Just like no two snowflakes are alike, neither should any two cover letters look the same. Even if you're applying to lots of jobs, you should make sure each of your cover letters is unique and tailored to the target job.
Of course, no one’s born knowing how to write the perfect cover letter. To help you write yours, this guide has six free samples of cover letters for various jobs. Scroll down to the middle of the article for the cover letter samples, or first check out these tips for writing a cover letter for your job application!
Why Are Cover Letters Important?
In many cases, your cover letter represents your first communication with your potential employer. Through the written word, you communicate your interest in the new job and make your case for why you’d be the best person for the role.
The job market's always competitive, but a stand-out cover letter can differentiate you from other candidates. It can also help personalize your candidacy beyond your resume. Remember, everyone's human here. While cover letters range in tone from formal to conversational, the best ones manage to connect with their readers.
Hiring managers often sort through applications quickly, deciding in just a few minutes who moves on to an interview and who gets a disappointing email that begins with, “Unfortunately…” - or worse, gets no response at all!
As the applicant, your mission is to send a cover letter that gets you noticed and leaves an impression of competence, professionalism, and cultural fit. So how exactly can you fulfill this mission?
One way is to make sure your cover letter contains a few key features. Read on for the four most important characteristics of great cover letters!
What Should Your Cover Letter Include? 4 Main Features
There are several components that go into a great cover letter. To start this guide, we’ve picked out four of the most important ones to guide your writing. Your letter should do all of the following.
1. It Should Reflect the Job Description
Perhaps this goes without saying, but your cover letter should be customized to the job for which you’re applying. Don’t send a generic letter that could apply to lots of different companies. Beyond simply inserting the organization name and job title, your letter should be a special snowflake, truly customized to the organization and its available role.
Don't just show you want a job. Show you want that specific job.
The first step in making this happen is deconstructing the job description. Read its requirements closely, and do research into the organization and the industry as a whole. Figure out what qualities they seek and any problems, sometimes referred to as "pain points," that they need solved. Make sure that you reflect this understanding in your letter.
Once you have thorough knowledge of the job description, you can analyze your skill set in relation to it. Rather than talking about what you’re looking for, explain why your skills and experiences make you a good match for the organization or company. Even if you don't have directly related experience, you can show how your skills would transfer to the role. Explain how you could contribute and bring value to the team.
This focus will show the hiring manager(s) that you did your research on the organization and are being thoughtful about your application. By confidently detailing the reasons you’d make a good fit, you can convince your reader of the same.
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Make sure your cover letter stays on track!
2. It Should Give Specific Examples
Another good practice for cover letters is to include specific examples of your professional qualifications and achievements. Rather than solely re-listing the points on your resume, you might expand on them with an example of a past success. Using data, if relevant, is also a powerful way to quantify your accomplishments.
For instance, a marketing manager might describe the specific growth of her company’s online readership. She could write a sentence or two about a particular campaign that met or exceeded its goals. A school counselor, to give a second example, might mention a student she worked with and that student’s progress over the year.
As you read the sample cover letters, take note of how they contain specific examples of the applicant’s work.
3. It Should Communicate Enthusiasm
As a whole, your letter should convey a sense of enthusiasm for the new job and organization. Simply customizing your letter, as discussed in the first point, will show that you were interested enough in the opportunity to do lots of research.
Beyond producing a well-crafted letter, you should incorporate phrases like, “I was pleased to find your posting for" and “I was excited to see this opportunity with your organization.”
Show that you're eager to engage in conversation about the position and what you can contribute. Use positive language to show how excited you are about the opportunity.
4. It Should Be Readable, Clear, and Concise
Your cover letter's not the time to write a long-form narrative about everything you’ve ever done or ever hope to do. Instead, it should be concise and to the point. Cover letters should be a little less than a page, so you want to choose each word carefully and stay on topic.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a strong writer, you can still definitely produce a strong cover letter. If you find yourself rambling in your first draft, you can pare it down to its leanest form in the editing. Your cover letter should communicate the essentials so that the hiring manager can gain a sense of your qualifications with just a brief skim.
To gain a sense of how to do this effectively, check out the cover letter samples below and see how the candidates advocate for themselves via the written word.
Feel free to take a close look at these sample cover letters to guide your own writing.
Cover Letters: 6 Great Samples and Analyses
Now that you have a sense of what makes a strong cover letter, click on the links below for six samples of cover letters for jobs, each followed by a breakdown of what it does well. Some of the prospective jobs include English Teacher, Assistant Restaurant Manager, and Customer Experience Representative. Even if the job you're applying for is totally different than the ones below, you can still use the basic structure and content to guide your thinking.
Before you start reading the samples, a quick note on format. You'll notice that each one includes contact information at the top, as well as the date. This traditional format is good for hard copies or cover letters sent as Word document attachments. If you're pasting your cover letter directly into the body of your email or into a text box on an application portal, then you can leave off this traditional formatting and start with the salutation.
You'll find a few more tips on how to format your cover letter below, but first, the samples!
- Cover Letter Sample for English Teacher Position
- Cover Letter Sample for Marketing Manager Job
- Cover Letter Sample for Editorial Assistant Role
- Cover Letter Sample for Assistant Restaurant Manager
- Cover Letter Sample for Content Editor Position
- Cover Letter Sample for Customer Experience Representative
Once you have a sense of what goes into a good cover letter, scroll down for a few more tips on formatting your letter and making it stand out from the competition!
If possible, try to address your cover letter to a specific person. Not all positions publicize a point person, but I know of a little search tool that might help...
Writing a Cover Letter: Final Tips
In addition to the four key features that you read about at the beginning of this guide, you should pay special attention to a few other pieces of your cover letter. Some pieces to think about are the employer's application instructions, as well as your cover letter's format, salutation, overall focus, and conclusion. Let's consider each one, starting with the instructions.
Follow the Application Instructions
Just as you should research the position and industry before writing your cover letter, you should also make sure to acquaint yourself with any and all application instructions. Many positions will tell you how and when to send your materials, and they might give special guidelines like a word limit or specific question they want you to answer.
One important reason to follow application instructions is that they might shape what your cover letter looks like. If you're pasting it into the body of an email or a text box, then you can cut to the chase and start right in. If you're sending it as a Word attachment or a hard copy (rare), then you could add headers and use a traditional form.
Check out more tips on format in the next section, but make sure to prioritize any application instructions first and foremost as you prepare your materials!
Consider What Format to Use
As you just read, the format you use depends on how you're sending your cover letter, whether as a hard copy / Word attachment or pasted directly into the body of your email. If you're typing your cover letter in the body of an email or a text box on a job application portal, then you typically don't need to add any headers. You can just start right in with the salutation. Considering lots of jobs use their own application websites or ask for an email, starting right in with a "Dear Hiring Manager" is pretty common.
If you're sending a hard copy or attaching the letter as a Word document, then you might include the more traditional format you see reflected in the samples. You'd put a header on top with your name, address, email, and phone number. You could match the header on your cover letter with the header on your resume to give your whole application a cohesive look.
Beneath this header, you'd add the date and the contact information of the hiring manager. If you didn't know the specific person, you could just put the name of the company and its address. The date and company information would be lined up with the left hand margin.
Overall, the letter may be four to five paragraphs: an introduction, two to three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Then you’ll add “Sincerely” and print your name. You might add your phone number and email beneath your printed name if they’re not already present elsewhere.
Address a Specific Person
While it won't always be possible, you should try your best to address a specific person. If the job doesn't indicate a specific point person, try to do some research on the company's website and LinkedIn.
If you can't find a particular person, you might make your audience a little more specific by indicating the position in your salutation. For instance, you could write "Dear Editorial Hiring Manager" or "Dear Marketing Manager Search Committee."
If that doesn't apply, then you could simply write "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear Hiring Professional." You should probably avoid the generic and distant "To Whom It May Concern" (and definitely steer clear of the antiquated "Dear Sirs").
Stay On Topic
Cover letters typically shouldn’t exceed one page, meaning you need to pack a punch in just a few words. Besides editing for clarity and keeping your sentences short and to the point, you should also make sure your letter stays on topic throughout.
You don’t have to address everything on your resume. Just choose the most important skills and qualifications as they relate to the new job. In terms of the flow of ideas, you should order your points according to how relevant they are to the prospective position.
If something feels off topic, then cut it out. Generally, your letter will just get stronger through decisive revision.
Finish Up Strong
There's some debate out there about the best way to finish up a cover letter. Some hiring managers suggest that you should do everything you can to pursue the position, even stating that you'll follow up in a week to discuss the position or arrange a meeting. Other managers, though, say that this kind of language comes off as aggressive and pushy. They say you should thank them for their time and then wait to hear about next steps.
The path you choose largely depends on the type of job and industry you're applying for. A sales professional may show her initiative and communication skills with a follow-up call. Someone in the publishing world, though, may be turned off by this language.
Above all, make sure to follow any application instructions. If a job says "no calls," then you should respect that. And if you do decide to state your intentions to follow up, make sure you do actually follow up when you said you would!
Your conclusion is your last chance to express your enthusiasm for a position and leave a lasting impression. Be thoughtful about how you finish your letter, and make sure to thank the hiring manager and be clear about how and when she can contact you.
In closing, let’s go over the key points to remember as you go forth and draft your own cover letters.
The search committee's super impressed with your cover letter. They'd love to invite you in for an interview.
To Sum Up…
Writing a cover letter can feel like a tall assignment, but it’s also an opportunity for you to advocate for yourself in a powerful way. In your cover letter, you can prove to the hiring manager that you understand what she’s looking for and are the best person for the job.
Your cover letter's often your first impression, so put in the effort to make it professional and enthusiastic. Spend some time deconstructing the job description and analyzing how your skills, knowledge, and qualifications match up.
Then present your skills in a clear and concise way and show that you feel passionate about the prospective position. In the end, your cover letter can differentiate you from the pool of other applicants and land you an interview for your dream job!
Another key part of the job search is your letters of recommendation. Check out our comprehensive guide on recommendation letters, along with nine free samples of reference letters.
Do you have to write a recommendation letter for an employee, coworker, or friend? This recommendation letter template guides you through the writing process, step by step.
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Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.