Smart tips to help you format and write a cover letter
Struggling to write a cover letter that will catch an employer's attention? We've got tips to help you show your best self—and a sample you can use to get started.
There's nothing scary about writing a cover letter.
You've found the perfect job, hit the "apply" button, and started the process with your engines revved and ready. But wait! Slam the brakes! They want a cover letter. Oh no.
Don't let this request derail you. Here's everything you need to know to write a letter that truly sells your skills. Plus, scroll down to see a sample cover letter you can use to craft your own.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a one-page document that, along with your resume, is sent with your job application. A cover letter is your chance to tell a potential employer why you’re the perfect person for the position and how your skills and expertise can add value to the company. The letter should be professional but personable, and serve as a sort of introduction.
Do I need to send a cover letter?
A lot of job seekers today wonder if a cover letter is still appropriate to send with your resume—and the answer is yes! Even if an employer doesn’t ask for a cover letter, it couldn’t hurt to send one. In fact, it’s can help you get someone's attention in a different way, and it can be a great way to display your enthusiasm for the job and company.
What are the basic elements of a cover letter?
- Greeting: Address your cover letter to the proper person.
- Opening: Write a personable, inviting opening paragraph that notes how your skills are a perfect fit to the job and displays your enthusiasm.
- Hook: Highlight your past achievements as they relate to the job you're applying for.
- Skills: Emphasize additional relevant skills, such as computer languages or certifications.
- Close: Briefly recap your strengths as a candidate, and include your contact information.
Cover letter tips
1. Parrot the keywords: Just like with your resume, your cover letters should be customized for each job you apply to. Start by reviewing the job description. In it, you will find important keywords that let you know what kind of employee the company is hoping to find. Use these same keywords throughout your cover letter.
2. Adapt for the company: Each version of your cover letter should talk about how your skills will benefit the particular company that you want to work for. You want to target the company’s needs—not your own. Demonstrate how you could help them achieve their goals. Remember: You're selling yourself in a resume and a cover letter, but the employer has to want to buy.
3. Show you "get" them: Your cover letter should demonstrate that you have done some research into what the organization's pain points are. Presenting yourself as a solution to a hiring manager’s problem can help your cover letter take the right tone. If you’re applying to an administrative position, be sure to mention your time-management skills; if you’re an IT professional, include your expertise in improving efficiency. Always ask yourself: How can I help this company?
4. Proofread. Don’t assume spell check will catch every mistake (it won’t). Slowly review your cover letter to make sure everything reads properly. Have someone else read your cover letter for backup.
Need even more confidence before you start your cover letter? Below are some additional cover letter tips you could reference—or keep scrolling for a cover letter sample:
Cover letter mistakes you should avoid: From overusing “I” to being too vague, there are a bunch of pitfalls that can trip you up. Don’t let them!
Cover letter format and advice tips: Learn how to set up your cover letter and what each section should include.
Cover letter tips for new grads: You might lack real-world work experience, but your cover letter can be chock-full of activities that demonstrate your potential to succeed.
Cover letter tips for technology professionals: The ease of applying to online jobs has led many IT professionals to skip sending a cover letter, but that’s a mistake.
Cover letter tips for finance professionals: If you’re searching for a finance job or want to be prepared just in case, you will need a dynamic cover letter to grab the hiring managers’ attention.
Tips for better email cover letters: If you're emailing a resume, your cover letter will deliver the first impression. These eight tips will help you craft a better email cover letter.
Cover letter sample
Check out the sample cover letter below (or download the template as a Word doc) to get some inspiration to craft your own. And we've also got you covered if you're looking for a cover letter in a specific industry.
Once you've finished your cover letter, consider joining Monster—you can upload and store up to five cover letters and resumes, so that you can apply for jobs on our site in a snap!
Ms. Rhonda West
Customer Service Manager
123 Corporate Blvd.
Sometown, CO 50802
Re: Customer Service Representative Opening (Ref. ID: CS300-Denver)
Dear Ms. West:
I was excited to see your opening for a customer service rep, and I hope to be invited for an interview.
My background includes serving as a customer service associate within both call-center and retail environments. Most recently, I worked on the customer service desk for Discount-Mart, where my responsibilities included handling customer merchandise returns, issuing refunds/store credits, flagging damaged merchandise for shipment back to vendors and providing back-up cashiering during busy periods.
Previously, I worked within two high-volume customer-support call centers for a major telecommunications carrier and a satellite television services provider. In these positions, I demonstrated the ability to resolve a variety of issues and complaints (such as billing disputes, service interruptions or cutoffs, repair technician delays/no-shows and equipment malfunctions). I consistently met my call-volume goals, handling an average of 56 to 60 calls per day.
In addition to this experience, I gained considerable customer service skills during my part-time employment as a waitress and restaurant hostess while in high school.
I also bring to the table strong computer proficiencies in MS Word, MS Excel and CRM database applications and a year of college (business major). Please see the accompanying resume for details of my experience and education.
I am confident that I can offer you the customer service, communication and problem-solving skills you are seeking. Feel free to call me at 555-555-5555 (home) or 555-555-5500 (cell) to arrange an interview. Thank you for your time—I look forward to learning more about this opportunity!
A covering letter is essentially an advert for your CV.
As it will most likely be read before your CV, it should be convincing and at a glance it must grab the reader’s attention enough to encourage them to read any attached Curriculum Vitae. They should be seen by jobseekers as an excellent opportunity to communicate directly to the recruiter and a useful way to demonstrate their suitability for a job.
Need help writing a cover letter?
If so then you’ve come to the right place. On this page you will find a list of cover letter examples that are free for jobseekers to download, print and use to write their very own professional one. You are advised not to simply copy these examples word for word, but to instead use them to gain ideas and inspiration from. The wording in these examples should be modified so that it fits your very own personal circumstances, and is targeted at the job you are applying for.
What is a cover letter
This is a simple, concise and formal letter that you send with your CV when applying for a job. It can help your CV to get noticed, is vital in creating a good first impression and can be a key factor in getting you invited to a job interview.
Its aim is to build on the information you provide in your resume, and it must make sufficient impact on the reader to make them want to know more about you. It is a socially acceptable way of introducing yourself and explaining which vacancy you're applying for or which area you are enquiring about.
It gives a personal touch to your job application which your CV cannot do, and is an ideal opportunity to match your skills and experience to those on the job specification. In essence a cover letter gives you the chance to express all those things that do not comfortably fit into a CV's rigid structure. Therefore it should express a high level of interest and knowledge about the position, and be used to promote you as a person, your achievements and your personal qualities.
Apart from demonstrating your communication skills and thereby setting you apart from other applicants, they can be used to;
- Highlight information that is not given in your CV.
- Convince the employer of your enthusiasm.
- Explain special circumstances as to why you are suitable for the role.
- Give details of when you are available for interview.
- Reaffirm your Unique Selling Point.
- Explain any anomalies, like career gaps in your CV and application.
- Tell an employer when you are available to start work.
- Compliment a potential employer on their brand or reputation.
- Perhaps they have launched a new product or service that has greatly impressed you.
With all of these points in mind, we have listed below tips that you should follow if you want to increase your chances of receiving more interview invitations.
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I come to you as a well qualified professional who is continually in the pursuit of excellence. I am applying for this position because I relish the challenge and the privilege of being part of an academic team whose holistic, person centred approach supports a ...
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I have extensive experience of managing a large design team, and possess the ability to motivate, inspire and steer them in the right direction. You can be assured that anything I get my staff to design will meet set costs, deadlines and ...
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Your role has a definite correlation with my ability to ensure that the right products are delivered to the right location at the right time. You will be able to see from my attached CV that I am someone who can effectively manage distribution departments costs and performance over both ...
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I possess extensive experience gained within the motor industry, along with a good knowledge of vehicle layout, function and the location of parts. I am someone who can quickly establish a customers’ needs for required parts through conversations, diagnosis and ...
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Ecologist cover letter example - 13 June 2017
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I come to you as someone who can ensure the safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic, both on the ground and flying in the vicinity of an airport. You can rely on me for the smooth and efficient running of a control room, and for providing an excellent level of service to pilots, work colleagues and ...
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PROFESSIONALLY DESIGNED COVER LETTER EXAMPLES
Click on the images below to see the full PDF version. In the near future we are hoping to upload many more superb designs, so check back regularly.
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|Customer Service Cover Letter||Customer Services Advisor Cover Letter|
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FREE FULLY EDITABLE & DOWNLOADABLE MS WORD COVER LETTER TEMPLATES
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Other employment letter templates
Cover letter template
Another example of what to put in a covering letter and where.
How to write a cover letter
Advice and guidance on writing professional cover letters to go with any CV or job applications you make.
Job application cover letter
A covering letter example that demonstrates how you can show your understanding of the job and also highlight your relevant skills and abilities.
Job acceptance letter examples
Even if you have been offered a job over the phone, it is advisable to confirm your acceptance of it and the employment terms and conditions by letter. By sending in a professionally written letter you will also reassure the employer that they have made the right decision.
Job acceptance letter example 1
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Inquiry letter samples
These are letters used for speculative approaches to employers enquiring if they have any vacancies.
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Resignation letter examples
Below are links to sample resignation letters that you can use to advise your employer that you are leaving your job.
Resignation letter (main page with a lot of advice on how to formally resign from a job and write a letter of resignation).
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Resignation letter sample formally announcing your decision to resign.
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Thank you letter samples
After attending a job interview it is good practice to promptly send in a thank you letter to the person who interviewed you. Try to send the letter within 24 hours of your initial interview.
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HOW TO WRITE A COVER LETTER
The opening paragraph
This should be positive, formal, short and attention grabbing, clearly explaining why you are writing to them and informing them that your CV is attached. Try to avoid the same old tired opening lines, and instead go for something that grabs the reader’s attention. Effective ways to do this include name dropping, connecting to a common experience, or revealing some in-depth knowledge about the company. To summarise, key points to mention in the first paragraph are;
- The position you are applying for.
- Where you saw it advertised, or how you came to find out about it.
- Your present job title.
Here are examples of some conservative opening sentences you could use;
‘I read with interest of your organisation's plan to (.......)’.
‘I would like to be considered for the position of (..........)’.
‘I was very interested to read your advertisement for (.........)'.
‘Further to your advertisement in (........), I should like to apply for (.........).’
‘With reference to your vacancy for a (.........).‘
‘Please find enclosed my application for the vacancy of (..........).‘
‘I am writing to you regarding the (...........) placement that was recently advertised, and would be most grateful if you would consider my application for this position’.
The second paragraph
This will form the main part of your letter and it’s the bit where you can really sell yourself. Focus on showing a recruiter how much they can benefit from your contributions to their company, and also mention how you relate to the companies values and aspirations. Explain what you can offer them, try to make sure that it is not just a list of what is in your CV but is individualised to the job application. A good way to complete this section is take the essential criteria from the personal specification given with the job advert, and then explaining how you full fill each one. Respond directly to the job advert / description by illustrating how your skills and abilities match what the employer wants. Concentrate on;
- Briefly describe your professional and academic qualifications that are relevant to the position.
- Key skills and experiences.
- If you’ve just graduated, focus more on the level of education you’ve achieved and your future potential as a productive employee.
- If you are changing careers then focus on your transferable skills.
- How it fits in with your career plans, for example if you are applying for Sales positions do not say that you want to to become an airline pilot.
The third paragraph
In this section specifically indicate why you are interested in the position by telling them what you are impressed with and what attracts you to them. When explaining why you want to work for them, here are some possible reasons you could give;
- The company’s reputation and brand.
- How the company is different from its competitors.
- List values that the company has and which you hold in high regard.
- How they are a exciting and forward thinking company.
- Detail how you see your career progressing if you were to get this role.
- Subtly flatter the company, for example 'you are the industry leader'.
The end / Conclusion
Always end your cover letter on a high note. Conclude it by thanking them for their time and stating your anticipation of their response. At the end you should also request action, like asking for a interview or inviting them to contact you. If you are really keen on the position, then consider adding a line saying that you’ll give them a call to see how your application is progressing. Other points to mention include;
- Giving details of certain dates you are available for a interview.
- When you are available for work.
- That you are happy to provide any further information they need.
- Indicate your desire for a personal interview and that you're able to meet with the employer are their convenience.
Avoid finishing it off with the usual ‘I look forward to hearing from you’, instead opt for something like;
‘I look forward to discussing my candidacy and the position with you further.’
At this stage and by the time you have finished your letter you will probably discover that you’ve written a great deal more than can fit onto the page, meaning you will have to refine and reduce the words you’ve written. It’s at this juncture that you have to start proof reading and revising your work, with a view to cutting out any unnecessary sentences.
Signing off a cover letter
Remember to sign it off, this may seem old fashioned in this digital age but it's still a strong signal of your authenticity. If you address a letter to a specific person then you should sign it off as ‘Yours sincerely’. Whereas letters addressed to ‘Sir / Madam’ should be signed off as 'Yours Faithfully'. Add a few blank lines and finish with your name. The space between is used for your signature once printed.
Addressing a cover letter
Always try to address the letter to a specific person, preferably the decision maker, hiring manager or individual who has advertised the job. The last thing you want is for your letter to go to the wrong person (in which case it will probably be binned as no one likes receiving unsolicited mail), or to simply get lost within a company’s Human Resources department.
Remember that if no-one’s name is given, your letter and CV could end up in a large pile being vetted by a junior administrator or recruiter who may not have a full understanding of the job, the department, or the role, making them the worst people to assess your application. If you really want to make sure your application is received you should even consider sending two letters, one to the hiring manager and one to the administrator or recruiter.
- Addressing the letter to a specific person can make them feel special.
- You are more likely to receive a reply if you address your letter to a specific person.
- Avoid addressing the letter as simply ‘Dear Sir / Madam’ etc.
If you are applying for an advertised vacancy there is probably a contact name on that advert, and so address your letter to that person. If a name is provided than address the recipient by their surname and never their first name, for instance ‘Dear Mr Johnson’, and never something like ‘Dear Chris’. Addressing a letter in the correct way shows a professional attitude, and promotes you as someone who is more likely to be able to handle themselves properly if they need to represent the company on business.
What if the job advert does not have a contact name
In these cases it may be worthwhile calling the company or visiting the company’s website and seeing if you can either track down the name of a relevant recipient or the person in charge of recruitment.
Tailor the letter for each application you make
Customize the cover letter to suit the position and the company, and avoid using the scatter gun approach of sending the same letter to every job you apply for. It is always best to write individual letters for each application you make. Take time to think through what would be relevant to the recruiter. Instead of scattering lots of information in the hope that one piece would be relevant, highlight a few key relevant points. This may be time consuming and hard work, but your chances of success will be much greater.
Key points to mention in a cover letter
- How you can be contacted.
- The job you are applying for.
- Where you saw the job advertised and also the date.
- Mention how you relate to the companies values and aspirations (i.e. your ‘soft skills’).
- Compliment the company on its reputation and client focus etc.
- Mention any recent news stories about them.
Use industry related keywords
Focus on using terminology, action words, buzzwords and sound bites that are appropriate for the industry. These are a good way of showing you are up to speed with any current and relevant industry developments.
Refer to the job advert
A good technique when writing your letter is to keep the job advert in front of you so you can quickly refer to it. By doing this you can ensure that you stay on track and keep focused on what the employer wants from applicants.
Skills and abilities to mention
Read the job description looking for specific requirements mentioned in there, then use those actual terms mentioned in the advert to describe yourself. Here are some examples of competencies that you can mention;
- Team working
- Problem solving
Fonts and size
Always remain conservative with the typeface you use. For instance it is advisable to use Times New Roman or Arial rather than say Comic Sans. Ideally the text size should be between 11 or 12 points. Always use Black ink, never any other colours like dark blue or grey.
Make your cover letter easy on the eyes
Your letter should be easy to scan and have a logical progression. Avoid bunched up text in long paragraphs which can frustrate a Hiring Manager who has to review hundreds of resumes and cover letters a week.
Research the employer
Research the firm you are applying to, and try to incorporate your findings in your covering letter. By doing this you can impress the recruiter with your initiative and enthusiasm. They will like the fact that you have taken your own time out to investigate what their company is all about, which can go a long way towards convincing them that you have a genuine interest in their organisation. You can research stories about them though the:
- Local newspapers
- The companies own website
- Trade magazines
Your aim is to find out any current news about them, their products and also how they are placed amongst their competitors. You want to find out about their;
- Latest products and services (are they launching any new ones).
- Expansion plans (are they opening new stores or offices etc).
Research the industry and job role