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!
Looking for some examples of what it takes to write a great cover letter? Well then you’re in the right place! Take a look at our comprehensive list below to find a prime example from your industry. All of our samples are free to download, so you can customize them based on your needs. However, if you still need a helping hand, our expert’s guide will give you the tools you need to create the perfect cover letter.
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SEE ALSO> Library of Industry-specific Resume Examples
Cover Letter samples sorted by:
Job & Industry
Accounting & Finance
Working in the world of finance, you know that numbers are king. As such, impressive stats and figures from your professional experience should always be emphasized in your cover letter. If you work in accounting, quantifying your accomplishments in terms of things like budgets, increases in revenue, or money saved is essential.
If you’re an analyst on the other hand, display your passion for crunching numbers, and how your investigative insights helped drive improvement. Check out our industry-specific accounting and finance samples for more concrete examples of how to write your own!
Arts, Entertainment & Music
Although working in the art and entertainment industry is all about showcasing your creative flair, try not to go overboard with your cover letter. Instead, use the standard format to prove your creativityby describing in detail what you’ve accomplished. Listing specific design projects, highlighting pieces of art, or outlining key companies you’ve worked for is a good way to achieve this.
Also, be sure to include any specific abilities you have within your field that will benefit your target company, such as the prosthetics skills mentioned in our make-up artist example. For a better idea on how to properly showcase your artistic talents, check out our industry-specific samples and writing guides.
Construction & Labor
Construction and labor jobs require hands-on experience using specific tools and techniques to get the job done. In your cover letter, it’s important to emphasize how you used certain equipment and technical skills to complete projects, make repairs, and perform maintenance. Many jobs in the construction and labor industry also require certain certifications and licenses, so be sure to highlight those as well. For specific examples and further information, take a look at our construction and labor samples.
The customer service and retail industries are all about interacting with customers in a positive way to promotes sales. As such, your cover letter should highlight your interpersonal skills — but remember to be descriptive. List thespecific ways you’ve helped improve customer experience and got the cash flowing. Our various customer service samples will show you how best to emphasize the skills, personal traits, and experience valued most in the industry.
Getting into domestic work, such as housekeeping, requires trust. In particular, you need the client or company to trust you enough to allow you into their most private spaces. Your letter should be designed to establish your reliability right off the bat. The best way to do this is to highlight your experience, as well as your amicable relationships with current and/or former employers.
Also, it’s important to showcase that you can accomplish your duties with the utmost care and responsibility. Take a look at our examples to get a better idea of how to clean up house with your domestic worker cover letter.
Drivers & Transportation
As someone working in the transportation industry, it is essential that you showcase your experience with specific types of vehicles and equipment. Your cover letter should detail your years of experience driving certain vehicles, as well as specific state licenses or certifications for hauling different types of cargo. Also, be sure to highlight the specific skills used in your particular driving expertise, and how they will benefit the role you’re applying to.
For example, if you’re a delivery driver you should emphasize your ability to make deliveries on-time, whereas a long-haul truck driver should focus on their adherence to safety standards when carrying heavy loads. Take a look at our driver and transportation samples to get a better idea of how to write your own stand-out.
Education & Teaching
Writing a cover letter for jobs in the education and teaching field is all about the details. It is especially important to highlight your relevant education, certifications, and experience. For example, do you have specific experience teaching a certain type or age group of students? Do you have any special certifications in special education or child development?
Make sure you describe these in detail, and explain how you used them to enhance the education of your students. In addition, quantifying your efforts is essential. State how many students you taught, or by what percentage you increased their grades and test scores. To get a better idea of how to accomplish all this, take a look at our library of education and teaching example letters.
As someone working in the food service industry, the aspects you want to highlight on your cover letter will differ depending on your job. If you’re a chef, you should emphasize the specific types of restaurants, cuisines, and ingredients you have experience with.
If you work as a server, you should focus on your customer service traits and abilities, and how you used them to improve things such as the rate of return customers. A bartender on the other hand, is more of a mixed bag. To get a better idea of how to display your job-specific strengths, take a look at our food service samples.
When writing a cover letter for jobs in the Information Technology (IT) field, specificity is your ally. Simply stating that you have certain technical skills and knowledge is not going to cut it. Instead, describing how you used such skills to complete projects will demonstrate your abilities to the hiring manager, and get you an interview.
Also, make sure the projects and technical skills you include are relevant to the job you are applying for. Take a look at our IT sample to see some concrete examples on how to accomplish this.
Law Enforcement & Public Safety
As someone working in law enforcement and public safety, your commitment to protecting the laws of the land, as well as others, is of paramount importance. Therefore, your cover letter should highlight in detail what you did to uphold the law, protect the public/clients, or secure facilities. Our various law enforcement and public safety samples will give you a better idea of how to accomplish this for your industry.
Life is a journey — you never know where you’re going to end up. When you’re at a crossroads in your professional life, taking a new direction can sometimes be overwhelming. But fear not! Your pals at Resume Companion are here to help you with your transition.
The key is figuring out what transferable skills and experiences you can apply to your new target profession. Our expert writing tips and examples will show you exactly how to emphasize these traits in your cover letter.
Marketing & Sales
If you’re working in marketing or sales, when it really comes down to it you only have one job — increase your company’s revenue. As such, your cover letter should highlight how you used specific marketing and sales strategies and techniques to boost profits. This could be anything from social media campaigns, to improved relations with clients through customer service initiatives.
However, make sure you focus on achievements that would also benefit your target company. To get a better idea of how to market yourself using your own letter, take a look at the samples provided by our experts.
Nursing & Healthcare
In the healthcare service industry, you quite literally have people’s lives in your hands. As a result, your cover letter needs to prove that you take patient care seriously. You can do this by emphasizing that you have the education, certifications, expertise, and licenses to fulfill the job requirements.
For example, if you’re a nurse and you fail to mention you have the licenses and certifications required, the hiring manager won’t take you seriously, and might not even take a look at your resume. Our healthcare example letters will show you how best to highlight your training, as well as how to show you used that expertise to excel in your medical profession.
Depending on whether you are an administrative assistant, manager, or human resources specialist, the specific tasks you perform as an office worker will be different. However, one thing that will not change is the need to showcase your ability to work well in an office environment.
Towards this end, be sure to include at least two soft skills related to the smooth operations of an office in your cover letter. Communication and organizational skills are good examples of what a hiring manager will be looking for. You can find more details of exactly how to accomplish this in our office worker samples.
Students & Internships
As a student, the key to landing an internship or job without work experience is highlighting your relevant education and academic achievements. Specifically, explain how you will apply the skills and knowledge you have gained in school to the job you are applying to.
In order to do this properly, you need to do your homework — research what the company is doing and explain how your coursework, extracurricular activities, or personal traits will make you an asset to those endeavors. Reading through our sample student and internship cover letters will give you a better idea of how to write your own.