How to Write a Cover Letter in 2023 + Examples
After weeks of heavy job search, you’re almost there!
You’ve perfected your resume.
You’ve short-listed the coolest jobs you want to apply for.
You’ve even had a friend train you for every single interview question out there.
But then, before you can send your application and call it a day, you remember that the job ad requires a cover letter.
Now you’re stuck wondering how to write a cover letter ...
Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered. Writing a cover letter is a lot simpler than you might think.
In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to write a cover letter that gets you the job you deserve.
- What’s a cover letter & why it’s important for your job search
- How to write a convincing cover letter that gets you the job (step-by-step!)
- How to perfect your cover letter with the Novoresume free checklist
- What excellent cover letter examples look like
New to cover letter writing? Give our resumes 101 video a watch before diving into the article!
So, let’s get started with the basics!
What is a Cover Letter? (and Why It’s Important)
A cover letter is a one-page document that you submit as part of your job application (alongside your CV or Resume).
Its purpose is to introduce you and briefly summarize your professional background. On average, your cover letter should be from 250 to 400 words long .
A good cover letter can spark the HR manager’s interest and get them to read your resume.
A bad cover letter, on the other hand, might mean that your application is going directly to the paper shredder. So, to make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s essential to know how to write a convincing cover letter.
How does a good cover letter look, you might ask. Well, here’s an example:
Keep in mind, though, that a cover letter is a supplement to your resume, not a replacement. Meaning, you don’t just repeat whatever is mentioned in your resume.
If you’re writing a cover letter for the first time, writing all this might seem pretty tough. After all, you’re probably not a professional writer.
The thing is, though, you don’t need to be creative, or even any good at writing. All you have to do is follow a tried-and-tested format:
- Header - Input contact information
- Greeting the hiring manager
- Opening paragraph - Grab the reader’s attention with 2-3 of your top achievements
- Second paragraph - Explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job
- Third paragraph - Explain why you’re a good match for the company
- Formal closing
Or, here’s what this looks like in practice:
How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter (And Get Hired!)
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, we’re going to guide you through the process of writing a cover letter step by step.
Step #1 - Pick the Right Cover Letter Template
A good cover letter is all about leaving the right first impression.
So, what’s a better way to leave a good impression than a well-formatted, visual template?
You can simply pick one of our hand-picked cover letter templates , and you’ll be all set in a jiffy!
As a bonus, our AI will even give you suggestions on how to improve your cover letter on the go.
Step #2 - Start the Cover Letter with a Header
As with a resume, it’s important to start your cover letter with a Contact Information section:
Here, you want to include all essential information, including:
- Phone Number
- Name of the hiring manager / their professional title
- Name of the company you’re applying to
In certain cases, you might also consider adding:
- Social Media Profiles - Any type of profile that’s relevant to your field. Social Profiles on websites like LinkedIn, GitHub (for developers), Medium (for writers), etc.
- Personal Website - If you have a personal website that somehow adds value to your application, you can mention it. Let’s say you’re a professional writer. In that case, you’d want to link to your blog.
And here’s what you shouldn’t mention in your header:
- Your Full Address
- Unprofessional Email - Make sure your email is presentable. It’s pretty hard for a hiring manager to take you seriously if your email address is “[email protected].” Whenever applying for jobs, stick to the “[first name] + [last name] @ email provider.com” format.
Step #3 - Greet the Hiring Manager
Once you’ve properly listed your contact information, you need to start writing the cover letter contents.
The first thing to do here is to address the cover letter to the hiring manager .
That’s right, the hiring manager! Not the overly popular “Dear Sir or Madam.” You want to show your future boss that you did your research and are really passionate about working with their team.
No one wants to hire a job seeker who just spams 20+ companies and hopes to get hired in any of them.
So, how do you find out who’s the hiring manager? There are several ways to do this.
The simplest option is to look up the head of the relevant department on LinkedIn. Let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Communication Specialist at Novoresume. The hiring manager is probably Head of Communications or Chief Communications Office.
So, you do a quick lookup on LinkedIn:
And voila! You have your hiring manager.
Or let’s say you’re applying for the position of a server. In that case, you’d be looking for the “restaurant manager.”
If this doesn’t work, you can also check out the “Team” page on the company website; there’s a good chance you’ll at least find the right person there.
Here are several other greetings you could use:
- Dear [Department] Hiring Manager
- Dear Hiring Manager
- To whom it may concern
- Dear [Department] Team
Step #4 - Write an Attention-Grabbing Introduction
First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your job search.
Recruiters get hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of applications. Chances are, they’re not going to be reading every single cover letter end-to-end.
So, it’s essential to catch their attention from the very first paragraph .
The #1 problem we see with most cover letter opening paragraphs is that they’re usually extremely generic. Most of them look something like this..
- Hey, my name is Jonathan and I’d like to work as a Sales Manager at XYZ Inc. I’ve worked as a sales manager at MadeUpCompany Inc. for 5+ years, so I believe that I’d be a good fit for the position.
See the issue here? This opening paragraph doesn’t say pretty much anything except the fact that you’ve worked the job before.
Do you know who else has similar work experience? All the other applicants you’re competing with.
Instead, you want to start off with 2-3 of your top achievements to really grab the reader’s attention. Preferably, the achievements should be as relevant as possible to the position.
So now, let’s make our previous example shine:
My name’s Michael and I’d like to help XYZ Inc. hit and exceed their sales goals as a Sales Manager. I’ve worked with Company X, a fin-tech company, for 3+ years. As a Sales Representative, I generated an average of $30,000+ in sales per month (beating the KPIs by around 40%). I believe that my previous industry experience, as well as excellence in sales, makes me the right candidate for the job.
See the difference between the two examples? If you were the hiring manager, which sales manager would you hire, Jonathan or Michael?
Now that we’ve covered the introduction, let’s talk about the body of your cover letter. This part is split into two paragraphs: the first is for explaining why you’re the perfect person for the job, and the latter is for proving that you’re a good fit for the company.
So, let’s get started...
Step #5 - Explain why you’re the perfect person for the job
This is where you show off your professional skills and convince the HR manager that you’re a better fit for the job than all the other applicants.
But first things first - before you even write anything, you need to learn what the most important requirements for the role are. So, open up the job ad and identify which of the responsibilities are the most critical.
For the sake of the example, let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Facebook Advertiser. You scan the job ad and see that the top requirements are:
- Experience managing a Facebook ad budget of $10,000+ / month
- Some skills in advertising on other platforms (Google Search + Twitter)
- Excellent copywriting skills
Now, in this section, you need to discuss how you fulfill these requirements. So, here’s how that would look for our example:
In my previous role as a Facebook Marketing Expert at XYZ Inc. I handled customer acquisition through ads, managing a monthly Facebook ad budget of $20,000+ . As the sole digital marketer at the company, I managed the ad creation & management process end-to-end. Meaning, I created the ad copy , images, picked the targeting, ran optimization trials, and so on.
Other than Facebook advertising, I’ve also delved into other online PPC channels, including:
- Google Search
Are you a student applying for your first internship? You probably don’t have a lot of work experience to show off in this section. Learn how to write an internship cover letter here.
Step #6 - Explain why you’re a good fit for the company
Once you’ve written the last paragraph, you might be thinking - I’m a shoo-in for the job! What else do I need to write? I’ll just wrap up the cover letter and hit that sweet SEND button.
Well, no. You’re not quite there yet.
The HR manager doesn’t only look at whether you’ll be good at the job or not. They’re looking for someone that’s also a good fit for the company culture.
After all, employees that don’t fit in are bound to quit, sooner or later. This ends up costing the company a ton of money, up to 50% of the employee’s annual salary .
Meaning, you also need to convince the HR manager that you’re really passionate about working with them.
How do you do this? Well, as a start, you want to do some research about the company. You want to know things like:
- What’s the company’s business model?
- What’s the company product or service? Have you used it?
- What’s the culture like? Will someone micro-manage your work, or will you have autonomy on how you get things done?
So, get to Googling. Chances are, you’ll find all the information you need either on the company website or somewhere around the web.
Then, you need to figure out what you like about the company and turn that into text.
Let’s say, for example, you’re passionate about their product and you like the culture of innovation / independent work in the organization.
You’d write something like:
I’ve personally used the XYZ Smartphone, and I believe that it’s the most innovative tech I’ve used in years. The features such as Made-Up-Feature #1 and Made-Up-Feature #2 were real game changers for the device.
I really admire how Company XYZ thrives for excellence for all its product lines, creating market-leading tech. As someone that thrives in a self-driven environment, I truly believe that I and Company XYZ will be a great match.
What you don’t want to do here is be super generic for the sake of having something to write. Most job seekers tend to mess this one up. Let’s take a look at a very common example we tend to see (way too often):
I’d love to work for Company XYZ because of its culture of innovation. I believe that since I’m super creative, I’d be a good fit for the company. The company values of integrity and transparency really vibe with me.
See what’s wrong here? The example doesn’t really say anything about the company. “Culture of Innovation” is something most companies claim to have.
The same goes for “values of integrity and transparency” - the writer just googled what the values for the organization are, and said that they like them.
Any hiring manager that reads this will see through the fluff.
So, make sure to do a lot of research and come up with good reasons why you're applying.
Step #7 - Wrap up with a call to action
Finally, it’s time to finish up your cover letter and write the conclusion.
In the final paragraph, you want to:
- Wrap up any points you couldn't in the previous paragraphs. Do you have anything left to say? Any other information that could help the hiring manager make their decision? Mention it here.
- Thank the hiring manager for their time. It never hurts to be courteous, as long as you don’t come off as too needy.
- Finish the cover letter with a call to action. The very last sentence in your cover letter should be a call to action. You should ask the hiring manager to take some sort of action.
And now, let’s turn this into a practical example:
So to wrap it all up, thanks for looking into my application. I hope I can help Company X make the most out of their Facebook marketing initiatives. I'd love to further discuss how my previous success at XYZ Inc. can help you achieve your facebook marketing goals.
Step #8 - Use the right formal closing
Once you’re done with the final paragraph, all you have to do is write down a formal “goodbye” and you’re good to go.
Feel free to use one of the most popular conclusions to a cover letter:
- Best Regards,
- Kind Regards,
And we’re finally done! Before sending off the cover letter, make sure to proofread it with software like Grammarly, or maybe even get a friend to review it for you.
Does your cover letter heading include all essential information?
- Professional email
- Relevant Social Media Profiles
Do you address the right person? I.e. hiring manager in the company / your future direct supervisor
Does your introductory paragraph grab the reader's attention?
- Did you mention 2-3 of your top achievements?
- Did you use numbers and facts to back up your experience?
Do you successfully convey that you’re the right pro for the job?
- Did you identify the core requirements?
- Did you successfully convey how your experiences help you fit the requirements perfectly?
Do you convince the hiring manager that you’re passionate about the company you’re applying to?
- Did you identify the top 3 things that you like about the company?
- Did you avoid generic reasons for explaining your interest in the company?
Did you finalize the conclusion with a call to action?
Did you use the right formal closure for the cover letter?
5+ Cover Letter Examples
Need some inspiration? Read on to learn about some of the best cover letter examples we’ve seen (for different fields).
College Student Cover Letter Example
Middle Management Cover Letter Example
Career Change Cover Letter Example
Management Cover Letter Example
Senior Executive Cover Letter Example
Want to discover more examples AND learn what makes them stand out? Check out our guide to cover letter examples .
Next Steps in Your Job Search - Creating a Killer Resume
Your cover letter is only as good as your resume. If either one is weak, your entire application is for naught.
After all, a cover letter is just an introduction. Imagine going through all this effort to leave an amazing first impression, but flopping at the end because of a mediocre resume.
...But don’t you worry, we’ve got you covered on that end, too.
If you want to learn more about Resumes & CVs, we have a dedicated FREE guide for that. Check out our complete guide on how to make a resume , as well as how to write a CV - our experts will teach you everything you need to know in order to land your dream job.
Or, if you’re already an expert, just pick one of our resume templates and get started.
Now that we’ve walked you through all the steps of writing a cover letter, let’s summarize everything we’ve learned:
- A cover letter is a 250 - 400 word document that convinces the hiring manager of your competence
- A cover letter goes in your job application alongside your resume
- Your introduction to the cover letter should grab the hiring manager’s attention and keep it all the way until the conclusion
- There are 2 main topics you need to include in your cover letter: why you’re the perfect candidate for the job & why you’re passionate about working in the company you’re applying to
- Most of the content of your cover letter should be factual , without any fluff or generalizations
At Novorésumé, we’re committed to helping you get the job you deserve, every step of the way! Follow our blog to stay up to date with the industry-leading advice. Or, check out some of our top guides…
- How to Write a Motivational Letter
- How to Write a Resume with No Work Experience
- Most Common Interview Questions and Answers
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What Is a Cover Letter?
Understanding cover letters, types of cover letters, how to write a cover letter, tips for writing a cover letter.
- Cover Letter FAQs
The Bottom Line
- Career Advice
What Is a Cover Letter? Types and How To Write One
A cover letter is a written document commonly submitted with a job application outlining the applicant's credentials and interest in the open position. Since a cover letter is often one of only two documents sent to a potential employer, a well- or poorly-written letter can impact whether the applicant is called for an interview .
- A cover letter is commonly submitted with a job application explaining the applicant's credentials and interest in the position.
- A good cover letter complements the resume and explains why the candidate is the ideal person for the job.
- Common cover letter mistakes can sink a job applicant.
Most job postings are done online and no longer require a physical application. Instead, applicants send companies a copy of their resume along with a cover letter either by email or with a hard copy through the mail. A resume offers a glimpse into the professional and academic experience of a potential employee. The cover letter, on the other hand, acts as an introduction written by the candidate to express their interest in the position and what makes them the best fit for the job.
A good cover letter complements a resume by expanding on items relevant to the job. In essence, it's a sales pitch that describes why the applicant is the best person for the position. Career experts advise job seekers to spend time customizing each cover letter for the particular position, rather than using a generic missive. Although this requires extra effort, it can be very helpful in allowing an applicant to stand out above the competition.
The cover letter provides information to the employer about who the candidate is as a professional and as a person. This includes their areas of interest, professional goals, knowledge, skills they've gained over the years, achievements, passions, and aspirations. The cover letter should be a one-page document that provides a clear and concise idea about why the candidate is the best person for the job . It should also highlight the cultural fit.
While there is no set template for a cover letter, the type of letter that you write will depend on the requirements of each individual company or employer. The information that is included in a cover letter will vary depending on the goals and purpose of your application.
- An application cover letter is the most familiar type of cover letter. This is generally written in response to a vacancy that is posted on a company's website or a job board. In addition to answering any specific questions posted in the job ad, it may also highlight any experience or skills that are suitable for the position.
- A referral cover letter is similar to an application letter, but it includes the name of a colleague or employee who recommended the applicant for the open position. A strong referral can help you stand out against other applicants.
- A prospecting cover letter , also known as a letter of interest, is written by a job seeker and addressed to a company where they would like to work. However, it is not aimed at a specific role or vacancy. Instead, this type of letter inquires about open positions in general and may highlight any special skills that make the writer suitable for the company.
When employers post a job ad that requires a cover letter, they may specify certain requirements for the cover letter to address. For example, they may require applicants to answer certain questions, or to respect a certain word limit. It is important to follow these requirements, as they reflect on the applicant's ability to understand and follow directions.
If the employer does not set any expectations, a typical cover letter should be about a page or less, and may include a formal greeting, contact information, and links to the applicant's portfolio or work. It should highlight any special skills, and explain why you would be a good fit for the position. This is your chance to impress the employer: Even if your resume does not have everything an employer wants, a well-written cover letter can make the applicant stand out from the crowd.
However, it is possible to include too much information. Most employers will simply glance at the majority of their cover letters, and a long-winded essay might end up at the bottom of the pile. A few short paragraphs explaining your skills, and why you chose that specific employer, should be enough to put your best foot forward.
Writing a cover letter doesn't have to be tedious—even though it may seem like it's a chore. Here are a few simple tips you may want to consider when composing your cover letter:
- Personalize your letter for each role. Never use a generic cover letter. This means you have to write a new one for each position. Be sure to include your strengths and skills, and explain why you’re the perfect candidate.
- Include contact information. If the posting doesn't include the hiring manager's name, call the company , or check its website. Including this person's name gives your letter a proper greeting and also shows you have initiative. And don't forget to add your contact information, too. This is important if your resume gets separated from your cover letter.
- Simplify your letter. Communicate clearly and concisely. Using complex words and sentences would most certainly fail to convey your intentions with the company and the person reading the letter probably won't bother with the rest of your application.
- Be specific when needed. Don't rehash your resume, so be sure to quantify your accomplishments. For instance, expand on your marketing experience in your cover letter by saying you brought in 200 additional clients each month and increased revenue to $10,000. This can set you apart from candidates with vague personal details.
- Proofread. After you’ve written the letter, go over it a few times to ensure there are no errors. Then ask someone else to do a once-over and recommend any changes you may need to make.
A simple, focused cover letter without any typos or grammatical errors will get you noticed by potential employers.
A perfect resume can often be sabotaged by a poorly thought-out cover letter or one that is laden with mistakes. Whether you include the letter as per required submission guidelines, or you simply want to emphasize your interest in the job, make sure you avoid making these blunders.
- Names matter. This includes the name of the hiring manager, the company, and yes, even yours. Make sure you have the right names and the correct spelling. And don't forget to change the names if you're using the same cover letter for multiple jobs.
- Restating your resume. Since the cover letter is used to identify your skills and explain how your previous experience is applicable to the desired position, don't restate the stuff on your resume. Remember, the cover letter should complement your resume, not just summarize it.
- Keep your letter tight. Recruiters often go through hundreds of applications and don't have time to read through a three-page missive. The absolute maximum length for a cover letter should be one page, with a few concise paragraphs.
- Omit unnecessary details. Stay on topic. There's no need to mention your graphic-design skills if you're applying for an accounting position. It's a good idea to leave out personal things like your IQ, recreational accomplishments, interests, and hobbies. That is unless they relate to the job or company.
- Avoid sounding arrogant. Ensure your cover letter does not make you appear arrogant . While the cover letter is about you and your accomplishments, find a way of saying "I'm the best" without actually saying it. Avoid overusing words like "I," "me," or "my."
- Remember that spelling counts. Typos and grammatical errors can show you didn't bother to proofread your own letter. And make sure to be consistent—don't convey a dash with "--" in one place and "—" in another.
- Design matters : with the proliferation of publishing, design trends, and software, candidates have become creative in making their cover letter stand out from a design perspective. Make sure your cover letter projects your personality in terms of design while remaining professional. That is personal signature and branding.
How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?
According to Indeed , a leading job-seeking site, a typical cover letter should be about three or four paragraphs long and highlight any special experience or achievements that make the applicant exceptionally well-suited to the position.
How Do You Start a Cover Letter?
A cover letter should start with a formal greeting, preferably addressed to the hiring manager. If you do not know who will be reading your cover letter, a generic "to whom it may concern" is an acceptable, albeit old-fashioned, way to address a cover letter. It is also acceptable to address the letter to a title, such as "Dear Hiring Manager," or "Dear Talent Acquisition Team."
What Should a Cover Letter Contain?
An effective cover letter should highlight the applicant's skills, experience, and any achievements that make them a good fit for their prospective employer. It is also a good chance to mention anything that is not included in the resume: For example, if an applicant is drawn to a certain employer because they love a certain product, the cover letter is a great place to mention it. Make sure your cover letter also includes your name and contact information.
In a competitive jobs market, an effective cover letter is one way to make a job application stand out. This is a chance for an applicant to demonstrate why they think they would be a good fit. However, a poorly-written or meandering cover letter can hurt an application more than it helps.
Harvard Extension School. " Resources and Cover Letters: An Extension School Resource ," Pages 3 and 5.
Harvard Extension School. " Resources and Cover Letters: An Extension School Resource ," Page 5.
Jobscan. " Cover Letter Formats ."
Indeed. " What Is a Cover Letter? "
Indeed. " How to Address a Cover Letter (With Examples). "
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How to Write a Cover Letter That Will Get You a Job
I’ve read thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of cover letters in my career. If you’re thinking that sounds like really boring reading, you’re right. What I can tell you from enduring that experience is that most cover letters are terrible — and not only that, but squandered opportunities. When a cover letter is done well, it can significantly increase your chances of getting an interview, but the vast majority fail that test.
So let’s talk about how to do cover letters right.
1. First, understand the point of a cover letter.
The whole idea of a cover letter is that it can help the employer see you as more than just your résumé. Managers generally aren’t hiring based solely on your work history; your experience is crucial, yes, but they’re also looking for someone who will be easy to work with, shows good judgment, communicates well, possesses strong critical thinking skills and a drive to get things done, complements their current team, and all the other things you yourself probably want from your co-workers. It’s tough to learn much about those things from job history alone, and that’s where your cover letter comes in.
Because of that …
2. Whatever you do, don’t just summarize your résumé.
The No. 1 mistake people make with cover letters is that they simply use them to summarize their résumé. This makes no sense — hiring managers don’t need a summary of your résumé! It’s on the very next page! They’re about to see it as soon as they scroll down. And if you think about it, your entire application is only a few pages (in most cases, a one- or two-page résumé and a one-page cover letter) — why would you squander one of those pages by repeating the content of the others? And yet, probably 95 percent of the cover letters I see don’t add anything new beyond the résumé itself (and that’s a conservative estimate).
Instead, your cover letter should go beyond your work history to talk about things that make you especially well-suited for the job. For example, if you’re applying for an assistant job that requires being highly organized and you neurotically track your household finances in a detailed, color-coded spreadsheet, most hiring managers would love to know that because it says something about the kind of attention to detail you’d bring to the job. That’s not something you could put on your résumé, but it can go in your cover letter.
Or maybe your last boss told you that you were the most accurate data processor she’d ever seen, or came to rely on you as her go-to person whenever a lightning-fast rewrite was needed. Maybe your co-workers called you “the client whisperer” because of your skill in calming upset clients. Maybe you’re regularly sought out by more senior staff to help problem-solve, or you find immense satisfaction in bringing order to chaos. Those sorts of details illustrate what you bring to the job in a different way than your résumé does, and they belong in your cover letter.
If you’re still stumped, pretend you’re writing an email to a friend about why you’d be great at the job. You probably wouldn’t do that by stiffly reciting your work history, right? You’d talk about what you’re good at and how you’d approach the work. That’s what you want here.
3. You don’t need a creative opening line.
If you think you need to open the letter with something creative or catchy, I am here to tell you that you don’t. Just be simple and straightforward:
• “I’m writing to apply for your X position.”
• “I’d love to be considered for your X position.”
• “I’m interested in your X position because …”
• “I’m excited to apply for your X position.”
That’s it! Straightforward is fine — better, even, if the alternative is sounding like an aggressive salesperson.
4. Show, don’t tell.
A lot of cover letters assert that the person who wrote it would excel at the job or announce that the applicant is a skillful engineer or a great communicator or all sorts of other subjective superlatives. That’s wasted space — the hiring manager has no reason to believe it, and so many candidates claim those things about themselves that most managers ignore that sort of self-assessment entirely. So instead of simply declaring that you’re great at X (whatever X is), your letter should demonstrate that. And the way you do that is by describing accomplishments and experiences that illustrate it.
Here’s a concrete example taken from one extraordinarily effective cover-letter makeover that I saw. The candidate had originally written, “I offer exceptional attention to detail, highly developed communication skills, and a talent for managing complex projects with a demonstrated ability to prioritize and multitask.” That’s pretty boring and not especially convincing, right? (This is also exactly how most people’s cover letters read.)
In her revised version, she wrote this instead:
“In addition to being flexible and responsive, I’m also a fanatic for details — particularly when it comes to presentation. One of my recent projects involved coordinating a 200-page grant proposal: I proofed and edited the narratives provided by the division head, formatted spreadsheets, and generally made sure that every line was letter-perfect and that the entire finished product conformed to the specific guidelines of the RFP. (The result? A five-year, $1.5 million grant award.) I believe in applying this same level of attention to detail to tasks as visible as prepping the materials for a top-level meeting and as mundane as making sure the copier never runs out of paper.”
That second version is so much more compelling and interesting — and makes me believe that she really is great with details.
5. If there’s anything unusual or confusing about your candidacy, address it in the letter.
Your cover letter is your chance to provide context for things that otherwise might seem confusing or less than ideal to a hiring manager. For example, if you’re overqualified for the position but are excited about it anyway, or if you’re a bit underqualified but have reason to think you could excel at the job, address that up front. Or if your background is in a different field but you’re actively working to move into this one, say so, talk about why, and explain how your experience will translate. Or if you’re applying for a job across the country from where you live because you’re hoping to relocate to be closer to your family, let them know that.
If you don’t provide that kind of context, it’s too easy for a hiring manager to decide you’re the wrong fit or applying to everything you see or don’t understand the job description and put you in the “no” pile. A cover letter gives you a chance to say, “No, wait — here’s why this could be a good match.”
6. Keep the tone warm and conversational.
While there are some industries that prize formal-sounding cover letters — like law — in most fields, yours will stand out if it’s warm and conversational. Aim for the tone you’d use if you were writing to a co-worker whom you liked a lot but didn’t know especially well. It’s okay to show some personality or even use humor; as long as you don’t go overboard, your letter will be stronger for it.
7. Don’t use a form letter.
You don’t need to write every cover letter completely from scratch, but if you’re not customizing it to each job, you’re doing it wrong. Form letters tend to read like form letters, and they waste the chance to speak to the specifics of what this employer is looking for and what it will take to thrive in this particular job.
If you’re applying for a lot of similar jobs, of course you’ll end up reusing language from one letter to the next. But you shouldn’t have a single cover letter that you wrote once and then use every time you apply; whatever you send should sound like you wrote it with the nuances of this one job in mind.
A good litmus test is this: Could you imagine other applicants for this job sending in the same letter? If so, that’s a sign that you haven’t made it individualized enough to you and are probably leaning too heavily on reciting your work history.
8. No, you don’t need to hunt down the hiring manager’s name.
If you read much job-search advice, at some point you’ll come across the idea that you need to do Woodward and Bernstein–level research to hunt down the hiring manager’s name in order to open your letter with “Dear Matilda Jones.” You don’t need to do this; no reasonable hiring manager will care. If the name is easily available, by all means, feel free to use it, but otherwise “Dear Hiring Manager” is absolutely fine. Take the hour you just freed up and do something more enjoyable with it.
9. Keep it under one page.
If your cover letters are longer than a page, you’re writing too much, and you risk annoying hiring managers who are likely sifting through hundreds of applications and don’t have time to read lengthy tomes. On the other hand, if you only write one paragraph, it’s unlikely that you’re making a compelling case for yourself as a candidate — not impossible, but unlikely. For most people, something close to a page is about right.
10. Don’t agonize over the small details.
What matters most about your cover letter is its content. You should of course ensure that it’s well-written and thoroughly proofread, but many job seekers agonize over elements of the letter that really don’t matter. I get tons of questions from job seekers about whether they should attach their cover letter or put it in the body of the email (answer: No one cares, but attaching it makes it easier to share and will preserve your formatting), or what to name the file (again, no one really cares as long as it’s reasonably professional, but when people are dealing with hundreds of files named “resume,” it’s courteous to name it with your full name).
Approaching your cover letter like this can make a huge difference in your job search. It can be the thing that moves your application from the “maybe” pile (or even the “no” pile) to the “yes” pile. Of course, writing cover letters like this will take more time than sending out the same templated letter summarizing your résumé — but 10 personalized, compelling cover letters are likely to get you more interview invitations than 50 generic ones will.
Find even more career advice from Alison Green on her website, Ask a Manager . Got a question for her? Email [email protected] .
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How to Write a Cover Letter
Advice for tackling one of the toughest parts of the job-hunting process.
Perhaps the most challenging part of the job application process is writing an effective cover letter. And yes, you should send one. Even if only one in two cover letters gets read, that’s still a 50% chance that including one could help you. Before you start writing, find out more about the company and the specific job you want. Next, catch the attention of the hiring manager or recruiter with a strong opening line. If you have a personal connection with the company or someone who works there, mention it in the first sentence or two, and try to address your letter to someone directly. Hiring managers are looking for people who can help them solve problems, so show that you know what the company does and some of the challenges it faces. Then explain how your experience has equipped you to meet those needs. If the online application doesn’t allow you to submit a cover letter, use the format you’re given to demonstrate your ability to do the job and your enthusiasm for the role.
No one likes job hunting. Scouring through online job listings, spiffing up your résumé , prepping for grueling interviews — none of it is fun. For many, the most challenging part of the process is writing an effective cover letter. There’s so much conflicting advice out there, it’s hard to know where to start. Do you even need one, especially if you’re applying through an online system?
- Amy Gallo is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review, cohost of the Women at Work podcast , and the author of two books: Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People) and the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict . She writes and speaks about workplace dynamics. Watch her TEDx talk on conflict and follow her on LinkedIn . amyegallo
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Blog Graphic Design
20+ Creative Cover Letter Template Design 
By Sara McGuire , Oct 10, 2023
Are you looking for a cover letter template that will help your job application stand out? You’ve come to the right place.
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding infographic resumes and other creative resume designs over the past few years. After all, creating a visually engaging resume can be an effective way to set yourself apart from other job candidates.
Equally important in the job application package is the cover letter.
Venngage has dozens of cover letter templates you can customize using our online drag-and-drop cover letter maker .
Click any of the templates to get started. You’ll need to create a free account.
Just so you know, some of our templates are free to use and some require a small monthly fee. Sign up is always free, as is access to Venngage’s online drag-and-drop editor.
WATCH: Resume design tips
Keep reading for 20+ cover letter templates.
Or access our cover letter template library to see all the templates at once.
Find the right cover letter template for you (click the links below to jump ahead):
- Why use a cover letter template?
Cover letter templates for internship
Creative cover letter templates, professional cover letter templates, simple cover letter templates, free cover letter templates, how to design a cover letter.
- How to customize Venngage’s cover letter templates
- Cover letter writing tips from career experts
But first, before we dive into the beautiful cover letters…
Why should you use a cover letter template?
In most cases, your cover letter is an employer’s first introduction to who you are — your personality, your qualifications, and your goals. A cover letter is a way to develop your own personal brand :
A professional cover letter helps you seem more legitimate to employers. And it is a great document to bring with you to an interview and to publish on your portfolio site .
Why do you need a cover letter template ? Well, you should be writing a different cover letter for each job application.
So, a cover letter template will give you a framework that you can adapt for different positions, and save you time doing so.
Now, let’s take a look at different types of cover letter templates you can customize using Venngage.
Here’s a perfect example of a cover letter template you can use when applying for an internship or a co-op position:
If you’re applying for your first job as a student, chances are you won’t have much hands-on work experience. In this case, you can talk about your educational qualifications as well as different skills relevant to the job that you’ve obtained from your course work.
In your cover letter, you can also explain what you bring to the table — what you think is important to the job and will make you stand out from other candidates. Take this template as an example:
If you don’t have concrete numbers to back up your work experience, you can talk about what you value and learn from previous experience — as well as what your soft skills are and how they’ll help you in the job you’re applying for.
Add a custom header that illustrates your personal brand
What impression do you want to make on readers of your cover letter? Do you want them to think you’re inventive and take risks? Do you want them to think you’re competent and reliable?
This header uses bright colors and icons to make Sophie seem creative and personable:
Design Pro Tip: Use our icon replace tool to quickly replace any icon in our templates. Click any template here to sign up for free and enter the editor. Then, click an icon to replace it with one of the thousands of icons in our library.
Similar to how you can use an image as a border, you can also create an image header.
When picking an image for your header, look for an image that isn’t too busy. Too much going on will distract from your header text — and the text is the most important part!
For example, this cover letter template uses a tranquil lake scene in the header to show off the applicant’s photography skills:
Or skip the image and separate your header text with a simple line:
Using a bold header is one way to make your job application stand out, so you don’t hear those dreaded words: “we’ll just keep your resume on file .”
You can also use our customizable letterhead templates to create unique headers.
Use icons to illustrate information like your experience, skills, or passions
Icons are simplified vector graphics used to represent concepts. They’re perfect for adding a bit of creativity to your cover letter design.
You can use icons in a number of ways to enhance your design, including:
- Drawing attention to section headers
- Creating your own custom logo or illustrations
- Emphasizing key points like your contact information
- Replacing bullet points in lists
“Using bullets points where applicable also help to make it a smooth read.”
– Brandon Thompson, Recruitment and Hiring Manager at 1-800-Got-Junk?
In this cover letter template, icons are used in the header to add a bit of color and illustrate the applicant’s experience:
Add an atypical border for a modern cover letter design
Generally speaking, it’s good to play it safe with your cover letter design. That being said, there are small design choices you can make that will have a big impact on your cover letter’s personality.
For example, you can use borders in unusual ways. A simple border used in a surprising way can make your cover letter design more interesting.
For example, instead of using a border around the edges of your page, you could use a border around one section, like the header. Take a look at how this cover letter template uses a strip of purple along the spinal column and crosses it with a border around the header:
Use a column layout to divide your cover letter into sections
Typically, when you write a cover letter, you will include your contact information in the header or footer. But a visual cover letter offers you the opportunity to use a different page layout.
For example, you could put your contact information in a spinal column at the side of the page. To do this, simply divide your page into columns:
Take a look at how columns are used in the page layout for this cover letter template:
Include a personal logo to make your cover letter more memorable
For example, this cover letter template uses a logo created by putting the applicant’s initial inside a triangle. Simple and sleek:
Creating your own logo might seem like a big task. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Your logo design could be as simple as a writing your name in a specific brand font , or combining your initial with an icon or shape.
Take some time to draft a few mock ups of your logo. What shapes and font style reflect your personality? Which designs are the most eye-catching and easy to use in other places?
You could use a logo in place of the headshot in this template. Or simply, include your photo:
Design Pro Tip : Use our photo replace feature to quickly add your own headshot to your cover letter. The Venngage online drag and drop editor lets you quickly upload your photo and drag it over the existing headshot. The tool will replace and resize for you.
Give your cover letter template a decorative border
This cover letter template uses an image of a map for the border. This could represent the applicant’s career path, their sense of adventure, or the places their experiences have taken them:
Design Pro Tip : Create a border using an image in Venngage’s online editor by placing a rectangle over the background image. If you would like your border to be see-through, simply adjust the opacity of the rectangle.
A border is a simple way to add some creativity to your cover letter, while still maintaining a more traditional design.
An easy and eye-catching approach is to use a background image for your border. Look for an image that reflects your skills, your hobbies or passions, or the industry you’re in or applying for. The meaning of the image can be literal or symbolic — that’s up to you!
Or instead of a border, try adding a footer or sidebar with an image, or in a solid color like this template:
Use up to three different font styles (but no more than that!)
This cover letter template uses an elegant font for the headers and a sans serif font for the body copy (for readability):
Here’s a design rule of thumb: use no more than three different font types in one design. If you use too many different fonts , your design can look cluttered.
Generally, it’s best to stick to:
- One font for headers
- One font for sub-headers
- One font for body text
For example, this cover letter template uses only two fonts: Poppins for the header and sub-headers, and Merriweather for the body text. By bolding certain headers and using a different brand color for other, the design has variation while still being cohesive:
Highlight your contact information using a bold footer
While a bright, bold header will help grab the attention of readers, a footer will help make sure your cover letter ends on an impressive note. A bold footer can also help highlight key information–like your contact information and availability.
Take a look at how the footer in this cover letter template mirrors the color in the header, while also emphasizing the applicant’s contact information:
Round out your cover letter design with an image
Look at how seamlessly the image at the bottom of this cover letter is incorporated into the design:
An image can add that final touch to your cover letter design. You can use an image to fill up empty space and to reinforce themes in your cover letter.
If you want to show off your creative chops, you could include a photo you’ve taken yourself, or a custom illustration. But when in doubt, you could incorporate a stock photo –as long as it isn’t too cheesy.
No matter what the image is, it’s important that you integrate it cohesively into your page design. That could mean using an image frame to give your image a unique border shape, or using an image with a transparent background.
Add your signature to your cover letter template
Take a look at how this cover letter template incorporates a signature in the footer:
At this point, you may have noticed something that a lot of these cover letters have in common: they include a signature.
While including a signature isn’t a requirement, it can add another personal touch to your cover letter. Personal design touches will help your cover letter be more memorable.
- Header and contact information: At the top of your cover letter, include your name, address, phone number and email, as well as the date of your application.
- Salutation: Begin the letter by addressing the hiring manager by their name if it’s available or use a generic “Dear Hiring Manager” if you don’t know their name.
- Content: Start with an engaging opening paragraph that clearly mentions the job you’re applying for and how you found out about it. In the following paragraphs, concisely explain why you are a strong candidate for the position, focusing on your skills, qualifications and specific achievements that align with the job requirements. Express your enthusiasm for the role and the company throughout the content.
- Closing: In the closing paragraph, express your eagerness for an interview and thank the recipient for considering your application. Use a professional closing, such as “Sincerely” or “Best regards.”
- Proofreading and formatting: Before finalizing, carefully proofread your cover letter to ensure there are no grammar, spelling or punctuation errors. Maintain a clean, professional font and consistent formatting throughout the letter while keeping it to one page in length.
How to customize our cover letter templates:
- Select a cover letter template from this post or from our templates library . You’ll be prompted to create a free account. Some of our templates are free, some require a small fee to use.
- You’ll enter Venngage’s drag and drop online editor. No design knowledge needed!
- Add your own text, including a header, description, body text and your contact information.
- Customize the color scheme , fonts , icons and images to fit your personal brand.
- Save your customized cover letter as a template for future job applications.
- Email or share a link to your cover letter within the editor.
- Upgrade to download your cover letter as a PDF.
Make sure your job application stands out. Keep reading for essential cover letter design tips…
Expert tips for writing your cover letter
While good design will help grab the attention of readers, your text is what will actually sell them on your qualifications.
Before we delve into the expert tips, here are some general tips on how to write the best cover letter for your dream job. Make sure you always provide the reader — in this case, the recruiter, hiring manager or department manager — with context. Did you meet the recruiter at a job fair? Or, did you come across a message from them on a job portal?
If you have already met the recruiter in person at an event, the cover letter serves as a way to get back in touch while also communicating your interest in the position you are applying for.
You may also refer to something that stood out in your previous conversation so that the recruiter can refresh their memory and take a personal interest in your application.
Now, onto the tips from the career experts. Here’s what they had to say on cover letter writing:
Keep your text concise
“Keep your cover letter concise, easy to skim and be sure to connect the dots as to why you meet the important qualifications.”
– Hannah Morgan, Job Search Strategist at CareerSherpa
Customize your cover letter for each company you apply to
“CUSTOMIZE YOUR LETTER TO THE COMPANY YOU’RE SENDING IT TO. Don’t just provide a list of your skills, or a few flattering paragraphs about your background. Tie your story to what the company cares about! If you’re not sure what the company cares about, go to their website. Read their About Us page. Try to figure out what they value (this is not hard – a lot of companies share their core values somewhere on their site). Pick which of those core values resonate most with you. Then, tailor your letter to those values. That is: how have you demonstrated that value in your career so far? How would your experience / skill set contribute to that value if you were to work at this company?”
– Claire Suellentrop, Co-Founder and Head of Marketing at Userlist.io
“Always personalize your cover letter. Explain what you have to offer and how exactly that connects with the vision/goals of the company.”
P.S: Not customizing your cover letter for each job application is probably the biggest cover letter mistake you can make as an applicant!
Focus on communicating your career goals
“Spend more time explaining your goals/direction and your plan rather than listing off things like ‘good at multitasking and team work’. What is your focus and why do you want the role?”
– Emily Brown, Hiring Manager at Ledcor
Use creative copywriting techniques
“When hiring marketers, I look for creativity and powerful copywriting. Empathy…understand the role your prospective employer is hiring for and what good and bad (very important to have why you might not fit) ways you fit in.”
– Derric Haynie, CEO of Vulpine Interactive
Show you know a lot about the company you’re applying for
“Find a way to stand out and find a way to speak to the first person who will be reading your resume, either that’s a recruiter, HR manager or hiring manager. If you know who you’re writing the cover letter for, talk about why you are actually excited to work for that company. Talk more about the company than you do about yourself, and tie in a few reasons why you’e the right fit for the role. Reference recent news articles about the company, show that you’ve done your research, whatever you need to do to stand out beyond the copy and paste approach that everyone else is using. The information is available.”
– Martin Hauck, Head of Talent at Coinsquare
Optimize your cover letter design for print
You probably already have a few ideas for creative cover letters buzzing around in your head. But before you race off to start your design, here are a few best practices to keep in mind.
If you’re planning on bringing your cover letter to an interview, make sure that your design will look as impressive in print as it does on screen.
Design your cover letter for standard letter paper
Make sure that the size dimensions of your cover letter template fit standard printer paper. Standard letter paper is 8.5 x 11 inches.
Export your cover letter in a high resolution
You don’t want your cover letter to print out blurry. In general, it’s a good idea to export your cover letter in 300 dpi resolution.
Venngage allows you to download your design in HD PNG or PDF formats. You can also check out this guide to learn how to edit PDFs .
Set bleed marks for your printer
If you want to get your cover letter printed professional, you may want to set bleed marks in your design. “Bleed” is the area around the outside of your cover letter that will be chopped off after printing.
If your cover letter design has a solid background color, or colors and images that touch the edge of the page, you should set bleed marks to indicate where the edge of the page is.
Now that you’re equipped with these cover letter design tips, it’s time to make your own!
More design guides to power your career growth:
20+ infographic resume templates and design tips to help you land that job.