Nobody seems to agree on cover letters. How much time do you need to perfect them? Do hiring managers even read them? Is it better to just send in your resume and give him a day of calling?
I’m not in Human Resources, but I’ve been approached by applicants who wondered if their cover letter would actually be read. My answer is one that not many of you would want to hear: “Sometimes”. Sometimes it is read. In other cases you can simply send in your résumé – for example when applying for a job.
The truth is, you can’t really predict on a case-by-case basis – and you are better safe than embarrassed. When you have a cover letter, for the most part, you have the upper hand over it, like it doesn’t on your resume. It can be used to demonstrate your writing skills, provide details that don’t fit your resume, demonstrate your passion, and show your willingness to put in as much time and effort as possible.
letter of application
A cover letter is a written document sent by an applicant to an employer explaining why they are interested in and qualified for an open position. This document is commonly referred to as a cover letter and can be in the form of an email, an MS Word document or a similar application template offered by the employer.
Seems pretty easy right? Cover letters can have different meanings for an employer depending on the industry and application. If you plan to write a cover letter, keep in mind that it should have certain qualities that are not included in the definition above.
What to include in a cover letter
So what should you include? We’ll let the 11 templates under this list do most of the conversation. Whichever one you download, keep an eye out for the following elements, which should all shine through in the letter you send to your future manager.
1. Contact information
Cover letters should include not only your contact information, but also that of the company you are applying to. Contact information includes your phone number, email address, and any social media accounts you want to share and receive connections with.
Home addresses are not required, but they can be helpful confirmation for the employer that you already live nearby and can easily get to the office.
Avoid offering phone numbers, email addresses, or real addresses that belong to your current employer. For example, using your personal Gmail address through your work email address ensures that your recruiting correspondence is kept separate from all your current business communications.
2. A personal address line
As often as you see “who it concerns” at the top of the cover letters today, do your best to avoid writing that exhausted line.
Address lines listing a person or company will grab your reader’s attention much faster and show the employer that you have taken the time to adapt your cover letter to them. You don’t have the name of the hiring manager? “Employer at [company name]”will do fine.
3. A catch
A “tick” is a clever introduction that will get your reader to learn more. Think of yourself as an applicant – what makes you unique? What about your career A recruiter might be intrigued by the fact that you can sum up an interesting first sentence?
4. Why you are qualified
It’s a no-brainer that you should summarize your work experience in your cover letter. However, today’s best applications describe why that experience qualifies the applicant for the position for which they are applying. For example, don’t just state that you’ve written for a company blog for three years. Explain that this type of job is good for keeping your new potential employer’s content calendar weekly.
5. General business knowledge
Grammatical errors can mean your application will be thrown in the trash, but that’s not the only thing that can cause your letter to be tossed aside. Using a generic “one size fits all” cover letter – especially if you forget to change the company name – will also affect your chances of interviewing.
So if you take the time to write a cover letter, take the time to comment on the business yourself. Why are you applying to this company? What about your business that caught your eye as a professional?
Now let’s look at an example of a cover letter that makes it effective, plus 11 templates to download or get inspired by.
Cover letter example
The example above shows how to write a marketing cover letter using the elements we have listed.
In addition to the contact information and address bar, the first few paragraphs explain why the candidate is qualified for the position. This example uses certain data to show why they fit well.
In addition, in the penultimate paragraph, the candidate discusses why they are interested in the particular company and demonstrates general knowledge of the business.
By combining all of the elements into one cover letter, this is a great example of inspiration.
14 free cover letter templates for your next application
Template 1: Basic
The example above is a simple (but great) cover letter. The numbered sections are explained in more detail below.
The level of formality of your header depends on the company you are applying for. When applying to a formal company, it is important to use a formal header to open your cover letter, as in the example above. Enter your address, date and company address. However, if you’re applying to a company that isn’t as formal, you don’t need to provide your and the company’s addresses. However, you can still specify the date.
Using To Whom It May Concern is fine, but you can take the time to search online for the name of the recruiter or hiring manager. If you’re doing your research and you’re not sure you’ve come up with the correct name, then definitely use the general greeting. However, if you are sure, it shows that you have made an effort to find her name and it will catch the recruiter’s eye.
When you have the recruiter’s name, do you greet them with their full name or with their courtesy title (i.e. mr, mrs, or mrs)? Similar to the header, this depends on the company’s formality. When applying for a company, use “Mr. Snaper” instead of “Jon Snaper”. If you’re applying to a start-up or a company with a more casual culture, you can use “Jon Snaper” as shown in the example.
Your first paragraph should state in 1-3 sentences why you would like to apply and what makes you the perfect candidate. Get to the point and don’t worry about where you found the post or who you know in the company. This is not a place to go into detail about why you are a great candidate – this is for the second paragraph. Here, just list some key reasons in one sentence to get the rest of your letter set up. Remember that the recruiter may compare your cover letter to your resume. So make sure that both are synchronized.
4. Paragraph 2: Why you are well suited for the job
Next, sell yourself and your experience by choosing one or two specific examples that show why you are well suited for the position. What did you do at a previous company that gave you relevant experience? What projects have you been working on that the new company would benefit from? How will your previous experience help this company grow? Be humble in explaining your credentials while still showing that you are beneficial to the team. Use this paragraph to show that you are genuinely excited and interested in the position.
5. Third paragraph: Why the company is a good fit for you
It is certainly important that you are a good fit for your job, but it is also important that the company is a good fit for you. “A cover letter usually describes why you are great for a company – but how will you benefit from being hired?” asks Emily MacIntyre, Team Development Manager at HubSpot. “We want to know why our company appeals to you and how it becomes a mutually beneficial working relationship.”
In the third paragraph, show that you are serious about building and developing your career in this new company. What impresses and excites you about the company? Is there anything that you think is very much in line with the company’s goals? For example, in the sample letter, the candidate used this space to show that their personal commitment to environmental issues is in line with the company’s green initiatives.
6. Strongly closer and signature
Don’t be lazy about the last few sentences of your cover letter – it’s important to finish strong. Be straightforward about your interest and enthusiasm for the new position and tell them you can talk about the opportunity at any time. Be sure to include your phone number and email address. At this point, the ball is (rightly) in the recruiter’s field to decide how to pursue it.
Last but not least, thank you for your time and consideration. Use a formal deregistration such as “Best,” “All the Best,” or “Sincerely,” and then enter your full name at the end. You don’t have to sign it with a pen.
Template 2: data-driven marketing cover letter
Get it here.
If you’re applying for a data-driven position, it may be tempting to include the data on your cover letter to describe what you’ve done for other employers. In a cover letter – especially for the marketing industry – it is just as important how you submit this data as the data itself.
The cover letter template described above, which we created here at HubSpot, can help you present the data that is most important to you as a candidate in a way that matters to your future employer.
Notice the three bullet points near the center of the letter above preceded by the statement, “… I developed a strategy that helped the company …” This setup is important because you have so many If you want to generate statistics for this template, your data points should describe how your current / former company has benefited from your work, not how you have benefited from it yourself.
Template 3: Direct cover letter
Get it here.
Harvard Business Review Contributor David Silverman hailed the above cover letter example as “The Best Cover Letter I Have Ever Received”. For context, Silverman believes that there are few times when writing a cover letter is actually necessary:
- If you know the name of the hiring manager.
- If you know anything about what the job requires.
- When you have been referred to the job personally.
In these three circumstances, a direct cover letter like the one above might be your best bet. However, since it’s so succinct, you’ll want to include your own letterhead above the message itself. It might be easy for a recruiter to sift through a short and sweet cover letter like the one described above, but it’s just as easy for them to get lost in the clutter of their application list without a unique design or format.
Template 4: Letter of recommendation
Get it here.
Just because a friend or colleague recommended you for a job doesn’t mean the company is ready to hire you. Therefore, the cover letter template above was written specifically for referrals. We did this one here at HubSpot. Download it here (it comes with four more cover letter templates, to).
As you can see in the picture above, the first paragraph of the cover letter is solely dedicated to acknowledging the circumstances of your application: you know someone who works there – it doesn’t hurt. However, it can be harmful not to mention this to the hiring manager. As you tell the reader about your connection in the company, you will be aware of the steps you are taking to capitalize on the opportunities that interest you.
Ultimately, it’s better than if the recruiter hears about your employee connection from someone else.
Treat your message for the remainder of the cover letter just as you would if you applied with no internal connection. Your skills and achievements are no less important due to your internal referral.
Template 5: Photo letterhead cover letter
Get it here.
The above cover letter template was designed by Microsoft Office and, as comprehensive as it looks, is free to download and modify.
As it now looks, this cover letter contains about half a photo, half a text. You can zoom out (and resize) the image to have more space to tell your story. Of course, a beautiful, faded image that expresses who you are can be part of that story …
Template 6: Digital Creative Cover Letter
Get it here.
This sixth template is perfect for applicants who want to highlight the many different digital channels they are on. In the header, this template also goes well with a resume of the same format.
As you personalize this letter with your own experiences, keep in mind the social networks and industrial software included in this template. Above you can see that LinkedIn, email, and personal website are available for you to enter your own information.
The bullet points in the template above can also be used to highlight your key skills or achievements for the hiring manager.
Template 7: Cover letter from the Marketing Manager
Get it here.
Our seventh cover letter is from Monster.com. This cover letter shown above specifically focuses on a marketing role.
Notice how the author includes references to key marketing metrics and terminology. If you’re applying for a data-driven role, you may not want to fill the page with a paragraph-style story of your experience like you did in Template 1 at the beginning of this article. Instead, consider bullet-out three (or four or five) of your achievements that you think will resonate the most with the hiring manager.
As a marketer, breaking up your bulleted letter like the ones above shows a respect for the hiring manager’s limited time – a mentality all marketers need to understand when communicating with a brand’s audience.
Template 8: Cover letter for career day
Get it here.
This is a unique type of Princeton University cover letter.
CareerBuilder, Monster, and Indeed may make up the lion’s share of your job search online, but some employment opportunities come from a trade show, job fair, or similar networking event. For these occurrences you have the template for the following cover letter above.
This cover letter has everything you need to help an employer remember a conversation you had with them at a career fair. As you can see in the second paragraph, this letter is especially useful for people who are about to graduate from college.
Template 9: Logo and cover letter with watermark
Get it here.
Here is another cover letter template from Microsoft Office. This has a slight splash of color in the design just above the letterhead, but make no mistake – the template is for any professional who wants to make a good first impression on their future employer.
Don’t be confused by the logo area on the top right of the page. This could be the logo of the company you are applying for – to get the recruiter’s attention quickly – or your own logo. Maybe you are freelance on the side or just like to brand yourself. This cover letter template is used for adaptation.
Template 10: cover letter
Get it here.
The cover letter template above is perfect for entry-level and medium-sized marketers who want to show a potential employer a little more professionalism in their opening note.
The multi-colored header (you can change the color if you want) shows just the right amount of creativity and goes well with a resume of the same style. If you don’t have enough experience to fill the entire page, don’t worry. Feel free to write in a length that you think is representative of who you are and what the hiring manager wants to see.
Regardless of how long your final cover letter is, the template above is a great way to show your attention to detail – from your contact information in the top header to the personalized address bar where you can include the hiring manager’s name. As I said, “who it affects” is pretty out of date anyway.
Template 11: Cover letter for beginners
Get it here.
The above cover letter template, written by HubSpot, is specially designed for entry-level applicants.
If you only have a few years of experience, it is important to show how you acquired your skills and what you have learned from your apprenticeship or internship. In addition, it is important to mention why you would like to work for the company you are applying to.
Regardless of your level of experience, the template above will help you decide which skills to highlight and develop in your cover letter.
You can download it here (it comes with four more cover letter templates, to).
Template 12: Cover letter for healthcare
Get it here.
What strikes me in this cover letter are the direct, precise bullet points that refer to the job advertisement. The cover letter created by The Balance Careers reduces repetition by following the statement “I have” with six bullet points highlighting the applicant’s strengths, including “I have … practical knowledge of creating and implementing care plans” and ” I have … a proven track record of compassionate, effective care “.
Additionally, phrases like “I would like to use my skills for your clinic” and “Please contact me as you see fit and let me know how I can help” focus on what the company will gain by hiring applicants rather than what the applicant seeks to gain.
Template 13: Freelance cover letter
Get it here.
If you are looking for a freelance job, your biggest goal is to convey your strengths quickly so that busy customers don’t completely pass your cover letter on. When you send multiple cover letters to different customers, you want to target each one to that customer’s unique goals.
For example, if a customer is looking for SEO-optimized content related to marketing, you might want to highlight past experiences in writing marketing content. This changes when the customer searches for fitness content, for example.
For this reason, it is a good idea to structure your cover letter so that you start with a) previous credentials or references and b) bullets related to the client’s goal, as shown in the cover letter above.
Template 14: Cover letter from the director
Get it here.
Wenn Sie sich für eine Position als Director bewerben, möchten Sie zunächst erläutern, wie Sie in der Vergangenheit entweder eine ähnliche Rolle erfolgreich wahrgenommen haben oder warum Sie glauben, dass Sie qualifiziert und bereit sind, zum ersten Mal neue Aufgaben zu übernehmen .
Im obigen Anschreiben hat die Kandidatin gute Arbeit geleistet und dargelegt, wie sie zuvor eine Führungsrolle übernommen hat: “In den letzten fünf Jahren habe ich alle Datensysteme erfolgreich entwickelt und gewartet, einschließlich Zeitplänen und Aufzeichnungen für ein Unternehmen mit mehr als 100 Mitarbeitern Menschen.”
Sie möchten zeigen, wie Ihre Fähigkeiten mit einer Position als Direktor übereinstimmen – sowohl durch Organisation als auch durch Führung – und wo Sie, wenn möglich, Anerkennung für Ihre harte Arbeit erhalten haben (d. H. “Ich habe eine Auszeichnung für den wertvollsten Verwaltungsmitarbeiter erhalten”).
Ein Anschreiben zu schreiben ist leichter gesagt als getan. Zögern Sie nicht, viel Zeit damit zu verbringen, es zu schreiben und zu bearbeiten. Oder bitten Sie einen Freund oder ein Familienmitglied, es durchzulesen und Ihnen Feedback zu geben. Wenn der Personalvermittler es am Ende liest, sind Sie dankbar, dass Sie es getan haben.
Anmerkung des Herausgebers: Dieser Beitrag wurde ursprünglich im November 2014 veröffentlicht und aus Gründen der Vollständigkeit aktualisiert.