The first time I ever learned about the concept of a cover letter, I distinctly remember how it was explained to me: “It’s like your resume, but longer.” The reason that moment sticks out to me so much? It’s completely wrong!
Yes, your cover letter should include some of the key skills, traits, and experience highlighted in your resume. But copying and pasting from there into your cover letter will most definitely turn recruiters off. Odds are they’ve already read your resume — why would you make them waste their time reading the same thing over again?
Cover letters are your opportunity to not only show that you have the background and knowledge needed to do the job well, but that you’re also passionate, charismatic, and well-informed. For many people, though, it’s a daunting task. With so much information to convey, where do you get started?
We’ve rounded up some of our top tips on cover letters to lay it out for you in one easy-to-follow guide. Our infographic shares a structure for you to follow, the content you need to share, and some helpful tips on style and formatting.
Take a look below, and start drafting the cover letter that will score you your dream job — happy writing!
1. Contact Info: Don’t make recruiters dig through your cover letter to find your name and contact info — include it up top so they can easily reach out.
2. Greeting: Forget “To Whom It May Concern”. If you can find it, address the recruiter/hiring manager by name.
3. Intro Paragraph:
- Relevant anecdotes, quotes, fun facts, etc. are all good ways to make your opening line stand out.
- Make it clear that you know who the company is, what they do, and what they care about.
- Mention a few roles, projects, experiences, traits, or passions that make you the ideal candidate.
- If someone at the company has referred you, this is the place to name drop them.
4. Body Paragraph(s):
- Incorporate keywords directly from the job description.
- Whenever possible, include concrete metrics that illustrate the results you’ve achieved.
5. Closing Paragraph:
Summarize, don’t plagiarize. Reaffirm your interest, passion, and qualifications from earlier in the letter, but don’t make it sound redundant.
- Cover letters should be clean and easy to read — skip the intricate designs and crazy fonts for party invitations.
- Like a resume, keep the cover letter to one page. If necessary, hyperlink your portfolio, website, or samples of your work.
- Saving your cover letter as a PDF file will ensure the formatting won’t change.
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Cover Letter Examples and Writing Tips
100+ Free Cover Letter Samples Listed By Type, Format, and Job
When applying for a job, a cover letter should be sent or posted with your resume or curriculum vitae. A cover letter is a (typically) one-page document that explains to the hiring manager why you are an ideal candidate for the job. It goes beyond your resume to explain in detail how you could add value to the company.
It can be helpful to look at cover letter samples when writing your own. A sample can help you decide what to include in your letter, and how to format the letter.
This collection of free professionally written cover letter examples will help you get started. Below you'll find both hard copy and email examples, for a variety of different types of employment inquiries and job applications including general cover letters, cold contact cover letters, referral letters, customized cover letters, job promotion letters, networking outreach letters, and letters to inquire about unadvertised openings.
Cover Letter Examples and Templates
These samples, templates, and examples of different types of cover letters will give you ideas and suggestions for your letter. Read through some samples, and then customize your own letter so it shows why you should be selected for an interview.
Cover Letter Samples
Review examples of cover letters and email cover letter messages for a variety of circumstances.
Applying for a New Job
Applying for a Transfer or Promotion
Email Cover Letter Examples
Inquiry and Networking Letters
Cover Letters With a Referral
Cover Letter Formats and Templates
Review examples of professional formats, layouts, and templates to use to apply for jobs.
Examples Listed by Type of Applicant
These cover letter samples are for candidates who are applying for a specific type or level of position.
Tips for Writing a Cover Letter
Tailor each letter to the job. It takes a little extra time, but be sure to write a unique cover letter for each job. Your cover letter should be specific to the position you are applying for, relating your skills and experiences to those noted in the job posting.
Use keywords. One useful way to tailor your letter to the job is to use keywords from the job posting. Circle any words from the job posting that seem critical to the job, such as specific skills or qualifications. Try to use some of these words in your letter. This way, at a glance, the employer can see that you match the requirements of the job.
Explain how you will add value. Think of concrete ways to prove you will add value to the company. Include examples of specific accomplishments from previous jobs. For example, if you helped reduce turnover by 10% at your last company, or implemented a filing strategy that reduced file errors by 15%, include this information. Try to quantify your successes when possible to clearly demonstrate how you could add value at the company.
Look at cover letter samples. Check out a few sample cover letters before writing your own.
Samples will give you an idea of what information to include in your cover letter, and how to format the letter. However, never simply copy and paste a sample cover letter. Change the letter to fit your specific skills and experiences, and the job you are applying for.
Edit, edit, edit. Your cover letter is your first, and best, chance to sell the hiring manager on your candidacy for employment, so make sure it's perfect. Read through your letter, proofreading it for any spelling or grammar errors. Ask a friend, family member, or career counselor to read it as well. You want to make sure the letter is polished before submitting it.
What Else You Need to Know:How to Write a Cover Letter in 5 Easy Steps