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!
How to Write a Cover Letter for an Unadvertised Job
Cover Letter Sample and Writing Tips for a Job That's Not Advertised
Not all companies advertise job openings. Some companies get plenty of applicants without advertising. Other companies may not be in hiring mode but will consider applications from qualified candidates if they anticipate an opening in the near future.
Sending a resume and cover letter to an employer even though you aren't sure if there are available jobs, is a way to get your candidacy noticed. It may also get you advance considered for positions that have just opened up.
If you have skills the company is in need of, it may even get you considered for a brand new position.
When you know an employer has an opening, don't hesitate to apply. If you have a company you'd love to work for, consider taking the time to reach out and connect regardless of whether the organization is currently hiring.
Tips for Writing a Cover Letter for an Unadvertised Job
What's the best way to apply for unadvertised job openings? It depends on whether you know there is a position available, but the company hasn't listed it, or if there's a company you want to work for and you don't know if there are open jobs.
When You Know There is a Job Opening
If you know the company is hiring but hasn't advertised the position, write a traditional cover letter expressing your interest in the open position at the company. Be sure to specifically relate your qualifications to the job.
When You Don't Know if the Company is Hiring
Writing a cover letter for an unadvertised opening (also known as a cold contact cover letter or letter of interest) is a little different than writing a cover letter for a job that you know is available.
With this type of letter, you will need to make a strong pitch for yourself and how you can help the company.
Below are some tips for how to write a cover letter for an unadvertised opening.
- Mention your contacts. If you know someone at the organization, mention this at the beginning of the cover letter. Having a contact at the company is a great way to get your foot in the door, even if the company isn’t actively hiring.
- Use paper or email. You can send you letter via paper or email. Sending an old-fashioned paper letter works well for this type of letter, because it may have a better chance of being read than an email, which could be deleted without even being opened.
- Include a resume. Whether you send your cover letter via paper or email, be sure to include a copy of your resume. Make sure you tailor your resume to the company and the type of job you are looking for.
What to Include in Your Cover Letter
Below is detailed information on what to include in your cover letter, along with links to example cover letters.
Your Contact Information
City, State, Zip Code
If you can find a contact person at the company, direct your letter or email message to them. Here's how to find contacts at companies.
If you can't locate a contact person, address your letter to "Dear Hiring Manager" or leave out this section and start with the first paragraph of your letter.
Body of Cover Letter
The goal of your letter is to get noticed as a prospective employee even if the company isn't hiring immediately. Your letter should explain the reason for your interest in the organization, and identify your most relevant skills or experiences and explain why you would be an asset to the organization.
The first paragraph of your letter should include information on why you are writing. If you know someone at the company mention it now. Be specific as to why you are interested in this particular company.
The next section of your cover letter should describe what you have to offer the employer. Again, be specific as to how you can help the organization.
Conclude your cover letter by thanking the employer for considering you for employment.
Best Regards, (or choose another closing from the examples below)
Handwritten Signature (for a mailed letter)
When you are sending an email letter, be sure to include all your contact information in your signature.
Cover Letter Example for a Job That's Not Advertised
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. Contact,
As an Information Technology professional with high-level management experience in the IT industry, I learned that the best way to achieve success was to motivate the resources I had with well-defined objectives and empowerment.
A management belief based on integrity, quality, and service, along with a positive attitude, an aptitude for strategic thought and planning, and the ability to adapt quickly to new ideas and situations allows me to achieve consistent and significant successes in multiple industries.
My personality profile says:
- A confident, driven individual who reacts quickly to change.
- A self-starter with a strong sense of urgency who responds positively to challenge and pressure.
- A fast learner who is a practical and ingenuous problem solver.
- A fluent and articulate communicator, flexible and responsive. A self-directed, goal-oriented doer.
My former managers' say:
"…The Information Technology Analysis will serve as a guideline for making positive contributions …your management style provided a footprint for younger members of our organization… a very positive impression of the contributions you made to our business and its growth." Gregory Hines, President and CEO, Information Data Technology.
"…the most important source of growth in our data technology business …able to focus the team and manage the product to a successful introduction …due in large part to his own personal commitment ...excellent IT project management and operational management skills." Pauline Hallenback, CTO at Information Systems.
"…your strengths as a manager are many and varied …all issues are confronted in a timely manner …management by objectives comes as a second nature to you…" Jackson Brownell, Director of Operations, Denver Technologies.
ABC Company is a company that would provide me with the opportunity to put my personality, skills, and successes to work. At a personal meeting, I would like to discuss with you how I will contribute to the continued growth of your company.
Proofread Your Documents
Carefully proofread both your resume and cover letter before you send them. Here are proofreading tips for job seekers.
How to Send Your Letter
When sending your letter via email, write your letter in the email message and attach your resume to the message. In the subject line, put your name and the reason for writing (Your Name - Introduction).
How to Send Your Resume With Your Cover Letter
Here's how to send your resume with your cover letter:
Letter of Interest Samples
How to Write a Letter of Interest