Updated: Apr 26
This article was previously published by The Balance Careers.
A cover letter is an important part of almost any job application. While a resume offers a thorough look at your background, skills, and education, the cover letter is your opportunity to point out information that makes you well qualified for the position at hand. Think of the letter as making the case for your candidacy. And, while resumes tend to be a bit dry, listing information in bullet points, a cover letter has room to be more engaging.
Just like a resume, though, cover letters have a distinct format and style. Hiring managers have certain expectations when it comes to both the details included within a cover letter, and how the letter is organized. If you do not adhere to the standard format of a cover letter, you will appear unprofessional and it could torpedo your application.
Take a look at the following cover letter template, which lists the information you need to include in the cover letter you submit with your resume. Use the template as a guideline to create customized cover letters to send to employers. Plus, read on for tips on how to use a cover letter template effectively.
Tips for Using a Cover Letter Template
A cover letter template helps you with the layout of your letter. Templates also show you what elements you need to include in your letter, such as introductions and body paragraphs.
While you should follow the template, you can customize the body paragraphs to suit your needs. For instance, the template lists just one body paragraph, but if you need to have two paragraphs, adjust accordingly.
If you feel bullet points are the most effective way to convey your qualifications, go ahead and use them.
Keep in mind that there are slight — but significant — differences in the cover letter format if you're sending your letter as a hard copy or attached letter, or if you are sending it as an email. You'll find an email cover letter template below as well.
Cover Letter Template
Contact Information The first section or header of your cover letter should include information on how the employer can contact you. If you have contact information for the employer, include that. Otherwise, just list your information.
Your Contact Information Your Name Your Address Your City, State Zip Code Your Phone Number Your Email Address
Employer Contact Information Name Title Company Address City, State Zip Code
Salutation Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:
Body of Cover Letter The body of your cover letter lets the employer know what position you are applying for, why the employer should select you for an interview, and how you will follow-up.
Use several shorter paragraphs or bullets rather than one large block of text so that your letter is easy to read.
First Paragraph: The first paragraph of your letter should include information on why you are writing. Mention the position you are applying for. Include the name of a mutual contact, if you have one. Be clear and concise regarding your request. Your goal is to convince the reader that they should grant the interview or appointment you requested in the first paragraph.
Middle Paragraphs: The next section of your cover letter should describe what you have to offer the employer. Make strong connections between your abilities and the employer's needs. Mention specifically how your skills and experience match the job you are applying for. Remember, you are interpreting your resume, not repeating it. Try to support each statement you make with a specific piece of evidence.
Final Paragraph: Conclude your cover letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position. Include information on how you will follow up.
State that you will do so and indicate when (one week's time is typical).
Complimentary Close Respectfully yours,
Signature: Handwritten Signature (for a hard copy letter)
Sample Cover Letter
This is a cover letter sample. Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs or Word Online).
Sending an Email Message
When you are sending your letter via email include the reason you are writing in the subject line of your message:
Subject: Thalia Washington – Social Media Marketing Manager Position
List your contact information in your signature, rather than in the body of the letter:
Thalia Washington 9 Beacon Street Appleton, WI 07987 email@example.com 555-555-5555
Review an Email Template
Email cover letters have a slightly different format than printed or uploaded cover letters. For example, in an email cover letter, you put your contact information at the bottom of the letter, not at the top. You also do not include the employer’s contact information or the date at the top.
Just like any other cover letter, it is useful to look at a template when writing an email cover letter. Read here for an email cover letter template, and review these tips for emailing a cover letter, too.
Create a Personal Cover Letter Template
Microsoft Word cover letter templates are available for a variety of circumstances. Add your personal information to the template to create cover letters you can use for a variety of types of job applications. Like Microsoft Word, Google Docs offers a variety of professional letter templates that you can use when writing your cover letter. Just fill in the template with your personal information, and save the document in your account.
Review Sample Cover Letters and More Tips
Along with using a cover letter template, you might also review cover letter samples and read advice on how to format a cover letter to get ideas on writing your own cover letter. Plus, discover our 10 biggest tips for writing a cover letter, so you can make sure yours is effective.