Writing a Cover Letter: Tips and Examples
And a free template to write your killer cover letter. Now go get that internship!
You've researched your internship or job.
You prepared your resume.
You prepared for all the interview questions.
You find that they require a cover letter but you've never written one.
I remember going through this process and I was so nervous just bringing myself to type anything in my Google Doc titled "Janice Lee Cover Letter." I had written cover letters before in high school, but this was different since I was doing this on my own and it felt like it was going to be taken more seriously since I was applying for a startup company in California.
After taking a deep breath, doing some research, and bringing myself to type up my first cover letter, I was accepted into the internship! This article is a great first step, and lucky for you, I've broken down everything you need to write your Cover Letter and even included a free usable template at the end.
I've broken down this article into parts:
What is a Cover Letter
What to Include (step-by-step!)
1. What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a document that accompanies your resume where you outline why you want to work for them, and why you're qualified for the job. Think of your cover letter as your sales pitch!
It's not always required, but some companies like to have their applicants submit a Cover Letter on top of their resume.
It's a big bonus if you submit one when it's not necessary! It tells companies that you've put in the extra effort and that you really want this specific position.
Your cover letter should be 250-400 words long— so keep it to one page.
Here's my exact cover letter I sent out when I was applying for the internship. My copy isn't the end-all, be-all, but hey, it worked for me and it was a good start. Take a look at mine and make yours better! (Click to enlarge)
2. What to Include (step-by-step!)
Here's a breakdown of my cover letter.
Disclaimer: cover letters may differ depending on the situation, but this is a good guideline .
Date and contact information 🗓️
The format varies (date first, address first) but regardless of the order, you want the header to highlight contact information so they know where to reach you. You want to include your general address and their specific location.
Don't know who you're writing to? Here are some alternatives if you don't have a name:
Dear [Department] Hiring Manager
Dear Hiring Manager
To whom it may concern
Dear [Department] Team
If you don't know their address, search it up on Google or try investigating on the bottom their website. If you still can't find it, shoot them an email and ask! That might take some time, but they're generally happy to help.
Here's a good example:
Who are you? How did you find this job? What's your current background? These are some questions you should answer in a short paragraph.
Formula: 1-2 sentences introducing yourself + 1-2 sentences explaining what drew you to this position = great intro
Relevant Background 📖
This is where you can expand on yourself. Elaborate on your background, a few of your experiences, and your strong skills.
2-4 sentences explaining your major, passion, background, and previous experiences.
This is the main piece of your cover letter and what the reader will focus on. It's in this section you can highlight relevant skills and experiences, almost like a resume but tailored to what the company is looking for.
Include impact numbers if you can! (Ex. increased the company's blog posts engagement by 20%)
If you don't have much prior experience, include some skills and passions (ex. passion for writing, enthusiasm for learning about technology and Artificial Intelligence)
2-3 bullet points on prior experience/your interests
Why X Company ❓
Companies always love when their applicants have a special reason for choosing them. Sure, you may be skilled but if you're not passionate about the company, it's better to choose someone who's not as skilled but enthusiastic about the company's values and willing to learn.
Has the company's specific product made you fall in love with their work? Does their innovative company culture entice you? Do they align with some of your own values (diversity, sustainability, collaboration)? These are some questions you can ask yourself when writing.
2-4 sentences on why you want to work with the company
Closing & Thank You's 🙏
It never hurts to thank them for the opportunity! Don't bring up any new information in this paragraph, keep it simple and offer your enthusiasm for the opportunity.
3. Cover Letter Tips
Keep it short! I'd say my example is a bit too long but in the future, I know to only highlight/include important details.
Customize it! Employers can tell when you've copied and pasted a generic cover letter when there's a lack of specificity about the role or company. Make them feel special.
Proofread! This is your first impression, a small spelling or grammatical error would take away from all your hard work that went into writing.
4. Free Template :)
Click here for your free template. Copy and paste the format, tailor it to compliment yourself, make a powerful entrance, and land that dream job!
If you ever need help or advice on writing your cover letter, I'd be happy to be of assistance. Feel free to hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment if this article helped. Happy writing!
— Janice L.