Looking for cover letter tips and advice to really stand out? Want cover letter mistakes to avoid and other dos and don'ts? You've come to the right place.
If you’re like most people, you’re probably wondering if you could skip the cover letter altogether. Writing cover letters is just daunting, anxiety-inducing guesswork. Or, at least, this is what many people think.
But… more than half of employers prefer candidates with cover letters. So, if you don’t submit a cover letter along with your application, you’re basically sabotaging your own efforts.
In other words: yes, you do need a cover letter. Fortunately, it’s much easier than you think—when you actually learn how to write a cover letter, it’s going to be a piece of cake. And you’ll get more invitations to job interviews than ever.
This guide will show you:
- How to write a cover letter that will make you stand out
- Expert tips that will make your cover letter look and feel professional
- The most surefire way to find out what the employer really wants
- A full step-by-step guide to writing a cover letter quickly and painlessly
Save hours of work and get a cover letter like this. Pick a template, fill it in. Quick and easy. Choose from 20+ cover letter templates and download your cover letter now.
What users say about ResumeLab:
I had an interview yesterday and the first thing they said on the phone was: “Wow! I love your cover letter.”
I love the variety of templates. Good job guys, keep up the good work!
My previous cover letter was really weak and I used to spend hours adjusting it in Word. Now, I can introduce any changes within minutes. Absolutely wonderful!
Want to see cover letter examples for a specific positions? Feel free to check out these articles:
- Business Cover Letter
- Consulting Cover Letter
- Customer Service Cover Letter
- Digital Marketing Cover Letter
- Human Resources Cover Letter
- Internal Position Cover Letter
- Internship Cover Letter
- IT Cover Letter
- Marketing Cover Letter
- No Experience Cover Letter
- Non-profit Cover Letter
- Project Management Cover Letter
- Social Work Cover Letter
- Teacher Cover Letter
Looking for a different cover letter example? See Cover Letter Examples for all professions.
How to Write a Cover Letter—Example
Jennifer J. Amato
Customer Service Specialist
89 Westfield Road
Anytown, CA 92301
Mr. James Stipe
Head of Product
3015 Round Table Drive
Anytown, CA 90544
Dear Mr. Stipe,
When I found the opening for the Senior Customer Service Specialist with ABC Bank I felt as if it was addressed to me, personally. In my current position as CSR at Acme Corp, I’ve boosted customer retention by 37% in 9 months and raised the mean NPS from 7.9 to 8.8. I’m sure my expertise can translate into similar results for ABC.
I realize that the major upcoming challenge for your Customer Service Team will be to assist other teams in launching the new AI-based platform for Personal Internet Banking. While working at Acme, I:
- Planned and supervised online and phone surveys prior to the redesign of our internet banking platform.
- Oversaw collaboration with colleagues in a cross-departmental project team of customer service reps, data analysts, and software developers to design a consumer-insight-driven product.
- Trained 46 customer service agents in resolving customer queries related to the new online banking platform; after the launch of the platform, these agents had a 97% satisfaction rating on average.
I love that your Customer Service Team operates with one goal in mind only: to maximize the business opportunities by finding and implementing tailor-made solutions for all customers. It perfectly reflects my core professional value: the drive to connect every customer with personalized support at every step of their consumer life journey.
When can we schedule a call to discuss solutions for boosting ABC’s Customer Satisfaction Scores by 20% in the next Fiscal Year?
Jennifer J. Amato
P.S. I’d also value the opportunity to tell you how I raised customers’ satisfaction rates with my team by 48% above the company average.
After reading this cover letter, Mr. Stipe couldn’t resist inviting Ms. Amato to a job interview.
Yours can be just as effective.
Let’s start with the basics:
What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a one-page document that’s a part of your job application alongside your resume. In your cover letter, you get a chance to introduce yourself, set yourself apart from all the other candidates, and prove you’re the best person for this job.
A cover letter isn’t just a retelling of the facts you share in your resume. It gives a glimpse of your personality while showcasing your professional achievements in greater detail. It should also show your passion for the specific job you’re applying for—otherwise, the recruiter will think you don’t really want the job and move on to the next candidate.
In short, a cover letter is a document that can make or break your entire job application. Let’s see how to write one that’s guaranteed to become a success:
How to Write a Great Cover Letter for a Job Application
Many people—even seasoned professionals—aren’t quite sure how to write a cover letter. So, if the very thought of writing it makes you anxious, you’re definitely not alone.
But you’re not doomed to dedicate half of your day to anxious guesswork along the lines of “How do I even get started?”
Effective cover letters follow a clear underlying structure that you can easily borrow:
- Opening paragraph that grabs the reader’s attention
- Paragraph that shows why you’re the best candidate
- Another paragraph that demonstrates your passion for this specific job at this specific company
- Call to action
- P. S. (optional)
If you include all these elements in your cover letter, you’ll be a lot closer to getting your dream job than you think.
Now, let’s go through all these elements.
Here's how to write a perfect cover letter:
1. Stick to the Proper Cover Letter Format
Your cover letter should follow the best practices for writing business letters.
Keep it short and to the point—in fact, your entire cover letter shouldn’t be longer than 350 words. Yes, that doesn’t look like much, but it’s a good cover letter length to aim for.
Pick a professional, easy-to-read font, set the line spacing to 1 or 1.15, and align your paragraphs to the left. This formatting is easy on the eyes and won’t give the recruiter a headache.
Add an extra line between paragraphs so that your cover letter is easy to scan within a few seconds. Recruiters are busy people, remember?
Not sure how to format your cover letter and choose the best layout? Check out our guide to cover letter formatting or, even better, use our cover letter builder that does the job for you.
Double your impact with a matching resume and cover letter combo. Use our cover letter generator and make your application documents pop out.
Want to try a different look? There's 21 more. A single click will give your document a total makeover. Pick a cover letter template here.
2. Write a Professional Cover Letter Header
Writing a cover letter heading sounds simple, but if you happen to get it wrong, your job application is doomed.
Fortunately, writing cover letter headers is easy. Just follow this template:
[Your First and Last Name]
[Your Job Title]
[LinkedIn Profile URL]
[Location / Date of Writing]
[Hiring Manager’s First and Last Name]
[Hiring Manager’s Professional Title]
[Name of Company]
[Company Street Address]
[City, State, Zip Code]
You can also add links to other online profiles that are relevant for your job. For example, you can link to your GitHub if you’re a software developer. If you’re an illustrator, add a link to your portfolio on Behance.
Expert Hint: Double-check your cover letter header for typos—no hiring manager wants to see their name misspelled! Also, make sure your contact info is the same as the info you give in your resume header.
3. Know How to Open a Cover Letter with a Killer First Paragraph
Done with the header? Good, let’s move on to the next step.
Start with a simple, professional greeting. If you’re applying for a corporate job, opt for “Dear Mr./Ms. Lastname”. If your dream employer has a more relaxed company culture, you can write “Dear Firstname” instead.
Can’t find the hiring manager’s name in the job ad? Research the company’s website, do a quick search on Google or LinkedIn… or just call the company and ask who’s responsible for the hiring process.
If you still can’t find out their name, write “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Hiring Team”. This greeting isn’t as great as addressing a letter to a specific person, but it’s still better than “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To whom it may concern”.
Now it’s time to write the first paragraph.
Your main goal here is to grab the reader’s attention and make them read on. Here are some ways to start a cover letter:
- Tell a brief story of your key achievement
- Drop a name
- Mention the company’s recent achievement and compliment them on it
Let’s look at some examples.
Cover Letter Examples: Opening Paragraph
In this opening paragraph, the candidate shares two epic achievements and promises to bring similar value to the company she’s applying to.
This is wrong in at least three ways.
First, “Hi there” isn’t the best way to address a hiring manager at a bank.
Second, simply having 7+ years of experience doesn’t automatically make you qualified for a specific job.
Third, this intro is simply boring. HR people see those clichés dozens of times every day, and, unless they’re extremely bored and have nothing else to do, they won’t read the rest of the letter.
4. Prove You’re the Best Person for This Job
Our candidate, Jennifer, is applying for a Senior Customer Service Specialist position with The ABC Bank.
Her prospective employer has specific plans: they’re launching a new AI-based, customized platform for personal internet banking. She researched the bank’s website, read the job ad once again, and identified that the employer is specifically looking for:
- A skilled Customer Service Specialist, obviously
- Someone experienced in developing customer surveys to analyze insights
- An employee good at collaboration with members from other teams
In the next paragraph of her cover letter, Jennifer shows two things:
- She’s researched the company and knows what project she’ll be working on.
- She has a history of professional achievements that clearly match the ideal candidate’s profile.
Here’s how she did it:
How to Write a Cover Letter: Second Paragraph
See how she gives specific, highly relevant proof? You can do this too!
Now, let’s look at what another candidate wrote:
OK, so they did customer service stuff. Were they good at it? Just listing a bunch of responsibilities doesn’t prove you were actually good at any of them. After all, someone was responsible for making the Titanic unsinkable!
5. Let Your Cover Letter Show why This is Your Dream Job
In the next paragraph of your cover letter, show why you’re passionate about working for this particular company.
Well, no one wants to hire a person who doesn’t care about their job.
Here are some ways to show your passion:
- Compliment the employer on an award they won or some other recent achievement
- Demonstrate that you share the company’s values
- Make it clear that you’d be honored to be a part of such an excellent team
How to Write a Passionate Cover Letter: Examples
Jenny wrote the following:
You may need to look at the company’s website to learn more about its values. But you always do your research before applying for a job, don’t you?
Also, make sure you tailor this paragraph to every job offer you’re applying to. Don’t be like this person:
This one screams, “I’VE ALREADY COPIED AND PASTED THIS A MILLION TIMES AND I’M NOT GOING TO STOP!”
If you just copy and paste generic phrases like this, recruiters will just assume that you don’t care about this specific job offer. So they won’t care to invite you to an interview either.
6. End Your Cover Letter with a Powerful Call to Action
What’s the point of your cover letter?
To persuade the reader to take action and invite you to a job interview.
And the best way to get someone to act is… by asking them. Yep, it’s that straightforward.
Ask the reader to schedule a call or a meeting, and offer to talk about the value you can bring to the company.
How to End a Cover Letter: Sample Call to Action
Jenny clearly means business. She’s confident, straightforward, and eager to help the employer achieve specific, measurable results. Looks like the right person for the job.
This doesn’t even look like a call to action. Rather, it’s yet another boring cliché—the recruiter will probably just yawn and move on to the candidate.
7. Sign off Like a Pro
You’re almost done!
If you’ve got a scanned version of your handwritten signature, paste it into the document for that cool, ultra-professional look.
After that, repeat your contact information. This is a common practice in business letters and makes it easier for the reader to contact you immediately.
Here’s what it looks like for Jenny:
8. Add a Tasty P. S.
Now your cover letter is basically ready. But if you want to put an extra cherry on the cake, add a P. S. under your sign-off.
In the P. S., promise to tell the reader a story about one of your most impressive achievements. They won’t resist inviting you, even if it’s just to hear the story.
Who doesn’t want to hear a story like that?
Expert Hint: You may be tempted to put a joke in the P. S., but that’s very risky. The joke might fall flat and ruin your entire job application. Stay professional throughout your entire cover letter.
9. Make Sure Your Resume is as Good as Your Cover Letter
Your cover letter, no matter how amazing, is just one half of your job application. Your resume needs to be just as good, so give it some love, too.
With ResumeLab’s resume builder you’ll write your resume in a flash. Get specific content to boost your chances of getting the job. Add job descriptions, bullet points, and skills. Improve your resume in our resume builder now.
Nail it all with a splash of color, choose a clean font, highlight your skills in just a few clicks. You’re the perfect candidate and we’ll prove it. Just pick one of 21 resume templates and get started now.
You’ve just read a ton of information, so let’s recap. Here’s how to write a cover letter for any job or internship:
- Start with a professional cover letter layout and formatting (use our cover letter builder or a free MS Word cover letter template)
- Create a header and make sure it’s perfectly error-free
- Craft an attention-grabbing first paragraph
- Give specific examples showing that you’ve the right person for this specific job
- Show your passion for the company
- Add a call to action
- Sign off like a pro
- Surprise the reader with a P. S. (optional)
Got questions about how to write a great cover letter? Need assistance with writing your cover letter for a job? That’s what the comments section is for. Get in touch and I’ll respond right away.
How to Write a Cover Letter: Frequently Asked Questions
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a one-page document that you send in with your resume. Here's what to include in a cover letter: additional information about your achievements and skills, proof that you're the best candidate for this job, and proof of your passion for this specific company.
Use a cover letter builder to craft a cover letter that follows all best practices.
How to format a cover letter?
Format your cover letter like you would format any business letter:
- Your contact info
- The date and your location
- The recruiter's contact info
- Business salutation (Ideally "Dear Mr./Ms...")
- Opening paragraph
- Closing paragraph
- Sign-off ("Best regards" followed by your name will do just fine)
- Optional P. S.
Is a cover letter the same as a resume?
A resume provides an overview of your career and education, usually in the form of bullet points. A cover letter, on the other hand, provides context and explains why you're the best candidate. To make sure your job application is successful, submit both a resume and a cover letter. Use a resume builder and a matching cover letter builder for a consistent look.
Is a cover letter necessary?
Short answer: yes. More than 70% of recruiters prefer candidates who do send a cover letter, even if the job ad says it's optional.
Unless you're applying via an online form where you can't upload a cover letter, always make sure to include one. Use a cover letter builder to make the writing process quick and painless.
How to write a good cover letter?
Here are some tips for writing a successful cover letter:
- Keep it short and to the point
- Pick a professional cover letter template
- Tailor your cover letter to a specific job offer—never send out generic cover letters!
- Craft a strong opening paragraph
- Explain how you'll bring value to the company
- Show passion
- Close with a compelling call to action
How long should a cover letter be?
200–350 words. This is a good cover letter length to aim for—just enough to put your message across without unnecessary fluff.
What do employers look for in a cover letter?
Here's what employers want to see in your cover letter:
- Clear, to-the-point writing
- Solid proof that your skills and achievements will bring value to the company
- A genuine passion for this specific company and this specific role
- Your understanding of the company's values
- Signs that you've researched the company before applying
Check out more cover letter writing tips.
How to address a cover letter without a name?
If you can't find the recruiter's name in the job ad or on the company website, opt for "Dear Hiring Team" or "Dear Hiring Manager".
Take care to avoid outdated, impersonal phrases like "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To whom it may concern". Learn more in the dedicated guide to addressing cover letters.