- Your name should be in bold 14- or 16-point font.
- Your address and other contact information should be in normal 12-point font.
- The font of your letterhead does not need to be Arial or Times New Roman, like the rest of your letter, but it should be professional looking and easy to read. The most important thing to remember is to include up-to-date information so that you make it easy for the employer to contact you.
- You may want to include an extra line under the letterhead to create visual appeal and to separate the letterhead from the rest of the letter.
- From here on out, use 12-point Arial or Times New Roman throughout the entire letter, set your margins to one inch, and use single spacing. Be sure your font is black, and if you're printing your letter out, use standard-sized paper (8 1/2” by 11”).
Address the recipient. Be sure to refer to the recipient by his or her proper title (Mrs., Mr., Dr., etc.). If you’re not sure who the recipient is, write, “To Whom It May Concern:” or “Dear Sir or Madam”; however, it is always best to address a cover letter to a real person to make it look like you’re not sending form letters.
- You don't necessarily need to include how you became aware of the position unless it was through a mutual contact or recruiting program—in which case you should make the most of the connection.
- If you are writing a letter of interest (also known as a prospecting or inquiry letter) in which you are asking about positions that might be available, specify why you are interested in working for the employer.
- Make your qualifications jump out at the reader by researching the company to which you are applying for a job and tailoring your letter accordingly. This will also be useful if you get an interview. Some questions to keep in mind as you write are
- What is the employer's mission? What do they promote as the one thing that sets them apart from their competitors?
- What kind of customer base does the employer have? Who is their target audience?
- What is the company's history? Who founded it? How has the business evolved? What are the main highlights of the company's performance over the past few years?
Include a positive statement or question in the final paragraph that will motivate the employer to contact you. Make this closing paragraph between two and four sentences. Direct the employer to your enclosed resume and make sure you specify that you're available for an interview. Finish off by thanking the recruiter for their time and consideration, and welcome them to get in touch with you to continue the conversation.
Write an appropriate closing. It’s a good idea to thank the reader for his or her time. After that, write “Sincerely,” “Respectfully,” or “Regards,” leave several spaces, and print your name.
Add your signature. If you will be submitting your cover letter digitally, it’s a good idea to scan and add your signature, write it in with a digital writing pad, or make a digital signature stamp with appropriate software.
Make a notation of the enclosures. If you enclose something, such as a resume, with a letter, you should indicate that the letter contains enclosures by making the notation “Enclosure” or “Enclosures” at the bottom of the letter.
Looking at sample cover letters can help you see some common elements that you should use when crafting a cover letter to submit with your resume. The three printable letters provided here focus on very different positions, but you'll see that they have quite a bit in common. Review these samples to get ideas, then download the one that best meets your needs and customize it to your situation.
Three Example Cover Letters
Simply click the letter you want to use and it will open in a separate window or tab as a PDF document. If you have questions about working with the document, see this guide to printables. Once the file is open, click anywhere in the highlighted area to edit. Use the toolbar or File menu commands to save and edit.
1. Letter to Apply for an Internship
It can be a good idea to start your cover letter with an objective. While it's not required, it's a good way to give the hiring manager an overall feel for why you're seeking the position. (If you'd prefer not to use an objective, simply delete that part.)
If someone referred you to apply for the job, mentioning their name up front is an excellent way to build rapport with the hiring manager. You also want to use your cover letter to describe your skills using specific terms and keywords. Finally, if you have any specific considerations, you should make sure to mention them.
2. Letter Highlighting Your Achievements
This letter is an excellent example of selling yourself and your skills because it shows you how to list out your accomplishments to highlight them in a cover letter.
Whenever you showcase your accomplishments, you want to focus on very specific, quantifiable things that you did. This cover letter, for instance, talks about '450 clients' and '30 percent savings.' You can make this even stronger by adding specific dollar amounts describing your impact.
3. Letter Highlighting Company Research
Besides stating specific, dollar-focused accomplishments, this cover letter shows the power of researching a company before applying.
Being able to state the company's goals and express how you can help them meet the challenge is a very impressive way of showing that you're prepared. If you can find information about a company's direction or mention a recent news item that features the company, your cover letter will be sure to stand out.
Tips for Writing a Cover Letter That Sells You
As a prospective employee, you are selling the employer on the fact that your skills and talents will help them accomplish the goals of the position you're applying for. It's important to follow key guidelines for writing an effective cover letter, but you also need to focus on selling yourself. It's what you say and how you say it that makes your application shine.
More and more applications are being processed online, and it's important to use keywords in both your resume and your cover letter. One of the best places to find keywords to use in your cover letter is in the job description itself.
If the job description contains specific industry-oriented terms, skills, or job duties, see what you can do to put those words into your cover letter. Obviously your cover letter should still be engaging and easy to read as well, so don't go overboard!
Highlight Specific Accomplishments
Your resume should include specific achievements and awards that you've received in your various work positions, and you should highlight the most relevant of these in your cover letter.
If you have more than one accomplishment you intend to highlight, be sure to include a bulleted list in your cover letter that is easy to scan. Don't forget to point out how your successes relate to the job you're applying for and make you the best candidate.
Once you've got a draft of your cover letter ready, ask a trusted friend or family member to read it and give you feedback. They may notice things that you overlooked, or they may have additional ideas about what skills and traits you can focus on.
Remember that every cover letter should be unique and customized to the position you're applying for - don't use a generic cover letter for every job if you want to stand out.
Use Powerful Words
The types of verbs you use make a big difference. You don't want to say "I did" and "I was able" over and over. Instead, use impactful verbs like the words in the list below.
Resources for Additional Sample Letters
For additional sample cover letters and to get more ideas on what to say and how to say it, take a look at these resources:
- Workbloom.com has sample cover letters by industry for over 20 different industries, from accounting to construction to technology.
- Monster.com has a good example of how to write a cover letter if you're currently unemployed.
- TheBalance.com has a selection of cover letter examples for students and recent graduates, including options for summer jobs and part-time employment.
Stand Out With a Great Cover Letter
Human resource professionals are extremely busy and get dozens and dozens of applications for every opening. The best way to stand out is to carefully follow the application instructions, customize each cover letter for the job you're applying for, and include a cover letter even if it's optional. When you share your accomplishments and discuss why you're the best fit for the company and the job, you'll dramatically improve your chance of getting hired!