Getting Started with Cover Letter Examples
A cover letter is a living document that often accompanies a resume. It gives job seekers the opportunity to elaborate on work experience and relevant qualifications included in their resume. Where a resume is technical, a cover letter leans into goals and can show passion and personality.
Now to blow your mind, a little cover letter trivia: cover letters are actually not often read before the resume (as the term implies). That’s right, while it’s written as an introduction, it’s often read after the hiring manager reads your resume and decides to learn more about you. So really, your cover letter could push you over the top, but it’s your resume that will get you in the door.
While we’re at it, it’s a pesky myth that every job application requires a cover letter. In fact, if a cover letter is requested in the job description, you should include one. But if the job description doesn’t mention a cover letter, it’s unnecessary.
Cover Letter Examples for Internships
Every cover letter should be approached the same way: based on the job you are applying for and your experience. However, writing a cover letter for an internship can be a little trickier, since you’re likely applying for the internship with little to no previous experience.
Since your biggest tool when applying for jobs is previous relevant experience, you might think you’re out of luck if you don’t have experience. Not true! Remember, everyone starts out with no experience. Volunteer work can be very valuable and should be mentioned in a cover letter if it is relevant. Consider picking up some relevant unpaid work to help you in your search for an internship or job.
Think of your education as your work experience. In the first paragraph, introduce yourself to the hiring manager and tell them about what you are studying and why you are interested in the offered job.
In the next paragraph, explain your goals for the rest of your education and your future career (just the next few years). Make sure the goals you mention are relevant to the job for which you are applying. For example, don’t tell the hiring manager of a marketing agency that your goal is to be a Veterinarian.
In the final paragraph, thank the hiring manager for his or her time and leave your contact information as well as a mention of any attached files. This paragraph is the same as it would be for a paid job.
Cover Letter Types for Professionals
While the general structure of a cover letter remains the same for most jobs, the length and included information varies. Always update your cover letter for each job application that requires one. There are three main types of cover letters.
Application Cover Letter
This is the standard cover letter used alongside a resume during a job application. The application letter is geared toward a certain job, and it is tailored to the skills and specifications listed in the job posting. Just as it sounds, the application letter will be sent as part of an application, in response to a specific job.
The application cover letter is a tool used to sell yourself as a job candidate. It supplements your resume and expands upon relevant parts of your work history and qualifications.
Prospecting Cover Letter
Like the application cover letter, the prospecting cover letter is written by a job seeker to a company of interest. However, this type of cover letter inquires about open job positions in general. It is not a response to a specific job posting.
The prospecting cover letter will give a brief description of yourself as a job candidate, an explanation of why this particular company interests you, and a few examples of job tasks that would interest you.
Networking Cover Letter
The networking cover letter is the black sheep of the cover letter family. This type of cover letter is the most casual and tends to be the shortest. It still comes from the job seeker, but rather than being sent to a company, it is sent out to former colleagues, mentors, friends and other contacts. It informs the recipient of the person’s status as a job seeker and asks them for help in their job search.
It is appropriate to include a cover letter with your application, or to send it as an email when attaching your resume or reaching out to a recruiter or hiring manager. When writing a cover letter, make sure you are using the best type of cover letter. Take the time to mold each cover letter to each job you apply for. Check out our 20 best ATS-friendly cover letters here!
Emails Are Today’s Cover Letters
Gone are the days when cover letters were included in a brown envelope along with your resume. The goal of the cover letter is to come across as a professional, but with a personal touch. A cover letter allows you to show your personality, which can give you a leg up on other applicants. Nowadays, cover letters are often sent through email, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. We recommend emailing the recruiter or the hiring manager, if you have their contact information, and sending a brief message about your experience.
Here’s an example:
Cover Letter Examples by Country
Unlike resumes, for which the guidelines vary extensively by country, cover letters are the same or very similar regardless of the country in which you are applying.
The United States, United Kingdom and Australia all use similar cover letter formats. There are, however, certain adjustments you might have to make.
When applying in other countries, you should be aware of differences in formality of language and ways of speech. For example, phrases that are common in the United States might not be common in places like Australia.
Another aspect to be aware of is pictures. Job seekers in the UK and Europe often add headshots to their resumes or cover letters. However, in the United States, pictures are highly discouraged. Since companies in the U.S. are legally not allowed to hire based on race or gender, hiring managers will often reject applications with pictures in an effort to protect the company from potential lawsuits.
Cover Letter Examples Downloads
- 20 Jobscan-approved cover letter templates
- Cover letter and resume templates
- Choose from 18 different cover letter templates
- Create multiple cover letters for each job application
- Cover letter templates by country
- Cover letter templates by Microsoft
- Basic cover letter template
- Forbes suggest this cover letter template
- Cover letter template from Princeton University
- Cover letter template for Australia
- Cover letter templates for UK
- Choose from 5 free cover letter templates
- Cover letter template for banking
- Cover letter template from Columbia University
- Three styles of cover letter templates
Cover Letter Examples FAQ
How do I write a cover letter as a student?As a student, you should treat your education and major (if in college), volunteer work, school projects or personal projects as your past experience. Talk about your future goals that are relevant to the job and explain how you will achieve those goals.
How do cover letters vary from job to job?While the general structure of a cover letter remains pretty much the same among industries, pay attention to what the job posting asks for in a cover letter. Does the hiring manager want it to be just a list of bullet points? Do they want you to include samples of your work or a resume? You should write a new cover letter for every job for which you apply.
How do I write a cover letter for a career change?Read the job posting carefully and determine any similarities between your past work tasks and accomplishments and those in the posting. Focus on the similarities. Talk about your goals for your career change and what you want to accomplish in your future career.
What is the difference between a cover letter and a resume?While a resume is a technical, short rundown of your past experience, a cover letter expands on a few of the most relevant pieces from your experience and lets some of your personality come through.
Should I always include a cover letter with my resume?No. Only include a cover letter when it is asked for by the hiring manager or in the job posting. In fact, most recruiters don't read cover letters anymore.
Should I mention my salary expectations in a cover letter?No. Conversations about salary should be reserved for a job interview.
How should I address the reader of a cover letter?Always address the hiring manager or recruiter by their name. You can call the company and ask for their name or look it up on the company website or LinkedIn. Never use “To Whom it May Concern” as it is impersonal.
How long should my cover letter be?Cover letters should always be short. A few paragraphs or a third of a page is generally a good length. Read the job posting carefully to find out if there is a specific length or format that the hiring manager expects the cover letter to be.
Jobscan Learning Center The Jobscan Cover Letter Learning Series
How to write a cover letter that will get the attention of recruiters and hiring managers
A rundown of the various cover letter formats and how to determine which option is right for your job search
Cover letter templates and guidance that provides structure and foundation for your own cover letter
These cover letter examples will point you in the right direction if you’re unsure where to start