What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a formal letter you write when applying for a job. Your cover letter highlights why you want that specific job and what makes you qualified for it.
The purpose of a cover letter is to make a positive first impression on employers and improve your chance of getting an interview.
Below is an example of what a cover letter’s format looks like and what to write in each section. If you’re ready to start writing your cover letter after taking a look, you can download the example from the image (for Word) or copy a simple text-based cover letter template. Otherwise, keep reading to learn how to make every section of your cover letter stand out to employers.
[Your Phone Number]
[Contact Person’s Name]
Dear [Mr/Ms/Mx] [Addressee’s Surname],
Introductory paragraph: State who you are, how many years of experience you have, and where you found the job advert. Then, briefly explain why you’re interested in the position.
Body paragraphs: In one or two paragraphs, provide an overview of your previous job experience, skills, qualifications, and accomplishments. Explain how your skills will help the company meet its goals. Use numbers to back up your claims when appropriate.
Closing paragraphs: Restate your interest in the position and mention your availability for an interview. Say that you’ll contact them within a week if you don’t hear back about your application. Finally, thank the employer for their time and consideration.
Here’s how to fill in each section of your cover letter to make a job application that’s sure to impress even the pickiest HR manager:
1. List your name and contact details
The top of your cover letter is where the reader will look first. Place your contact details in this area using an eye-catching cover letter header so they quickly learn your name.
List the following contact details at the top of your cover letter:
- Name: first and last name (middle name optional)
- Phone number: mobile is best (never use your work number to avoid letting your current employer know you’re thinking of leaving)
- Email address: something with your name in it is professional and makes your application easier for employers to find in their inboxes
You can also add links to relevant web pages, such as your LinkedIn profile, online portfolio (for graphic artists), or blog (for writers).
2. Address the employer by name
Underneath your name and contact information, right-align the date and then switch to left alignment for your contact person’s information, including their:
- name (if you have it)
- company name
- company address
- company phone number
Essentially, you should address your cover letter the same as you would if you were sending a letter by post.
Then, you formally start your cover letter by addressing the employer by name, like so:
Dear Mr/Ms/Mx [Contact Person’s Surname],
If you can’t find a contact person’s name in the job advert, you may need to do a little research. In this situation, you should:
- check the company’s website to see who’s the department head for the role
- ring the company and tell whoever picks up that you need a name to address your cover letter to
If all else fails, you can address your cover letter using a position title or department name, like these examples do:
Dear Sales Director,
Dear Engineering Team,
3. Write a direct, personalised opening paragraph
The best way to make sure employers read your entire cover letter is by grabbing their attention from the beginning. To do this, start your cover letter with an informative, concise first paragraph.
Include the following information in your cover letter’s opening paragraph:
- Who you are: quickly explain your professional background
- The job title: state the name of the company and the position you want
- How you discovered the opening: mention where you saw the job advert (employers appreciate having this information so they can track their success on different hiring platforms)
- Your interest in the position: state your enthusiasm for the role and what drove you to apply
- Your notable accomplishments: if you have relevant work experience, highlight one or two of your most important achievements to show that you’re qualified
Here’s an example of an opening paragraph that includes all the important details:
If you were referred to the job by someone working there, clearly state that referral in your cover letter introduction. Mentioning a referral can significantly increase your chances of landing an interview.
4. Explain why you’re qualified for the job
Once you’ve finished writing the first paragraph of your cover letter, it’s time to show employers why you deserve an interview.
Your second and third paragraphs (and an optional bulleted list to break up the text) should provide a compelling case for why you’re the most qualified person for the job by highlighting your relevant experience, skills, and/or educational qualifications.
Here are some details you can discuss in your body paragraphs to show that the employer should consider hiring you:
- Achievements: If you exceeded your sales goals at work or finished a major project at university, highlight your accomplishments in your cover letter.
- Awards: Mention any awards you received at school, university, or work.
- Praise: Have your employers praised you for your work? Use your cover letter to showcase moments you were applauded for.
However, any accomplishments on your cover letter should be directly relevant to the job you want or demonstrate transferable skills that would be useful for the position.
To make it clear that your achievements are relevant, add a short third paragraph towards the end of your cover letter. In this paragraph, emphasise why you’re confident your achievements would help you succeed in the new role.
Here’s an example of how to effectively demonstrate your achievements and relate them back to the job requirements in the body of your cover letter:
Notice how the applicant included hard numbers (amounts of time and money saved). Do the same when discussing your achievements in your cover letter to show employers what you’re capable of doing for them.
5. Recap with a confident closing paragraph
In any business letter, use the final paragraph to make a request. A cover letter is no different.
To write a good closing for your cover letter, all you need to do is politely request an interview.
Additionally, you can restate your phone number and email address just to make it a bit easier for the interviewer to get in touch with you.
Here’s what a correctly formatted cover letter’s final paragraph looks like:
When you provide your phone number and email address, make sure they match the ones you included in your CV and cover letter. Otherwise, you might miss out on a job opportunity when the recruiter can’t reach you.
6. Use a formal closing and sign your name
Finally, close your cover letter by writing a polite sign-off and writing your name.
The rules for sign-offs for a cover letter are simple:
- If you addressed the reader by name (for example, ‘Dear Ms Stephanopolous,’), then end with ‘Yours sincerely,’
- If you used a job title (‘Dear Sales Manager,’) or generic greeting (‘Dear Sir or Madam,’), then end with ‘Yours faithfully,’
This distinction might seem minor, but applying proper letter-writing etiquette when ending your cover letter shows the reader that you’re a professional.
5 cover letter examples for various situations
Now that you know the basics of how to write a good cover letter, here are five examples that demonstrate how to put these lessons into practice:
- Example cover letter with no experience in the target field
- Example cover letter with relevant experience
- Example cover letter for an internship
- Speculative cover letter example
- Creative cover letter example
1. Example cover letter with no experience in the target field
If you’re applying for a job that you don’t have any relevant work experience for, you can still write a great cover letter that emphasises your job-related education and volunteer or internship experience.
Here’s an example of a cover letter for an internship that highlights the applicant’s relevant self-studying to overcome a lack of professional experience in their target field:
31 Cross Street
07639 952 455
12 February 2023
Eureka Insights Agency
607 Prince Street
07145 411 008
Dear Ms Coletta,
My name is Gina Bautista and I’m applying for the Junior UI/UX Designer role at Eureka Insights. Ever since I took a beginner’s Udemy UI/UX course during the pandemic, I became fascinated and began devoting my spare time to learning about product development and design. Equipped with my MA Education and a certificate from Thinkful’s UI/UX remote bootcamp, I believe I’d be a great addition to your design team.
My Thinkful bootcamp was a full-time 5-month course that taught me how to embrace design thinking and work on 4 different projects — all of which received a 90%+ score. These projects involved sketching out wireframes and mock-ups on Figma, creating landing pages, and designing my own app. If hired, I’d immediately put these lessons to practical use at your organisation.
Also, I cultivated abilities as a teacher at Hillcrest Primary School that’ll help me exceed your team’s requirements. For instance, leveraging my presentation and communication skills daily while instructing groups of 30+ year four students will transition well into a designer role when I pitch new ideas to stakeholders and developers. Also, my experience organising 8+ full curriculums and understanding the importance of a structured planning process will help me make solid task flows and prototypes for your agency.
Overall, I value Eureka Insights’ goals to create positive user experiences using collaboration and creativity. If you’d like further information about my qualifications, you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07639 952 455. Thank you for reading my cover letter.
2. Example cover letter with relevant work experience
Here’s an example of a cover letter written by a candidate with four years of work experience:
38 Queens Road
07123 456 789
30 October 2021
55 Street Name
07555 555 555
Dear Mr Jones,
I’m a professional driver with 4+ years’ experience delivering food in the Greater London area. Familiarity with your delivery area and a spotless driving record make me an ideal candidate for [Company Name]’s open Delivery Driver position.
At my last job, I was known for quickly planning efficient routes for delivering multiple orders, and I was often praised by my managers for the customer service skills I exhibited on the phone, behind the till, and at customers’ doors. Here are some of my accomplishments that prove I can make an immediate impact as a member of your team:
- Haven’t received a lateness complaint in 3+ years
- Compiled a 98% customer satisfaction rating on after-order surveys
- Placed first in a side-dish upselling contest, selling 50 sides in one month
- Trained as a pizza maker, achieving an average 45-second prep time
The job description posted on your website says you’re seeking a friendly driver who’s comfortable handling diverse tasks in the restaurant as well. I believe the above qualifications make me the person you’re looking for.
Please reach me on 07123 456 789 or at email@example.com to schedule an interview. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
3. Example cover letter for an internship
Need to write a cover letter for an internship application? Here’s an example of how to discuss your relevant education and summer job experience in your cover letter:
07163 436 749
30 March 2023
14 Earl Grey Road
07123 456 789
Dear Mr Higglesby,
I’m a second-year undergrad at The London Institute of Banking & Finance. I recently spoke to Ms Henchworth from Asset Management at Goldman Sachs at a campus event. My admiration for your firm grew as I learnt about your commitment to providing excellent client services. More specifically, I’m impressed with your initiative to bring Goldman Sachs to small businesses. Therefore, I’m excited to apply for your asset management Summer Analyst Intern Programme.
Having attended your recent Asset Management 101 session, I find the prospect of developing long-term relationships with clients particularly appealing. Additionally, the people within asset management whom I’ve met at other networking events came across as professional, interesting, and inspiring. I’ve previously worked as a waiter at a high-end restaurant, where I provided service to celebrities and VIPs. Through this experience, I’ve cultivated strong interpersonal, communication, and teamwork skills, which I’d like to apply in the banking sector.
Given my genuine interest in asset management and experience in a client-facing role, I’m confident I’d be a great fit for your summer analyst intern position. I’m keen on experiencing your culture of supporting continuous development and building an innovative, diverse, and inclusive work environment. I look forward to gaining further insight into your career opportunities and learning more about your financial services functions while job shadowing your professionals.
My CV is enclosed for your reference. I relish the opportunity to discuss the role and learn more about your firm at your earliest convenience. You may contact me at 07163 436 749 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an interview.
Thank you for taking the time to review my application.
4. Speculative cover letter example
Here’s an example of a speculative cover letter that demonstrates the candidate’s passion for their line of work:
07911 135 476
38 Queens Road
25 March 2023
274 Cotham Road
07117 123 567
Dear Mr Lewis,
I’m a recent graduate with a BSc in Sound Design (Hons) from Staffordshire University, and I’ve been producing music for successful indie bands for 3+ years. Although I didn’t see any job listings on the Westerfeld Recording website, I’m a huge fan of your music releases, and it would be a dream come true if you could find a role for me on your team.
I’m fully prepared to start with low-level work like cleaning facilities and maintaining equipment. However, I’m confident you’ll quickly find a use for my audio engineering skills, which include the following:
- Have used Avid Pro Tools and Ableton Live to produce music since I was in Year 10, and became a true expert at using these tools as an undergraduate
- Interned for 4+ years at Venombase Studios in Stoke-on-Trent, becoming an expert equipment tech and honing my mixing and mastering skills by helping produce 10 albums for local artists
- Produced two full-length albums for my friends’ band Agent Purple, both of which have received extensive local radio play
I believe my experience, proven sound-design talent, and passion for quality music can benefit [Studio Name]. If you’re intrigued by the qualifications listed above and in my attached CV, please contact me on 07911 135 476 or at email@example.com when you get a moment’s break from creating beautiful music.
5. Creative cover letter example
Here’s a creative cover letter example from a candidate in the podcast industry:
Download Creative Cover Letter Example
07896 135 476
38 Queens Road
204 Old Kent Rd
07555 555 555
Dear Mrs Khatri,
You’ve no doubt heard of the world-renowned Whack Jitehall podcast. Well, I’m the person who runs it! Now I’m interested in using everything I’ve learned in my 5+ years of production experience to take your hilarious programme to the top of the podcast charts.
Why would I leave such a cushy job at a famous podcast? The answer is simple: I’m a massive fan of your content, and I’m looking for a new production challenge. When I heard on episode #214 of Footy Matters that you’re looking for a new producer, I did a double take and immediately began penning this cover letter.
Here’s some of the relevant experience I’ll bring with me to your programme:
- At Whack Jitehall, I conceptualised and led our on-air talent to implement our most popular bits, including the Jack Whitehall impersonator jokes that have garnered 10 million+ listens.
- I was also the booker for Whack Jitehall, developing a global network of comedians and other celebrities who’d be perfect guests on your show.
- I’m an expert at editing and tracking video/audio content in Adobe Premiere and Audition, Logic Pro, and Buzzsprout.
As you can tell, I possess well-honed comedy production skills and am ready to improve your already hysterical content. I’m passionate about handling behind-the-scenes organisation so talented performers such as you are free to focus on entertaining.
If you’re interested in learning more about me and my podcast-producing skills, feel free to contact me on 07896 135 476 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m eagerly anticipating the opportunity to meet with you.
Viewing examples is a great way to get ideas for what to include in your cover letter. Just make sure you look for cover letter examples specific to your job title or application purpose so the information fits your needs.
Frequently asked questions about cover letter writing
Below are expert answers to three of the most common questions asked about how to write a cover letter:
- How do I write a simple cover letter?
- Do cover letters have a template?
- Should my cover letter match my CV?
1. How do I write a simple cover letter?
Here’s how to write a simple cover letter:
- Write your name at the top (left, centre, or right alignments are all fine)
- Right align your contact information and today’s date
- Left align the contact person’s name, company name, and contact information
- Address the contact person by name in a salutation (e.g., ‘Dear Ms Jackson,’)
- Write 2–4 paragraphs explaining what job you want and why you’re qualified for it
- Sign off with ‘Yours sincerely,’ followed by your name
2. Do cover letters have a template?
Yes, there’s a standard template to follow when you write a cover letter:
xxxxx xxx xxx
Today’s Date (day/month/year)
Contact Person’s Name
xxxxx xxx xxx
Dear [Mr/Ms/Mx] [Contact Person’s Name],
The first paragraph should contain a self-introduction. You should write who you are, where your expertise lies, where you found the job advert, and why you want to apply for the job.
The second paragraph should respond directly to the job advert. Describe how your previous job experiences, skills, and abilities allow you to meet the company’s needs. To make that easier, you can (and should) include words and phrases from the job advert in your cover letter.
- You can include a bulleted list of your accomplishments
- Make sure you quantify (add numbers to) these bullet points
- A cover letter with numbers is 100% better than one without
To go the extra mile, research the company and find out what they’re doing — and why — given the current state of their industry. Then in the third paragraph explain how you can fit into that schema and help push the company forward and achieve any goals you suspect they may have.
The final paragraph is called the “call to action” portion of your cover letter. Inform the employer that you’d love to have an interview. Give them your contact information. Thank them for taking the time to read your cover letter.
You can also find a preformatted cover letter template online.
3. Should my cover letter match my CV?
Yes, your cover letter should match your CV. So make sure you use the same formatting and contact information on both documents. And if you’re using a cover letter template, make sure you find one that has a matching CV template.