Smart tips to help you format and write a cover letter
Struggling to write a cover letter that will catch an employer's attention? We've got tips to help you show your best self—and a sample you can use to get started.
There's nothing scary about writing a cover letter.
You've found the perfect job, hit the "apply" button, and started the process with your engines revved and ready. But wait! Slam the brakes! They want a cover letter. Oh no.
Don't let this request derail you. Here's everything you need to know to write a letter that truly sells your skills. Plus, scroll down to see a sample cover letter you can use to craft your own.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a one-page document that, along with your resume, is sent with your job application. A cover letter is your chance to tell a potential employer why you’re the perfect person for the position and how your skills and expertise can add value to the company. The letter should be professional but personable, and serve as a sort of introduction.
Do I need to send a cover letter?
A lot of job seekers today wonder if a cover letter is still appropriate to send with your resume—and the answer is yes! Even if an employer doesn’t ask for a cover letter, it couldn’t hurt to send one. In fact, it’s can help you get someone's attention in a different way, and it can be a great way to display your enthusiasm for the job and company.
What are the basic elements of a cover letter?
- Greeting: Address your cover letter to the proper person.
- Opening: Write a personable, inviting opening paragraph that notes how your skills are a perfect fit to the job and displays your enthusiasm.
- Hook: Highlight your past achievements as they relate to the job you're applying for.
- Skills: Emphasize additional relevant skills, such as computer languages or certifications.
- Close: Briefly recap your strengths as a candidate, and include your contact information.
Cover letter tips
1. Parrot the keywords: Just like with your resume, your cover letters should be customized for each job you apply to. Start by reviewing the job description. In it, you will find important keywords that let you know what kind of employee the company is hoping to find. Use these same keywords throughout your cover letter.
2. Adapt for the company: Each version of your cover letter should talk about how your skills will benefit the particular company that you want to work for. You want to target the company’s needs—not your own. Demonstrate how you could help them achieve their goals. Remember: You're selling yourself in a resume and a cover letter, but the employer has to want to buy.
3. Show you "get" them: Your cover letter should demonstrate that you have done some research into what the organization's pain points are. Presenting yourself as a solution to a hiring manager’s problem can help your cover letter take the right tone. If you’re applying to an administrative position, be sure to mention your time-management skills; if you’re an IT professional, include your expertise in improving efficiency. Always ask yourself: How can I help this company?
4. Proofread. Don’t assume spell check will catch every mistake (it won’t). Slowly review your cover letter to make sure everything reads properly. Have someone else read your cover letter for backup.
Need even more confidence before you start your cover letter? Below are some additional cover letter tips you could reference—or keep scrolling for a cover letter sample:
Cover letter mistakes you should avoid: From overusing “I” to being too vague, there are a bunch of pitfalls that can trip you up. Don’t let them!
Cover letter format and advice tips: Learn how to set up your cover letter and what each section should include.
Cover letter tips for new grads: You might lack real-world work experience, but your cover letter can be chock-full of activities that demonstrate your potential to succeed.
Cover letter tips for technology professionals: The ease of applying to online jobs has led many IT professionals to skip sending a cover letter, but that’s a mistake.
Cover letter tips for finance professionals: If you’re searching for a finance job or want to be prepared just in case, you will need a dynamic cover letter to grab the hiring managers’ attention.
Tips for better email cover letters: If you're emailing a resume, your cover letter will deliver the first impression. These eight tips will help you craft a better email cover letter.
Cover letter sample
Check out the sample cover letter below (or download the template as a Word doc) to get some inspiration to craft your own. And we've also got you covered if you're looking for a cover letter in a specific industry.
Once you've finished your cover letter, consider joining Monster—you can upload and store up to five cover letters and resumes, so that you can apply for jobs on our site in a snap!
Ms. Rhonda West
Customer Service Manager
123 Corporate Blvd.
Sometown, CO 50802
Re: Customer Service Representative Opening (Ref. ID: CS300-Denver)
Dear Ms. West:
I was excited to see your opening for a customer service rep, and I hope to be invited for an interview.
My background includes serving as a customer service associate within both call-center and retail environments. Most recently, I worked on the customer service desk for Discount-Mart, where my responsibilities included handling customer merchandise returns, issuing refunds/store credits, flagging damaged merchandise for shipment back to vendors and providing back-up cashiering during busy periods.
Previously, I worked within two high-volume customer-support call centers for a major telecommunications carrier and a satellite television services provider. In these positions, I demonstrated the ability to resolve a variety of issues and complaints (such as billing disputes, service interruptions or cutoffs, repair technician delays/no-shows and equipment malfunctions). I consistently met my call-volume goals, handling an average of 56 to 60 calls per day.
In addition to this experience, I gained considerable customer service skills during my part-time employment as a waitress and restaurant hostess while in high school.
I also bring to the table strong computer proficiencies in MS Word, MS Excel and CRM database applications and a year of college (business major). Please see the accompanying resume for details of my experience and education.
I am confident that I can offer you the customer service, communication and problem-solving skills you are seeking. Feel free to call me at 555-555-5555 (home) or 555-555-5500 (cell) to arrange an interview. Thank you for your time—I look forward to learning more about this opportunity!
Curious on how to write a fax cover letter?
Not sure whether this method is still optimal in today’s job search?
Truth be told, not all companies are modern. This is true. Visit several company websites and you’ll quickly realize that advertising a fax number within a contact page is common practice.
So, why are so many companies maintaining faxing capabilities when they could accept scanned/emailed important documents?
The realization that not all companies operate alike. Sure, finding a fax number for Google would be harder than finding a fax number for a local bank or manufacturer. Keep this in mind while searching for new employment.
Smaller companies tend to still have fax lines, while larger, more high-volume employers do not.
When opting to fax your resume, there are a few questions you might have at this point.
- How to fill out a fax cover sheet?
- How different should a fax cover sheet be from a cover letter?
- What does a fax cover letter look like?
- Will a simple fax cover sheet work, or should you use something more in-depth?
- Are there free faxing services you could use?
Here are answers to help you before faxing anything:
How to fill out a fax cover letter?
A fax cover sheet should be a fill-in-the-blank document. Be sure to use a fax cover that you design yourself. In fact, match the design of your fax cover sheet to that of your resume and cover letter. This way, everything “matches” and look cohesive.
How different should a fax cover sheet be from a cover letter?
You have a couple of options here. First, you could write a fax cover sheet that’s basic, offering only a date, to, from, subject, and a quick intro to you. Or, you could use a fax cover letter that looks more like a cover letter, offering more “body” and detail most often seen in cover lettters. See the below example.
What does a fax cover letter look like? Will a simple fax cover sheet work, or should you use something more in-depth?
I think I covered this question thoroughly above; however, if you still need guidance, see the sample fax cover below.
Are there free faxing services you could use?
Absolutely! Free faxing services still exist, including Efax.com and FaxZero.com. The one obstacle for free faxing services is sometimes the presence of ads. Just imagine faxing your resume and cover letter to a potential employer and they see “This free fax was provided by X.” This is seen as unprofessional for those on the receiving end.
There are free online fax apps too. Some of the more popular include:
At this point, you’re ready to write what you’re planning to use the next time you fax your resume and cover letter.
Basic Fax Cover Sheet
In this area, include a few brief details on the purpose of your fax. Also be sure to include what you’re hoping to get in return; e.g. callback for a job interview.
More Advanced Example Fax Cover Sheet
10-Year IT Director (add a quick-glance career description, like this one, if you wish)
RE: IT Director Position
For this position, you’re seeking a qualified professional with 3 or 4 key ingredients: management, networking, programming, and systems development experience. Am I right? I’ll outline how my background “hits the bulls-eye,” so you can easily see I’m the perfect candidate for this job. I guide and assist each tech through technical aspects of the installation process, ensuring each customer receives top-quality service and is given the support needed — whether it applies to PC support, networking, programming, telecommunications or data communications. Plus, I presently serve as team leader for HT Technical Resources and supervise the teams for HT Technical Resources. Whether managing the team or handling internal administrative processes, I possess extensive knowledge and I’ve done a great job overseeing a technical operation.
Matching every facet of your job description, I’m a perfect match for this position. To discuss my qualifications further, or to answer questions, call me at (814) 622-1821 or (814) 622-9191. I look forward to discussing this opportunity with you.
The Fax Cover Letter Makes a Comeback?
Written By Jimmy Sweeney
[Be sure not to miss the example fax cover letter above]
Busy offices today are inundated with faxes and more than a handful of fax cover letters [learn how to fax your cover letter for free], not least because direct mail companies have discovered this tool to be a cheap means of blasting information out to as many potential customers as they can find. The poor office fax machine has become a sort of mass broadcasting medium for anyone trying to peddle their wares, no matter how unsuited to the recipient they may be. It is vitally important today that if you are going to send a fax and yes, even if you are sending direct mail yourself that you take the time to craft an intriguing fax cover letter. Unless your intention is simply to fill up the recipient’s wastebasket.
Here is something they don’t tell you (because they really don’t want you to know): a fax cover letter gives your fax a massive advantage over any other correspondence sent via that medium. In the first place, it is only through a fax cover letter that you can inform the recipient of how many pages they should have received. All too often, a paper jam or a lack of paper in the paper tray will lead to a page being lost from your fax communication, and there is no reason unless you specifically tell them for the recipient to know that a page is actually missing.
Pros & Cons of the Fax Cover Letter
More importantly, however, companies tend to treat faxes that come with a cover letter as more important than those that do not. They simply look like they are more likely to have something important to say when compared to those one-page fax shots with pictures of laser printer toner cartridges and a list of pricing that make up the bulk of received faxes today.
Furthermore, a fax cover letter gives the recipient the opportunity to quickly get an idea of the content of the pages behind it and to decide whether it is worth their time to read further. This is an important step because it is the only real opportunity you have to either hook them or lose them forever.
It is also important to remember that today, many companies use PC-based fax software instead of traditional fax machines. That means that you can really go to town on your cover letter, making it striking and appealing without worrying that the recipient is going to be annoyed that you are using up all their toner or ink on the other end of the line.
Since you are not forcing them to print graphics against their will because they make the choice of whether to print or not you can design a stunningly good cover letter today, that will be greeted with interest rather than an annoyance.
Fax may be a communication medium that is on the way out, as email cover letters become more and more prevalent. But while it is still very much in use, a fax cover letter can give you a significant advantage when it comes to being noticed and greatly increase your chances of a successful outcome.
More Answers About Fax Cover Sheets
1. Does a fax cover sheet replace a cover letter?
Yes, sometimes it does. It the fax cover contains many of the elements from the cover letter, then including a cover letter as well with your fax seems redundant. In cases where your fax cover is more basic, not containing much detail from the cover letter, then yes, send a cover letter along as well. Either way, you want to ensure the employer possesses a letter with full details about how your skills meet the hiring company’s needs.
2. Is there really a wrong way when writing a fax cover sheet?
Ensure that your fax cover clearly states the “TO” because you don’t want your important documents floating around the office. Also, stick with the same visual layout, header, and font as your resume and cover letter so everything matches. I can’t stress the importance of your materials being professional “across the board.”
3. Are there limitations with a fax cover letter?
Much like the cover letter, try to contain it to one page. Remember, it’s always been questionable how many hiring agents and recruiters actually read these documents so push yourself to only one page of cover letter writing. For cold-contact cover letters written by students, project managers, medical, or accounting personnel, the guidelines are similar. Keep the content tight.
Filed Under: Cover Letter Types