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We love having examples. It’s so much easier to decorate a cake, build a model, or yes, even write a cover letter when you know what the end product could look like.

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So that’s what we’re going to give you—all the cover letter examples and tips you need to make yours shine (we’re unfortunately not experts in cake decorating or model building).

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Why bother with a cover letter at all?

I bet when you see a job listing that says “cover letter optional,” you breathe a sigh of relief, gleefully submit your resume, and move on. But you’re truly doing yourself a disservice by not including a cover letter (or by writing one that’s super generic or formulaic).

“When you’re writing a resume you’re oftentimes confined by space, by resume speak, by keywords—you’re up against a lot of technical requirements,” says Melody Godfred, a career coach and the founder of Write in Color who’s read thousands of cover letters over the course of her career. “In a cover letter you have an opportunity to craft a narrative that aligns you not only with the position you’re applying to but also the company you’re applying to.”

Whether you’re writing a cover letter for a data scientist or marketing manager position, an internship or a senior-level role, a startup or a Fortune 500 company, you’re going to want to tailor it to the role, company, and culture. A strong, customized cover letter will help you explain your value proposition and stand out from the stack of applicants. If there’s a gap in your resume, you have the opportunity to explain why it’s there. If you’re changing careers, you have the chance to describe why you’re making the switch. If your resume’s pretty dull, a cover letter helps you show some personality. And yes, cover letters still get read.

Does that sound a bit overwhelming? Don’t fret! We’ve got examples of four types of cover letters below: a traditional cover letter, an impact cover letter, a writing sample cover letter, and a career change cover letter. So let’s take a look at these examples, why they work, and how you can use them to craft your own.

The traditional cover letter example

A traditional cover letter is similar to what you’d come up with using a position-based cover letter template. It moves in reverse chronological order through your career history, highlighting parts of your past jobs that make you well suited for this position.

You might want to use this type of cover letter if:

  • You’re applying to a more formal company (like a law firm or major healthcare company) or a more conventional role (like a lawyer or accountant).
  • You want to play it safe and conservative with your application materials.

The Job Description

Let’s say you’re applying to a paralegal job opening at a law firm. The job description might include:

Responsibilities

  • Draft routine legal documents for review and use by attorneys
  • Coordinate and organize materials and presentations for legal proceedings
  • Research legal and related issues and report findings and conclusions to team
  • Provide overall legal administrative support to the legal team
  • Maintain calendars and ensure timely filings

Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent of relevant education and work experience
  • Strong communication skills (oral and written)
  • Strong organizational, multitasking, and prioritization skills
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite and LexisNexis
  • Trustworthy, positive, energetic, and optimistic attitude with a willingness to roll up your sleeves

The Cover Letter Example

Here’s an example of a traditional cover letter you could write for this role—keeping things strictly professional but without sounding too boring or jargon-y:

Dear Ms. Jessica Sanchez,

In my five-year career as a paralegal, I have honed my legal research and writing skills, and the attorneys I’ve worked with have complimented me on my command of case law and litigation support. Spiegel Law Firm’s 20 years in practice proves that the firm has strong values and excellent attorneys, and I’d be eager to join such a talented team.

I currently serve as a paralegal for Chandler, Chandler, and Greene, where I work closely with the partners on a number of high-priority cases. During my time here, I implemented a new calendar system that ensures timely filing of court papers. This system has prevented missed deadlines and allowed for better organization of internal and client meetings.

Previously, as a paralegal for the Neuerburg Law Firm, I received praise for my overall support of the legal team and my positive attitude. While working there, I came up with and implemented a plan for digitizing their old files while still ensuring security and privacy. This led to more efficiency when preparing for client meetings and legal proceedings.

My further qualifications include a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, a paralegal certificate, and training in LexisNexis, Westlaw, and Microsoft Office Suite.

I would love the opportunity to discuss how I can contribute to your legal team. Thank you in advance for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Chase Broadstein
chasebroadstein@email.com
(222) 222-2222

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Why This Works

This cover letter is short, sweet, and to the point. It shows the candidate has a knack for getting things done in a thorough and timely matter and a track record for helping out wherever needed. The opening lines also express a genuine interest in this specific firm. Plus, there are some important keywords in there like “calendar system,” “bachelor’s degree,” “paralegal certificate,” and “LexisNexis.”

The impact cover letter example

The impact cover letter puts your accomplishments front and center rather than organizing your paragraphs by past roles. You might use a cover letter like this if:

  • You’re applying for roles where you’re expected to deliver on certain goals or results (for example, if the jobs involve sales quotas or marketing metrics).
  • You haven’t followed a straightforward career path and your past job titles don’t show the extent of your qualifications.
  • You want your personality to stand out a bit more than it might in a traditional cover letter.

The Job Description

Let’s say you’ve come across an opening for an email marketing manager. Part of the job description states:

Responsibilities

  • Manage email marketing strategy and calendar, including copywriting, optimization, monitoring, analyzing, and reporting on campaigns
  • Improve campaign success through conversion optimization, A/B testing, and other experiments
  • Collaborate with the design team to ensure brand guidelines are followed in emails
  • Partner and collaborate cross-functionally with sales, product, product marketing, and data teams

Requirements

  • 3+ years in email marketing
  • Experience with Constant Contact, Google Analytics, HTML, CSS, Photoshop, and Microsoft Excel, a plus
  • Excellent communication skills (oral and written) and an eye for copyediting
  • Strong interpersonal, relationship-building, and stakeholder management skills
  • Excellent project management, problem-solving, and time management skills, with the ability to multitask effectively

The Cover Letter Example

Here’s an example of an impact cover letter where the writer’s hard skills and successes stand out:

Dear Russ Roman,

I have a problem. See, my inbox currently (and embarrassingly) hosts 1,500 unread emails—including newsletters from at least 50 different brands.

But this problem only fuels my passion for creating emails that are worth opening. Because from my perspective, as someone who can barely get through their own stack of mail, that’s a true win.

I’ve been following Vitabe for years, and can proudly say that I open every single email you send to me. I’m a sucker for a good subject line—“Take a Vitamin-ute—We’ll A-B-C You Soon” being my favorite—and the way your email content feels both fun and expert-backed really speaks to me. This is why I’m thrilled to submit my application for a role as email marketing manager at your company.

I have over four years of experience working in the email marketing space. In my current role at Westside Bank, I was able to implement new email campaigns centered around reengaging churned clients. By analyzing data around the types of clients who churn and the engagement of our current email subscribers, as well as A/B testing headlines and newsletter layouts, we were able to increase email subscribers by 15% and convert 30% of those subscribers to purchase our product, a significant increase from the previous year. I also launched a “Your Credit Matters” newsletter focused on educating our clients on how they spend and manage their credit—which became our highest performing campaign in terms of open-rates and click-through to date.

Previously, as a member of the marketing team at Dream Diary Mattresses, I collaborated with the sales and product team to understand how I could best support them in hitting their quarterly goals. One specific project involving creating personalized emails for customers drew more people to come back to our site after 30 days than direct paid ad campaigns, leading to a 112% increase in revenue from the last quarter.

I take the content I write and the calendars I manage seriously, editing and refining beyond detail-oriented and into meticulous territory, and I feel my experience and drive would greatly help Vitabe further develop their email program for success.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Lad Miller
lmiller@inboxeseverywhere.com
(987) 654-3210

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Why This Works

This sample cover letter concisely highlights the applicant’s most significant, relevant achievements. By adding context to how their projects were created, monitored, and completed, they’re able to show just how results-driven they are and how they’ve successfully leveraged some of the skills the company is looking for.

One thing worth noting: This person didn’t include keywords such as Constant Contact, Google Analytics, HTML, CSS, Photoshop, or Microsoft Excel—all of which are listed in the job description. But those skills are most likely in their resume already, and leaving them out gives them the space to discuss specific projects and tell a story not visible on other parts of their application.

The writing sample cover letter example

For roles where written communication is key, such as PR, copywriting, or journalism jobs, your cover letter will likely be the first writing sample your future employer sees. So it’s just as important to show your skill set in action through eloquent writing.

You might want to use this type of cover letter if:

  • Writing or editing is a key component of the role you’re applying to.
  • You want to show off your creativity.

The Job Description

Here’s part of a job description for a staff writer position:

Responsibilities

  • Pitch and write articles, reporting on timely issues and trends
  • Collaborate with editorial and other teams to launch each digital issue and other special projects on schedule
  • Evaluate content performance and digital trends on a daily basis to constantly adjust pitches and packaging
  • Utilize CMS tools, strategically select photos and videos, and request original graphics to optimize all written content for maximum engagement

Requirements

  • At least 2-3 years of experience creating content at a digital-first outlet
  • Strong writing and reporting skills, and the ability to write clearly and quickly
  • Familiarity working in a CMS and with analytics tools such as Google Analytics
  • Deadline-driven, strategic thinker with a knack for crafting click-y headlines
  • Strong collaborator who thrives in fast-paced environments

The Cover Letter Example

Have fun with this one, but triple-check for spelling and grammar mistakes, and make sure you’re showing off your best writing:

Dear Tai Chen,

Since I could walk, I’ve been dancing. And since I could read, I’ve been glued to Arabesque Weekly. At one point, you featured one of my local heroes—a ballerina who struggled with an injury early in her career and went on to become a principal dancer at Pacific Northwest Ballet—and I plastered the article above my childhood bed. It’s still there today.

That article—and so many others you’ve published—taught me that dancing was about more than just pirouettes and arabesques and that the right kind of writer can shed light on aspects of the art that make it surprising, impactful, and universal. I can be that writer.

As an editorial assistant at TheImprovGroup.com for the past two and a half years, my main responsibility was to get all of our content ready to go live on the site. This included fact-checking, proofreading, adding in HTML where necessary, and finding photos, videos, and GIFs that would complement the content and optimize audience engagement. As I tinkered with each post, I became intimately familiar with our internal CMS. Reviewing every single article we published and following reactions and engagement helped me gain a deep understanding of what makes a piece really land with our audience.

But by far my favorite aspect of this role has been writing. Each week, I pitch and write at least one article, from 250-word news items to 900-word advice pieces to even longer profiles, features, and personal essays. I love the challenge of developing pitches that align with the trends we see in the data, reflect with the company’s brand and mission, and allow me to flex my creative muscles.

Collaborating with my team to form the best content library we can has been a dream come true. I would be so excited to use my experience to help Arabesque Weekly achieve its goals. And I hope to one day write a story that another little dance lover tapes to their wall forever.

It would be an honor to be a part of your editorial team, and I look forward to the possibility of discussing the opportunity with you.

Hoping to be your next staff writer,

Marlee Wood
marleew@mailplace.net
(555) 666-4433

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Why This Works

This candidate is clearly passionate about this specific publication and leads with a unique personal anecdote tied to the company’s mission that demonstrates their ability to tell stories in a compelling way. There are relevant keywords and phrases, sure, but they’re not just thrown in there. Their voice comes through in every sentence, proving this person knows how to communicate effectively and creatively.

The career change cover letter example

Cover letters can play a big part in helping career changers prove their qualifications—especially when it’s unclear how their skills transfer over to this new field.

You might write a career change cover letter if:

  • You want to highlight the transferable skills you have that relate to the job description.
  • You want to explain why you’re making the switch and what’s driving you toward this specific industry, company, or position.

The Job Description

Let’s say you’re someone who has experience supporting a sales team as an administrative assistant, and you’re now looking to become a sales representative. You come across a job posting that includes:

Responsibilities

  • Develop new sales techniques and strategies to build pipeline and hit team goals
  • Coordinate with other teams to increase lead-generation efforts
  • Assist in the processing of new business, including contacting customers to finalize sales and service transactions

Requirements

  • 1-3 years of successful sales experience
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to thrive in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment
  • Ability to work independently to plan, set priorities, and effectively organize work
  • Proven ability to be persuasive, persistent, and confident in closing a sale

The Cover Letter Example

Here’s how you might translate your past experience over to this new (and exciting) prospect:

Dear Maria Russo,

The head of sales at Sunshine Inc. was in a bind. She needed six client meetings scheduled, 18 service transactions processed, and a summary of the team’s new lead generation campaign drafted before getting on a flight to Austin—in three hours. So she turned to her cool-headed, sales-savvy administrative assistant for help. That assistant was me. Not only did I execute everything on her to-do list, I did it all before her plane left the ground.

For three years, I worked in lockstep with a busy, growth-oriented sales leader to support the business development team. As the sole administrative assistant in the department, I balanced a swath of competing priorities, ranging from coordinating meetings and inputting data to contacting customers, finalizing transactions, and creating promotional materials. This role helped me develop a comprehensive understanding of the sales cycle, sales strategy, and pipeline growth.

Like many others, my career path hasn’t been entirely straightforward. After leaving Crabapple Media, I enrolled in a local coding bootcamp. Six months later, I emerged with a certificate in computer programming and a certainty that I did not want to be a coder. But education is never wasted. I’m now an aspiring sales representative with experience supporting a thriving sales team and extensive knowledge of the tech space.

Here’s a little bit more about how my experience would translate into this role:

  • At Crabapple Media, I assisted in coordinating three annual sales strategy rollouts, yielding an average increase in pipeline of 26% YoY.
  • At Sunshine Inc., I supported 12 independent team members in their lead-generation efforts. I also assisted in processing an average of 300 sales transactions every quarter.
  • I thrive in busy, ever-changing environments that require me to communicate clearly and concisely. Supporting a high-volume team and a busy executive helped me to hone these skills—I typically sent more than 200 emails a day!

I would, of course, love to schedule a time for us to discuss this role and my experience, and I truly want to thank you for considering me.

All the best,
Olu Abiola
oabiola@inbox.net
(123) 456-789

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Why This Works

The opener draws you in and makes you want to learn more. It toots the person’s horn, but in a way that’s substantiated. Then, the next couple sections explain their experience in the sales space and other relevant qualifications, before eventually tying that back to why they’re applying to this specific job. Similar to the impact cover letter, the author lists some of the more important qualities they bring to the table, doing a bit of keyword inclusion and resume gap explaining along the way.

Bonus cover letter examples

Let’s break down one of our example cover letters real quick

Check out this handy infographic that breaks down our impact cover letter.

infographic of impact cover letter example pointing out different elements of cover letter

The 3 basic elements of a cover letter

Cover letters are a little like puzzles. When you put each component in its proper place (and remove any parts that don’t fit), you create a complete picture. But even though that picture is always different (as you saw above) a lot of the types of pieces are the same.

In other words, every great cover letter includes the following elements:

1. An Engaging Opener

By opener, we primarily mean your first paragraph: How you start a cover letter is everything. Your opening lines influence whether someone keeps reading—and you want them to, right?

“Starting with something that immediately connects you to the company is essential—something that tells the company that this is not a generic cover letter,” Godfred says. “You have to say something that tells the employer, ‘I wrote this just for you.’”

It can be a childhood memory tying you back to the company’s mission. It can be a story about the time you fell in love with the company’s product. It can be an anecdote from another job or experience showing how hard of a worker you are. Whatever you decide to open with, make it memorable.

2. A Clear Pitch

Use the next few paragraphs of your cover letter to “hit them with the strongest results you have that are aligned with the opportunity,” Godfred says. Ryan Kahn—Muse career coach and founder of The Hired Group—calls this your pitch. In other words, the part where you’re “selling yourself for the position and why you’re qualified for it.” Additionally, Godfred says, “If you’re someone who’s transitioning careers, and you need to explain that transition, you do it there.”

This section should have a balance of soft and hard skills, Godfred says. Talk about your experience using Salesforce or doing SEO work, but also highlight your ability to lead teams and communicate effectively. “Companies are embracing authenticity, they’re embracing humanity, they’re looking for people who are going to fit their culture. So what are your values? What do you stand for?” says Godfred. These values should be as much a part of your cover letter as the super specialized hard skills.

3. A Great Closing Line

Your closing line could include your next steps, Kahn says, such as “I welcome the opportunity to speak with you more about how I can contribute to [team],” or, “I would love to schedule a time for us to discuss this role and my experience.” But more importantly, “You want to make sure that you’re gracious and thanking them,” he says. While seemingly cliché, it never hurts to end on a simple, “Thank you for your consideration.”

A few more cover letter tips

Here are a few more tips to help the cover letter process:

  • Start with a “brain dump”: If you’re staring at a blank page, Godfred always recommends that her clients start by getting all their ideas on the page without paying attention to length. Then “ask yourself how you can cut half of it,” Godfred says. You’ll likely find that repeated information and very generic phrases are the first to go. (If it’s still too long, here are some tips for getting your cover letter down to one page.).
  • Don’t just repeat your resume: You only have so much space to get your point across, so focus on the information that isn’t stated elsewhere rather than simply regurgitating your resume.
  • Focus on quality over quantity. Target the jobs you’re most closely drawn to and qualified for and give them all your energy, rather than trying to churn out hundreds of cover letters, Kahn says. You may not be able to apply to as many jobs, but you’ll have a better response rate.
  • Remember the ATS: Much like your resume, applicant tracking systems, or ATSs, will be sifting through your cover letter. So you’ll want to scatter relevant keywords from the job description throughout your cover letter where it makes sense.
  • Don’t stress over formatting: You may see flashy cover letter examples across the internet, but for the most part, it just isn’t necessary. ATSs can’t read text that has been formatted beyond using bold, italics, underline, and color, so keep your font and layout simple—especially if you’re submitting your cover letter through an online portal.
  • Include your contact information on every page, including your name, phone number, and email. “Imagine you come across a cover letter and you print it out with a bunch of applications to review and it doesn’t have the person’s contact information on it,” Godfred says. “You never want to put yourself in a situation where you’re the right person and they can’t find you.”
  • Edit! Here’s everything you should double check before pressing submit.

Hopefully these cover letter examples help as you go to tackle your own. Remember: This is just one small step in the process! Take your time, but learn to move on when you’ve given it your all.

Regina Borsellino contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.

Updated 6/16/2022