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!
Letter of Introduction Examples and Writing Tips
Do you need to write a letter introducing yourself to a prospective employer, a networking contact, or a potential new client? A well-written letter of introduction can help you find a new job or acquire a new client. Why and how should you send a letter, email, or LinkedIn message introducing yourself?
The best way to get hired is through networking. Over 80 percent of job seekers say that networking has helped them find a new job.
However, this doesn’t mean that every networking success story involves a direct connection. Sometimes, it’s less about who you know, and more about who your friends know. A letter of introduction is one way to forge a connection with someone you don’t (yet) know.
Types of Introduction Letters
There are two types of letters of introduction. In the first type, you introduce a connection to someone else you know. That someone might be a potential candidate for employment, or someone looking for career assistance.
In the other type of letter of introduction, you write to someone you haven’t met. You introduce yourself and ask them to refer you to a job opportunity or request assistance with a job search.
A letter of introduction can be a useful way to network and gain job search advice (and even a possible job opportunity). Read below for tips and letter examples.
Letter of Introduction Writing Tips
The most important tip to remember when writing a letter of introduction is to keep it short and to the point.
The person you are contacting is busy, and you want to get his or her attention right away.
First, include a quick introduction that explains who you are – or, if you are connecting two people, concisely introduce the other person.
Then, briefly explain what you intend to accomplish by sending your letter.
Does the other person wish to apply for a job opening? Are you hoping to set up an informational interview for yourself? Be as clear as possible.
Conclude with a description of how the recipient of the letter can either get in touch with you or the third party. Make it as easy as possible for the recipient to respond.
When writing your letter, make sure the tone matches your relationship. If you are very close friends, you can write in a slightly less formal style. However, if you are introducing yourself for the first time, make sure your letter is extremely professional.
Whether or not you are already acquaintances, be sure to thoroughly edit your letter before sending it. In many cases, the letter can be sent via email, because that's the quickest and easiest way to connect.
Other Types of Letters
People often confuse a letter of introduction with other types of job search letters. For example, a letter of introduction is not a cover letter. A cover letter is a document sent with your resume and other job application materials. It explains why you are qualified for the specific job for which you are applying.
A letter of introduction is also not a referral letter. A referral letter is a letter you write to someone after you have been put in contact with him or her (often through a letter of introduction).
In a referral letter, you begin by explaining which of your mutual acquaintances suggested you reach out. You then make your request – perhaps you are looking to conduct an informational interview or to learn about job opportunities.
Letter of Introduction Example: Introducing Two People
Dear Bob, (this type of letter is typically sent to someone you know well)
I'm writing to introduce you to Janice Dolan.
I know Janice through the Brandon Theater Group, where, as you know, I am the technical director. Janice and I have worked together on several local theater projects. She is a terrific stage manager with over 10 years of experience.
Janice is interested in relocating to the San Francisco area in the near future and would appreciate any recommendations you could offer her for conducting a job search for a theater position and any help you can provide with the logistics of relocating to California.
I've attached her resume for your review and you can contact her at email@example.com or 555-555-5555. Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide.
Letter of Introduction Example: Introducing Yourself
Dear Mr. Randall,
My name is Katherine Sussman, and I am currently a recruitment associate for XYZ Recruiting. I have been working as a recruiter for the past three years.
I am interested in moving from recruitment work in a large corporation to internal recruitment for a nonprofit. I used to work in development for ABC Nonprofit and would love to bring my current skills to a similar nonprofit. I know you do this kind of work for Sunshine Nonprofit, and I would appreciate hearing a bit about your experience in this field. I would love to arrange a time to meet with you for an informational interview.
I have attached my resume for your review. If you have time for a brief conversation, please let me know. You can contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (555-555-5555). I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you so much.
Read More:Letter Writing Tips | Letter of Interest Example for a Job | Referral Cover Letters