Cover Letter Examples That Will Get You Noticed
Cover LettersResumes & Letters
Posted by Pamela Skillings
A strong resume cover letter can mean the difference between landing a job interview and getting passed over. Read and live by this comprehensive cover letter guide from our resume expert and professional resume writer Kimberly Sarmiento and check out her cover letter examples for inspiration.
You Really Do Need a Strong Cover Letter
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression in the job search. And in most cases, your first impression on a hiring manager begins with your resume and cover letter. If you don’t get the cover letter right, you may never get the opportunity to wow them with your new suit, confident eye contact, and compelling interview stories.
Even if you network your way into that job interview (and even if you got a great referral from one of your advocates), the hiring manager will look at your resume and/or cover letter and use them to form or influence an opinion prior to meeting you. That is why in my 2009 book, “The Complete Guide to Writing Effective Resume Cover Letters: Step by Step Instructions,” I refer to your cover letter as your handshake and your sales pitch all rolled into one.
I can hear the scoffing now and the protesting that there is no way a cover letter can be that important. “Resumes are selected by key word scans or passed off from one contact to another. No one really reads cover letters anymore, right?” Wrong.
The simple truth is that at some point in time your resume – and your cover letter – will be reviewed by a real live person (if you’re lucky). That person will be deciding whether or not you are worth their time to interview and your cover letter can help confirm that your resume goes into the “yes” pile rather than the “file for future opening” pile (or the real or digital garbage can).
Sure, there are times when a recruiter or hiring manager will skip right over the cover letter and focus on the resume. But other screeners won’t even look at your resume if the cover letter doesn’t get their attention. Why take a chance? Write a strong cover letter and you’ll know that you’re doing everything possible to get past the gatekeepers and score an interview.
If you are wondering how to write a compelling cover letter, read on for Kimberly’s advice and examples.
Three Situations When a Great Cover Letter is Even More Critical
1) When you need to include information that should NOT go into the resume
A resume is a formal business document with strict rules that must be followed. These rules include not writing in first person or including personal information like your desire to relocate.
However, there are times when you need to communicate this type of information in order to make the case for your fit for the position:
Example: Your cover letter can be used to communicate your intention to make a transition in your career or move to another city/state. Recruiters receive thousands of unqualified resumes for every position. They will look at your resume and cover letter and immediately trash them if they don’t see a fit — assuming that you are another one of those annoying applicants who applies for every job posted. This is always a challenge for career changers and individuals looking to relocate and a good cover letter can make a big difference.
Example: Your cover letter can also explain away other aspects of your particular career situation that might not be appropriate to include on your resume. For example, if you took some time away from the work force, but have kept your skills and knowledge up-to-date.
Additionally, in some job ads, the company will ask for specific information to be included in your cover letter. This technique is used to make screening easier — if someone can’t follow simple application directions, why waste time on an interview? Pay careful attention to the information they request and be sure to address it.
One problematic area is if they ask for salary requirements to be included in your cover letter. Companies make this request to help them rule out individuals with higher salary requirements than they have budgeted for the position, but it can also lock you into a lower pay range than they might offer you otherwise.
However, ignoring the request could disqualify you as well. Ergo, I suggest you research the average salary for the position you are applying to in the state of the opening and include a range slightly above and below that number.
There are several sites that have compiled census and other data information to give you a decent estimate of salaries by position in specific cities and states (Payscale is a great place to start). So if the average salary of your job is $60K for the location where you live (or want to live), list your salary requirements as $55K to $65K. Again, no salary information should be included in a resume. I typically don’t even include information about bonuses or commissions for sales representatives (just awards like President’s Club or Top 5%).
2) When you want to reference a network connection
There is no right way to include in your resume, “Our mutual associate John Smith referred me to this role and says he thinks I will make a great fit for the job opening.” That is a reference line reserved solely for the opening paragraph of a cover letter. There are multiple ways you can mention a network connection or mutual friend in a cover letter, but such a statement has no place in a resume whatsoever.
Note: In professional resume writing, it has become passé to include a list of references on your resume or even the line “references available upon request.” Such information takes up valuable real estate on your resume (which should be 1-2 pages max) and it is best to focus on your achievements and qualifications instead. Besides, the hiring managers know you will give them references when they request them.
Rather than waste space on your resume, prepare a reference sheet with the same header as your resume and give it to the interviewer at the end of your meeting.
This sheet should include the first and last name of your references, their titles and company names, city and state, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses if possible.
You can even be proactive and have letters of recommendation ready to hand the hiring manager at the end of your meeting, but don’t send them prior to that initial interview.
3) When you want to emphasize why you’re interested in the company
One way to distinguish yourself as a job candidate is to research the company you are interviewing with and talk about things you like or ask questions about the work they have coming up. This demonstrates your interest in their particular organization as opposed to them being just another job ad you responded to in your desperate attempt to find employment.
You can use your cover letter to show that you’ve done your homework and see a strong fit with the organization. Within the second or closing paragraphs of your cover letter, you can mention being interested in the specific work the company does, recent grants they have been awarded, a product they recently released, etc.
Again, this is not appropriate for inclusion on your resume, but adding it to your cover letter can help you stand out from the stack of applications the hiring manager is sorting through on the day your resume passes by him/her.
How to Write a Great Cover Letter
Hopefully I have convinced you of the importance of cover letter writing or at least how the letter can prove useful to you in certain circumstances.
But how do you write a cover letter that will open doors for you? And how do you avoid mistakes that can lead to rejection?
Please review these five simple rules for ensuring your cover letter leaves the hiring manager excited about meeting you.
1. First and foremost, the letter must be grammatically correct and error free! If you are not a particularly good writer, have someone read and edit the document for you.
2. If printed, the letter should be one page max. The letter should also be printed on high-quality paper just like your resume. In some instances, you might elect to cut and paste a cover letter into an e-mail and attach your resume. If so, you want the cover letter to be easily read with minimal scrolling. So get to the point and be succinct.
3. The letter should include examples of your qualifications. You can write a cover letter in paragraph or bulleted formats, but either way, you should include examples of your achievements and credentials. While you want to be brief, you also want to encourage the reader to review your resume for greater detail.
The best way to do that is to call out two or three things that you have done professionally to catch their attention and make them want to know more about you. Make sure you customize the letter to highlight the achievements most relevant for each position.
4. Your letter should address a specific person. Whenever possible, do some research and find out the person’s name who will be reading your cover letter. This is a minor detail and some hiring managers won’t care, but it can distinguish you from your competition all the same. More importantly, don’t send an obviously-generic letter that has not been customized for the company/position.
5. Your letter should end with a call to action. When you close your letter, be sure to ask for a meeting. It is obvious that you want an interview when you submit a cover letter and resume, but job hunting is usually helped along with a proactive approach. Therefore, at every point in the application process you should seek to move yourself along to the next stage of consideration.
The cover letter is the first instance of this, so don’t miss an opportunity to encourage a meeting with the hiring manager at the close of your letter. Also be sure to thank them for their time and consideration.
Cover Letter Examples
Check out Kimberly’s cover letter examples to see and learn from the methods that have worked for her resume writing clients.
Cover Letter Example 1: Returning to Work after a Job Gap/Relocation
Dear Principal Townson:
With five years of experience in teaching high school and a master’s degree in Chemistry, I believe I am an ideal candidate to fill the science teaching position you have open with the retirement of Stacy Jones. My teaching experience was at John Smith High School in Smallville, NJ before my husband and I moved here seven years ago. While there, I taught all levels of Chemistry and helped host the science fair each year.
When we moved here, I was pregnant with my oldest. Now that my youngest has started kindergarten, I am eager to return to the workforce. Although I focused on my family these last seven years and have not worked for pay, I kept up with developments in teaching and chemistry by reading literature and attending conferences hosted by the American Association of High School Science Instructors. I have also volunteered my time at the community center, tutoring all level of students in general sciences.
I look forward to raising my children in this community and someday teaching them at Rosewood High School. Please review my attached resume. I will be contacting you next week to schedule an interview. Thank you for your consideration.
Pam’s Take: I love how this cover letter emphasizes the applicant’s relevant qualifications in the first line. This puts the emphasis on her ability to do the job and not the fact that she’s returning to work after several years as a stay-at-home parent. Later, she briefly explains her break and how she has kept current. Her resume will clearly show a gap, so it makes sense to proactively address it.
Cover Letter Example 2: Transitioning Careers
Dear Ms. Garcia,
Blending a formal background in marketing with proven success in retail sales and customer service roles, I am looking to transition into public relations and believe I would make a great fit for the advertised position of Public Relations Specialist at your company.
Having both used and sold your products, I am already well versed in your brand and both present and past years’ offerings. I have followed with excitement as you launched in European and Asian markets and incorporated an international feel into your product line. I would bring both passion and expertise to championing your company with the press and public.
I am already trained in creating buzz and awareness through social media channels including Twitter and Facebook. When my sales team decided to participate in Walk for a Cure three years ago, we used social media to heighten our sponsorship support and raised more than $20K for the event.
Confident my transferable skills make me a solid candidate for this opening, I respectfully submit my resume for your review and request a meeting to discuss the opportunity further. I will make myself available at your convenience and look forward to your call to arrange a time. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Pam’s Take: This candidate leads off with a strong statement about her career change goal and her fit for the specific position at hand. She uses the rest of the letter to discuss her interest in the company and some of her key transferable skills/experience.
Cover Letter Example 3: Entry Level
Dear Ms. Morris:
I am writing in response to your listing in the Memphis Gazette for a nurse’s aide. Please accept my enclosed resume for consideration.
As a CPR-certified lifeguard and a LPN student at Memphis Community College, I have the formal training necessary for this position. Additionally, with two years of experience in retail sales, I have excellent customer service skills that can translate well to patient relations.
After you have reviewed my resume, I hope to meet with you to discuss how I can be beneficial to your team. I look forward to hearing from you to schedule an interview at your earliest convenience.
Pam’s Take: Nice concise approach for an entry-level candidate. She doesn’t have years of nursing experience to point to, so she highlights her training and how her non-nursing work experience has also helped to prepare her.
Cover Letter Example 4: Professional
Dear Mr. Carter,
As an Accounts Payable & Receivable Specialist, I offer a proven ability to accurately process invoices, payments, reimbursements, and tax reports. I quickly learn and adapt to software changes and updates and help team members resolve issues and problems they are having with data input and processing.
Examples of my accomplishments include:
• Handled biweekly accounts payable processing of checks and ACH payments; reconciled payments made to accounts payable software and addressed any discrepancies that arose.
• Created a spreadsheet that listed bank and routing numbers to expedite processing of expense reports.
• Uploaded and reconciled monthly phone bills for approximately 200 branches and 4 operational centers; total billing amounts were coded for various departments and branches as required.
Confident I will prove valuable to your company, I respectfully submit my resume for your review. I would also like to request a personal meeting to discuss your upcoming goals and how I can help you achieve them. I will make myself available at your convenience and look forward to your call. Thank you for your consideration.
Pam’s Take: For an experienced candidate, a bit more detail is expected. This candidate customized the bullet points to specifically communicate his experience with the position responsibilities listed in the job description.
Cover Letter Example 5: Manager
Dear Ms. Nguyen,
As a Human Resources Manager with a strong customer service background, I offer expertise in employee relations, benefits administration, and generalist duties. I have made significant contributions in succession planning and workforce engagement as well as ensuring compliance with employment and labor requirements.
I am also known for my ability to help identify and implement key technology and process improvements. I am well-versed in Six Sigma methods and have lead projects which produced significant and sustainable savings. Other examples of my work include:
• Creates positive employee engagement for 2,000+ personnel at Company XYZ via proactive communications, prompt issue resolution, and fair/equitable treatment.
• Led Six Sigma project related to FMLA administration and online orientation programs for Lean Belt training.
• Proved instrumental in the deployment of an E-recruitment system that serviced a Fortune 200 company; defined policies, procedures, and communication planning for the project.
Confident I will make a positive impact on your organization, I respectfully submit my résumé for your review. I would also like to request a personal meeting to discuss your goals for this position and my potential contributions. I will be available at your convenience and look forward to your call to arrange a time. Thank you for your consideration.
Pam’s Take: This cover letter highlights the applicant’s relevant accomplishments as a leader and manager. It goes beyond stating familiarity with the required job duties and emphasizes results in key projects. Remember that you don’t want to copy and paste your whole resume into the cover letter. Think about the key selling points that you want to feature prominently. The goal is to make them excited to learn more about you.
Cover Letter Example 6: Senior-Level Executive
As a Senior-Level Finance & Operations Executive, I offer proven success in maximizing productivity and improving profit margins. My work spans companies and business units at various stages of growth, including start-up, established, and turnaround settings.
Believing profitability requires strong revenue generation and cost controls, I monitor budgets and sales performance closely to identify areas for improvement. I am known for enhancing overall performance through technology upgrades, advanced employee training, and implementation of best practices.
Examples of my work include:
• Drove successful launch of start-up company by hiring a talent team, defining product development plans, and leading go-to-market strategies to achieve $35M+ revenue and 50% margins within two years.
• Managed daily operations of a $150M subsidiary that provided a complete suite of manufacturing solutions in the US and Canada; improved profit margins on overall product line 10%.
• Proved vital to reorganization leadership that cumulated in a 10% productivity improvement in the sales and service organization and a 20% improvement in support organizations.
As CPA and MBA, I am confident I will prove valuable to your company and respectfully submit my resume for your review. I would also like to request a personal meeting to discuss your upcoming goals and how I can help you achieve them. I will make myself available at your convenience and look forward to your call. Thank you for your consideration.
Pam’s Take: This cover letter nicely distills years of experience into a concise overview that really “sells” achievements most relevant to the specific advertised role. Each bullet presents a compelling high-level overview of a specific position, complete with impressive data points. It’s hard to be this concise when talking about a long career! However, a concise letter is always more effective — make the most exciting information jump out of the letter and grab the recruiter’s attention.
Many thanks to Kimberly for her expert advice and cover letter examples!
Have other thoughts on what would make a great cover letter? Leave a comment below.
Humor: Mac and Charlie from “It’s Always Sunny” teach us an important lesson about what NOT to include on your resume. Enjoy!
Main Photo Credit: Arslan
Pamela Skillings is co-founder of Big Interview. As an interview coach, she has helped her clients land dream jobs at companies including Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase. She also has more than 15 years of experience training and advising managers at organizations from American Express to the City of New York. She is an adjunct professor at New York University and an instructor at the American Management Association.
By Mike Simpson
There comes a time in nearly every job seekers life when you plop yourself down in front of the computer and say to yourself…
“Okay, it’s time to find a couple good cover letter examples I can use to help me start writing my cover letter…”
So you do a quick Google search, grab the first three cover letter samples you can find, copy a paragraph from each one, and then you’re off to the races feeling like now all you have to do is “click send” a few times and the interviews will simply start rolling in.
Consider this a gentle wake-up call.
Why Your Cover Letter Is So Important?
In this ultra-competitive job market, it’s just not good enough to “Frankenstein” together a cover letter from the various bits and pieces you find online.
Because hiring managers have “been there, done that.” In other words, they’ve seen it all before.
Not only that, but they want to find candidates that are unique, interesting, and take the time and make the effort to present the best version of themselves.
Your cover letter is your first impression, and therefore, you want to craft the best darn cover letter your hiring manager has ever seen.
So you want to take the time and select the cover letter example that is “tailored” to your situation… in other words, the example cover letter that fits your personality, skills and abilities the best.
Example cover letters are kind of like shoes.
Sure, you might absolutely love that pair of Air Jordan IV’s that are still fresh in the box in your closet from 1989, but you might want to have a second thought before you consider wearing them to a wedding with a tuxedo.
Or perhaps you’ve got a pair of high heels that make you feel like you could walk into a business lunch at the Four Seasons and walk out having sold your company for a billion dollars?
Would you feel the same way if you showed up at the start line for the half marathon you signed up for with those same heels on?
Okay, ridiculous examples aside, I hope you can begin to see my point.
There is not one example cover letter for every situation… no “one-cover-letter-fits-all” solution.
You have to carefully evaluate your situation and decide which cover letter example is going to suit you the most.
What kind of work are you looking for?
Full-time? Or part-time? There’s a cover letter for that.
Are you sending a cover letter in the mail or by email? There’s a cover letter for that too.
There are all kinds of situations that warrant a slightly different cover letter, and it’s imperative that you figure out which one fits you best.
But don’t worry. To help, we’ve compiled a list of 12 of the most common cover letter examples and provided you with an example of a cover letter for each one.
So take a look at the examples and carefully decide which one fits your situation the most.
Before you dive in, a word to the wise…
Don’t just grab the one that fits you best, change the contact information and then start sending it out. As I said before, hiring managers are pretty smart and will be able to tell that you haven’t taken any time to make it your own.
If you want to get job interviews from your cover letter (and at some point, job offers as well!), you need to “tailor” the cover letter to demonstrate your skills, abilities and relevant experience.
Mike's Tip: Once you find a cover letter example that fits your situation, head over to our article How To Write A Cover Letter 101 and use the article to make sure that your cover letter contains all of the important things that hiring managers look for. We'll help you make sure that your cover letter is so irresistible that you'll get an interview from almost every application you submit!
12 Common Cover Letter Examples
Without further ado, here are 12 of the best cover letter examples for nearly every situation you could find yourself in along with a brief description of what makes the style of cover letter unique.
1. Cover Letter Sample For Part-Time Work
If you have no intention of applying for a full-time position, it is very important that you let the hiring manager know this in your cover letter. After all, if you don’t mention this right up front, anything that comes after this will be a total waste of time, and hiring managers value their time more than anything.
On a side note, you should never really be applying for a full-time position when you are only available as a part-time worker. The company has very specific needs, so don’t think they are going to change the entire nature of the position to accommodate your availability.
2. For A New Graduate
Cover letters for new graduates can often be tricky, because generally speaking, new graduates don’t usually have much experience.
So how can you still put yourself forward as a good candidate without experience? You want to focus the cover letter around your skills and abilities, the extra-curricular work you’ve accomplished and your knowledge of the company (and passion for the industry) you’re applying to.
3. When You Have Been Referred
There isn’t anything overly difficult about writing a cover letter when you have been referred by someone else, but the most important thing to know is where you should bring up the referral.
Generally speaking, it is always best to mention your referral in the opening paragraph, because it acts as an attention grabber for the hiring manager.
You’re hoping they’ll think to themselves something along the lines of, “Oh, this person was referred by Jim. I like Jim…he’s a straight shooter. If this person is good enough for Jim, he’s good enough for me. I’m going to bring him in for an interview…”
4. Cold Call Cover Letter Example
The cold call cover letter is appropriate when you are applying to a position that is not necessarily listed on a job board or advertised anywhere. And for that reason, it can be a little tricky.
You really need to blow the hiring manager away in order for them to grant an unsolicited interview request, so there a re a few key things to remember. Most importantly, you really have to do your research and demonstrate that you know the company and position inside out.
After that, it really pays to address the letter to a specific person. Simply writing “To Whom It May Concern” is a great way to have the letter filed under G (for those keeping track that’s the Garbage).
Finally, this letter needs to be all about “pizazz”. Since the reader wasn’t expecting to receive this, you really need to catch their attention and sell yourself, but most importantly, quickly demonstrate how you will add value to their company.
5. For An Email Submission
Please please PLEASE be careful with this one.
Just because a job posting says “submit your cover letter and resume via email”, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can just put these documents in the body of an email.
More often than not, the posting will give further instructions that include attaching your cover letter and resume to an email. Anyone who doesn’t follow this step has a ZERO chance of being brought in for an interview.
Why? Because you can’t follow simple directions.
Now, if there is no stipulation and you determine that using the email body to send your cover letter is okay, then general cover letter writing rules apply.
Where you want to focus your energy is on the subject line. Don’t just write whatever comes to mind as a throwaway and whatever you do, don’t leave it empty! Be clear and concise about what is included in the email and identify the position you are applying for.
6. For A Recruiter
Recruiters are no different than hiring managers, in that they are essentially looking for the same things from your cover letters. What impresses a recruiter the most is when you take the time to tailor your cover letter to a specific posting rather than simply sending them a general letter inquiring about “miscellaneous opportunities”.
7. Someone Changing Careers
Generally speaking, if you are changing careers, you’ll be short on experience. So similarly to the “New Graduate” cover letter, you’ll want to put the focus on your reasons for making the career change along with your relevant skills and abilities and how your experience in your past career will translate to your new career.
And remember, enthusiasm goes a long way. Hiring managers get excited about applicants that really show a desire to succeed in the role and industry they are applying to.
So make sure you do your research and know the position and industry inside out so that you are easily able to show how enthusiastic you are about the opportunity and how determined you are to get started on your new career path.
8. A Great Example of a Cover Letter For An Academic
The trick with an academic cover letter is to avoid rambling on and on and on about everything you’ve accomplished. The reality is, you still need to fall within the “one-page rule” (although some institutions will allow for a second page, you better make darn sure that this is the case!), so the trick is to be clear and concise and highlight your accomplishments without coming across as an encyclopedia.
One other thing to consider is the nature of any research you have done and how you want to convey that in your cover letter.
Quite often people spend too much time talking about what it is they study or plan on studying without ever getting into the “why” of it all.
Be specific about your intentions and don’t assume that the person on the other end of your cover letter is an expert in your field.
9. For An Internship
There really isn’t a huge difference between writing a cover letter for an internship and writing a cover letter for a job opening. You still need to list your qualifications, skills and abilities. You still need to explain how you add value to the company. You still want to sell yourself.
But one thing you want to keep in mind, is even though this internship might be a springboard to YOUR career or education, you don’t want this to be the focus of your cover letter.
The name of the game is still to put the company’s needs ahead of your own.
You’re not their first intern and you won’t be their last, so don’t write your cover letter thinking that their concern is how the internship will help with your placement in your next opportunity.
Add value. Period. This is what they really want to hear from you in your cover letter.
10. Direct Mail
A direct mail cover letter is similar to a cold call cover letter, the main difference being you are not applying to a single company with a single position in mind. Instead, you are “blanketing” as many companies you can at once and therefore trying to send out a general cover letter that can work for them all.
Because of this, we don’t recommend this strategy to our students. It is generally pretty ineffective and a waste of your time or resources.
There is rarely a time when “tailoring” your resume to a specific company and position is not the most effective strategy. However, if you are really short on time (and possibly ambition), here is an example of a direct mail cover letter you can reference.
11. Responding To an Advertisement
The only really distinguishing feature of this type of cover letter is that the opening paragraph generally includes a statement such as “I’m responding to your advertisement I saw in the…”
The rest of the cover letter generally follows the principles of other successful cover letters. However, if you find yourself going through the classifieds in your local newspaper and simply sending off cover letters to whomever has an ad posted, do make sure that you do some research on the company before you send out your cover letter.
Sending one cover letter out for multiple advertisements is a good way to ensure that you won’t be getting too many interviews in the coming days or weeks.
12. When You’re Unemployed
The worst thing you can do when writing an cover letter after you’ve been unemployed for some time is to lie.
Why? Because eventually, the lies you tell in the cover letter will come home to roost at some point in the interview process, meaning you’ll just end up having wasted everyone’s time.
Having said that, if there are some less-than-attractive reasons for your unemployment, don’t make those reasons the focus of your cover letter. You want to keep it positive.
It’s okay to admit fault in certain situations if you can show that you’ve have learned from the tough times and have changed for the better as a result of these struggles.
Transition to focusing on your skills and abilities, and more importantly, your passion and desire for re-entering the workforce. If you have experience from your past that will clearly add value to this new position, than don’t be afraid to clearly demonstrate the connection.
And if you spent your time being unemployed trying to better yourself (for example, taking a class or volunteering), then shift the focus to that.
Putting It All Together
So there you have 12 good cover letter examples for 2017 that will help you get started on crafting a winning cover letter.
Remember that the most important thing for you to accomplish with your cover letter is to demonstrate how you add value to the company you are applying to, and you want to make sure this never gets lost when you get caught up in trying to sell yourself.
And remember, you’re not on your own! Once you’ve chosen your cover letter example you can head over to How to Write a Cover Letter 101 and get great tips on how to right all parts of your cover letter.
Best of luck to you!
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