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How to write a cover letter: Examples + tips

How to write a cover letter: examples + tips

Artwork by: Katya Simacheva

  • What to include in a cover letter
  • How to write a cover letter for a job application
  • Introduce yourself with a strong statement
  • Cover letter examples
  • Tips for writing a professional cover letter
  • Key takeaways

Along with a resume, a cover letter is an essential part of a job application. A clean, polished cover letter can expand on your qualifications and set you apart from other candidates. Use this step-by-step guide to learn how to write a cover letter that gets you noticed.

You know you have to submit a resume when applying for a job, but what about a cover letter? While employers may not always require this document, it’s in your best interest to include one with your application. A cover letter provides an opportunity to describe your skills, experience, and achievements in more detail. By knowing how to write a cover letter, you can make your case for why an employer should hire you.

In this article, we provide a step-by-step guide to writing the perfect cover letter with helpful tips and examples. We’ll discuss:

  • What to include in the letter

  • How to write a good cover letter

  • Example cover letters for both experienced and entry-level professionals

  • Some additional tips for creating a polished, professional letter

What to include in a cover letter

A cover letter allows you to expand on the skills, experiences, and goals you have for your career. It’s also a great way to set yourself apart from other candidates who may have similar levels of experience and training. When writing your cover letter, it should contain the following sections:

  • Header

  • Greeting

  • Introduction

  • Body

  • Conclusion and signature

Expert Tip

How long should a cover letter be?

Keep your cover letter to one page with three to four paragraphs of content. Aim for a word count between 250 and 400 words.

How to write a cover letter for a job application

Wondering how to write a great cover letter that hiring managers will notice? Follow these steps:

Research the company

Before you start writing, take some time to research the company. This way, you can customize your cover letter to the specific role, showing a hiring manager that you’re genuinely interested in the position.

Read the job description closely and note keywords you can use in your cover letter to align your skills and experience with the job. In addition, visit the company’s website or social media profiles to learn about its mission, culture, or products. You can mention one or two of these areas in your cover letter to impress a prospective employer.

Create a header

The header of your cover letter provides your name and contact details so a hiring manager can quickly identify your application. In your header, include the following information:

  • Your name

  • Your location, phone number, and email address

  • Optional links to a portfolio, website, or professional social media profile

  • The date

  • The recipient’s name and job title

  • The name of the company where you’re applying

Cover letter header

[Your Name] [City, State] | [Phone number] | [Email address] | [Link to website, portfolio, or LinkedIn profile]

[Date]

[Name of Recipient], [Recipient’s Job Title] [Name of Company]

Greet the recipient

The greeting of your cover letter refers to the way you address the person who will be reading it. Whenever possible, address the hiring manager by name in the greeting. Use their full name or professional title. If you can’t find the hiring manager’s name, include a generic greeting instead. Here are some examples:

Copyable example

Dear Dr. Jennings, Dear Taylor Jennings,

Dear (Company Name) Hiring Manager, Dear (Department Name) Hiring Team, Dear Hiring Manager,

Introduce yourself with a strong statement

A great cover letter introduction captures the hiring manager’s attention and motivates them to keep reading the rest of your letter. In your opening, aim to write an introduction that separates you from other candidates. Consider opening your letter with one of these ideas:

  • An anecdote or creative story about your work experience

  • An interesting fact about your career

  • A mention of a mutual contact or referral

  • An overview of your top skills

  • An impressive accomplishment

Here’s an example of a strong opening statement:

I believe customer service is not simply about solving problems but creating positive experiences that lead to future sales. I credit this approach for my franchise’s 10% increase in customer lifetime value metrics since I began managing the store. I am excited about the potential to apply this same philosophy to a store manager position with PetShop.

Emphasize your value

In the body of your cover letter, emphasize the ways you can add value to the team or company. Consider the skills you’ve gained and the achievements you’ve had in your other jobs. Offer examples of times you demonstrated the qualities needed for the position you’re applying to.

When discussing your value, provide specific examples that relate to the new position. Use measurable statistics, like numbers and percentages, to show the impact you’ve had in other roles. Consider this example:

One of my biggest takeaways from my six years in the restaurant industry is that consistency drives sales. Customers like knowing what to expect. I saw this firsthand when I eliminated our daily specials and added customer favorites to our permanent menu. Our reservations increased by 15% in the first month alone. I believe my positive attitude, leadership skills, and ability to see the bigger picture will serve me well in a new role with your organization.

End with a call to action

Wrap up your cover letter in a way that increases your chances of landing the interview. One of the best ways to do this is via a call to action. This statement expresses your enthusiasm for the position and encourages the hiring manager to get in touch. You may even leave your contact details again here, space permitting. Then sign off respectfully using your full name. See the example below:

I would love the opportunity to further discuss my sales record and ability to lead teams to reach their goals. You can reach me at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely, 

Jamila Remmington

Cover letter examples

If you need some more inspiration for your own cover letter, consider these examples:

Experienced cover letter example

If you have experience in the role or industry, use your cover letter to convey your achievements and skills. Here’s an example of a cover letter for an experienced professional:

Copyable Example

Joel McMillan Chicago, Illinois | 937-479-4739 | [email protected] | jmcmillan.portfolio.com

February 2, 2024

Alexis Smith Human Resources Manager HighTech Global Solutions

Dear Alexis Smith,

As a project manager with eight years of experience in the technology industry, I have a proven record of leading project teams to deliver successful outcomes. In the past year alone, I’ve managed four projects that have collectively produced over $3 million in annual revenue. I’m excited to apply for the project manager position with HighTech Global Solutions, and I’m confident my leadership skills and ability to manage high-growth projects would be an asset to your organization.

In my current position, I lead a 12-member project team, creating a team culture where members feel encouraged to share their ideas and think outside the box. My achievements in this role include:

  • Reducing project costs by an average of $25,000 by negotiating with vendors

  • Delivering projects by the deadline or ahead of schedule with a 99% success rate, leading to improved relationships with key clients

  • Transforming the team culture by implementing daily check-ins, where each member discusses their successes and roadblocks from the previous day

While I’ve enjoyed my time and success in my current role, I’m looking for the next challenge in my career. I believe I can use my forward-thinking mindset, team-building strategies, and record of revenue growth to achieve success as a project manager with HighTech Global Solutions.

Thank you very much for your consideration of my application. I look forward to discussing my qualifications in more detail with you. You can reach me at [email protected].

Sincerely, Joel McMillan

Entry-level cover letter example

A cover letter for an entry-level position will focus more on your personality traits and motivations than on concrete achievements in previous positions. Check out this general example of an entry-level cover letter:

Copyable example

Alex Lagunas Detroit, Michigan | 493-479-1374 | [email protected]

January 12, 2024

Neil Owens Director of Clinic Operations Glendale Family Clinic

Dear Neil Owens,

As the daughter of a doctor, I know just how much of a difference a friendly receptionist makes. In fact, my mom always said that a practice’s reputation is 80% office staff. I’m ready to help patients feel at ease and keep Glendale Family Clinic running smoothly as a receptionist.

I’m currently a second-year student on a pre-med track with a goal to one day run a pediatric practice of my own. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been passionate about caring for the youngest members of our community. I’m excited about the opportunity to play a vital role in an established family office. I believe my work-study experience as a front desk attendant for my university, friendly personality, and exceptional time-management skills will suit me well as a receptionist at your clinic.

Last semester, I was responsible for alphabetizing and organizing more than 300 alumni contacts. My ability to complete the task in just a few weeks allowed the alumni network to better organize events and workshops. When it comes to scheduling appointments or calling with results, I believe my commitment to each task and my positive attitude will prove vital to making patients feel comfortable and valued.

I would love the opportunity to discuss my motivation and the needs of your clinic further. I can be reached at [email protected]. Thank you for your consideration of my application.

Sincerely, Alex Lagunas

Copyable Example

[Your Name] [City, State] | [Phone number] | [Email address] | [Link to website, portfolio, or LinkedIn profile]

[Date]

[Name of Recipient], [Recipient’s Job Title] [Name of Company]

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name] or Hiring Manager,

As a [job title] with [experience or skill], I’m excited to apply for the [name of position] role with [name of company]. I believe I can use my [skill] to make a positive contribution to the [name of department or company] team.

In my previous role, I’ve [explain your core duties and notable achievements, providing quantifiable metrics to show your impact]. I’m confident I can use my [skill] and [skill] to be a valuable addition to your organization.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my application. I would love the opportunity to discuss my [positive skill or attribute] and [positive skill or attribute] with you further. You can reach me at [your email address]. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely, [Your Name]

Tips for writing a professional cover letter

A great cover letter quickly convinces the hiring manager you’re a worthy candidate to interview. Here are some additional tips for creating a cover letter that stands out:

Proofread your letter

Spelling and grammar mistakes can quickly tarnish your professional image and make it appear as though you don’t pay attention to detail. Proofread your letter carefully, and use spell check before submitting. You can also ask a trusted friend or colleague to proofread your letter, since they may catch errors you’ve missed.

Consider the tone

Once you’ve written your letter, review it carefully to consider the tone. You want to come across as qualified and confident, but not arrogant. You should also adapt your tone to the position and industry. For example, a cover letter for a sales position will sound different from one for an audio engineer.

Do
  • Express appreciation for the hiring manager’s time. Show your gratitude and enthusiasm for the opportunity to apply.
Don't
  • Go overboard with flattery or praise. These sentiments can sound inauthentic, potentially causing a hiring manager to disregard your letter.

Customize each letter you send

Make sure the hiring manager knows you wrote your cover letter with the specific job opening in mind. That means including the hiring manager’s name and mentioning the company somewhere in the introduction. If you have a connection to the employer or were recommended for the position, make sure to mention it early in the letter.

Use professional formatting

An attractive cover letter quickly sends the message that you’re a professional candidate. Choose a clean format with a standard font, such as Calibri, Arial, or Times New Roman. If you work in a creative industry, you can include a touch of color or additional design elements. When in doubt, however, it’s best to use a neutral template to keep the focus on your qualifications.

Need some additional help with writing a cover letter? Use Career.io’s Professional Cover Letter Builder to create a customized, professional cover letter for your next job application!

Key takeaways

  1. Writing a thoughtful, customized cover letter can help you stand out from other applicants.

  2. Follow a standard cover letter structure by including a header, greeting, opening statement, body, and call to action.

  3. Entry-level candidates can focus on their personal qualities and transferable skills, while experienced professionals can expand on their skills and achievements in previous positions.

  4. When preparing a cover letter, use professional formatting, write in a confident tone, and proofread for spelling and grammar.

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