“Thanks for helping me customize my resume,” my friend said cheerily. “Now I just have to find the cover letter I used for my last job application and spruce it up a little.”
“Nooooooo!” I said. “There’s no point in taking all that time to tailor your resume to each application if you’re going to use a fill-in-the-blank cover letter.”
We ended up sitting together for another 30 minutes and coming up with a new one that highlighted what a great fit she was—not just for the role, but for the company. And while a half hour is a time investment, it’s absolutely worth it if it gets you the job. (Which my friend did.)
Wondering how to customize your own cover letter? Check out the cover letter template below.
In Your Salutation
Most job seekers already know this, but just in case: You should always address your cover letter to a specific person. It shows you’re willing to do your research. Plus, seeing “Dear John Doe” will impress the person reading it (even if he or she is not John Doe) much more than “To whom it may concern” will.
If the job posting doesn’t include a name, look up the company’s hiring manager. No luck? Search for the person in charge of the department to which you’re applying. If you’re still striking out, try these advanced techniques.
In Your Opening Paragraph
The first section of your cover letter is the perfect opportunity to tell the hiring manager you understand what makes this organization and job special. I like to start with:
I am excited to apply for [job title].
Then I launch into my explanation.
I am excited to apply for the Sales Analyst position. TravelClick has become a leader in the hospitality industry by always focusing on its clients—whether they’re huge global brands or local hotels. Your commitment to customer satisfaction is something I’ve always strived for in my own career. I’d love to bring this dedication, along with my relevant skills and experience, to your award-winning company.
If you’re having trouble with this section, look through the company’s site, social media profiles, employee LinkedIn accounts, and so on to focus in on the key reasons you want this job and would be good at it. Sure, we all need a salary, but you should be able to explain why you’re enthusiastic about this opportunity in particular. (Oh, and make sure you’re describing how you can help the company, rather than how the company can help you!)
For even more ideas, check out these 31 cover letter examples of attention-grabbing intros.
In Your Body Paragraphs
Your next two paragraphs should describe your most relevant previous roles, the skills you’ve learned and experiences you’ve gotten from them, and how you’d apply those skills and insight to this position. I know, that sounds a little scary, so let’s break it down.
The first line is super simple:
During [time period], I worked as [job title] for [company name].
In your next couple sentences, talk about the specific responsibilities you had in that role that are the closest to the responsibilities you’d have in this job.
As [job title], I was responsible for [Task 1, Task 2, and Task 3].
In this role, I worked on several projects, including [Project 1, Project 2, and Project 3].
Now, it’s important not to regurgitate your resume here; rather, you want to take the most relevant experiences from your resume, expand on them, and describe why they’re so applicable for the job.
It’s even more important to bring it home in your last one or two lines by discussing how you’d use what you learned from those experiences in this position.
Here’s the whole thing:
For the past three years, I’ve been working as a technical product manager for Blue Duck, where I’ve developed more than 30 high-level features that incorporated client requests, user needs, and design and product team capabilities with deadline and budget demands. Balancing so many needs was often challenging, and I learned how to find the solution that satisfied the maximum number of stakeholders. As your product manager, I’d apply this knowledge to ensure we delivered innovative solutions that worked for our customers and their users while staying on-time and within budget.
Choosing Your Examples
Wondering how you know which jobs and qualifications to highlight?
Your current or most recent position should usually be in your cover letter (unless it was for a very short time period, or it’s not at all similar to the one you’re applying for). To find your second example, go back to the job description and highlight the three things they’re asking for that seem most important—as in, you couldn’t get hired if you didn’t have them. Maybe that’s familiarity with a niche field, or great writing abilities, or leadership talent.
Whatever three things you highlight, make sure they’re reflected in your cover letter. Choose the job experience where you utilized those traits. And if you don’t have the exact skill they’re looking for, use the closest example you have.
In Your Closing
Most people use their closing paragraph to essentially say, “Thanks for reading, looking forward to hearing back.” But that’s a waste of valuable real estate! Just like the rest of your cover letter, your closing should be personalized.
First, if you want to proactively answer a potential concern, here’s a good place to do it. Let’s say you’re currently living in Atlanta, but you want to work in Portland. End with one sentence explaining that you’re moving, such as “I am relocating to Portland in May and look forward to working in the city.” This line shows your reader you fully read the job description, and that location (or relocation) won’t be an issue.
Perhaps you’re not quite qualified for the position. You should never say, “I know I’m not as qualified as other candidates, but…” However, you can say, “My background in [industry or profession], combined with my passion for your company and this role, would make me uniquely qualified to tackle [specific responsibility].” Ending on a strong note and highlighting why your unexpected experience is actually an asset will put the hiring manager’s mind at ease. (More on that here.)
Alternatively, you can use your closing to reinforce your strong interest in the job.
For example, you could write:
Again, TravelClick’s focus on customer service has made a huge impression on me. I would be thrilled to work at an organization where every employee—from an intern to the CEO—cares so much about the people they help.
Thank you for your time,
There’s no arguing that it takes longer to compose a custom cover letter for each application than just changing out the company names in a canned one. But if you care about getting the job (and I hope you do, since you’re taking the time to apply for it), personalizing each one is the way to go.
Photo of typing courtesy of Shutterstock.
Some employers consider cover letters tiebreakers that can act as the deciding factor when evaluating similar candidates, others turn to them to get more insight into which applicants have done their company research, and still more look to these as a necessary step in the jobseeker vetting process.
Accordingly, a strong cover letter that tells your story and drives home your unique value is still critical to a successful job search. However, knowing that you need a cover letter and actually creating a well-written, compelling document is a completely different story.
That’s why we’ve created over 300 professional cover letter templates for your reference. Regardless of your experience level, industry, and career path, you’ll be able to find cover letter examples and samples that suit your needs. And if you do need more assistance, use LiveCareer’s Cover Letter Builder to quickly and easily create your own stand out document.
Data Entry: Cover Letter Template
To land a job in data entry, you will not only need to highlight your computer database skills in your resume, but also tell your story in a great cover letter. To make the most of the cover letter as a tool for success, check out our data entry cover letter template here. It will help you format your document properly and decide what to include.
Your opening lines should explain your skill level and what you can contribute to the work environment. Back this up with clear examples of how your education and accomplishments satisfy the requirements of the job description, emphasizing skills like analysis and reporting. Close by sharing the unique characteristics you can bring to the team and expressing your enthusiasm for the opportunity.
Executive Assistant: Cover Letter Template
To advance your career as an executive assistant, you’ll want to take the time to write an outstanding cover letter for each job application. For inspiration on what to include, as well as how to format it, use our executive assistant cover letter template as a strategic reference point.
While your resume lists the main attributes you need for the job, like organization and verbal communication, your cover letter should explain how you’ve developed these skills over time. The more concrete and specific, the better. It’s also important to express why you’re interested in working at the company, as well as any unique characteristics you can bring to the table.
Office Assistant: Cover Letter Template
Getting an office assistant job requires some effort beyond listing concrete skills in your resume. You’ll need to prove that you are well-organized and a good communicator by writing a strong cover letter. We recommend using an office assistant cover letter template, like ours, as inspiration for what this might look like.
Your cover letter may be the first thing that an employer reads, so include an overview of your top qualifications right at the beginning. Then, highlight some specifics that give the reader an idea of how you might perform on the job. Don’t forget to detail why this particular job and company is appealing, and restate the unique qualities you have to offer.
Secretary: Cover Letter Template
Creating a polished cover letter is a relatively simple exercise that can pay big dividends as you seek that next position as a secretary. Our secretary cover letter template is a great tool to see how you might illustrate your candidacy as a professional. From content to formatting, we’ve got you covered.
Begin by summarizing the most significant skills you have to offer, like customer service and organization. Then name one or two notable accomplishments to focus on. Give details about your chosen accomplishments and tie them back to the requirements in the job description. Last, talk about this particular company would benefit from your efforts.
Legal Assistant: Cover Letter Template
When pursuing legal assistant jobs, your cover letter is a great tool to give your application a boost. It can help make a personal connection with prospective employers. Use a legal assistant cover letter template like ours to ensure that your letter has the right elements.
While there are many things you could include in your cover letter, you’ll want to start off with a compelling hook. This gives the reader a reason to learn more about you as an outstanding law professional. Focus on concrete accomplishments and skills, like drafting documents, to describe your past experience. And make sure to stay on topic – provide the employer with some reasons why you are a good fit for this specific job and company.
Actor: Cover Letter Template
In competitive fields like acting, writing a stellar cover letter can really help you land interviews and auditions. Creativity is welcome here, but it’s a good idea to follow an actor cover letter template like ours to get inspiration for what to say – and how to say it.
Beyond your acting reel and the qualifications listed in your resume, the cover letter gives you a chance to tell your story in greater depth. Choose one or two stand-out accomplishments and give specifics about how those experiences make you a good fit for this next role. Finally, give the director, producer, or casting agent a clear idea of why you want to work specifically with them on a given project. This helps establish a personal connection with your application.
Accounting Assistant: Cover Letter Template
Crafting a well-written cover letter will enhance your candidacy for accounting assistant jobs. It’s a great tool for showcasing your qualifications for a job in a deeper, more personalized manner than a resume. Work with this accounting assistant cover letter template for inspiration.
The key here is to balance tangible details about your experience with a more holistic picture of how you fit into the role at hand. Start with a strong hook or summary statement, and expand your argument with a couple of notable skills or accomplishments. Be sure to discuss some clear reasons why this company, in particular, could benefit from your contributions.
Product Manager: Cover Letter Template
When vying for a product manager role, your cover letter is a great tool to showcase your strength in organizing information. Employers will be looking for reasons like this to bring you in for an interview and learn more about you. Consult our product manager cover letter template here to see what a well-crafted letter might look like.
Contrary to the more cut-and-dry resume, your cover letter should act as a more narrative version of your qualifications and how you fit into the role you’re after. Choose a few skills or accomplishments that illustrate exactly what you can contribute to the company. Don’t forget to cater these points directly to this role and company, as detailed in the job description.
Police Officer: Cover Letter Template
As you apply for police officer jobs, a well-crafted cover letter is key to getting interviews. This is your chance to elaborate beyond the simple bullet points in your resume. Reference a police officer cover letter template, like the one here, when deciding what to include.
While there are many things you can say, make your cover letter as concise and cohesive as possible. Get to the point right away, and choose only two or three key traits or achievements to illustrate your strength as a candidate. These could even be intangibles like strong presence of mind and interpersonal communication. Make sure that your particular interest in the division you’re applying to is evident.
Store Manager: Cover Letter Template
When applying for store manager jobs, you should write a cover letter that plays to your strengths and expertise. While many recruiters and hiring leaders may admit that they forego reading this document, most still expect you to provide this with your application. Not to mention, a well-written cover letter can set you apart from other candidates with a similar resume.
When it comes to creating this document, treat your cover letter like a one-page story about why you are an excellent candidate for the job. Focus on making a couple of key points about how your skills and past work experiences fit well into this particular role and company. Be specific about how you have demonstrated management ability in the past, and apply that directly to your interest in this new position.
Assistant Teacher: Cover Letter Template
To land a job as an assistant teacher, use your cover letter as a way to establish a sense of connection with prospective employers. You’ll want to be super clear and to the point about why you are a strong candidate for the job. To see what this looks like in practice, check out our assistant teacher cover letter template.
Employers should be able to take away a few key points from your letter that make you stand out. Be specific about your contributions in a previous job and how you see this experience benefitting the school where you’re applying. Since you’ll need to gain students’ trust and respect, showcasing your leadership ability is vital. And don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through.