Resumes & Cover Letters

How To Write a Cover Letter (Plus Tips and Examples)

November 17, 2021

While cover letters are not always required, many hiring managers still rely on them to gauge an applicant’s skills, experience and background in relation to the position. When optional, submitting a cover letter is also a great way to go above and beyond to show the employer you are genuinely interested in the job.

The key to writing effective cover letters is to succinctly communicate how your professional experience fits the needs of the role and culture of the company. Below, we’ll break down how to write a cover letter that makes a great first impression with employers.

To see example cover letters for your job and industry, browse our free Resume Samples.

Related: Do Employers Care About Cover Letters?

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter, also known as an application letter, is a three- to four-paragraph memo to employers that explains your interest in the job and company as well as your fitness for the role. one-page, standalone document expressing your interests in the position that It is typically submitted along with your resume in a job application. This letter should highlights your skills, experience and achievements in relation to the position you’re applying for. Unlike your resume, cover letters allow you to go into more detail about your professional career and explain why you’re a good candidate.fit for the role and company.

A well-written cover letter has the potential to impress employers and set you apart from other applicants. To avoid a generic cover letter, you should conduct in-depth research on the company and role for which you’re applying to in-depth before writing your cover letter.

Cover letter format

A cover letter should be formatted like a business letter and include the following sections:

  • Header with date and contact information
  • Salutation or greeting
  • Opening paragraph
  • Middle paragraph(s)
  • Closing paragraph
  • Letter ending and signature

Your cover letter should be one page in length and use a simple, professional font, such as Arial or Helvetica, 10 to 12 points in size. Your letter should be left-aligned with single spacing one-inch margins.

Related: How to Format a Cover Letter

Cover Letter Format
Image description

Cover Letter Format

  1. Date and contact information
  2. Salutation or greeting
  3. Opening paragraph
  4. Middle paragraph(s)
  5. Closing paragraph
  6. Letter ending and signature

How to write a cover letter in 6 steps

Here are six simple steps to write a great cover letter:

  1. Start with your header
  2. Include a greeting
  3. Write an opening paragraph
  4. Follow with a middle paragraph
  5. Finish with a closing paragraph
  6. End with a professional sign off

In the sections below, we’ll offer detailed information about what to include in each section with examples for each.

1. Start with your header

As with any standard business letter header, you should include a few pieces of personal and role specific information at the top of your cover letter. This section should include your contact information, date of application and recipient’s contact information. If you’d like, you can also center your name and address at the top of the page, mirroring the way it looks on your resume.

Cover letter header template:

Your name
Your city and zipcode
Your phone number
Your email address

Date

Name of recipient
Title of recipient
Company name
Company address

Example cover letter header:

Ali Lang
ali.lang@email.com
555 Orchard Lane
Las Vegas, NV
(555) 888-4000

May 5, 20XX

Terry Washington
Revolve Inc.
123 Vineyard Drive
Las Vegas, NV

Including a professional and detailed heading will make it easier for the hiring manager or recruiter to follow up with you regarding the position.

Related: Q&A: Should You Put Your Address on Your Resume?

2. Include a greeting

In your research, try to find the name of the person who will be reviewing applications for the job. Address your letter to this person with a common business greeting, such as “Dear” or “Hello.” If you’re unable to find the preferred gender pronouns (she/her, them/they), it is best to use a gender-neutral greeting such as “Dear [first and last name]” or “Dear [position title]”.

Example greetings:

  • Dear Hiring Manager,
  • Hello Ms. Wallace,
  • Dear Tyler Wallace,

Related: How to Address a Cover Letter

3. Write an opening paragraph

In the first paragraph of your letter, mention the job title for which you’re applying and where you saw the position posting. Explain your specific interest in the role and company so the reader knows you’ve done your research and have genuine interest. Briefly state the main experience or qualification you have that makes you a good fit. The first section of your cover letter is also the first impression the reader will have of you, so it is important to appeal to that person quickly and succinctly.

Example: “I'm excited to apply for the Graphic Designer position at Cloud Clearwater I found on Indeed. I understand you're currently adding several new product lines, and I believe my skills in video and animation provide a significant advantage for creating a successful launch. As a longtime fan of your products, I'm thrilled at the opportunity to bring my unique style and passion for beachwear to the company.”

4. Follow with a second paragraph

Your second paragraph should be a brief overview of your background as is relevant to the position. Here, you should include key achievements, skills and specialties that make you particularly suited to perform well in the position. Focus on one or two and provide specific details about your success including measurable impacts you made.

Pay close attention to keywords listed in the job description and include those that you identify with in the body of your cover letter. You should only include information about your most recent one or two professional experiences.

Example: “As the Director of Human Resources at Wes Morgan Philips, I was a key senior leader in the organization and was responsible for improving the efficiency and performance of the company's 540 employees. Before that, I worked in human resources, equal employment opportunity and diversity for Jenkins Technology Solutions, Inc. At Jenkins Technology Solutions Inc., I developed an employee retention plan that involved the creation of a wellness program, an internal training program and a promotions selection process, which led to a 50% reduction in the overall employee turnover rate.”

5. Finish with a closing paragraph

The next paragraph should focus on another key achievement or skill that is relevant to the position. Instead of repeating details from your resume, expand on specific stories or anecdotes that display your fitness for the role. Again, focus on stories that demonstrate the skills and qualifications outlined in the job description.

If you’re changing careers, this is a good opportunity to talk about transferable skills or relatable experiences from your career.

Example: “Achieving ambitious marketing goals is always a top priority, and I am always looking out for the best interests of the company. I enjoy delivering marketing presentations to potential clients and focusing on the strengths of an organization. My marketing skills at River Tech enabled the company to experience new levels of success and a 45% increase in customer engagement. I am never satisfied with the status quo, and I believe that a company should continually look for ways to improve and reach new clients through innovative campaigns.”

Related: Career Change Cover Letter Guide (With Examples)

6. End with a professional signoff

You should end your cover letter with a paragraph that summarizes the reasons you are applying for the role and why you would be a great fit. Keep the cover letter conclusion brief and explain that you look forward to hearing from the employer with the next steps. End with your signature at the bottom.

Example: ”Thank you for your time and consideration. I'm looking forward to learning more details about the Sales position and about TradeLot. Growth is essential to my continued success, and I'm excited for the chance to be a part of TradeLot's industry-leading team. My proven track record and TradeLot's quality products are a winning combination for increasing the company's market share.

Sincerely,

Malik Rabb

Cover letter examples

Here are two examples of cover letters, a traditional version and a less traditional version. First, read the job description on the left, then read the cover letter. In the first example, you’ll see how the writer uses specific phrases from the job description and includes them in the letter.

The second example takes a more creative approach. The author tells a personal story and appeals more abstractly to the attributes called for in the job posting. Both are less than 300 words long.

Example 1: Administrative Assistant

Job Description

In this role, you will be supporting managers and other senior-level personnel by managing their calendars, arranging travel, filing expense reports, and performing other administrative tasks.

Strong interpersonal skills, attention to detail, and problem-solving skills will be critical to success.

Qualifications:

  • 5+ years of experience providing high-level admin support to diverse teams in a fast-paced environment
  • High school diploma or equivalent work experience
  • Excellent Microsoft Office Skills with an emphasis on Outlook and Excel
  • Self-motivated and highly organized
  • Team players who work well with minimal supervision

Cover Letter

Dear Hiring Manager,

I am writing to express my interest in the opening for an administrative assistant at {name of company].

I am drawn to this opportunity for several reasons. First, I have a proven track record of success in administrative roles, most recently in my current job as an administrative coordinator. A highlight from my time here was when I proactively stepped in to coordinate a summit for our senior leaders last year. I arranged travel and accommodation for a group of 15 executives from across the company, organized meals and activities, collaborated with our internal events team, and ensured that everything ran according to schedule over the two-day summit. Due to the positive feedback I received afterward, I have been given the responsibility of doubling the number of attendees for the event this year and leading an internal team to get the job done.

I am also attracted to this role because of the growth opportunities that [name of company] provides. The research that I’ve done on your company culture has shown me that there are ample opportunities for self-motivated individuals like me. A high level of organization and attention to detail are second nature to me, and I’m eager to apply these skills in new and challenging environments.

I look forward to sharing more details of my experience and motivations with you. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

[your name]

Example 2: Brand Copywriter

Job Description

We are looking for an experienced copywriter to join our team. If you have a great eye for balance, a quick wit, and can adapt a brand voice for any medium, then this role is right for you.

Responsibilities:

  • Write for branded communications including ads, emails, events, landing pages, video, product marketing, and more
  • Maintain and develop the voice of our brand in collaboration with others
  • Develop copy for internal communications that generate excitement about our company culture
  • Work independently and manage your time well
  • Strong copy editing skills: for your own work and others

Requirements:

  • A portfolio of your work
  • Minimum 5 years of copywriting, ideally within an agency
  • Strong attention to detail

Cover Letter

Hello,

There are at least two less-than-obvious ways to improve your vocabulary (and by extension, your copywriting skills): studying for the GRE and becoming a crossword puzzle enthusiast. I’ve done both, but for this job application, I’d like to focus on the latter.

My grandmother was the best writer I’ve ever known. She wasn’t a professional writer, but her gift and love of writing was something we shared. It wasn’t until last year that I also took up her love of crossword puzzles and immediately saw how the two went hand in hand. Before long, I was solving Monday through Wednesday puzzles in the New York Times, needing to look up words less and less frequently as time passed. Soon, I was able to complete Thursday to Saturday, too. Throughout this process, I could feel my stock of quips, rejoinders and turns of phrase steadily growing. Eventually, I worked up the courage to attempt the Sunday puzzles.

It was this courage that was the real turning point for me. In my current agency, I was already known as a hard worker and creative spirit; my peer and manager evaluations had made this clear. But while I felt confident in my abilities, I had never seen myself as particularly daring. Considering new challenges and mastering each one along the way had given me a renewed sense of myself and clarity about my chosen profession.

I began a career as a copywriter because I was skilled at finding combinations of words to fit a thought or feeling. I’m continuing down that path because I’ve realized how I can shape and hone that skill to reach new heights. I’d like copywriting at [name of company] to be the next step in my journey.

All the best,

[your name]

Related: Free Cover Letter Templates

Final cover letter tips

Here are five guidelines to keep in mind when writing a cover letter:

1. Customize your header based on your application format

If you’re writing your cover letter directly within an online job application, there’s no need to include your address or other contact information, as you’ve probably already typed that into other areas of the application form. If you’re including your cover letter as an attachment, you can use the same heading as your resume.

2. Avoid generic references to your abilities

Whenever possible, tell meaningful anecdotes that tie your skills to concrete problem-solving activities or tangible business results you’ve worked on in your career. Any candidate can say they possess a desirable skill. To make an impact, you need to show hiring managers examples of your skills in action. For example:

Too vague: “My skills would be a great fit for your organization.”

More specific: “In my role as a sales associate, I am frequently required to provide exceptional customer service on short notice. Exceeding customers’ expectations is a point of personal and professional pride for me, and this is a skill I’m eager to continue developing."

Too vague: “I’m a proactive team player.”

More specific: “In my current job, I proactively jumped in to help launch an internal recycling and waste reduction initiative. Together, our team contributed to a 25% reduction in solid waste production within the company.”

4. Keep it short and to the point

Unless specified in the job description, there is no required length for a cover letter. When determining how long a cover letter should be, focus on the details that are most important for the job. Read the job description closely to identify the best opportunities to illustrate your qualifications.

What professional achievements are you the proudest of? Choose one or two and map them directly to the desired experience or qualifications the hiring manager is looking for, using just a few detailed but concise sentences. What attributes is the job description calling for in a candidate? Consider using the cover letter itself as a way of demonstrating those traits.

Don’t reiterate everything that’s on your resume. You want to focus on one or two anecdotes, expanding on how you achieved something specific.

Related: 15 Cover Letter Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

5. Proofread before you submit

Reread your cover letter several times before submitting it and keep an eye out for errors of spelling, grammar or punctuation. Reading the letter aloud can help you pick out awkward phrasing or too-long sentences. There are certain common errors that we all tend to gloss over, so make sure to do a slow, deliberate reading that examines each word. If your salutation includes the hiring manager’s name, triple-check the spelling.

For jobs that require submitting a cover letter, remember that you’re getting a valuable chance to illustrate your capabilities and share a glimpse of your authentic personality. Take advantage of the opportunity to let your greatest strengths shine, while also showing that you respect the hiring manager’s time and attention. For inspiration, you can browse cover letter samples by job title on Indeed.

Related: Cover Letter Checklist: What to Review Before You Submit

Easily apply to jobs and be contacted by employers about new jobs with an Indeed Resume.

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