A good cover letter centers on why you’re drawn to a particular job or hiring organization. See below to learn about this writing approach and how you can use it to get more interviews for your next career opportunity.

Bridge the Interview Gap

While a resume lets you show you’re qualified for a job, it doesn’t allow you to speak to employers directly. And in today’s job search, hiring managers don’t just need to know you’re a great employee – they must know you’re a great employee for their organization.

That’s why a cover letter is useful: It bridges the communication gap between your resume and an interview. With this document, you can tell a manager specifically why you’re attracted to their job opening or organization. You can also reveal more about your soft skills or communication style and provide context for issues such as employment gaps. Details like these may be crucial to starting a good conversation with a manager or recruiter.

Brainstorm Key Points

Before starting work on a personalized cover letter, you’ll need:

  • A working draft of your resume
  • A job posting or description you plan on pursuing

Once you have those two items, take 10 minutes to brainstorm and jot down on a blank document or sheet of paper why this job interests you. What does the role or organization share with your background or goals? For instance, maybe it’s an outside sales role in an industry you’re eager to return to. Or maybe the company’s brand or business model appeals to you somehow.

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Tip!

Tip!

Research the employer. If a job posting gives few details on the hiring company, visit their website for more info. In addition to the home page, look at their “About Us” or “Careers” pages. Also, visit any linked social media pages to see how they present themselves. Are they formal and sophisticated, or down-to-earth and approachable? Figuring out the company’s voice makes it easier to strike the right tone in your cover letter.

When you’re done brainstorming, review your notes: Do any stand out as important or persuasive? Take another 10 minutes to brainstorm and elaborate on them. Repeat this process until you have at least two or three concise sentences that speak to the job opening at hand.

Example


Your brand’s product set and focus on corporate clients is an ideal fit with my skills and experience. A driven professional with deep knowledge of local markets, I can help your team significantly increase its revenue in 2024.

With this type of paragraph as the focus of your cover letter, you’ll show hiring managers you read their job posting and are responding to it directly. It helps distinguish your cover letter from your resume. This also gets you past applicant tracking systems and sets the stage for a good discussion about how you fit the role and the office’s work culture.

This approach takes longer than sending the same generic letter for each application. But it can shorten your overall job search by getting you more interviews for jobs that truly interest you.

The Six Parts of a Cover Letter

Once you’ve written a job-specific paragraph, you can frame the rest of your cover letter around it. See below for our suggested outline. Note: While much of this content can stay the same across job applications, we’ve added tips on how to customize details further when possible.

1. Heading

At the top of the page, include:

  • Your name and contact information
  • The date
  • The recipient’s name, title, company, and contact information (when available)

(Feel free to omit this section if you send your letter by email and your contact details are part of your signature.)

Example


Savannah Bateman
Sales Representative | [email protected] | (678) 901-2345 | Columbus, OH 01234 | LinkedIn

February 11, 2024

Emma Neal
Senior Hiring Manager
Staples
(543) 210-9876
[email protected]

2. Salutation

When possible, address your recipient by name. Otherwise, use a variation of “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Examples


Dear Ms. Young:

Dear Sales Hiring Manager:

3. “Hook” or introduction

After you address your letter to the correct party, catch their attention by citing an achievement from your resume or a key credential the company seeks in applicants. Make it interesting yet relevant, and don’t be afraid to get creative when applying to a company with a more casual work culture.

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Tip!

Tip!

Feel free to name-drop in your intro if you learned about the company from a friend who works there. If you don’t personally know anyone at the company but have had contact with some employees, mention that. For example, you may have spoken with the receptionist or sales manager when you called to inquire whether the company was hiring. In this case, write something like “After speaking with Tom, your night manager for the production line…”

Example


As sales manager at The ABC Agency, I’ve led a 20-person team to exceed monthly quotas and grow annual revenue by 20% in two years. With my passion for sales training, I could be a valuable asset to your organization.

4. Body paragraph(s)

Here’s where you can explain why you’re drawn to this specific job or employer and cite your top professional strengths. Following are three more examples of this all-important section.

Example


I’m drawn to 123 Corporation based on its recent expansion into the medical supply field. I feel my past work with hospital suppliers and experience in the health care niche can benefit your company.

Example


My current role, which is the result of two promotions, has allowed me to both hone my graphic design skills and gain experience managing and developing junior designers. Given your firm’s emphasis on career development and graphic excellence, I would be a great fit for its culture and design needs.

Example


Your job posting jumped out at me, particularly the requirement for a patient care technician who “can shift nimbly between certified nursing assistant (CNA) and nurse duties in a constantly changing environment.” This is a key skill I’ve gained at PQR Hospital. The hospital has seen many changes and challenges recently, but I’ve consistently drawn praise for my adaptability to new duties and priorities.

5. Career highlights

Add a short list of bullet points to show your success in other key work areas for your target role. It’s fine to use highlights from your resume, but seek ways to tailor this section to each application. For instance, if the job posting calls for someone “highly reliable,” consider citing any attendance awards you’ve won or other work highlights that reflect your accountability.

Example


My recent achievements include:

  • Leading a local market research project that improved our product positioning and grew revenue by 43% in 2023
  • Generating more than 110% of my quota for five consecutive quarters
  • Converting 81% of leads into sales, with 62% becoming repeat customers

6. Closing and signature

Finally, request an interview and thank the hiring manager for their time. If possible, reiterate why the employer or job opportunity intrigues you.

Example


I would like to further discuss the sales executive position at The Big Sales Company and how my skills can benefit your team. Please call or email me to schedule an interview. I appreciate your time and look forward to possibly hearing from you soon.

Kind regards,

Simon Bishop

Cover Letter Examples

Text-Only Cover Letter Examples

  • Editor
  • Human Resources
  • Customer Success Manager

Candace Brown 
Editor | [email protected] | (123) 456-7890 | Portland, OR 12345 | LinkedIn

January 1, 2024

Allen Jones
Hiring Manager
Innovate Web Solutions
(987) 654-3210
[email protected]

Dear Mr. Jones,

As the senior editor at Portland Web Creators Inc., I oversaw all aspects of copy editing and quality assurance for over 300 web pages across a diverse client base. I identified opportunities to enhance content quality and improve search engine optimization (SEO) performance, resulting in a 30% increase in repeat business. I’m confident my marketing and web page development expertise would be a strong asset for the editor position at your organization.

Innovate Web Solution’s reputation for producing dynamic web content draws me to apply for this position. As a senior editor, I pride myself on my ability to enhance brand messaging for client websites. I believe my experience in editing and content development will continue to grow your prestigious reputation based on the following accomplishments from my career:

  • Led the development, editing, and publishing of web page copy for client accounts valued at up to $130,000 and managed a team of over 20 copywriters, editors, and marketing specialists
  • Performed quality assurance reviews on drafts from the creative team and identified opportunities to refine language, brand messaging, and keyword optimization, which generated increases of 50% to 100% in organic traffic for customer sites
  • Coordinated cross-functionally with graphic designers, web developers, and client stakeholders to ensure alignment with brand identity and customer goals

I would like to schedule an interview to provide more insights into how my editing and SEO experience can help drive success for your clients. Feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience for any additional questions you may have. I appreciate your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Candace Brown

John Smith
Human Resource Manager | [email protected] | (1654) 739-9183 | 678 Location Rd., San Antonio, TX 78206

February 9, 2024

Julie Jefferson
Senior Hiring Officer
The People Company
(346) 024-7536
[email protected]

Dear Ms. Jefferson,

In my current position, I implemented a new employee retention plan, which resulted in a 50% reduction in the total employee turnover rate within the company. The retention plan included an employee wellness program, additional staff benefits and an internal promotions program. I believe this is a great example of my success and demonstrates that I could be a great asset to The People Company’s team.

With 12 years of experience in Human Resources and a degree in Human Resource Management, I was drawn to The People Company because of the firm’s impressive employee retention rate and reputation for high-performing staff.

If I were to secure a role at The People Company, I assure you I will bring an even greater rate of success to the team. My previous accomplishments include:

  • Improved employee satisfaction by 28% via an incentive program.
  • Increased the speed of paperwork processing time by 30% in one year.
  • Established new application requirements to increase the quality of interviewees.

I would like to set up an interview to discuss further my capabilities, work experience and the benefits I can bring to The People Company team.

Sincerely,

John Smith

P.S. — I’d also like to tell you all about how I was shortlisted for an HR Excellence award!

Selena Ramirez
Customer Success Manager | [email protected] | (123) 456-7890 | Miami, FL 12345 | LinkedIn

January 1, 2024

Rachel Johnson
Hiring Manager
Advanced Marketing Solutions
(987) 654-3210
[email protected]

Dear Ms. Johnson,

At Brand Storytelling Inc., I led the development of the customer success departments and oversaw a team of more than 60 personnel to deliver brand consulting and digital marketing services. By establishing new support models, my team improved client satisfaction scores from 85% to 94% for top accounts. I can achieve similar success for your organization in the customer success manager position.

Advanced Marketing Solutions has a reputation for excellence in its dedication to customer care, which strongly aligns with my professional background. I’m confident I can help your organization continue to enhance its delivery of marketing consulting services based on my career achievements:

  • Built, developed, and managed the customer success department and defined strategies to enhance the client experience for accounts valued at up to $15 million
  • Coordinated with the director of marketing to refine digital marketing services based on brand objectives and market expansion opportunities, resulting in a 94% customer satisfaction rating
  • Led the customer onboarding process, identified opportunities to enhance client engagement, and served as the point of contact for senior management and stakeholders

I would like to schedule an interview to provide more insights into how my expertise in organizational development can help you improve your customer success department. You may contact me via phone or email at your earliest convenience. I appreciate your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Selena Ramirez

Cover Letter Frequently Asked Questions

Do I really need a cover letter for my job search?-

Yes, in most cases. Job postings today usually require or allow you to send a cover letter and resume. Granted, not every hiring manager reads or prioritizes them. But a strong letter can help you stand out by expressing your genuine interest in the role or organization. It will also help you clarify what points to emphasize during the interview.

What’s the best way to start a cover letter?-

With a clear example of your success in the role you’re after. The concept of “show, don’t tell” absolutely applies to your cover letter’s opening. For instance, don’t just tell the hiring manager you’re a “proactive program manager.” Show you’re proactive by citing a time you exceeded expectations or found a new way to enhance project oversight.

What should my cover letter’s design look like?-

Your resume’s. Carry over all of that document’s basic format settings, like font style, line spacing, and page margins. Also, copy in the exact same contact header.

How long should my cover letter be?-

No more than one page, or around 250 words. Resist the urge to tell your whole career story, even if you have extensive background in your target role. Give just enough detail to pique hiring managers’ interest so they look closely at your resume.

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Jacob Meade

Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW, ACRW)

Jacob Meade is a resume writer and editor with nearly a decade of experience. His writing method centers on understanding and then expressing each person’s unique work history and strengths toward their career goal. Jacob has enjoyed working with jobseekers of all ages and career levels, finding that a clear and focused resume can help people from any walk of life. He is an Academy Certified Resume Writer (ACRW) with the Resume Writing Academy, and a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) with the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches.