the rest of your letter. Keep in mind that the recruiter may cross-reference your cover letter with your resume, so make sure the two sync up.
4. Paragraph 2: Why You're a Great Fit for the Job
Next, sell yourself and your experience by choosing one or two concrete examples that show why you're a great fit for the position. What did you do at a previous company that gave you relevant experience? Which projects have you worked on that would benefit the new company? How will your prior experience help this company grow? Stay humble in your explanation of credentials while still showing that you would be an asset to the team. Use this paragraph to show you're genuinely excited and interested in the position.
5. Third Paragraph: Why the Company Is a Great Fit for You
While it's certainly important you're a good fit for the job, it's also important that the company is a good fit for you. "A cover letter typically describes why you're great for a company — but how will you benefit from getting hired?" asks former HubSpot Team Development Manager Emily MacIntyre . "We want to know why our company appeals to you, and how it will be a mutually beneficial working relationship."
In the third paragraph, show you're serious about growing and developing your career at this new company. What impresses and excites you about the company? Is there something that you feel strongly about that aligns with the company's goals? For example, the candidate in the sample letter used this space to show his personal commitment to environmental causes aligns with the company's green initiatives.
6. Strong Closer and Signature
Don't get lazy in the final few sentences of your cover letter — it's important to finish strong. Be straightforward about your interest and enthusiasm about the new position, and tell them you're available to talk about the opportunity at any time. Be sure to include your phone number and email address. At this point, the ball is (rightly) in the recruiter's court to decide how to follow up.
Last but certainly not least, thank them for their time and consideration. Use a formal sign-off like "Best," "All the best," or "Sincerely," and finish by typing out your full name. You don't need to sign it with a pen.
Template 2: Data-Driven Marketing Cover Letter
Get it here..
When applying to a data-driven position, it might be tempting to inject your cover letter with, well, the data to describe what you've done for other employers. But in an application letter — particularly for the marketing industry — how you convey this data is just as important as the data itself.
The cover letter template above, which we created here at HubSpot, can help you present the data that's most important to you as a candidate such that it'll matter to your future employer.
Notice the three bullet points near the center of the letter above, preceded by the statement: "... I've developed a strategy that has helped the company achieve ..." This setup is important, because while you can add as many statistics as you want to this template, your data points should describe how your current/former business benefited from your work, rather than how you, yourself, benefited.
Template 3: Straight-to-the-Point Cover Letter
Harvard Business Review contributor David Silverman hailed the above cover letter example as "The Best Cover Letter I Ever Received." For context, Silverman believes there are only a handful of times when writing a cover letter is actually necessary:
- When you know the name of the hiring manager.
- When you know something about what the job requires.
- When you've been referred to the job personally.
Under those three circumstances, a straight-to-the-point cover letter like the one above could be your best bet. Because it's so concise, however, make a point to add your own letterhead above the message itself. It might be easy for a recruiter to sift through a short and sweet cover letter like the one above, but it's just as easy for it to get lost in the shuffle of their application list without a unique design or format.
Template 4: Referral Cover Letter
Just because a friend or colleague recommended you for a job doesn't mean the company is all set to hire you. Therefore, the cover letter template above is written specifically for referrals. We made this one here at HubSpot. Download it here (it comes with four other cover letter templates , too).
As you can see in the picture above, the first paragraph of the cover letter is dedicated entirely to acknowledging the circumstances of your applying: You know someone who works there — no harm in that. But there might be harm in not mentioning it to the hiring manager. Telling the reader about your connection at the company shows you're aware and confident of the actions you take to get the opportunities you're interested in.
Ultimately, it's better than the recruiter hearing about your employee connection from somebody else.
As for the rest of the cover letter, treat your message the same way you would if you had applied with no connection from within. Your skills and successes are no less important because of your internal referral.
Template 5: Photo Letterhead Cover Letter
The cover letter template above was designed by Microsoft Office, and as comprehensive as it looks, it's completely free to download and modify.
As it looks right now, this cover letter contains about half photo, half text. Feel free to shrink (and change) the image to give yourself more room to tell your story. Of course, a nice washed-out image that expresses who you are can be part of that story ...
Template 6: Digital Creative Cover Letter
This sixth template is perfect for the applicant who wants to emphasize the many different digital channels they areon. This template goes well with a resume of the same format.
As you personalize this letter with your own experience, make note of the social networks and industry software included in this template. You'll see there’s additional space along the top to add your LinkedIn and personal website to fill with your own information.
You can improve upon this template by formatting your most important highlights and accomplishments with bullet points. This will make the document easier to read for the hiring manager and emphasizes the value you provide.
Template 7: Marketing Manager Cover Letter
Our seventh cover letter comes from Monster.com. This cover letter, shown above, is focused specifically on a marketing role.
Notice how the writer includes references to important marketing metrics and terminology. If you're applying to a data-driven role, you might not want to fill the page with a story of your experience in paragraph form, like Template 1 does at the beginning of this article. Instead, consider highlighting three (or four, or five) of your successes that you believe the hiring manager would resonate most with, in bulleted form.
As a marketing professional, breaking up your letter with bulleted details like the ones above shows a respect for the hiring manager's limited time — a mentality that all marketers must understand when communicating with a brand's audience.
Template 8: Career Day Follow-Up Cover Letter
This is a unique kind of cover letter from Princeton University.
LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Monster, and Indeed might take the lion's share of your job searches online, but still some employment opportunities come out of a trade show, job fair, or similar networking event. For those occurrences, you have the follow-up cover letter template above.
This cover letter has everything you need to help an employer recall a conversation you had with him/her at a career fair. As you can see in the second paragraph, the letter is particularly useful to people who are about to graduate college.
Template 9: Logo and Watermarked Cover Letter
Here's another cover letter template from Microsoft Office. This one has a light touch of color in the design just above the letterhead, but make no mistake — the template caters to any professional looking to make a good first impression on their future employer.
Don't let the logo space on the top-right of the page confuse you. This can be the logo of the company to which you're applying — to quickly get the attention of the recruiter — or your own logo. Perhaps you freelance on the side or simply like branding yourself. This cover letter template is meant for customization.
Template 10: Data Scientist Cover Letter
This is our second template from Princeton University. While this is focused on a data scientist role, it is an excellent template to use for students applying to jobs prior to graduation.
The text emphasizes how the applicant’s academic research and projects makes them an ideal candidate for the position. The format is also simple enough to submit as a pdf, as text in an email message or an application text box.
Template 11: Business Cover Letter
The cover letter template above is perfect for entry- and mid-level marketers who want to show a little extra professionalism in their opening note to a potential employer.
The multi-colored header (you can change the color if you wish) shows just the right amount of creativity and can go quite well with a resume of the same style. If you don't have enough experience to fill the entire page, don't worry. Feel free to write to a length you think is representative of who you are and what the hiring manager wants to see.
No matter how long your final cover letter is, the above template is your opportunity to show your attention to detail — from your contact information in the top header, to the personalized address line where you can include the name of the hiring manager. Like we said, "to whom it may concern" is pretty outdated, anyway.
Template 12: Entry-Level Cover Letter
The cover letter template above, written by HubSpot, is specifically designed for entry-level applicants.
When you only have a few years experience, it's important to display how you gained your skills and what you learned from your education or internships. Additionally, it's important to mention why you want to work at the company you're applying to.
No matter your experience, the template above will help you decide what skills you want to highlight and flesh out in your cover letter.
You can download it here (it comes with four other cover letter templates , too).
Template 13: Healthcare Cover Letter
Additionally, phrases like "I'd love to put my skills to work for your clinic" and "Please contact me at your convenience and let me know how I can help you" focus on what the business will gain as a result of hiring the applicant, rather than what the applicant is looking to gain.
Template 14: Freelance Cover Letter
If you're looking for freelance work, your biggest goal is to get your strengths across quickly, so busy clients won't pass by your cover letter entirely. Additionally, if you're sending out multiple cover letters to different clients, you'll want to target each one to that client's unique goals.
For instance, if one client is looking for SEO-optimized content related to marketing, you'll want to highlight past experience writing marketing content; this will change if, for instance, the client is looking for fitness content.
For this reason, it's a good idea to structure your cover letter so you start with a) past credentials or references, and b) bullet-point information related to the client's goal, as shown in the cover letter above.
Template 15: Director Cover Letter
In the cover letter above, the candidate does a good job outlining how she succeeded in a leadership role previously: "For the past five years, I have successfully developed and maintained all data systems, including schedules and records for a business employing more than 100 people."
You'll want to demonstrate how your skills align with a Director position — both through organization and leadership — and, when possible, where you received recognition for your hard work (i.e. "I earned an award for Most Valuable Administrative Staff Member").
Write a Winning Cover Letter
Writing a cover letter is easier said than done. Don't hesitate to spend a lot of time writing and editing it. Or, ask a friend or family member to read it over and give you feedback. If the recruiter does end up reading it, you'll be thankful you did.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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What do I include in my introduction?
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"Writing Your Cover Letter" is a series of short documents that walks you through the creation of a cover letter. Here you can see the information in the "Quick Tips for Cover Letters" and "Preparing to Write a Cover Letter" pages put to use. This page guides you through adapting your experiences to the content in your cover letter and its different sections.
The introduction of your cover letter should begin with a greeting to a specific person ("Dear Ms. Kincaid"), followed by a statement of who you are and why you are writing (why you are a good candidate).
How to catch the attention of the reader.
As the purpose of your introduction is to catch the reader's attention and make you stand out, you need to be as specific as possible in this section. Here are some tips on how to start your introduction:
- State the university you attend, your major, and what position you are applying for (if you are a student).
- Mention where you heard about the job.
- Mention the name of a professor or other contact who has a positive connection with the company.
- Bring up any previous conversations you have had with your reader (i.e., at a job fair).
How to make a strong claim for yourself.
After gaining the initial attention of the reader, you must make a strong claim about your candidacy and that you match the needs of the job and the company. Clearly state two-three qualifications you have that match the company/position. These qualifications will then be the focus of your body paragraphs and arguments. Some examples: