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!
by Amber Rolfe
Looking to gain some work experience?
No matter what your situation, a well-written work experience letter could make all the difference when it comes to being considered for your ideal placement, not to mention help you to stand out from a number of other applicants.
But how do you ask for it, and what do you need to include?
We’ve already covered what you need to know about work experience placements, but here’s our free work experience letter template, to help you get started:
Download Work Experience Letter Template
Opening the letter – Who are you, and what are you looking for?
In other words, covering the basics.
This section should be short, to the point, and most importantly – accurate.
Always double-check to make sure you’ve got the right address and name, and don’t forget to edit it for each organisation you send your letter to. Because (unsurprisingly), work experience letters addressed to the wrong person won’t impress any employer.
And, as work experience placements are rarely formally advertised, it’ll be up to you to make your own offer. So also give the employer a brief outline of who you are, what you’re doing (e.g. at school, university, or working), and explain what you’re looking for.
Example:I am a Year 10 student from Secondary School, studying GCSEs in Maths, English, and Science, alongside my chosen subjects of Textiles, Graphics, Geography, and Art.
I’d like to enquire about a potential work experience placement at Company Name LTD which I will be available to carry out for two weeks, from Date X-Date Y.
Third paragraph – What are your career goals?
This section should express a genuine interest for your chosen company and field of work, which should coincide with your career goals and ambitions.
And, as it’s likely that many local organisations receive a large number of work experience requests, you’ll need to place emphasis on your enthusiasm if you want to land your perfect placement.
To really stand out, show you’ve done your research, and express an interest in the company’s recent developments and successes.
Whether the organisation has recently launched a marketing campaign you support, you’re a big fan of their products or services, or you have a keen interest in the brand and what they stand for – expressing why you want to work for a particular organisation will help boost your chances of being considered.
Example: I’m keen on gaining some practical experience in a creative environment, as this is the field I’m looking to pursue a career in in the future. I’m particularly interested in working for Fashion Retail Company LTD – being an avid fan of your products (having used many of them myself). I also feel you provide excellent service and the atmosphere is positive and welcoming whenever I visit the store.
Fourth/fifth paragraph – Why are you suitable for the placement?
This is your chance to sell yourself.
List all of your relevant skills, and think of a real-life example to back each of them up. The examples can be from any area of your life (work, school, university), but it’s important that they accurately quantify your skills.
Then, consider your hobbies and interests, and assess what value they could add to your application. Are they related to the placement? Do they demonstrate any of the above skills? And are they unique enough to gain a positive reaction?
Example: I’m a motivated hard worker, with a creative mind and an excellent attention to detail. This can be shown in my most recent assignments for Textiles and Graphics, where I used both creativity and attention to functionality to create an children’s dress and an interactive board game – achieving an A* for each.
In my spare time, I volunteer at a local dance group, where I help to look after 10 children alongside a qualified dance teacher. This demonstrates my leadership skills, and ability to work well with others.
Closing the letter – Reiterate
Close the letter by summing up your suitability and interest in the field, and always express your gratitude for their consideration.
After all, an employer isn’t obligated to give anyone a work experience placement. You may be helping them out by offering to work, but they’re doing you a favour too – especially if gaining experience in the field you’re looking for work in will help with your overall career goals.
Keep this section short (one or two lines max), and abide by the standard letter rules when you sign off (yours sincerely if you know their name, yours faithfully if you don’t).
Example: As an enthusiastic student with a keen interest in what your organisation does, alongside an ability to learn new things and progress in this industry, I would be very grateful to be considered for an opportunity at Retail Fashion Company LTD.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Still looking for your perfect work experience placement? View all available positions now.