What is a cover letter for a job?
Before we dive into the details of writing one, here’s a quick definition of a cover letter:
A cover letter is an application document you pair with your resume that explains why you want a particular job, and why you think you’re the right person for that job.
And here’s what a cover letter looks like in 2022:
[Mr./Mrs./Mx.] [Hiring Manager’s Name]
[Company Street Address]
[Hiring Manager’s Email]
Dear [Mr./Mrs./Mx.] [Hiring Manager’s Name],
I was excited to see your listing for the Lead Digital Marketing position at Westward Strategies on Indeed.com recently. As a dynamic email marketing specialist with over two years of professional experience executing market research, analyzing consumer data, and running A/B testing in order to drive successful marketing campaigns, I’m confident that I would be a valuable asset to the team at [Company Name].
Your job listing mentions a need for someone experienced in email segmentation and campaign development, both of which happen to be areas I have extensive experience in. I’m currently employed at Formosa Inc., where I’ve honed my skills by running numerous highly successful email marketing campaigns. While employed here, I spearheaded a digital promotion campaign for the company’s new line of sandals that successfully raised our total online engagement by an impressive 13% over the course of six months, contributing substantially to the department’s annual goals.
I’m confident that my proven track record of excellent work ethic, unparalleled attention to detail, and knack for executing high-performing email marketing campaigns will make me an immediate asset at Westward Strategies, and allow me to contribute to the team’s success.
I look forward to discussing the Lead Digital Marketing position and my qualifications with you in more detail. I’m available to talk at your soonest convenience. I’ll be in touch next week to follow up, just to make sure you’ve received my application. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
To maximize your chances of getting an interview, you need to write a cover letter that makes a strong positive first impression on employers (if you don’t have time to write one, you can also make a cover letter using online tools).
If you’re writing a cover letter with no job experience, you can watch the video below to get started. Or keep scrolling to learn everything you need to know about how to write a standout cover letter that gets you hired regardless of your level of experience.
This is a breakdown of how a cover letter is structured, followed by step-by-step instructions for making your own:
1. List your contact details
Underneath your name in your cover letter header, list the following contact information:
- Email address
- Phone number
If you want to, you can also include your:
- Mailing address
- Linkedin profile link
- Portfolio or website
2. Address the hiring manager by name
After your header, include the date and the company contact information in this format:
Name or job title of the person or team you’re writing to
Company’s street address
Company’s phone number
Hiring manager’s email address
Next, address your cover letter to the hiring manager — by name if possible.
A standard cover letter salutation includes the hiring manager’s last name, and begins with “Mr.”, “Ms.”, or another relevant professional title.
If you don’t see the hiring manager’s name listed in the job ad, don’t worry. You can easily find out who to address your cover letter to like this:
- Search the company on LinkedIn and click on “People”
- Explore the company’s website (specifically their “About Us” or “Team” page)
- As a last resort, contact their human resources department and ask
However, if you can’t find the hiring manager’s name, using their job title or something like Dear [Department Name] Director is okay.
Here are some example cover letter greetings:
- Dear Jane Smith
- Dear Ms. Smith
- Dear Accounting Department
- Dear [Company Name] Recruiter
3. Write an attention-grabbing opening paragraph
Start your cover letter with an informative, direct introduction by including the following details in the first one or two sentences.
First, list the position and organization you’re applying for, where you found the position, and why you’re excited about the opportunity. Check out this example:
You can make your introduction even more attention-grabbing by adding some personality and passion, or by including a career highlight. Click to see a sample cover letter for a job application highlighting the jobseeker’s passion for the role.
As a teenager, I would give my friends perms, blow-dries, and new updos because of my passion for haircare. Today, if anything, I’m even more passionate about hair care, which is why I’m applying for the open Stylist role at Grateful Dreads.
Don’t be afraid to let some of who you are as a person shine through in your cover letter.
Just be sure to strike the right tone for your industry or field. For instance, if you’re applying for a job in law or finance, keep your writing formal.
If you received a referral to the job by a current employee, your cover letter introduction is the ideal place to mention their name and your connection to them. This is a great way to quickly win over a hiring manager.
Your Personal Trainer, Augusta Maine, informed me about your open Executive Diary Secretary role and encouraged me to apply.
4. Explain why you’re qualified for the job
Your second and third paragraphs should convince employers that you’re the right person for the job. Use these paragraphs to best market yourself by discussing your relevant work experience, skills, and achievements.
Some things to include in your cover letter that highlight your value to employers include achievements, awards, and expertise. Here’s how you can add these elements:
If you’ve received compliments from management or colleagues for your work, you can add them to your cover letter:
The managing partner of the law firm, Olympia Washington — one of my references — informed me that without my research skills, we probably wouldn’t have been able to guarantee such a good result for our clients in a class-action suit against an eldercare facility that had been overcharging its residents.
5. Relate your experience to the company’s needs
Begin to close your cover letter by restating your interest in the job and explaining how your experience fits into the needs of the company.
For example, if you’re applying to work at a company that’s seeking to break into a new market that you have experience in, you should highlight this experience in your writing.
I noticed in The San Antonio Express-News that you’re expanding Los Pollos Sobrinos into neighboring New Mexico. As a supervisor at Big Kahuna Burger, I’ve onboarded 20+ new employees, and I’m sure I could help you rapidly grow and train your team.
If you’re not sure what the goals or needs of the company are, find out by doing some research online. Take note of the products or services they offer, what their work culture is like, and if they have any future goals.
The job ad is also an excellent place to find out what the company is seeking.
6. Finish with a concise closing paragraph and sign-off
When writing a cover letter closing, be polite, confident, and continue to market yourself as the best candidate for the job. Here’s how to write a convincing final paragraph for your cover letter.
First, restate your excitement about the job opportunity, then ask the hiring manager to interview you (describing when you’re available), and thank them for their time:
Finally, wrap up your cover letter with a professional closing salutation. The standard closing is “Sincerely” but here are some more options:
- Best wishes,
- Kind regards,
- Best regards,
- Yours truly,
Then, make two spaces below the salutation, and type your full name.
7. Check your cover letter’s content and formatting
Before you send off your newly written cover letter, you should review it. Here are a few things to consider when reviewing your cover letter:
Double-check your cover letter formatting
A professional cover letter is normally:
- 200–350 words
- US Letter (USA) or A4 (elsewhere) page size
It should be typed with a standard cover letter font like Arial or Calibri. The font size should be between 10.5 and 12 points (make sure it’s readable).
Additionally, your cover letter margins should be between 1″ and .5″ on each side to ensure your letter is easy to read.
The content should be left-aligned except for your contact details, which can be centered.
Your cover letter’s format won’t win you the job, but it can make you look like an amateur if it looks bad.
Simplify your writing
A classic cover letter writing mistake is to write long, formal sentences.
Ideally, a cover letter for a resume should be easy to read, confident, and friendly.
To instantly improve your writing tone:
- Use contractions, like “don’t” instead of “do not”
- Avoid overused buzzwords and phrases like “dynamic,” “think outside the box,” and “go-getter”
- Choosing simple, unpretentious words like “helpful” instead of “advantageous”
Here’s a comparison between a personable writing style and an overly formal one:
I’m thrilled to apply for the customer service position at [Company Name]. Having been a customer service representative for 5+ years at Walmart, I’m confident I can quickly apply my experience using Zendesk and Salesforce to make a positive impact on [Company Name]’s bottom line.
It is with great interest that I apply for the open customer service position posted by your company on Indeed. I possess the requisite skill set to ably perform the customer service duties described in the job requirements.
Typos and grammatical errors in your cover letter will leave a negative impression on employers.
Here are two quick tricks professional editors use to catch mistakes:
- Read your writing out loud: Reading your letter aloud forces you to consider every word, sentence, paragraph, and punctuation mark. Plus you’ll catch hard-to-read sentences, and can then adjust them as necessary.
- Change the font: A new font forces your brain to grapple with something that seems new. Switching your cover letter to a different font and font size can help you notice mistakes you’d otherwise miss.
After you’ve read your cover letter out loud, have someone else read it over. They can provide helpful feedback like whether your letter is clear and well-argued, or vague and filled with cliches. They’ll also (hopefully) notice small grammar and spelling errors you missed.
How to make a cover letter using online software
If you’re short on time (or just don’t want to spend the effort), try using a web application to quickly make a convincing cover letter.
There are several powerful cover letter builders online that you can try out. We’ll walk you through our own cover letter generator, so you can create your own letter in a few quick steps.
Here’s how to use our online software to make a cover letter that impresses employers:
Step 1: Fill in your personal information
When you launch our builder, you’ll immediately be prompted to fill in your personal information.
This information is what our AI-powered software will use to write your cover letter, and includes your:
- Work experience
- Educational background
- Skills and personal qualities
Start by specifying what your current or previous job title is, along with the name of the company.
Additionally, you’ll need to list the job title and company that you’re applying for so that our builder knows how to address your cover letter.
Next, our cover letter builder will ask about your educational background. You should explain whether or not you’ve graduated from college, and if you’re a current student.
Depending on your educational status and how much relevant work experience you have, our software will highlight different information to help put the focus on your strengths as a candidate.
For example, if you already have several years of relevant work experience, the builder won’t mention your college education because your degree is no longer your most relevant qualification.
Finally, you’ll be asked to specify your skills. To do this you’ll need to select the industry you work in, and then click on your three most marketable hard skills from the dropdown menu.
Additionally, our software will ask you to explain how your coworkers might describe you. It’ll then use this detail to determine what kind of soft skills you have and work that information into your cover letter.
Step 2: Select your template
Once you’ve filled out your personal information, our builder will have everything it needs to generate a compelling cover letter that highlights your strengths as a candidate.
But before you download your cover letter, you should make sure it looks appropriate for the job you’re applying for and matches the design of your resume.
Click on the left or right side of your cover letter to swap between the many HR-approved templates available in our builder. We offer a variety of templates designed for different industries and levels of formality, so you’ll soon find a design that works for you:
Once you’ve landed on a style and color that you’re happy with, click on the “Proceed to Download” button.
Step 3: Download your completed cover letter
With your cover letter written and neatly formatted, you’re ready to download your finished document.
Once you click “Proceed to Download”, you’ll be prompted to download your file in either PDF or .docx format.
In most situations, you should save your cover letter as a PDF because it’s easy for employers to open and ensures that hiring managers don’t accidentally edit your cover letter when viewing it.
However, if a company specifically asks you to send your job application in .docx format, you should save your cover letter as a docx.
Cover letter examples based on experience level, industry, & situation
What you should include in your cover letter depends on where you are in your career, the industry you work in, and what your situation is. These cover letters show you how to make a cover letter that’s perfect for your specific purposes:
The entry-level cover letter example
Here’s a cover letter sample from an entry-level candidate without much professional work experience.
As you can see, despite not having much experience, the candidate still talks about times working in intern roles, and how their student experience relates to the role they’re applying for:
The experienced cover letter example
This good cover letter example was written by a candidate who already has professional experience. They highlight positive concrete accomplishments by using numbers.
The industry-specific cover letter examples
Here are nine sample cover letters specific to a particular industry or role that you can refer to:
- Administrative assistant
- Customer service representative
- Human resources (HR)
- Information technology (IT)
- Data analyst
The situation-specific cover letter examples
If you’re applying for a job for a specific situation, rather than in a particular industry, look at these cover letter examples:
Frequently asked questions about how to write a cover letter
And finally, here are some of our most notable cover letter FAQs (in case you’re still looking for answers to your cover letter-related questions):
- Does a resume need a cover letter?
- How do I include a referral in a cover letter?
- How do you write salary requirements in a cover letter?
- What is an enclosure in a cover letter?
- Should you use a template for a cover letter?
- Does a CV include a cover letter?
- Can a cover letter be two pages?
- Do cover letters need an address?
- Do I need to sign a cover letter submitted electronically?
- How do I include a referral in a cover letter?
- Should you put a photo on a cover letter?
- What does a cover letter look like?
We also have the answers to many more cover letter frequently asked questions if you don’t see your question above.