Writing a Cover Letter (With Tips and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published August 25, 2020

Many hiring managers view cover letters as the key to gauging an applicant's potential. Writing an effective cover letter can convey your attributes in an attractive way. In this article, we will discuss how to create a cover letter and provide you with tips and samples that you can use when writing your own.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter serves as your introduction to an employer and typically accompanies an application for employment and/or a resume. A cover letter allows you to highlight the qualifications on your resume in more detail. While writing a resume gives you the opportunity to showcase your education, experience and skills, a cover letter helps you make a connection between your resume and the job for which you are applying.

How to create a cover letter

Here are the steps you can follow to write your cover letter:

  1. Note the date

  2. Include your name and address

  3. Include the recipient's name and address

  4. Introduce yourself

  5. Make your opening paragraph about your interest in the position

  6. Include your background

  7. Focus on your qualifications

  8. End with the things you believe distinguish you from other candidates

  9. Sign with an appropriate salutation including your signature

1. Note the date

Document the date you are sending the letter. The date line is usually in between your address and the address to which you are sending the letter.

2. Include your name and address

It is standard practice to begin with your name and address at the top of your cover letter. Some people centre this information, reflecting the way it appears on their resume:

Gilbert Swann
533 Sym Blvd, Edmonton, AB (555) 668-4100 | GS334@email.com

You can also simply list each piece of information on a new line:

Gilbert Swann
533 Sym Blvd, Edmonton, AB
(555) 668-4100
GS@email.com

3. Include the recipient's name and address

You can find this information in the job description or on the company's website.

The beginning of the letter will often look like this:

SENDER: Gilbert Swann
533 Sym Blvd, Edmonton, AB
(555) 668-4100
GS334@email.com

May 5th, 20XX

TO: Tonya Wilcox
Equate Systems
123 Root Street, Edmonton, AB

Note that if you are sending an email cover letter, these first three steps are not necessary.

4. Introduce yourself

Begin with a standard greeting like “Dear”, or “Hello”.

5. Make your opening paragraph about your interest in the position

Your first paragraph ought to include the position you're applying for. Be enthusiastic about the position and company.

6. Include your background

The second paragraph may be a synopsis of your relevant experience. Include key achievements and expertise that relate to the position. Provide details about your successes and positive outcomes.

7. Focus on your qualifications

Focus on another key achievement or skill, especially if it links to a keyword in the job description.

8. End with the things you believe distinguish you from other candidates

Your last paragraph should reiterate the reasons that you are suited for the role. Here is where you can underline why you are especially ready to take on the job and what sets you apart from other candidates. You can also use this opportunity to express your desire to know more about the role.

9. Sign with an appropriate salutation including your signature

Sign your name following a closing salutation like “All the best”, or “Sincerely”.

Following these steps will help you create a cover letter that shows employers why you are uniquely qualified for the position.

Cover letter samples

When writing your cover letter, make sure you have the job description in front of you so that you can be sure to include some of the same keywords. Here are two cover letter samples that you can use as examples when writing your own. The first example is a more traditional version. The other example is more contemporary. Each example includes a job description to help you see how specific phrases are included in the letter.

Example 1: Administrative Assistant

The following is a sample job description with an example of a cover letter that aims to express why the candidate is suitable for the role:

Job Description

We are seeking someone who can support managers and other senior-level personnel. You will be organizing their calendars, arranging travel and filing expense reports. There may be additional administrative tasks.

The ideal candidate will have excellent interpersonal skills, attention to detail and problem-solving skills.

Qualifications

  • 10+ years of experience assisting high-level executives in a fast-paced environment.

  • High school diploma or equivalent work experience.

  • Excellent Microsoft Office Skills with an emphasis on Outlook and Excel.

  • Self-motivated and highly organized.

  • Team player who works well under minimal supervision.

Cover Letter

Dear Hiring Manager,

I am writing to express my interest in the opening for an administrative assistant at EXPERT Administration.

This opportunity appeals to me for several reasons. Most importantly, I have a proven track record of success in administrative roles. A highlight in the course of my recent experience involved stepping in to coordinate a summit for our senior leaders last year. Arranging travel and accommodation for 15 executives from different departments meant I had to organize meals and activities as well as collaborate with our internal events team. I had to ensure that everything ran according to schedule over the two-day summit. Due to the success of the project I was been given the goal of increasing the number of attendees for a similar event this year. I led an internal team to achieve this goal.

The growth opportunities that EXPERT Administration provides are very appealing to me as well. My understanding of your company culture is that there are ample opportunities for self-motivated individuals like me. A keen eye for detail and a focus on being highly organized are traits I'm eager to apply in a position with your organization.

It would be a pleasure to share more of my experience with you. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Jane Rollins

Example 2: Brand Copywriter

Here is another sample cover letter that is written in a less traditional style:

Job Description

Our company is looking for an experienced copywriter to join our team. If you have a quick wit and are able to create a brand voice for any medium, then this role is right for you. We are searching for a candidate to compose content for branded communication including ads, emails, events, landing pages, video, product marketing and more. You will be required to collaborate with others to develop and maintain the voice of the brand and write copy for internal communications to create excitement about our company culture.

Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree in marketing, journalism or a similar field.

  • At least 6 years of copywriting experience, ideally within an agency setting.

  • A portfolio of your work.

  • Excellent attention to detail and time management skills.

Cover Letter

Hello,

I owe my career as a copywriter to my grandfather. He was a journalist whose passion for a good story informed all his written expression. Indeed, he lived his own terrific story, a tale that inspires me to this day as I strive to craft content with the same wonder that he demonstrated.

My grandfather started out in the mailroom at a large metropolitan newspaper. By the time he retired from the same publication, he was the managing editor and had been a reporter covering things as diverse as sports in New York City to the war in Europe.

He was a man whose life was like a manual for the kind of success that brings personal satisfaction as well as career fulfillment. There are two things he did that continue to help me improve my writing: he listened intently to everyone, resisting the temptation to interrupt, and he read ceaselessly. His study was lined with a vast array of books. He read widely in fiction and nonfiction. He even read the daily cartoons.

My career as a copywriter started because of my grandfather's example and his love of words. I'd like to continue my journey as a brand copywriter at Blink Media to feed my passion for sharing the stories I discover.

All the best,

Harold Logan

Additional cover letter tips

Here are five guidelines to keep in mind when writing a cover letter:

  • Customize your header based on your application format. For example, if you're writing a cover letter with an online application, you may not need to include your name, address and contact information in the header, as this information is likely on your application. If you are sending the cover letter as an attachment along with your resume, make sure the headers for both documents match.

  • Use an appropriate greeting. If you know the name of the hiring manager, you can begin your letter by addressing them directly. If you aren't sure, simply begin your letter with 'Hello', or 'Dear Hiring Manager'. It's important to get a feel for the company's culture when deciding how formal your greeting should be. Greetings like “Hey” and “Hi there” are almost always too casual for a cover letter.

  • Avoid generic references to your abilities. When possible, provide meaningful anecdotes that highlight your skills. For a stronger impact, be specific and provide examples.

  • Keep it brief. When determining how long a cover letter should be, focus on the details that are most important for the job. Read the job description closely to identify the best opportunities to illustrate your qualifications.

  • Proofread before you submit. Review your cover letter several times before submitting it. Look for errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation. Reading the letter aloud may help you identify awkward phrasing or run-on sentences. Do a slow, deliberate reading, examining each word. If your greeting includes the hiring manager's name, triple-check the spelling to ensure it is correct.