In fact, it’s a great idea to share your cover letter with a few people, says Lees. Rather than sending it off and asking, “What do you think?” be specific about the kind of feedback you want. In particular, request two things. First, ask your friend if it’s clear what your main point is. What’s the story you’re telling? Are they able to summarize it? Second, ask them what’s wrong with the letter. “Other people are more attuned to desperation, overselling, over-modesty, and underselling,” says Lees, and they should be able to point out places where the tone is off.
How to write a cover letter in 6 steps
1. Start with your header
, you should include a few pieces of personal and role specific information at the top of your cover letter. This section should include your contact information, date of application and recipient’s contact information. If you’d like, you can also center your name and address at the top of the page, mirroring the way it looks on your resume.
2. Include a greeting
In your research, try to find the name of the person who will be reviewing applications for the job. Address your letter to this person with a common business greeting, such as “Dear” or “Hello.” If you’re unable to confirm the gender pronouns (he/him, she/her, them/they) of the person reviewing your application, it is best to use a gender-neutral greeting such as “Dear [first and last name]” or “Dear [position title].”
3. Write an opening paragraph
In the first paragraph of your letter, mention the job title for which you’re applying and where you saw the position posting. Explain your specific interest in the role and company so the reader knows you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested. Briefly state the main experience or qualification you have that makes you a good fit. The first section of your cover letter is also the first impression the reader will have of you, so it is important to appeal to that person quickly and succinctly.
Example: “I’m excited to apply for the Graphic Designer position at Cloud Clearwater I found on Indeed. I understand you’re currently adding several new product lines, and I believe my skills in video and animation provide a significant advantage for creating a successful launch. As a longtime fan of your products, I’m thrilled at the opportunity to bring my unique style and passion for beachwear to the company.”
4. Follow with a second paragraph
Your second paragraph should be a brief overview of your background as is relevant to the position. Here, you should include key achievements, skills and specialties that make you particularly suited to perform well in the position. Focus on one or two and provide specific details about your success including measurable impacts you made.
Example: “As the Director of Human Resources at Wes Morgan Philips, I was a key senior leader in the organization and was responsible for improving the efficiency and performance of the company’s 540 employees. Before that, I worked in human resources, equal employment opportunity and diversity for Jenkins Technology Solutions, Inc. At Jenkins Technology Solutions Inc., I developed an employee retention plan that involved the creation of a wellness program, an internal training program and a promotions selection process, which led to a 50% reduction in the overall employee turnover rate.”
5. Finish with a closing paragraph
The next paragraph should focus on another key achievement or skill that is relevant to the position. Instead of repeating details from your resume, expand on specific stories or anecdotes that display your fitness for the role. Again, focus on stories that demonstrate the skills and qualifications outlined in the job description.
Example: “Achieving ambitious marketing goals is always a top priority, and I am always looking out for the best interests of the company. I enjoy delivering marketing presentations to potential clients and focusing on the strengths of an organization. My marketing skills at River Tech enabled the company to experience new levels of success and a 45% increase in customer engagement. I am never satisfied with the status quo, and I believe that a company should continually look for ways to improve and reach new clients through innovative campaigns.”
6. End with a professional signoff
Example: ”Thank you for your time and consideration. I’m looking forward to learning more details about the Sales position and about TradeLot. Growth is essential to my continued success, and I’m excited for the chance to be a part of TradeLot’s industry-leading team. My proven track record and TradeLot’s quality products are a winning combination for increasing the company’s market share.
Cover letter examples
Here are two examples of cover letters, a traditional version and a less traditional version. First, read the job description, then read the cover letter. In the first example, you’ll see how the writer uses specific phrases from the job description and includes them in the letter.
Example 1: Administrative Assistant
I am drawn to this opportunity for several reasons. First, I have a proven track record of success in administrative roles, most recently in my current job as an administrative coordinator. A highlight from my time here was when I proactively stepped in to coordinate a summit for our senior leaders last year. I arranged travel and accommodation for a group of 15 executives from across the company, organized meals and activities, collaborated with our internal events team, and ensured that everything ran according to schedule over the two-day summit. Due to the positive feedback I received afterward, I have been given the responsibility of doubling the number of attendees for the event this year and leading an internal team to get the job done.
I am also attracted to this role because of the growth opportunities that [name of company] provides. The research that I’ve done on your company culture has shown me that there are ample opportunities for self-motivated individuals like me. A high level of organization and attention to detail are second nature to me, and I’m eager to apply these skills in new and challenging environments.
Example 2: Brand Copywriter
There are at least two less-than-obvious ways to improve your vocabulary (and by extension, your copywriting skills): studying for the GRE and becoming a crossword puzzle enthusiast. I’ve done both, but for this job application, I’d like to focus on the latter.
My grandmother was the best writer I’ve ever known. She wasn’t a professional writer, but her gift and love of writing was something we shared. It wasn’t until last year that I also took up her love of crossword puzzles and immediately saw how the two went hand in hand. Before long, I was solving Monday through Wednesday puzzles in the New York Times, needing to look up words less and less frequently as time passed. Soon, I was able to complete Thursday to Saturday, too. Throughout this process, I could feel my stock of quips, rejoinders and turns of phrase steadily growing. Eventually, I worked up the courage to attempt the Sunday puzzles.
It was this courage that was the real turning point for me. In my current agency, I was already known as a hard worker and creative spirit; my peer and manager evaluations had made this clear. But while I felt confident in my abilities, I had never seen myself as particularly daring. Considering new challenges and mastering each one along the way had given me a renewed sense of myself and clarity about my chosen profession.
I began a career as a copywriter because I was skilled at finding combinations of words to fit a thought or feeling. I’m continuing down that path because I’ve realized how I can shape and hone that skill to reach new heights. I’d like copywriting at [name of company] to be the next step in my journey.
What should a great cover letter say?
Opening Paragraph (Introduction)
The second paragraph of your cover letter should respond directly to the job description written by the hiring manager. Describe how your previous job experiences, skills, and abilities will help you meet the company’s needs. To make that easier, you should include exact words and phrases from the job descriptions in your cover letter.
Your cover letter closing is the call-to-action portion of your cover letter. Inform the hiring manager that you’d love to go in for an interview. Provide your email address or other contact information and tell them that you’ll reach out in a week if you don’t hear back. Thank them for spending their time reading your cover letter.
1. General Cover Letter Example
The cover letter example
General cover letter example (text version)
I was excited to see your job listing for the Senior Digital Marketing position at Westward Strategies on Indeed.com. As a dynamic email marketing specialist with over two years of professional experience executing market research, analyzing consumer data, and running A/B tests to drive successful marketing campaigns, I’m confident that I would be a valuable asset to the team at Westward.
Your job listing mentions a need for someone who is experienced in email segmentation and campaign development, both of which are areas I have extensive experience in. I’m currently employed at Marketed Inc., where I’ve honed my skills by running numerous successful email marketing campaigns. While employed here, I’ve spearheaded a digital promotion campaign for the company’s new line of sandals that successfully raised our total online engagement by an impressive 13% over the course of six months, contributing substantially to the department’s annual goals.
I’m confident that my proven track record of excellent work ethic, unparalleled attention to detail, and high-performing email marketing campaigns will make me an immediate asset at Westward Strategies, and allow me to contribute to the team’s success.
I look forward to discussing the Senior Digital Marketing position and my qualifications with you in more detail. I’m available to talk at your convenience. I’ll be in touch next week to follow up and to make sure you’ve received my application.
Why this is a great example of a cover letter
Then the candidate lists specific responsibilities from the job description, and mentions her experience handling similar responsibilities. She even gives an example of how her efforts have benefited her current employer.
Finally, the candidate signs off by mentioning how she’ll reach out if she doesn’t hear back from the hiring manager. This call to action is a key part of a general cover letter, because it highlights the writer’s interest in the job, and willingness to go further than other candidates for the opportunity.