How to Write a Cover Letter
We've got writing tips and a sample you can use to get started.
Why do you need to know how to write a cover letter? Picture this: 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.
Don't let this request derail you. This article will show you how to write a cover letter by using our easy-to-follow cover letter template. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is a cover letter?
- Do I need to send a cover letter?
- What are the basic elements of a cover letter?
- How to write a cover letter
- Cover letter tips
- Cover letter sample
We know writing about yourself can be especially tricky, but in order to have a successful job search, you really do need to make a cover letter that sells your skills to a hiring manager. Scroll down to see a free cover letter that 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 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?
These five steps are the basis of how to write 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.
How to Write a Cover Letter
We’ll show you how to write a cover letter, section by section.
1. Cover Letter Header
Begin by including both your and the employer’s contact information in your header, along with the date.
Sample Cover Letter Header:
Your First and Last Name
Your City, State and Zip Code
Your Phone Number
First and Last Name of Hiring Manager
Hiring Manager’s Job Title
2. Cover Letter Greeting
The salutation is very important. If you know the hiring manager’s name, definitely use it. If not, do some research on LinkedIn or the company’s website to find it, or just address the letter to the hiring manager. Avoid the cliché “To Whom It May Concern.”
Sample Cover Letter Greetings:
- Dear Dr. Martin,
- Hello Ms. Smith,
- Dear Hiring Manager,
3. Cover Letter Opening
The hardest part of the cover letter-writing process is knowing how to start a cover letter. Your cover letter introduction needs to grab the hiring manager’s attention, so they want to keep reading.
- Begin by clearly identifying why you’re reaching out to a company and what job you’re applying for in case your cover letter is separated from your resume. Also include up front where you saw the ad for the position and who recommended you, if applicable.
- Next, compliment the organization on what they’ve done right and what you admire about them. Hiring managers want to know that you've done your homework on the company.
- And finally, explain why you’re the right fit for the job by highlighting your achievements.
Sample Cover Letter Introduction:
“I am writing to you today to apply to the Sales Representative position in your Stamford office. I’ve been a long-time fan of your ultralight camping stoves, and I admire your dedication to creating lightweight backpacking cookware that doesn’t compromise on quality. Last year, I earned $2 million in sales (exceeding my sales goal by 30%) and landed the top sales award in my company’s national organization. I live for the thrill of a good sale and am looking forward to possibly contributing my sales savvy to your company.”
4. Cover Letter Body
In the next paragraph or two, describe who you are and what makes you stand out from other applicants. Refer to the job ad for clues for how to write a cover letter for the specific position you’re applying to. Focus on the key skills and responsibilities the ad is targeting and let that guide which qualifications you highlight.
Discuss your soft skills and strengths and what you're passionate about professionally. Then, provide relevant examples of work you’ve done that matches what the company is looking for. Bullet points work well in making your accomplishments easy to read.
Sample Cover Letter Body:
“As a project coordinator at ABC Company, I was responsible for overseeing projects across all departments. Specifically, I:
- Met with key stakeholders to set project goals.
- Developed a project timeline.
- Identified, measured, and tracked key metrics.
- Anticipated and controlled for potential obstacles.
- Ensured that projects met their deadlines.
I am organized, efficient, and skilled at distilling a big idea down to a set of concrete, actionable steps. My ability to communicate with stakeholders across departments allows me unique insight into how a company functions and how to bridge gaps between teams to reach consensus and accomplish ambitious goals.”
5. Cover Letter Closing
In your closing paragraph, express your enthusiasm for the position and an interview and include a plan of action. State what the next steps will be. If you will wait for the company’s reply, tell them that. If you will be following up, tell them when they can expect to hear from you. Above all, your conclusion should be formal and appreciative.
Sample Cover Letter Conclusion:
“Thank you for your time and consideration. I would love to set up a time to talk about how my hiring, recruiting, and retention strategies will help your company to drive DEI. I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon. You can reach me on my cell phone at (555) 555-5555 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
6. Cover Letter Signature
End your cover letter with a formal closing.
Common Cover Letter Signoffs:
- Thank you,
- All Best,
- Kind regards,
Cover Letter Tips
Almost ready to get started? Here are some quick do’s and don’ts for how to write a cover letter.
How to Write a Cover Letter: Do’s
- Add Cover Letter Keywords: Just like with your resume, your cover letters should be customized for each job you apply to. Use these tips to create a cover letter template, and then fill in the specific details for each position. 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
How to Write a Cover Letter: Don’ts
- Don't repeat yourself: Don't regurgitate everything that's in your resume—offer deeper insights into what your resume doesn’t say. Provide an in-depth explanation of some of your key achievements at your last job, for instance, and how those accomplishments could help the company. Or tell a story about a tough problem you solved.
- Check your ego: While you certainly want to appear competent, arrogance can turn a recruiter off, so don’t say, "Throw away all those other resumes—I'm your guy!" Show enthusiasm and a positive attitude, but don't overdo it.
- Avoid form letters: The point of a cover letter is to make a personal connection with the reader. Tailor your letter specifically to each company you send it to. Plus, recruiters can see form cover letters from a mile away.
Read More Cover Letter Tips
Need even more confidence before you start your cover letter? Below are some additional tips for how to write a cover letter 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.
How to Write a Cover Letter With No Experience: 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 cover letter template as a Word doc) to get some inspiration to show you how to write a cover letter for your particular situation.
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!
Cover Letter Examples
Want to see more cover letter examples? We’ve got you covered if you're looking for a cover letter in a specific industry. Or, take a look at some of our most popular cover letters below:
- Nursing Cover Letter
- Teaching Cover Letter
- Customer Service Cover Letter
- Medical Assistant Cover Letter
- Administrative Assistant Cover Letter
How's That Resume Looking?
Now that you know how to write a cover letter, you'll want to make sure your resume is just as impressive. Ready to get started? Get a free resume assessment from Monster to double-check that your application is as strong as possible. We'll give your resume a professional overview and tell you where you need to make some improvements. It's quick and easy, and your career will thank you.