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!
Sample Cover Letters
Choose the Letter That Best Suits Your Needs.
Here you will find several sample cover letters that you may use as guidance while you write your own letter. The four types of cover letters are:
- Application Letter
- Prospecting Letter
- Networking Letter
- Referral Letter
Sample Cover Letter # 1
Application letter: This is the most common cover letter and is used to apply for a specific, advertised job. This situation fits the majority of job seekers.
2356 W. Mayfield Lane
San Diego, CA 92106
July 18, 2010
Mrs. Catherine Johnson
123 S. Oak Street
San Diego, CA 92107
Dear Mrs. Johnson:
Please accept the attached resume as evidence of my interest in applying for the benefits manager position as advertised on your website.
My resume clearly shows that I have qualifying skills and abilities that perfectly match a position such as this. They are:
- Extensive experience in all aspects of benefits administration,
- 8 years of experience managing teams of up to 20 employees,
- An innate ability to coordinate benefits programs while ensuring 100% compliance to the standards of an organization.
Thank you very much for taking the time to review my resume. I would like to meet with you to discuss my sincere desire to contribute to the continued growth and success of your company. I will call you next week to arrange a meeting. Should you have any questions, please contact me at (619) 555-1245. I look forward to speaking with you in the near future.
Note: Although the application letter is the perfect option to apply for a specific job, I highly recommend that you still consider the other three types of cover letters as well.
The next three sample cover letters can help open opportunities outside of jobs are advertised. This increases your potential for finding the job that is right for you.
Sample Cover Letter # 2
Prospecting letter: This letter is use to seek out opportunities or ask about potential job openings, when there is not a current openings.
23645 Fountain Street
Chicago, IL 60612
July 18, 2010
Mrs. Bernard Robinson
Customer Service Director
456 S. Oak Street
Schaumburg, IL 60193
Dear Mr. Robinson:
Last evening, I was researching career opportunities in my area that had a customer service focus. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that such opportunities exist at WXY Corporation.
I have spent the last five years in a supervisory role and have advanced customer service skills. I have a sincere desire to provide a superior customer experience in every interaction. I have led multiple projects, taught Advanced Customer Service Skills classes, and developed and implemented new policies and procedures.
I am currently looking for a challenging opportunity that requires the use of customer relations skills, while allowing me to develop and advance within the organization. I have enclosed my resume for your consideration. I sincerely believe that once you have reviewed my experience and qualifications, you will agree that my skills and experience can easily benefit your organization.
I would welcome the opportunity to introduce myself and discuss my credentials with you in a personal interview. Please expect my telephone call in the coming week to arrange such a meeting or you may call me anytime at (847) 555-4503.
Sample Cover Letter # 3
Networking letter: This letter is used to gather information.
2906 N. Glenwood Terrace
Atlanta, GA 30310
January 18, 2010
Mrs. Mary Smith
Professional Working Women
789 S. Oak Street
Atlanta, GA 30310
Dear Mrs. Smith:
Thank you again for the valuable insight you provided after the Working Women Seminar yesterday. You answered several questions for which I had not been able to find answers.
Currently, I am looking for a new opportunity that will allow me to use my skills in health and wellness programs. After attaining a bachelor's degree in Exercise and Wellness, I completed the Nutrition and Wellness Consultant and Weight Management Consultant certifications. My contributions to the health and wellness industry have been significant, as is evidenced by a solid track record of guiding women in their quests to live healthier lives.
Please understand that I am not applying for a position with your company. However, perhaps you may have suggestions about companies who offer rewarding career opportunities. This would enable me to locate an organization that could benefit from my skills and experience.
Enclosed is a copy of my resume. Again, I am simply seeking advice or information that will help me decide in which area I should direct my job search efforts. Please expect my telephone call in the coming week to arrange a brief meeting at a time convenient for you or call me anytime at (404) 555-0789.
Sample Cover Letter # 4
Referral letter: This letter is used to refer to a mutual contact or refer reader to a prior meeting.
776 Oak Road
Orlando, FL 32806
July 18, 2010
Mr. James Williamson
1011 S. Oak Street
Orlando, FL 32806
Dear Mr. Williamson:
I am writing at the recommendation of a mutual acquaintance, Valerie Richardson, who suggested that I contact you concerning job opportunities as a business manager. Please accept the attached resume as evidence of my interest in applying for such a position with BCD Corporation.
My enclosed resume clearly shows that I have a variety of skills and abilities that correspond to the position, as follows:
- Considerable experience in the insurance industry, supported by a formal education and specialized, industry-related training.
- 10 years experience managing teams of 12-15 sales representatives.
- A sincere desire to contribute to the continued growth and success of your sales organization.
After you have the opportunity to review my resume, I would like to meet with you to discuss how I can effectively contribute to your organization. I will call you next week to arrange a meeting. Should you have any questions before scheduling an appointment, I may be at (619) 555-1245.
Thank you very much for taking the time to review my resume, and I look forward to speaking with you in the near future.
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