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!
Free Cover Letter Templates for Microsoft Word
A good cover letter can mean the difference between catching the hiring manager’s attention and languishing in job search limbo. But many job seekers find it hard to stare down that blank page. How do you summarize your most important qualifications in way that makes it clear that you’re the best candidate for the job?
Cover letter templates can help. A template will give you a "fill in the blank" format you can use to create your own letter to send with your resume when you apply for a job.
It will save you a few steps and help you structure your letter in a professional way.
Free Microsoft cover letter templates are available online from Microsoft Office Online, as a download for Microsoft Word users, or are available within your Word program, to use to create cover letters for jobs. Note that not all templates may work with all versions of Word, so check before you download. There will be a message next to the download button advising if there are restrictions.
Not a Microsoft user? Google Docs also has free template samples available for letters and resumes. Using any of these templates can help you to feel confident that you are properly writing and formatting your cover letter.
Free Microsoft Word Cover Letter Templates
There are a variety of templates available for Microsoft Word. Template options include general cover letters and both job- and career-specific cover letter samples.
For example, there are cover letter templates for professionals, temporary workers, and candidates who are sending in their resumes unsolicited.
Microsoft Word also offers a variety of different cover letter template designs, with resume templates to match. Note that if you choose one of these fancier template designs, you’ll want to choose a resume template to match.
It’s important to be consistent in your application materials, whether it’s matching your cover letter to your resume or choosing a font or format. Ideally, your experience should stand out to the hiring manager, not your stylistic choices.
To Access Cover Letters From Your Computer:
Open Microsoft Word, then click on:
Then, search for online templates by typing your keywords (e.g., “cover letter”) in the field provided.
How to Access the Microsoft Cover Letter Templates
If you don’t own a copy of Microsoft Office or a subscription to Microsoft 365, you can still access cover letter templates via Microsoft Office Online. These templates are free and editable online.
Visit the Microsoft Cover Letter Templates website, browse the cover letter templates, then click on the title to preview the sample. You'll need to sign up for a free account to edit the document.
Once you find a template you like, click Edit In Browser, then follow the instructions to customize and save your cover letter.
There are also sets, which include matching resumes and cover letters, available to use.
Use the Template to Create a Customized Cover Letter
Once you have downloaded or opened a cover letter template file, type over the text in the file to create your own, personalized cover letter.
The template will include all the relevant information that you need to include in your document. Simply change the generic version to include your personal and professional information.
It's a good idea to include additional details about your qualifications and experience. Take the time to match your qualifications to the job description. Include keywords related to your skills and achievements.
To customize your cover letter further, look for a contact person at the company, ideally the hiring manager or HR contact, and address the letter to this person. If you have an employee contact at the company who is willing to refer you, be sure to mention them as soon as possible in the cover letter. Employee referrals carry a lot of weight with hiring managers.
Double-check to make sure there is none of the template information left in your final saved version.
Carefully proofread for grammar and typographical errors before saving and sending your cover letter.
To avoid sending a blank template or the wrong version of your cover letter, choose a file name that’s easy to remember. It should always include your name, and may also contain the name of the position to which you’re applying. Avoid version numbers and cutesy nicknames.
More Templates for Resumes and Letters
More Microsoft Letter Templates
Microsoft letter templates are available as a free download for Microsoft Word users or are available within your Word program, to use to create a variety of letters. There are letter templates for cover letters, resignation letters, reference letters, thank you letters, interview letters, and a variety of business letters.
Microsoft Word Resume Templates
Microsoft resume templates are available as a free download for Microsoft Word users to use to create a resume. Microsoft Word resume options include basic resumes, job-specific resumes, and career-specific resumes.