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 Letter for Job Application With Writing Tips
The following is an example of a letter of application sent with a resume to apply for a job. Use this example as a guideline when writing your own job application cover letters. Also see below for an example a job application letter sent by email and tips for what to include and how to write a letter to apply for a job.
Your job application letter is an opportunity to highlight your most relevant qualifications and experiences, enhancing your resume, and increasing your chances of being called for an interview.
Your letter should detail your specific qualifications for the position and the skills you would bring to the employer. See below for how to email your application letter.
What to Include in Your Letter
As with all cover letters, the body of this job application letter is divided into three sections: the introduction, which details why the applicant is writing; the body, which discusses relevant qualifications; and the closing, which thanks the reader and provides contact information and follow-up details.
Sample Job Application Letter
8 Sue Circle
Smithtown, CA 08067
87 Delaware Road
Hatfield, CA 08065
Dear Mr. Gilhooley,
I am writing to apply for the programmer position advertised in the Times Union. As requested, I am enclosing a completed job application, my certification, my resume, and three references.
The opportunity presented in this listing is very interesting, and I believe that my strong technical experience and education will make me a very competitive candidate for this position. The key strengths that I possess for success in this position include:
- I have successfully designed, developed, and supported live use applications
- I strive for continued excellence
- I provide exceptional contributions to customer service for all customers
With a BS degree in Computer Programming, I have a full understanding of the full lifecycle of a software development project. I also have experience in learning and excelling at new technologies as needed.
Please see my resume for additional information on my experience.
I can be reached anytime via email at email@example.com or my cell phone, 909-555-5555.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you about this employment opportunity.
Signature (for hard copy letter)
Sample Email Letter of Application
Subject: FirstName LastName - Web Content Manager Position
Dear Contact Person:
I'm writing to express my interest in the Web Content Manager position listed on Monster.com. I have experience building large, consumer-focused health-based content sites. While much of my experience has been in the business world, I understand the social value of the non-profit sector and my business experience will be an asset to your organization.
My responsibilities included the development and management of the site's editorial voice and style, the editorial calendar, and the daily content programming and production of the website.
I worked closely with healthcare professionals and medical editors to help them provide the best possible information to a consumer audience of patients. Also, I helped physicians learn to utilize their medical content to write user-friendly, readily comprehensible text.
Experience has taught me how to build strong relationships with all departments at an organization. I have the ability to work within a team as well as cross-team. I can work with web engineers to resolve technical issues and implement technical enhancements, work with the development department to implement design and functional enhancements, and monitor site statistics and conduct search engine optimization.
Thank you for your consideration.
Signature (hard copy letter)
Tips for Writing a Strong Application Letter
Follow these strategies to write a strong letter:
- Get off to a direct start: In your first paragraph, explain simply why you are writing. Mention the job title and company name, and also where you came across the job listing. While you can also briefly mention why you are a strong candidate, this section should be short and to-the-point.
- Offer something different than what's in your resume: It's rare to send an application letter without also sending a resume. Your application letter, therefore, doesn't have to duplicate your resume. Your language can be a bit more personal than in resume bullet points — you can tell a narrative about your work experience and career.
- Make a good case. Your first goal with this letter is to move on to the next step: an interview. Your overarching goal, of course, is to get a job offer. Use your application letter to further both of these causes. Offer details about your experience and background that show why you are a good candidate. How have other jobs prepared you for the position? What would you bring to the position, and to the company? Use this space to emphasize your strengths.
- Close with all the important details. Include a thank you at the end of your letter. You can also share your contact information. If you'd like, mention how you will follow up.
How to Send an Email Application Letter
If you're sending your cover letter via email, list your name and the job title in the subject line of the email message. Include your contact information in your email signature, but don't list the employer's contact information. Skip the date, and start your email message with the salutation. Here's an example of a formatted email cover letter.
How to Write a Job Application Letter
Here's how to write a letter of application for a job, including what should be included in the letter, choosing a font size and style, and letter spacing and formatting.