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!
Cover Letter TemplatesCover letter templates are a great starting point for writing your cover letter, here is our advice on how to choose and use cover letter templates.
The Benefits of Using Cover Letter Templates
Cover letters, being somewhat antiquated and rarely used, can be a bit of a mystery to put together when they are required as part of a job application. Whether you are a young professional with little experience writing cover letters or a seasoned professional, cover letters can be tricky. Enter cover letter templates.
Cover letter templates are a great resource to help you answer questions about what to include in your cover letter and how to format it. Since cover letters are meant to be short--roughly 400 words--each piece of information you include needs to be deliberate and purposeful.
Checking out different cover letter templates and learning the basic formats and necessary components will benefit you in your current job search and in any future searches. Ultimately, cover letter templates act as a step-by-step guide for writing your own cover letter. Keep in mind that the best template for your cover letter could change with each job application.
Jobscan-approved cover letter template
Jobscan-approved cover letter template
The Wrong Way to Use a Cover Letter Template
Here at Jobscan, we spend a lot of time talking about resumes. We even wrote a whole page about resume templates. Just like there are with resume templates, there are also right and wrong ways to use cover letter templates.
One of the incorrect ways of using a cover letter template is to simply rephrase exactly what your resume says. Why? A cover letter is not a resume. The purpose of a resume is to pull out the most important parts of your work and educational history, sharing only brief, measurable information about each part. The purpose of a cover letter is to pick out a few of the most relevant pieces of information from your resume, and use them to back up your explanation of why you are the best candidate for each particular job. Your cover letter builds on your resume, it does not mirror it.
Another incorrect way to use a cover letter template is to choose the very first template you come across. Sure, that template could, in theory, be the best one. However, your goal when searching for the correct template is to find one that fits both your work experience and the job you are applying for seamlessly.
Even when you find the best cover letter template for you, it is important that you don’t mindlessly enter the information that the template suggests. Be picky about what you decide to include in your cover letter. If the template suggests adding a particular piece of information that you find irrelevant to the job, don’t include it.
Furthermore, never copy and paste into the template. Open a blank document beside the cover letter template and start writing your cover letter from scratch, using the template as a reference. Copy and pasting won’t only keep you from being critical, it may also create formatting errors and eliminate and important stage of the editing process. Recruiters can spot copy and pasting from a mile away, and they will stop reading as soon as they recognize it. If a cover letter doesn’t show effort, you won’t seem serious about the job.
In fact, don’t even use a template (funny how we mention this in a cover letter template post). Write one from scratch as if you were writing to someone you already know (imagine the recruiter is your childhood friend’s buddy). Your personality will come across and you won’t sound like a genetic clone of another candidate. But if you’re running blank, we have templates for you to reference.
The Correct Way to Use a Cover Letter Template
Cover letters are meant to give the hiring manager a glimpse into your accomplishments as well as your personality. They put your experience into perspective for each job you apply for, showing the hiring manager why and how you would be a great fit. Cover letter templates can be especially valuable when transitioning careers because you can highlight specific skills and experiences.
Each cover letter you write should expand on only the most relevant and valuable pieces of your experience pertaining to the job. Using measurable results while writing your cover letter--think percentages, dollar amounts and other numbers--are the cherry on top of the perfect cover letter.
Cover letter templates hold most of their value in their structure. One of the trickiest parts of writing a cover letter is just figuring out what goes where. Use a template to help you set up your paragraphs and sections. The content and headings within each section will vary from person to person.
Take your time browsing cover letters, and remember that one template might work well for a particular job, while another will work better for another job. Your cover letter should remain extremely malleable throughout the application process. Do not use the same one for every job.
The example below shows a well-constructed cover letter template. The headings show the framework of a basic cover letter. The information below those headings are examples of how to fill in those blocks. A framework is exactly how you should think of a cover letter template.
Example of a correctly-written cover letter
How to Make Your Cover Letter Template Your Own
The point of a cover letter is to make your personal skills and accomplishments shine. While using a cover letter template will help you organize your cover letter and generate ideas for what to include, making your cover letter your own is crucial to the process.
Your letter template will be your guide to writing your personalized cover letter. The correct way to use a cover letter template is to not copy the content in the sections exactly. Rather, determine which sections and information make the most sense for you and the job your are applying for, and mold your cover letter to fit that information.
In order to customize it to both you and each job you apply for. At every stage of the writing process, ask yourself, “is this the best depiction of me?” and “Is this relevant to the job?”.
These questions mean that you should not be using the same cover letter for every job you apply for. While the structure can remain the same, the content needs to be tailored carefully for each job.
A big part of customizing your cover letter is research. Do research using the job posting, company website and similar resources. This research will help you direct your cover letter, and it will better prepare you for a future interview with that company.
Final piece of advice, don’t think cover letter as a the traditional cover letter. Think of it as a message to introduce yourself and why they should meet with you. It can be casually professional.
Free Cover Letter Templates
Cover Letter Templates FAQ
What is a cover letter template?
A cover letter template is an outline or guide to use while writing your cover letter. Think of it as the skeleton or outline of your cover letter.
Where are the cover letter templates in Microsoft Word?
While Microsoft Word does not have a cover letter template, Microsoft Office does.
What is the difference between a cover letter and a resume?
A resume is a technical document listing your measurable work history. A cover letter expands upon the most important and relevant aspects of your resume.
Is a cover letter template the same as an example?
Some cover letter templates are examples, while others are blank except for headings. If you are less familiar with cover letters, you may benefit more from using cover letter examples alongside your template.
Jobscan Learning Center The Jobscan Cover Letter Learning Series
Part 1: Cover Letter Writing Guide
Jobscan’s Guide to Writing an Effective Cover Letter
Part 2: Cover Letter Formats
Formatting a cover letter can be frustrating but Jobscan walks you through cover letter formats from A to Z in this complete guide.
Part 3: Cover Letter Templates
Cover letter templates are a great starting point for writing your cover letter, here is our advice on how to choose and use cover letter templates.
Part 4: Cover Letter Examples
Cover letter examples can be helpful or confusing to a job seeker. Here is Jobscan's top advice on using the best cover letter examples.