What Is a Cover Letter? (With Tips, Template, and Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 2, 2022 | Published May 17, 2021

Updated November 2, 2022

Published May 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: How To Write a Cover Letter: Top 3 Tips, Format & Examples

In this video, Holl explains what employers want from a cover letter, the optimal cover letter format, and 3 key strategies for success.

A cover letter is an excellent way to help your skills, experience, and education stand out to a hiring manager. Your cover letter can let the hiring manager know about your accomplishments and why you're the best fit for their team and company. It also allows you to elaborate on your resume and explain any gaps in your employment history. In this article, we explore what a cover letter is, why it's important, different types of cover letters, writing tips and a template and example for reference.

What is a cover letter?

A cover lets you introduce yourself to a hiring manager and provides a quick overview of your skills and qualifications. People often send cover letters with their resumes, and they can help you connect your skills and experience to the requirements of the position.

Why is a cover letter important?

A cover letter is important because it's a hiring manager's first impression of you. They'll use it to decide if your personality will fit well with the rest of the team. Jobs often have many applicants and just having the qualifications in the job description may not be enough to get hired. You also need a good cover letter to describe how your values and goals match your potential employer's. Not all positions require cover letters with applications. However, attaching a cover letter will make your resume stand out and show that you're prepared to put in the extra effort.


  • 3 Free Cover Letter Templates to Create an Impactful First Impression

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  • How To Write an Administrative Assistant Cover Letter With No Experience

Types of cover letters

Here are some of the different types of cover letters:

Application cover letter

People use application cover letters to apply for jobs. They include details about how your professional experience relates to the job requirements.

Referral cover letter

When relevant, you can send a referral cover letter with your application. A referral cover letter mentions the name of a current employee who referred you to the open position. A referral can help you stand out during the hiring process. Hiring through referrals can also help employers save money and fill open positions quickly.

Related: How To Include a Referral in a Cover Letter (With Tips)

Letter of interest

You can send a letter of interest or a letter of intent to a company you want to work for along with your resume, even if they don't currently have job openings posted. Taking the initiative to let a hiring manager know you're interested in working for the organization will help your application stand out when openings are available. With a great letter of interest, you could even get a job offer or an invitation for an interview before the company posts information about a job opening publicly.

Related: Letter of Intent: Definition, Examples and Writing Tips

Value proposition letter

A value proposition letter can be a summary at the end of your resume that explains the skills and accomplishments that make you unique. It can also be an answer to “Tell me about yourself,” a common interview question.

Related: Interview Question: "Tell Me About Yourself" (Tips and Example Answers)

What to include in a cover letter

A cover letter should contain several key details, including:

How your work experience meets the job's requirements

Give details about your current and past work experience and how it will help you succeed in the new position. Pay close attention to the job description. For example, if you're applying to a marketing job that requires in-depth knowledge of SEO, you might mention that you've worked on several successful SEO campaigns and trained a new marketing associate on SEO best practices. If you're changing careers, focus on transferable skills you learned in your previous jobs, like leadership, customer service, organization, and time management.

Why you want to work at the company

Employers want to know your motivation for working with them. They want to hire someone who expresses sincere interest in the job and enthusiasm about the company. Explain how working at a new job will fulfill your career goals, passions, or interests. If possible, show that you've done some research about the company. Discuss particular products, procedures or services you think are innovative or appealing. You can also say that you want to work with and learn from some of the leaders in the industry that work at the organization.

Concrete examples of your skills

A compelling story can make your cover letter more unique and memorable. Give an example of a time you demonstrated your skills at work. You can talk about a time when you increased workplace efficiency, resolved a conflict, or helped your team accomplish a goal.

Call to action

A polite call to action reminds the hiring manager to consider you for the position and take action by contacting you. For example, you could say, "I look forward to hearing more about this exciting opportunity."

Related: How to End a Cover Letter: Key Elements to Ensure an Ideal Cover Letter Ending

Tips for writing cover letters

Here are some tips to help you write a cover letter that will capture the attention of a hiring manager:

  • Choose an appropriate voice and tone

  • Read the job description carefully

  • Pay attention to instructions

  • Address your cover letter correctly

  • Make it unique

Choose an appropriate voice and tone

Write like yourself, but research the company and the industry to find out what tone and voice to use. For example, the voice and tone you use while writing a cover letter for a video game startup would be very different from the language you would use when applying to a hedge fund.

Read the job description carefully

Before writing a cover letter, read the job description closely to understand exactly what the employer is looking for. Then, use keywords from the job description. Many large businesses use applicant tracking systems to search for words and phrases in resumes and cover letters. The right keywords ensure your cover letter makes it through the filter to be reviewed by a real person.

Pay attention to instructions

Some employers instruct applicants to answer specific questions or provide certain information in their cover letter. Read these notes carefully to avoid mistakes that could disqualify your application.

Address your cover letter correctly

If you know the name of the hiring manager, address it to them directly. If the hiring manager's name isn't available, include the company name and address at the top of your cover letter. Then, address the letter as "Dear Hiring Manager.”

Make it unique

Do your best to make your cover letter unique, use creative words and phrases, and make your skills and qualifications memorable. Start with an attention-grabbing sentence, and conclude by reiterating your interest in the position.

Related: 8 Powerful Ways to Start a Cover Letter (With Examples)

Keep it short

Most hiring managers don't have time to read a long dissertation about your accomplishments. Keep cover letters to one page or less, and be as clear and concise as possible.

Related: How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

Cover letter template

Use this template to help you write your next cover letter:

[Your name]

[Your phone number]

[Your email address]

[Your mailing address]

[The date]

[The company's name]

[Their mailing address]


[State your name and the role you're applying for. Then, provide a short overview of your strengths and your most significant accomplishments related to the role. Express your excitement and briefly explain how the role matches your career goals.]

[In the second paragraph, discuss your most recent professional role and give an overview of relevant past accomplishments. Explain the impact of your accomplishments, and use statistics to quantify your successes when possible.]

[Use specific examples from previous professional experiences to explain what makes you uniquely qualified for the position.]

[Thank the employer for their time and consideration, and express your interest in continuing with the hiring process.]

[Closing statement],


[Your typed name]

Cover letter example

Here's an example of a traditional application cover letter:

Katie Jones
123 456 7890

3136 Paris St.
Sudbury, ON P3A 1Z6

January 10, 2020

Cove Diner
211 Princess St.
Kingston, ON K7L 1C2

Dear Hiring Manager,

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to apply for the Server position at Cove Diner, one of the best restaurants in the area. As a self-motivated, detail-oriented person with a passion for food and connecting with people, I believe that this position would allow me to effectively use my past server experience and my friendly, outgoing personality to further my career in the restaurant business.

During secondary school, I waited tables at the local breakfast diner, Cottage Cafe, every Saturday and Sunday morning for three years. I helped serve many repeat customers, and I made strong connections with my customers. I also worked on holidays to give other employees the chance to spend more time with their families.

As an experienced server, I believe that customers' needs should always be put first, and people should enjoy every aspect of their dining experience. I'm confident that I would be a valuable team member at Cove Diner. Your customer-oriented culture is inviting and fun, and I would love to help contribute to it.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to learning more about the expectations and duties of a Server at Cove Diner.


Katie Jones

The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.

This article is based on information available at the time of writing, which may change at any time. Indeed does not guarantee that this information is always up-to-date. Please seek out a local resource for the latest on this topic.

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