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!
Please be kind and rate this post 🙂
FREE BONUS PDF CHEAT SHEET: Get our "Perfect Cover Letter" Cheat Sheet that gives you a Step-by-Step Process that will help you produce a perfect cover letter.
CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR CHEAT SHEET
12 Great Cover Letter Examples for 20184.3 (86.57%) 67 votes
FREE: "Perfect Cover Letter" PDF CHEAT SHEET
Get our handy "Perfect Cover Letter" cheat sheet.
In it you'll get a step-by-step process that will let you craft the perfect cover letter.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE CHEAT SHEET
Let’s face it: A job search is, typically, anything but fun.
It’s almost as if it carries its own stages of grief. At first, there’s denial of its demoralizing nature. Then comes the anger over either radio silence or rejection from prospective employers. Of course, there’s bargaining -- “I promise to never complain about work again, if I can find a new job!” That’s often followed by depression, and the idea that one is simply just unhireable. Then, there’s acceptance: “This is awful, but I have to keep trying, anyway.”
But we have good news. It is possible to have a little fun with your job search -- and maybe even make yourself a better candidate in the process. The magic, it turns out, could be in your cover letter.
It may be true that 63% of recruiters have deemed cover letters "unimportant," but that doesn't mean yours has to contribute to that statistic. In fact, it might be that cover letters are deemed insignificant because so few of them stand out. Here's an opportunity for you to exercise your creativity at the earliest stage of the recruitment process. Personalization, after all, goes beyond replacing the title and company name in each letter you send to recruiters.
What does that look like in practice, and how can you make your cover letter stand out? We found six examples from job seekers who decided to do things a bit differently.
Note: Some of these contain NSFW language.
6 Cover Letter Examples That Nailed It
1) The Short-and-Sweet Model
In 2009, David Silverman penned an article for Harvard Business Review titled, “The Best Cover Letter I Ever Received.” That letter contained three complete sentences, as follows:
One might argue that this particular letter is less than outstanding. It’s brief, to say the least, and the author doesn’t go into a ton of detail about what makes him or her qualified for the job in question. But that’s what Silverman likes about it -- the fact that the applicant only included the pieces of information that would matter the most to the recipient.
“The writer of this letter took the time to think through what would be relevant to me,” writes Silverman. “Instead of scattering lots of facts in hopes that one was relevant, the candidate offered up an opinion as to which experiences I should focus on.”
When you apply for a job, start by determining two things:
- Who might oversee the role -- that’s often included in the description, under “reports to.” Address your letter to that individual.
- Figure out what problems this role is meant to solve for that person. Then, concisely phrase in your cover letter how and why your experience can and will resolve those problems.
The key here is research -- by looking into who you’ll be reporting to and learning more about that person’s leadership style, you’ll be better prepared to tailor your cover letter to focus on how you provide solutions for her. Not sure how to learn more about a leader’s personality? Check out any content she shares on social media, or use Growthbot’s Personality Profile feature.
2) The Brutally Honest Approach
Then, there are the occasions when your future boss might appreciate honesty -- in its purest form. Livestream CEO Jesse Hertzberg, by his own admission, is one of those people, which might be why he called this example “the best cover letter” (which he received while he was with Squarespace):
As Hertzberg says in the blog post elaborating on this excerpt -- it’s not appropriate for every job or company. But if you happen to be sure that the corporate culture of this prospective employer gets a kick out of a complete lack of filter, then there’s a chance that the hiring manager might appreciate your candor.
“Remember that I'm reading these all day long,” Hertzberg writes. “You need to quickly convince me I should keep reading. You need to stand out.”
3) The One That Says "Why," Not Just "How"
We’ve already covered the importance of addressing how you’ll best execute a certain role in your cover letter. But there’s another question you might want to answer: Why the heck do you want to work here?
The Muse, a career guidance site, says that it’s often best to lead with the why -- especially if it makes a good story. We advise against blathering on and on, but a brief tale that illuminates your desire to work for that particular employer can really make you stand out.
Here’s another instance of the power of personalization. The author of this cover letter clearly has a passion for this prospective employer -- the Chicago Cubs -- and if she’s lying about it, well, that probably would eventually be revealed in an interview. Make sure your story is nonfiction, and relatable according to each job. While we love a good tale of childhood baseball games, an introduction like this one probably wouldn’t be fitting in a cover letter for, say, a software company. But a story of how the hours you spent playing with DOS games as a kid led to your passion for coding? Sure, we’d find that fitting.
If you’re really passionate about a particular job opening, think about where that deep interest is rooted. Then, tell your hiring manager about it in a few sentences.
4) The Straw (Wo)man
When I was in the throes of my own job search and reached one of the later stages, a friend said to me, “For the next job you apply for, you should just submit a picture of yourself a stick figure that somehow represents you working there.”
I never did end up working for the recipient of this particular piece of art, but it did result in an interview. Again, be careful where you send a cover letter like this one -- if it doesn’t match the company’s culture, it might be interpreted as you not taking the opportunity seriously. Be sure to pair it with a little bit of explanatory text, too. For example, when I submitted this picture-as-a-cover letter, I also wrote, “Perhaps I took the ‘sense of humor’ alluded to in your job description a bit too seriously.”
5) The Exercise in Overconfidence
I’ll admit that I considered leaving out this example. It’s rife with profanity, vanity, and arrogance. But maybe, in some settings, that’s the right way to do a cover letter.
A few years ago, Huffington Post published this note as an example of how to “get noticed” and “get hired for your dream job”:
Here’s the thing -- if the Aviary cited in this letter is the same Aviary I researched upon discovering it, then, well, I’m not sure this tone was the best approach. I read the company’s blog and looked at the careers site, and neither one indicates that the culture encourages ... this.
However, Aviary was acquired by Adobe in 2014, and this letter was written in 2011. So while it’s possible that the brand was a bit more relaxed at that time, we wouldn’t suggest submitting a letter with that tone to the company today. That’s not to say it would go unappreciated elsewhere -- Doug Kessler frequently discusses the marketers and brands that value colorful language, for example.
The point is, this example further illustrates the importance of research. Make sure you understand the culture of the company to which you’re applying before you send a completely unfiltered cover letter -- if you don’t, there’s a good chance it’ll completely miss the mark.
6) The Interactive Cover Letter
When designer Rachel McBee applied for a job with the Denver Broncos, she didn’t just write a personalized cover letter -- she designed an entire digital, interactive microsite:
This cover letter -- if you can even call it that -- checks off all of the boxes we’ve discussed here, in a remarkably unique way. It concisely addresses and organizes what many hiring managers hope to see in any cover letter: how her skills lend themselves to the role, why she wants the job, and how to contact her. She even includes a “traditional” body of text at the bottom, with a form that allows the reader to easily get in touch with her.
We’d like to add a sixth stage to the job search: Experimentation.
In today’s competitive landscape, it’s so easy to feel defeated, less-than-good-enough, or like giving up your job search. But don’t let the process become so monotonous. Have fun discovering the qualitative data we’ve discussed here -- then, have even more by getting creative with your cover letter composition.
We certainly can’t guarantee that every prospective employer will respond positively -- or at all -- to even the most unique, compelling cover letter. But the one that’s right for you will. That’s why it’s important not to copy these examples. That defeats the purpose of personalization.
So get creative. And, by the way -- we’re hiring.
What are some of the best cover letters you’ve seen? Let us know in the comments.