Although disliked by many (jobseekers and hiring managers, in some cases), cover letters continue to play a big role in the hiring process, with the majority of companies requesting them.
In order to be effective, cover letters must be tailored to the job listing and proofread carefully, which takes applicants quite a bit of time. Yet, according to a report by Jobvite, 36% of recruiters spend a maximum of 5 minutes looking through candidates’ application materials, while 9% of recruiters make up their minds within 60 seconds.
Still, despite knowing this, jobseekers must devote ample time to crafting an impactful document if they want to better their chances of being offered the job. So, to hopefully speed up the process for you a little, we’ve created 10 cover letter samples you can draw inspiration from!
1. Student cover letter
A template like this one, that utilizes different colors alongside a serif font, can be ideal for students writing up their first cover letter. Unlike black-on-white templates, it offers a slightly more playful, youthful appearance, but without going overboard and compromising how professional the applicant comes across as.
With not a wealth of relevant work experience to outline here, the candidate focuses a lot on transferable skills such as time management, organization, and knowing how to communicate in a foreign language.
2. Recent graduate cover letter
In this cover letter, the applicant focuses on outlining the skills and knowledge they developed during their studies and explaining why they’re passionate about the subject they’ve chosen to make a career out of. As a recent graduate looking to land their first job, they also mentioned how extracurriculars (the Red Cross club, in this case), allowed them to build their interpersonal and decision-making skills, two sets of skills that are useful in all lines of work.
The template, though clean and simple, still stands out thanks to the use of colors (on a restricted color palette, of course) and its small variety of fonts.
3. Internship cover letter
The sans serif font used on this template gives the document a more casual appearance than a serif font would. This is ideal for an internship cover letter, as the job listing in this case targets a younger, creative audience.
Moving on from the template and to the contents of the letter themselves, the candidate here concisely describes who they are, what they do and what they like, while still conveying a sense of enthusiasm for the internship opportunity and the industry more generally.
Through the language used and the style of the template, the hiring manager gets the impression of a young adult that’s eager to learn.
4. Professional cover letter
With many companies using applicant tracking systems to sift through the influx of applications they receive, exporting your professional documents from an ATS-optimized template is always going to work in your favor.
Here, the layout might appear a little conservative to the human eye, but the bots reading it will be appeased, effectively increasing the applicant’s chances of progressing to the next step in the hiring process.
The bullet points used within the cover letter enhance the document’s readability and convey key information in easy-to-digest chunks.
5. Career change cover letter
This template is great for people with artistic personalities who are interested in pursuing more creative lines of work. In this case, it helps the candidate stand out with its vibrant colors, which is essential — particularly for someone who is looking to make a career change as soon as possible!
By mentioning how they developed particular skills in their spare time and volunteered to take on additional responsibilities, the candidate here demonstrates a genuine interest in the field of digital marketing.
Adding in some details about their studies and current role also highlights how they’ve got additional skills which would come in handy, such as organization, customer service and analytical thinking.
6. Middle management cover letter
The bold, serif font used on this template is eye catching and makes an immediate impression on the reader. As hiring managers go through dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of applications per job listing, it’s a good idea to send in a document that will automatically help you stand out with its design.
As far as the content of the letter goes, the applicant has tailored their cover letter to the job listing by outlining key responsibilities such as “managing staff schedules”. (If it’s on the job listing and your experience matches it, enter it word-for-word on your document!).
Besides that, they’ve added in an extra qualification and explained how it helped them enhance their skill set further.
7. Business manager cover letter
This cover letter template combines different fonts while sticking to a black-on-white layout. This makes it “pop” without sacrificing a clean, easy-to-follow structure.
In terms of what the applicant is saying, they’re stating right off the bat what their relevant work experience is and how their education has equipped them with relevant skills. Then, they expand on what they’ve gained from both their current job and graduate degree, relating it all back to the requirements for the role.
8. PhD cover letter
In this example, the monochromatic, clean design of the cover letter template conveys a sense of professionalism and doesn’t contain any elements that distract from the contents of the letter. This makes it excellent for academia, and is generally the style of template that’s used by professors and researchers.
Within the body of the cover letter, the candidate clearly states the program they are interested in and quickly goes on to explain how they came to have developed their passion for the subject. Then, they outline how their previous studies have prepared them for the role they’re now applying and, in addition, mention that they’re familiar with the university’s faculty and work.
9. Senior executive cover letter
As this is a job application for a senior executive role, it’s important to outline early on how many years of experience you’ve got, what your certifications and licenses are, and any postgraduate degrees you’ve completed. The hiring manager will be looking out for these vital bits of information, so expressing them clearly and concisely early on is important if you don’t want your document to end up in the “discard” pile.
Coupled with the no-frills, minimal design of the template, the cover letter conveys a sense of focus and professionalism.
10. Referral cover letter
As in any referral cover letter, the applicant here starts off the opening paragraph by mentioning a common connection they have with the hiring manager — in this case, a professional connection.
Then, they move on to concisely summarize their work experience so far and how it has prepared them for the role they’re now applying. With creative directors being responsible for conceptualizing projects and leading teams, the candidate has communicated how they themselves tick these boxes.
Combined with the minimalist design of the template, that shifts the emphasis onto the content of the letter, the applicant is able to present themselves in a professional light.
As we’ve seen, a good cover letter includes the candidate's most relevant experiences, skills and qualifications, portraying them as someone who would make a good fit for the role in question, as well as the company itself more broadly.
When putting together yours, remember the following:
- Always include your contact information, the job title you’re applying for, as well as a formal closing and a call to action at the end.
- When writing résumés and cover letters, incorporate key words and phrases from the job description to demonstrate how your know-how makes you a suitable candidate.
- Though cover letters are sometimes referred to as application letters, the two aren’t the same. The primary difference being that application letters tend to be much longer!
- There are many free cover letter templates to choose from online, as well as professionally designed ones for a small fee. Using one can ensure your document beats ATSs!
Do you have any additional advice on how to write a cover letter? Share any tips you’ve got in a comment and help other jobseekers who are currently applying for a job!
Originally published on July 11, 2017.