How to Write a Professional Cover Letter (with Samples)

Applying for a job? Not including a professional cover letter in your application can seriously hurt your chances of scoring an interview. I know a lot of people who wonder whether or not they should include one with their resume, and my answer is always ‘Yes’. A well-written cover letter shows the hiring manager that you’re truly interested in the position and willing to go the extra mile to make a good impression. Plus, it gives you an extra chance to showcase your abilities and experience to the potential employer. Your resume can only do so much.

Sending a generic cover letter, however, can do more bad than good. Just like with your resume, you should take the time to tailor your letter to the job and company you’re applying to. The purpose of your cover letter is to demonstrate you have done your research on the company and you have the skills they’re looking for. Keep this in mind: you’re selling yourself to the hiring manager, so you need to make them want to buy. A generic cover letter is an instant turn-off for every employer out there, since they all want to know that you’re willing to make an extra effort to be considered for the job.

How should an ideal cover letter look like? Well, that depends on the industry and type of job you’re applying for. Generally speaking, it should be a one-page document that includes:

  • A short introduction where you tell the recipient who you are and what you want
  • One or two paragraphs where you argue why you’re a good fit for the position
  • Additional details about certain aspects of your resume
  • Relevant info you didn’t include in your resume

As long as you hit those four points, you will have a convincing cover letter that makes for a powerful companion to any attractive resume.

What should the cover letter include?

To make sure you will make a good impression with your cover letter, follow the below format:

1. Contact info

Always start a cover letter by including your contact information. You should list your name, address, and phone number.

2. Introduction

For a powerful intro, you should find out to whom you’re writing and address the hiring manager by name. Generic intros like “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To whom it may concern” are kind of irritating to hiring managers, especially when they’re going through tens of cover letters and resumes per day. You can easily avoid this problem by doing your homework. Browse the company’s website, LinkedIn or Facebook page to do a bit of detective work and figure out who should you address your letter to. Alternatively, you can give the company a call and ask for the hiring manager’s name. Making a powerful first impression is well worth the effort.

Once you figured that out, the first paragraph should include some info about yourself. Tell the hiring manager who you are, what position you’re applying for, and how you learned about the opportunity. You can also briefly talk about your degree, area of expertise, and career goals – as long as they align with the goals of the company you’re applying with, of course.

3. Body

The body of the cover letter should be reserved to you selling yourself to the potential employer. Describe your previous professional experience, talk about your skills, and show the hiring manager how your abilities will allow you to meet the company’s needs. You’re perfectly allowed to brag, but only as long as you have sufficient evidence that backs your bombastic claims. Try to be as specific as possible when talking about past accomplishments. For instance, instead of saying that you’ve worked as a marketing manager, talk about the campaigns you’ve run in this position and how your hard wok significantly raised brand awareness for your former employer.

Next, you can do some further research and get to know the company you want to work for better. Find out exactly who they are, what they’re doing, and where they fit given the current state of the industry. Use the cover letter to explain how you can help them reach the next levels and achieve all those goals you suspect they might have.

4. Conclusion

The final paragraph of your cover letter should be viewed as a call to action. Tell the hiring manager that you would love to come in for an interview and that you’re looking forward to hearing from them. Also, don’t forget to thank them for taking the time to read your application.

How should the cover letter look like?

Content is king, but looks are also important. Besides making sure that your letter covers all the ground we’ve mentioned above, take a minute to make it look and feel professional. We know that elements like margins and fonts can be boring, but they can really make a difference. Here are some quick tips you should keep in mind when styling your cover letter:

  • Your letter shouldn’t be longer than one page. Be as clear and concise as possible, since we know that hiring managers are busy people.
  • 1” – 1.5” margins are always a safe bet. There is some wiggle room if you can’t seem to fit everything in one page, but it’s best to cut some info out than to make the content look crammed together.
  • Use a classic font – one that looks professional (Times New Roman, Helvetica, Calibri). If possible, use one that matches what the potential employer uses on their website. It’s important to use even the most subtle tricks to show them you’re really interested in the gig.
  • Don’t go below a 12-point font – you don’t want the hiring manager to dismiss your letter because the font is too small.
  • Maintain a uniform alignment throughout your cover letter. The paragraphs should all be left-aligned.

Do you have any examples?

To give you a bit of inspiration, we’ve come up with a few examples of cover letters to come to your aid, whether you’re applying for an internship, cold contacting a prospective employer, or responding to an ad. Browse them below and see which one you can fine tune to best suit your objectives.

Cover letter for an internship

Bill Statham
4567 Wisteria Lane
Boston, Massachusetts
555-333-4444

Ms. Liz Lemon
Maverick Studios
6723 Wynona Drive
Boston, Massachusetts

Dear Ms. Lemon,

My name is Bill Statham and I’m applying for the marketing summer internship you advertised on Craigslist. My unique mix of previous work experience and my status as a Boston University junior marketing student make me an ideal candidate for an internship with Maverick Studios.

My experience in sales and customer relationship management combined with my courses in marketing made me realize that I would love to explore a possible career in marketing. Moreover, I strongly believe that a summer internship with Maverick Studios would be mutually beneficial. Your company has a great reputation for client satisfaction, and I’m positive that my motivation and skills would allow me to excel in your marketing department and positively contribute to boosting client satisfaction to the next level.

I am open to the idea of coming in for an interview and I would appreciate the opportunity to tell you more about my experience and abilities. If you have any questions, you may reach me via phone (555-333-4444) or email (bill.statham@bostonuniversity.edu).

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Bill Statham

Cover letter responding to a job ad

Bill Statham
4567 Wisteria Lane
Boston, Massachusetts
555-333-4444

Ms. Liz Lemon
Maverick Studios
6723 Wynona Drive
Boston, Massachusetts

Dear Ms. Lemon,

Perhaps I am the “multi-talented marketer” you seek in your “Multi-Talented Marketing Guru” advertisement in today’s Bostonian. I’m a versatile marketer with 5+ years of experience, a knack for organizing successful online/offline campaigns, and excellent abilities to take full advantage of social media on clients’ behalf.

I am presently working as a freelancer, collaborating with clients from all around the world and helping them reach their marketing goals. The details of your advertisement suggest that the position will involve many of the same responsibilities that I am currently performing.

In addition to the planning and conducting marketing campaigns, I’m also well-versed in developing and implementing SEO strategies. For my former employer, I managed to develop and execute a SEO strategy that achieved and sustained top 3 rankings on Google (organic, nonpaid results) for key product search terms. Additionally, please note that I have a master’s degree from Boston University and plenty of recommendations on my LinkedIn page that prove I’m a good fit for the job.

Knowing how frantic you must be without a marketing specialist, I’m more than happy to come in for an interview, so we could discuss my skills and qualifications face to face. If you have any questions, feel free to call or email me during business hours.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Cordially,
Bill Statham

Cold contact cover letter

Bill Statham
4567 Wisteria Lane
Boston, Massachusetts
555-333-4444

Ms. Liz Lemon
Maverick Studios
6723 Wynona Drive
Boston, Massachusetts

Dear Ms. Lemon,

My name is Bill Statham and I am writing to express my interest in working for Maverick Studios. I have five years of sales and marketing experience under my belt and a great track record, which includes hundreds of satisfied clients. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Boston University and a history of successful marketing campaigns.

In my role, I work with clients to determine the best marketing approach for their service or product. I design, develop and execute campaigns designed to reach the greatest number of potential customers using many available types of mediums, both online and offline. My creativity allows me to come up with everything from catchy slogans to well-written and impactful emails that catch and hold the attention of readers.

My work has also included designing mass mailings, brochures and putting on presentations at conferences for clients. I know how to showcase a company’s offerings to attract new business. I’ve been working as a freelancer for the last year, collaborating with clients from all around the world and helping them reach their marketing goals.

As an experienced professional, I would make a good choice Maverick Studios. I have attached a portfolio showing some of my past work, as well as my resume. In case you have any positions available, I would love to come in for an interview, so we could discuss my skills and qualifications face to face. If that’s not the case, please keep my resume handy for when a position opens up. If you have any questions, you can reach me via email or telephone during business hours.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best,
Bill Statham

Email cover letter

From: Bill Statham [bill.statham@bostonuniversity.edu]
Subject: Application for Marketing Specialist Postion
To: liz.lemon@maverickstudios.com

Dear Ms. Lemon,

Your LinkedIn ad for a Sales and Marketing Coordinator recently caught my eye, and I think you will find I am an exceptional candidate for this position.

I am an accomplished marketing specialist with 5+ years of experience. I’ve developed and implemented tens of successful marketing campaigns over the years, both online and offline. I also have experience with SEO strategies – during my time as a marketing specialist for Young & Restless Studios I developed and executed an SEO strategy that achieved and sustained top 3 rankings on Google (organic, nonpaid results) for key product search terms. For the past year, I’ve been working as a freelancer, collaborating with clients from all over the world.

I offer exceptional attention to detail, highly developed communication skills, and a talent for managing complex projects. I’m used to working under pressure and I’m an extremely results-oriented individual, so I strongly believe I meet all the requirements to fill your open position.

My accomplishments and qualifications are further detailed in the attached resume. I am more than happy to come in for an interview, so we can further discuss my experience further. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call or email back.

Thank you for your time.

Cordially,
Bill Statham

Creative cover letter

If you’re applying for a job in the creative field, you may be able to make your cover letter stand up by using a more whimsical approach. You can create an entire website to make your case, a video to detail your experience, or a slideshow detailing your skills. If you’d prefer to go the traditional route, here’s a funky cover letter example.

Bill Statham
4567 Wisteria Lane
Boston, Massachusetts
555-333-4444

Ms. Liz Lemon
Maverick Studios
6723 Wynona Drive
Boston, Massachusetts

Dear Ms. Lemon,

When I discovered Maverick Studios was hiring, I knew I had to apply. I’ve been waiting to find a company where I feel like I can truly make a difference while working as a marketing specialist. Not only are your clients awesome, but the overall mission of your company is something I believe in too. As you’ll see next, I am more than qualified to join your team, and I’m positive that I could help you meet all your marketing goals due to my extensive experience in the field.

Content marketing, social media, and research are my passions and areas of expertise. I have 5+ years of experience, during which I’ve developed and implemented tens of successful marketing campaigns, both online and offline. I also have experience with SEO strategies – during my time as a marketing specialist for Young & Restless Studios I developed and executed an SEO strategy that achieved and sustained top 3 rankings on Google (organic, nonpaid results) for key product search terms. For the past year, I’ve been working as a freelancer, collaborating with clients from all over the world.

My accomplishments and qualifications are further detailed in the attached resume. You can also browse through some of my recent projects in my attached portfolio. I am more than happy to come in for an interview, so we can further discuss my experience further. If you have any questions, please call or email back.

Thank you for your time!

Regards,
Bill Statham

Cover letter for recruiter/head-hunter

Bill Statham
4567 Wisteria Lane
Boston, Massachusetts
555-333-4444

Ms. Amy Fey
2345 Western Lane
Boston, Massachusetts

Dear Ms. Fey,

If you have a client seeking a marketing specialist who can deliver bottom-line results, I’d like to make a case for myself. I have a strong track record in developing and managing marketing campaigns, both offline and online. I worked with firms like Southern Telecom, XYZ, Love Connections, and Kind Services. I’ve been working as a freelancer for the past year, but I believe it’s time to start collaborating with an agency full-time again.

Of particular interest to your client firms:

  • I design, develop and execute campaigns designed to reach the greatest number of potential customers using many available types of mediums, both online and offline.
  • Time and again, my initiatives have resulted in increased awareness and press coverage, successful advertising campaigns, and winning branding strategies.
  • I also have experience with SEO strategies – during my time as a marketing specialist for Young & Restless Studios I developed and executed an SEO strategy that achieved and sustained top 3 rankings on Google (organic, nonpaid results) for key product search terms.
  • My work has also included designing mass mailings, brochures and putting on presentations at conferences for clients.

I am particularly interested in positions in the Boston area that start at a salary range of $50K to $80K, in the following categories: marketing specialist at a top agency specializing in advertising; brand strategist and global head of marketing for a service-oriented preferably global business; senior management role in a mid-sized integrated agency; marketing and communications head for a high-end magazine/media website.

I’d like to meet with you to discuss adding value to one of your client firms. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via email or phone during business hours. I attached my resume and portfolio.

Thank you for your time!

Best,
Bill Statham

As you can see, there’s no strict recipe you can apply when drafting your cover letter. You just need to make sure to include relevant info that helps you stand out from the crowd and use a friendly, but professional tone that grabs the hiring manager’s attention. As long as you follow these guidelines, we’re pretty sure you’ll get a response (maybe even an interview – yay!). Good luck!

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