Do you need to write a cover letter? A cover letter should be sent or posted with your resume or curriculum vitae when applying for a job, so it's essential to write a good one.
Learn about writing a cover letter, including what to include, how to send it, review examples, and get free templates to download for many different types of occupations and applications. There are also guidelines and samples for writing email cover letters, inquiry letters, referral letters, prospecting letters, and networking letters.
What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a (typically) one-page document that explains to the hiring manager why you are an ideal candidate for the job. It goes beyond your resume to explain in detail how you could add value to the company.
A cover letter is a document that you send or upload with your resume when applying for jobs to provide additional information on your skills and experience.
How to Write a Cover Letter
Keep in mind that your cover letter doesn't have to be boring. Taking some time to showcase your personality and how it will be an asset to the employer can help your application get noticed. Follow these tips on how to write an effective cover letter.
Tailor each letter to the job. It takes a little extra time, but be sure to write a unique cover letter for each job. Your cover letter should be specific to the position you are applying for, relating your skills and experiences to those noted in the job posting. Here’s how to write a cover letter in 5 easy steps.
Use keywords. One useful way to tailor your letter to the job is to use keywords from the job posting. Circle any words from the job posting that seem critical to the job, such as specific skills or qualifications. Try to use some of these words in your letter. This way, at a glance, the employer can see that you match the requirements of the job.
Explain how you will add value. Think of concrete ways to prove you will add value to the company. Include examples of specific accomplishments from previous jobs. For example, if you helped reduce turnover by 10% at your last company, or implemented a filing strategy that reduced file errors by 15%, include this information.
Try to quantify your successes when possible to clearly demonstrate how you could add value to the company.
Carefully edit your letter. Your cover letter is your first, and best, chance to sell the hiring manager on your candidacy for employment, so make sure it's perfect. Read through your letter, proofreading it for any spelling or grammar errors. Ask a friend, family member, or career counselor to read it as well. You want to make sure the letter is polished before submitting it.
Cover Letter Examples and Templates
It can be beneficial to look at cover letter examples when writing your own. A sample can help you decide what to include in your letter, and show you how to format it.
This collection of free, professionally written cover letters will help you get started writing your own letters.
Below you'll find both hard copy and email samples and templates, for a variety of different types of employment inquiries and job applications, including general cover letters, cold contact cover letters, referral letters, customized cover letters, job promotion letters, networking outreach letters, and letters to inquire about unadvertised openings.
Basic Cover Letters to Apply for a Job
Applying for a new job can be both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. However, writing a cover letter that really “sells” the qualities you have to offer an employer is a great confidence-builder—you’ll know your letter is perfect when you read it and think, “Hey—I’d interview me!” Here are some examples of effective cover letters, with downloadable templates.
- Basic Cover Letter Example for a Resume
- Sample Cover Letter for a Job Application
- Cover Letter Example Matched to a Job
- General Cover Letter
- Academic Cover Letter
- Applying for More Than One Job
- Cold Contact Letter
- Letter For Unadvertised Openings
Email Cover Letter Examples
While cover letters that are emailed do not have as conservative a format as traditional “snail mail” cover letters, there is still a specific structure one should observe when drafting and sending them. Here’s how to make sure your email cover letter gets read.
- Email Cover Letter
- Email Cover Letter With Resume
- Email Cover Letter - Part-Time Job
- Email Cover Letter - Summer Job
- Email Message - Volunteer Position
Cover Letters With a Referral
One of the best ways to “get your foot in the door” at a company you would love to work for is to mention a professional connection to one of their current personnel. Here’s how to ask someone to serve as a referral for you and how to drop their name in your cover letter.
- Employee Referral
- Referral Cover Letter
- Referred by a Contact
- Requesting a Meeting
- Temp to Perm
- Value Proposition
- With Salary History
- With Salary Requirements
Examples Listed by Type of Applicant
The ideal content and format of a cover letter depend both upon the type of position you are applying for and your relevant experience.
The cover letter of a seasoned professional will emphasize experience, whereas that of a recent college graduate is best focused upon training and potential.
Similarly, a cover letter for a sales position will use more aggressive marketing language than one designed for a social work role. The following cover letter samples are for candidates who are applying for a specific type or level of position.
- Samples Listed by Occupation
- Career Change
- College Graduate
- Part-Time Jobs
- Summer Jobs
- Transferable Skills
Cover Letters Listed by Occupation
Here's a list of cover letter samples and downloadable templates listed by industry and position. Choose one that's a match for the jobs you're applying for, then tweak it to include your most relevant skills and experience.
Applying for a Transfer or Promotion
When you’ve worked for an employer for a while and know, through both your own impressions and strong performance reviews, that they value your work, it may be time to ask for a promotion or a transfer to a better position. Be proactive—companies don’t always have upward career tracks, and may not automatically award a promotion unless this is requested.
Inquiry and Networking Letters
Applying to officially advertised positions isn’t the only way to land your dream job. Often opportunities can be discovered through strategic networking; more than one person has been offered a position because they made their availability and interest known to employers who were not actively hiring.
Cover Letter Formats and Templates
Review more examples of professional formats, layouts, and templates to use to apply for jobs, keeping in mind that you should tailor any cover letter template you decide to use as your model to reflect your own circumstances and personality.
- Cover Letter Format
- Cover Letter Layout
- Cover Letter Template
- Email Cover Letter Template
- Google Docs Cover Letter Templates
- Microsoft Word Cover Letter Templates
Cover Letter Template to Download
Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs or Word) or see below for more examples.
Cover Letter Sample (Text Version)
Joseph Q. Applicant
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
July 20, 2020
Director, Human Resources
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321
Dear Ms. Smith:
I’m writing to apply for the position of Social Media Manager for Fit Living, as advertised on your website careers page. I have three years of experience as a Social Media Assistant for Young Living, and I believe I am ready to move up to the manager position.
In your job posting, you mention that you want to hire a Social Media Manager who understands the Internet and social media trends. During my time at Young Living, I was given the responsibility of increasing follower numbers on Instagram. I explained to my manager that I would be happy to do so and that I would also work hard to increase follower participation because engagement has become an important metric.
Within six months, I increased our followers by over 50% and increased engagement by 400%. I’m very proud of that accomplishment. Currently, I’m working to build a following with the best influencers in our niche.
When I saw the job opening, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to offer you both my social media marketing skills and people skills. I’ve included my resume so you can learn more about my educational background and all of my work experience. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my cell phone at 555-555-5555. I hope to hear from you soon.
Your Signature (hard copy letter)
Joseph Q. Applicant