This traditional cover letter sample will help you make a winning first impression on hiring managers so you can land a coveted interview slot.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a document job applicants use to convey the credentials and experience that make them a strong fit for a job. It offers candidates a chance to go beyond what’s in their resume, sharing specific examples or anecdotes that give more context to their application.
A cover letter is typically three to four paragraphs long and is sent alongside your resume and any other materials required to complete your job application.
Why is it important to send a letter?
Your cover letter is the first thing the hiring manager sees when opening your job application. Its purpose is to grab their attention, explain why you’re a good fit for the job, and get them interested in learning more about you so they’ll follow up to schedule an interview.
The fact is, hiring managers will see many, many cover letters that aren’t very good. So, if you can write one that stands out, you’ll have a much better chance of moving forward in the interview process. Using a cover letter sample as inspiration can help you achieve that.
What to include
There’s no one-size-fits all formula for writing a great cover letter. Some are short, others are longer. Some are formal, while others use a lighter tone. Normally, though, most effective cover letters follow the same general structure, which is as follows:
- Introduction. The first paragraph of your cover letter gives a brief overview of who you are, what position you’re applying for and how you heard about the job. If someone referred you to the position, this is the place where you’d mention that.
- Your pitch. Your second and third paragraphs should make the case for why you’re a strong fit for the role. Cite one to two concrete examples, like a successful accomplishment in your current role or a result you achieved for your employer.
- Conclusion. The final paragraph of your cover letter functions as a call to action to get the reader to take the next step and offer you an interview. Use this paragraph to share what you look forward to contributing to the company or what you have that other candidates don’t.
Cover letter tips
Customize your cover letter for every position
Remember a moment ago when we said hiring managers get a lot of bad cover letters? It’s mostly because candidates fail to customize the letter for the job. It’s incredibly easy to tell when a candidate is simply copying and pasting the same letter for dozens of jobs. This not only looks careless, but is a missed opportunity to speak to why you’re a strong fit for this particular role. So, you should always take the extra time to tailor your cover letter to the job you’re applying to.
Know your audience
In most cases, you should address the cover letter to the hiring manager. This is not the same person for every open role at a company. Rather, it’s the manager who’s overseeing the hiring process for that particular role. Sometimes it’s listed in the job description; other times you can find out by getting in touch with the company’s HR department. Once you know the name of the hiring manager, it’s a good idea to look them up on Google or LinkedIn to learn a bit more about them, like their role at the company and what teams they oversee. This background information will be helpful in making your cover letter as effective as possible.
Write according to the job description
The job description itself is another great piece of background info to use when formulating your cover letter. It’s essentially a laundry list of the characteristics and skills that are most important for the job–these are the ones you’ll want to play up and give examples of in your letter.
Share interesting examples
Another top cover letter mistake candidates make is simply regurgitating their resume. If your job application is a hamburger, your resume is the beef patty–the meat of your job experience. Think of your cover letter as the toppings–the colorful additions that make this burger enticing and different from all the rest. It’s your chance to add some flavor. Do this by choosing interesting, specific examples and/or anecdotes to use in the middle paragraphs of your letter.