The first thing a potential employer sees in your job application is the cover letter. This doesn't just support your CV – it's an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd and persuade the recruiter to put you through to the next round.
Be wary of spending hours on perfecting your CV at the expense of your cover letter. If you need some inspiration on what to include and what format to use, here are our helpful guides – just remember not to copy them as exact templates.
1. Standard, conservative style
This is ideal for sectors such as business, law, accountancy and retail. For more creative sectors, a letter like this might be less appealing, and could work against you.
Dear Mr Black,
Please find enclosed my CV in application for the post advertised in the Guardian on 30 November.
The nature of my degree course has prepared me for this position. It involved a great deal of independent research, requiring initiative, self-motivation and a wide range of skills. For one course, [insert course], an understanding of the [insert sector] industry was essential. I found this subject very stimulating.
I am a fast and accurate writer, with a keen eye for detail and I should be very grateful for the opportunity to progress to market reporting. I am able to take on the responsibility of this position immediately, and have the enthusiasm and determination to ensure that I make a success of it.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this application and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
2. Standard speculative letter
This may vary according to the nature of the organisation and the industry you're applying to.
Dear Mr Brown,
I am writing to enquire if you have any vacancies in your company. I enclose my CV for your information.
As you can see, I have had extensive vacation work experience in office environments, the retail sector and service industries, giving me varied skills and the ability to work with many different types of people. I believe I could fit easily into your team.
I am a conscientious person who works hard and pays attention to detail. I'm flexible, quick to pick up new skills and eager to learn from others. I also have lots of ideas and enthusiasm. I'm keen to work for a company with a great reputation and high profile like [insert company name].
I have excellent references and would be delighted to discuss any possible vacancy with you at your convenience. In case you do not have any suitable openings at the moment, I would be grateful if you would keep my CV on file for any future possibilities.
3. Letter for creative jobs
We've used the example of a copywriter but you can adapt it for your profession. The aim of a creative letter is to be original and show you have imagination, but understand what the job entails. Balance is essential: don't be too wacky, or it will turn off the reader.
Dear Ms Green,
· Confused by commas?
· Puzzled by parenthesis?
· Stumped by spelling?
· Perturbed by punctuation?
· Annoyed at the apostrophe? (And alliteration?)
Well, you're not alone. It seems that fewer and fewer people can write. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who can read. So they'll spot a gaffe from a mile off. And that means it's a false economy, unless you're 100% sure of yourself, to write your own materials. (Or to let clients do it for themselves.)
To have materials properly copywritten is, when one considers the whole process of publishing materials and the impact that the client wishes to make, a minor expense. Sloppiness loses clients, loses customers.
There is an answer. Me. Firm quotes are free. You can see some of what I do on my multilingual website at [insert web address]. If you'd like, I can get some samples out to you within 24 hours. And, if you use me, you'll have some sort of guarantee that you can sleep soundly as those tens of thousands of copies are rolling off the presses.
Luck shouldn't come into it!
With kindest regards
Other helpful resources
•How to write a perfect CV and cover letter
•Applying for jobs without experience? How to build and sell your skills
•Five steps to the perfect graduate CV
•School-leavers and graduates: how to write your first CV
•How to write a personal statement for your CV
•CV templates to fit every stage of your career
Looking for a job? Browse Guardian Jobs or sign up to Guardian Careers for the latest job vacancies and career advice
By Mike Simpson
There comes a time in nearly every job seekers life when you plop yourself down in front of the computer and say to yourself…
“Okay, it’s time to find a couple good cover letter examples I can use to help me start writing my cover letter…”
So you do a quick Google search, grab the first three cover letter samples you can find, copy a paragraph from each one, and then you’re off to the races feeling like now all you have to do is “click send” a few times and the interviews will simply start rolling in.
Consider this a gentle wake-up call.
Why Your Cover Letter Is So Important?
In this ultra-competitive job market, it’s just not good enough to “Frankenstein” together a cover letter from the various bits and pieces you find online.
Because hiring managers have “been there, done that.” In other words, they’ve seen it all before.
Not only that, but they want to find candidates that are unique, interesting, and take the time and make the effort to present the best version of themselves.
Your cover letter is your first impression, and therefore, you want to craft the best darn cover letter your hiring manager has ever seen.
So you want to take the time and select the cover letter example that is “tailored” to your situation… in other words, the example cover letter that fits your personality, skills and abilities the best.
Example cover letters are kind of like shoes.
Sure, you might absolutely love that pair of Air Jordan IV’s that are still fresh in the box in your closet from 1989, but you might want to have a second thought before you consider wearing them to a wedding with a tuxedo.
Or perhaps you’ve got a pair of high heels that make you feel like you could walk into a business lunch at the Four Seasons and walk out having sold your company for a billion dollars?
Would you feel the same way if you showed up at the start line for the half marathon you signed up for with those same heels on?
Okay, ridiculous examples aside, I hope you can begin to see my point.
There is not one example cover letter for every situation… no “one-cover-letter-fits-all” solution.
You have to carefully evaluate your situation and decide which cover letter example is going to suit you the most.
What kind of work are you looking for?
Full-time? Or part-time? There’s a cover letter for that.
Are you sending a cover letter in the mail or by email? There’s a cover letter for that too.
There are all kinds of situations that warrant a slightly different cover letter, and it’s imperative that you figure out which one fits you best.
But don’t worry. To help, we’ve compiled a list of 12 of the most common cover letter examples and provided you with an example of a cover letter for each one.
So take a look at the examples and carefully decide which one fits your situation the most.
Before you dive in, a word to the wise…
Don’t just grab the one that fits you best, change the contact information and then start sending it out. As I said before, hiring managers are pretty smart and will be able to tell that you haven’t taken any time to make it your own.
If you want to get job interviews from your cover letter (and at some point, job offers as well!), you need to “tailor” the cover letter to demonstrate your skills, abilities and relevant experience.
Mike's Tip: Once you find a cover letter example that fits your situation, head over to our article How To Write A Cover Letter 101 and use the article to make sure that your cover letter contains all of the important things that hiring managers look for. We'll help you make sure that your cover letter is so irresistible that you'll get an interview from almost every application you submit!
12 Common Cover Letter Examples
Without further ado, here are 12 of the best cover letter examples for nearly every situation you could find yourself in along with a brief description of what makes the style of cover letter unique.
1. Cover Letter Sample For Part-Time Work
If you have no intention of applying for a full-time position, it is very important that you let the hiring manager know this in your cover letter. After all, if you don’t mention this right up front, anything that comes after this will be a total waste of time, and hiring managers value their time more than anything.
On a side note, you should never really be applying for a full-time position when you are only available as a part-time worker. The company has very specific needs, so don’t think they are going to change the entire nature of the position to accommodate your availability.
2. For A New Graduate
Cover letters for new graduates can often be tricky, because generally speaking, new graduates don’t usually have much experience.
So how can you still put yourself forward as a good candidate without experience? You want to focus the cover letter around your skills and abilities, the extra-curricular work you’ve accomplished and your knowledge of the company (and passion for the industry) you’re applying to.
3. When You Have Been Referred
There isn’t anything overly difficult about writing a cover letter when you have been referred by someone else, but the most important thing to know is where you should bring up the referral.
Generally speaking, it is always best to mention your referral in the opening paragraph, because it acts as an attention grabber for the hiring manager.
You’re hoping they’ll think to themselves something along the lines of, “Oh, this person was referred by Jim. I like Jim…he’s a straight shooter. If this person is good enough for Jim, he’s good enough for me. I’m going to bring him in for an interview…”
4. Cold Call Cover Letter Example
The cold call cover letter is appropriate when you are applying to a position that is not necessarily listed on a job board or advertised anywhere. And for that reason, it can be a little tricky.
You really need to blow the hiring manager away in order for them to grant an unsolicited interview request, so there a re a few key things to remember. Most importantly, you really have to do your research and demonstrate that you know the company and position inside out.
After that, it really pays to address the letter to a specific person. Simply writing “To Whom It May Concern” is a great way to have the letter filed under G (for those keeping track that’s the Garbage).
Finally, this letter needs to be all about “pizazz”. Since the reader wasn’t expecting to receive this, you really need to catch their attention and sell yourself, but most importantly, quickly demonstrate how you will add value to their company.
5. For An Email Submission
Please please PLEASE be careful with this one.
Just because a job posting says “submit your cover letter and resume via email”, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can just put these documents in the body of an email.
More often than not, the posting will give further instructions that include attaching your cover letter and resume to an email. Anyone who doesn’t follow this step has a ZERO chance of being brought in for an interview.
Why? Because you can’t follow simple directions.
Now, if there is no stipulation and you determine that using the email body to send your cover letter is okay, then general cover letter writing rules apply.
Where you want to focus your energy is on the subject line. Don’t just write whatever comes to mind as a throwaway and whatever you do, don’t leave it empty! Be clear and concise about what is included in the email and identify the position you are applying for.
6. For A Recruiter
Recruiters are no different than hiring managers, in that they are essentially looking for the same things from your cover letters. What impresses a recruiter the most is when you take the time to tailor your cover letter to a specific posting rather than simply sending them a general letter inquiring about “miscellaneous opportunities”.
7. Someone Changing Careers
Generally speaking, if you are changing careers, you’ll be short on experience. So similarly to the “New Graduate” cover letter, you’ll want to put the focus on your reasons for making the career change along with your relevant skills and abilities and how your experience in your past career will translate to your new career.
And remember, enthusiasm goes a long way. Hiring managers get excited about applicants that really show a desire to succeed in the role and industry they are applying to.
So make sure you do your research and know the position and industry inside out so that you are easily able to show how enthusiastic you are about the opportunity and how determined you are to get started on your new career path.
8. A Great Example of a Cover Letter For An Academic
The trick with an academic cover letter is to avoid rambling on and on and on about everything you’ve accomplished. The reality is, you still need to fall within the “one-page rule” (although some institutions will allow for a second page, you better make darn sure that this is the case!), so the trick is to be clear and concise and highlight your accomplishments without coming across as an encyclopedia.
One other thing to consider is the nature of any research you have done and how you want to convey that in your cover letter.
Quite often people spend too much time talking about what it is they study or plan on studying without ever getting into the “why” of it all.
Be specific about your intentions and don’t assume that the person on the other end of your cover letter is an expert in your field.
9. For An Internship
There really isn’t a huge difference between writing a cover letter for an internship and writing a cover letter for a job opening. You still need to list your qualifications, skills and abilities. You still need to explain how you add value to the company. You still want to sell yourself.
But one thing you want to keep in mind, is even though this internship might be a springboard to YOUR career or education, you don’t want this to be the focus of your cover letter.
The name of the game is still to put the company’s needs ahead of your own.
You’re not their first intern and you won’t be their last, so don’t write your cover letter thinking that their concern is how the internship will help with your placement in your next opportunity.
Add value. Period. This is what they really want to hear from you in your cover letter.
10. Direct Mail
A direct mail cover letter is similar to a cold call cover letter, the main difference being you are not applying to a single company with a single position in mind. Instead, you are “blanketing” as many companies you can at once and therefore trying to send out a general cover letter that can work for them all.
Because of this, we don’t recommend this strategy to our students. It is generally pretty ineffective and a waste of your time or resources.
There is rarely a time when “tailoring” your resume to a specific company and position is not the most effective strategy. However, if you are really short on time (and possibly ambition), here is an example of a direct mail cover letter you can reference.
11. Responding To an Advertisement
The only really distinguishing feature of this type of cover letter is that the opening paragraph generally includes a statement such as “I’m responding to your advertisement I saw in the…”
The rest of the cover letter generally follows the principles of other successful cover letters. However, if you find yourself going through the classifieds in your local newspaper and simply sending off cover letters to whomever has an ad posted, do make sure that you do some research on the company before you send out your cover letter.
Sending one cover letter out for multiple advertisements is a good way to ensure that you won’t be getting too many interviews in the coming days or weeks.
12. When You’re Unemployed
The worst thing you can do when writing an cover letter after you’ve been unemployed for some time is to lie.
Why? Because eventually, the lies you tell in the cover letter will come home to roost at some point in the interview process, meaning you’ll just end up having wasted everyone’s time.
Having said that, if there are some less-than-attractive reasons for your unemployment, don’t make those reasons the focus of your cover letter. You want to keep it positive.
It’s okay to admit fault in certain situations if you can show that you’ve have learned from the tough times and have changed for the better as a result of these struggles.
Transition to focusing on your skills and abilities, and more importantly, your passion and desire for re-entering the workforce. If you have experience from your past that will clearly add value to this new position, than don’t be afraid to clearly demonstrate the connection.
And if you spent your time being unemployed trying to better yourself (for example, taking a class or volunteering), then shift the focus to that.
Putting It All Together
So there you have 12 good cover letter examples for 2017 that will help you get started on crafting a winning cover letter.
Remember that the most important thing for you to accomplish with your cover letter is to demonstrate how you add value to the company you are applying to, and you want to make sure this never gets lost when you get caught up in trying to sell yourself.
And remember, you’re not on your own! Once you’ve chosen your cover letter example you can head over to How to Write a Cover Letter 101 and get great tips on how to right all parts of your cover letter.
Best of luck to you!
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