What does a good cover letter look like?

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Note: Do not steal this letter. Several hiring managers have emailed me when they spotted candidates using parts of it as their own — and yes, those candidates were rejected. This letter is here for inspiration, not copying.

 

The Evil HR Lady, who I secretly worship, has shamed me into posting an example of a good cover letter.

But first, let’s take a look at what I consider an example of how not to do a cover letter. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this letter — other than being an utterly wasted opportunity, and I’ll explain why:

Dear Human Resources:

Enclosed please find my resume for the position of staff writer.

I currently work as a copy editor for Acme Company, where I am responsible for editing brochures, fact sheets, and Web content. Before that, I spent a year interning at Tiger Beat magazine, where I had the opportunity to write several articles for publication. I also majored in English in college, with a concentration in writing.

I am seeking a position that that will utilize my writing skills with opportunity for growth.

I hope to hear from you to schedule an interview.

Sincerely,

Jane Doe

This letter doesn’t add anything to the application — it just summarizes information already available from the resume. That’s just a waste of space, and space is already really limited! Plus, I hate this: “I am seeking a position that that will utilize my writing skills with opportunity for growth.” Don’t tell the employer what you want (and especially in such generic terms) — tell them why they should want you. And be specific.

Plus, it might as well be a form letter, because nothing about it is specific to the job being offered or the company offering it. It’s sort of the equivalent of a fax cover sheet.

Here’s an example of a cover letter that would grab me:

Dear Ms. Smith:

I hope you will consider me for the position of staff writer, as advertised in The Washington Post.

I was particularly excited to see a position open at the Sierra Club, as I have long been a fan of your work. I’m impressed by the way you make environmental issues accessible to non-environmentalists (particularly in the pages of Sierra Magazine, which has sucked me in more times than I can count), and I would love the opportunity to be part of your work.

Reading over the job description for the position, I recognized myself. As you will see on my attached resume, I have more than seven years’ experience in non-profits, writing everything from newsletters to Web sites to brochures to letters to the editor and op-eds. In addition to in-house publications, my work has been published in newspapers around the country.

Additionally, I am a fast, versatile writer, and I specialize in taking complicated information and presenting it in an easy-to-understand, upbeat format. I’ve never missed a deadline (in a recent performance review, my manager called me “the fastest writer on the planet”) and pride myself on being able to juggle many different projects. My copy-editing skills border on the obsessive-compulsive; I have been known to correct mistakes on restaurant menus!

I think my skills and experience are an excellent match with what you are seeking, and I am excited about the chance to work with you.

If you would like to talk with me or schedule an interview, please call me at 555-555-1212. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Jane Doe

This letter does the following:

- It shows personal interest in working for this particular organization, and it’s specific about why, which makes it both more believable and more compelling. It’s human nature — people respond when they feel a personal interest from you. Works in dating, works in job-hunting.

- It only briefly touches on the writer’s work experience, giving just the upshot and leaving the details for the resume.

- Perhaps most importantly, it provides information about the writer that will never be available from a resume — personal traits and work habits, and even a reference to feedback from a previous manager.

- It’s far more interesting to read than the first cover letter. I want to call this person in for an interview, and I don’t even have a staff writer position open ( nor do I work for the Sierra Club, for that matter).

Now, can you do this for every position you apply for? Yes. It’s sometimes easier for non-profits, because you can talk about why you support their mission (so I admittedly took the easy way out in my example). But you can do it for regular companies too, with a little bit of research. No time for that when you’re applying to 30 different jobs? Narrow it down and focus on fewer, take the time to write a truly compelling cover letter tailored to each specific job and company, and it’s likely you’ll find that five truly personalized, well-tailored applications will yield you better results than 30 generic applications.

Take my word for it: Your competition is sending in cover letters like example #1 (if they even bother with them at all). You will dramatically rise above the pack if you put in the time they’re not.

{ 194 comments… read them below }

  1. Sparky Lightbulb

    I followed a link over from Evil HR Lady’s blog. This post is clear and brilliant. I’m going to make my students read it.

  2. Founder: Lea Setegn

    A note to all job hunters: Please, please, PLEASE write a cover letter to accompany your resume! I have spent the past two days reviewing resumes while my company’s recruiter is out of town, and I’ve discovered that about 90 percent of our applicants (we get about 12,000 a year) don’t send a cover letter at all. About 9 percent send something like the first example. I weep with gratitude for the 1 percent who write a cover letter like your perfect example. I think I can say this on behalf of every recruiter out there: Use your cover letter to give me a reason to put your resume on the top of the pile!

    1. Anonymous

      The problem is that at most large corporations, the cover letter is never read. When you apply online via a company website, it’s your resume that gets screened for key words, not the cover letter. I have spent countless hours handcrafting my cover letters for jobs that are basically exactly like my past positions, and never get called in for an interview. Narrowing on just a select few positions and writing terrific cover letters may therefore not be the best strategy when submitting on company websites. Any thoughts?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Plenty of hiring managers at big companies read and care about cover letters; I hear from them all the time. Your resume might not get to them if you’re not qualified, but assuming that you are, a good cover letter will make your application stand out in a sea of hundreds of other qualified people.

        1. Marco

          I wrote a cover letter like Example 2 and got a reply back within two or three days. Thank you very much for the help. I just overnighted another resumes/cover letter that used the same points and I hope to hear from them!

      2. Phillip

        The difference tends to be the type of position. Large scale employers looking for entry-level positions tend to almost never read cover letters, many don’t even read resumes and rely only upon the application submitted. Some large-scale professional companies will do this as well, but for the most part if it’s a professional position (think engineer, IT professional, district manager, etc) they tend more often than not to look at the cover letter. In fact, in those professional fields, just by not attaching one of those elements you risk getting automatically thrown out; I kid you not, as a manager I would do it all the time (well, we had to keep them for x amount of time, but I’d shove ‘em in a box until they had the opportunity to get destroyed and they’d never see the daylight again).

        1. Phillip

          I should mention that none of it has to be perfect (although it must be free of typos and grammar issues). If you submit something like the first cover letter, you still have a shot, and it’s better than nothing. A better cover letter means you’re more likely to get a call back, but don’t beat yourself up over it either. Mix in some formal with some informal, just say why you want the position (don’t mention pay/benefits ever in the early stages) and some of your experience that seems even somewhat relevant (do you use a computer, answer phones, work with the public, etc).

      3. Ian

        I think you’re right about that, but for me I don’t really have a resume and absolutely no work experience. It’s almost impossible for me to get a job at this point in time. I’ve been trying for over year, applying non-stop and only got one interview. It was my first and it wasn’t a good experience for me, at all. However, I’ve just write a cover letter and send it in and like instantly I get turned down, and now I’m more discouraged than any human being on earth. I think it’s a waste of time, and in a sense it just might help. I ain’t an expert though so I might be wrong

        1. Grace

          @Ian,
          Hang in there. Have you asked your friends, family, and neighbors for work? Is there some service you could offer? (I became a mobile Notary Public during a dry spell. There is money to be made in becoming a Loan Signing Agent if you are in the U.S.) Have you signed up for temp agencies? Do you have job support services in your area (we do in my city): resume writing, job interviewing classes, job application, etc.

          1. Ian

            I ask everyone I know and ones that I don’t also, I already have a resume and all. Living in the US, tried agencies and all also. It’s just rough, u know

  3. skinny size me please :-)

    Cover letter 2 is vast improvement on Cover letter 1, but I would suggest a few refinements.

    I like lots of it, but my cheese-o-meter fired off at “Reading over the job description for the position, I recognized myself”

    It feels like a cliche in the making. And it’s padding, and needn’t be there (other than confirming that the job description has been read).

    Actually its the phrase “I recognised myself” which grates. It is a bit ummm…..twee? self-regarding?

    I thought “which has sucked me in more times than I can count” a bit colloquial/slangy for my (non North American) taste.

    I’d also lose the “additionally” following on from the “in addition” in the earlier paragraph. It isn’t needed as a segue anyway – it’s padding.

    I find the letter a tad self-congratulatory in tone. But I’m from an English/Antipodean background, and it may go over fine in the US.

    But good on you for publishing it. I hope you don’t mind my minor carping (some of which is cultural anyway).

    The points you make are very strong.

    If I can also add something – be aware if you’re applying for jobs in other countries what the norms are there, both as regards CV/Resume formats, and style.

    This letter wouldn’t work as well in the UK, New Zealand or Australia as written (although the underlying points still hold good – that is, the letter should add something to the CV (not repeat it)

    Thanks to Evil HR Lady and AskAManager, your blogs are enjoyed the world over! (my parts of the world anyway)

  4. Ask a Manager

    Skinny Size Me Please: It’s interesting to hear the take of someone with a non-North American perspective. I actually found example #2 far less self-congratulatory than the usual cover letters I receive! And I enjoy the slighly less formal tone because it’s a refreshing change from the usual very stiff sounding letters that scream “form letter.” It gives me a better sense of the applicant, unlike most of what I see. But of course, this is just an example of what resonates for me as a hiring manager, and I have no doubt that others respond to other things. I found your take on it interesting!

  5. Teri

    I also found the “I recognized myself” a little grating, but that just may be because I would feel incredibly uncomfortable saying it. Also, in resumes I’ve reviewed, that type of phrase is SO often used by people who seem to have not even read the job description – or somehow think that a merit badge in sewing qualifies them to be a surgeon.

    I think what you said about “30 cover letters” is dead on. I spent almost five years in continuous job hunting, after the company I was working for went under. It took that long to find the right job, maybe because I wasn’t looking in the right way.

    When I started out I was using my excellent mail-merge skills to send out 40 resumes a week. My cover letters looked more like #1 because I was trying not to be eliminated from consideration, so I was writing vague and encouraging things that essentially boiled down to “Hire me PLEASE!”

    I did find two mediocre jobs that way, the second one a simply atrocious mismatch of me and them. I stayed there for two and a half years and I swear I started looking for a new job two days after I started.

    Finally I found some advice like yours. Not only did I write more individually-crafted letters that were much more a presentation of what I have to offer, but I also realized that 90% of the jobs that I was applying for, that I “might” possibly qualify for were things that I would find monumentally distasteful.

    This is a long way of saying: much, much better to spend an hour writing a single thoughtful, targeted, beautifully proofed and punctuated cover letter than to dash off ten of these generic ones.

    I realized that the purpose of the letter was to show them how my resume related to their job description. So I would pull the relevant things out of the position description in my letter and talk about how the fabulous task on my resume involved doing JUST THAT THING that they were looking for.

    Sometimes I felt like an idiot, because it felt to me like I was just parroting the description back to them, but I did it and I got my dream job.

    In this dream job I had occasion to screen 90+ resumes for a position as my assistant. Boy oh boy. I realized that what had felt to me like “parroting” was actually incredibly helpful to the reviewer of the resume.

    I used a cover sheet to rate the applications I received, including the number of spelling and grammar errors. My top three finishers had three or less, and the one I hired had none – and had a cover letter that parrotted back the description to me. But now, on the recieving end, I felt, “Oh my gosh, here is someone who ACTUALLY READ THE DESCRIPTION before they applied for the job!”

    1. Chuck B

      This is probably cliche as well. USE A SPELL CHECK. That would immediately point out that recieving (sic) is spelled improperly.

      Maybe it was just a typo, but even typographical errors hurt a good person’s chance at landing that dream job.

    2. Lisa

      THANK YOU for posting this! I’m a writer (journalist) yet I really struggle with writing cover letters. This was very helpful! It’s good to know that it is okay to step out of the “form letter” and show a bit of personality if appropriate.

  6. Anonymous

    What are your thoughts on jobs posted online, with no address or fax number to contact, just an anonymous email address? (I’m particularly thinking of Craigslist.org)

    Should an applicant attach a cover letter and attach a resume, or may the email body/text itself be the cover letter? In many case, there’s no indication what company you’re even applying to, so things like header, “Dear Mr. Smith” [hiring manager] etc. can’t be included because there’s no way to know these things.

    Thoughts? Thanks!

    1. Anonymous

      I personally think that the approach you discribed is very unprofessional and do not know why someone would allow that to be posted to a website of any kind even craigslist! In my oppinon if you are going to put up something for a job ethier on a website or in the paper then you should at least respect the posible applicant and put the information where the person who made the job oppening so that the applicant can reach the employer to ethier recive more information or schedual an appointmant to review their resume.

      1. Still Looking

        I have a doctorate and am working at a call center for minimum wage. The biggest challenge I face is that the jobs I am qualified for and applying for all want different things. That means I have to write a cover letter for every single position I apply for. If I write a cover letter for each of these positions I would have over 40 different cover letters at more than 40 hours of preparation.

        How do I write a resume fit for one job, while saving time to apply for the other 60 jobs that I still need/want to apply for?

          1. Still Looking

            If it takes me longer than, idk sayyy, 40 mins, to write the cover letter, am I doing something wrong?

              1. chicken butt

                Okay dude that is not nice at all to say something like that “unless you’re normally just a very slow writer at other things too!” you need to apolagize to that person and do it nicely

              2. Random

                I think that the time it takes to write a cover letter depends on how many times you’ve had to write a cover letter. I wouldn’t say that I am a slow writer at other things, but I know that it takes me a long time to write a cover letter. Writing a cover letter is not something that you are taught in school (unless you take a class like Technical Writing).

        1. Grace

          @Still Looking,
          I hope your job situation has improved since your post. When I had financial problems at one point during a prior recession, a friend suggested that I seek some additional help in Debtors Anonymous. I learned some great action steps I could take, met with two people every month to go over my spending plan and action plan (received mentoring), and broke free of underearning. If you ever feel like you need a life-line, check them out (in person if they’re in your area, online, or phone in meetings).

        2. KB

          I hope you have found a better job… in case you have not you might try a couple of strategies that have worked for other people with advanced degrees.
          Find corporations or government agencies that prefer advanced degrees and a good promote from within record. Lowes Corporation is one such company.
          I would usually not recommend this; however, it worked for a very wonderful employee and person. When applying for positions where you might be over-qualified, do not disclose your doctorate.

  7. Ask a Manager

    Hey, Anonymous. I would say that in cases where a job is posted without any indication of what company it is or a way to find out, you can use other ways to personalize your approach. In your cover letter, talk about the skills they’re looking for (which should be evident from the job positing) and how you fulfill those needs. Make your application as specific to their stated needs as you can (without blatantly parroting their ad back to them — and be honest, of course). And I think it’s fine for the email body to be the cover letter rather than attaching one separately.

  8. Krupo

    It’s funny, your post reminds me of the last cover letter I had to write – it was two pages long, not as ‘cheesy’ as the European types would put it – but it was truly different.

    At my interview, I was told that my CL was different from everyone else’s.

    Not having gone through this whole process (or read blogs like yours back then), I got worried, but calmed down when it was explained that this was v. positive.

    Phew. :)

  9. Recruiting Animal

    A cover letter full of subjective claims is useless. What you really want to include is:

    1. The job you are after

    2. Bullet points that show the match between the job requirements and your resume.

    3. If there is some special, compelling, qualification that would not go into a resume, you can include that.

    The cover letter should give the recipient a reason, based on your experience, to read the more detailed resume.

    If you can put a good argument together defending your view you are welcome to fight me on The Recruiting Animal Show!

  10. fifi

    I’m jobhunting at the moment and this post has been a real eye opener as to what recruiters are looking for in a cover letter. Thanks

  11. Matthew S. Mortensen, PhD

    If this post and the responses don’t point out the subjective nature of recruiting than I don’t know what does!

  12. Aimee

    @ Matthew: I totally agree, perception is in the interviewer, not the letter…but still an interesting topic that has many good points (in my opinion – ha ha).

  13. Anonymous

    thanks for the informative article. one question about cover letter format? is it wise to have a cover letter over 1 page even if i am extremely interested in a particular position? or is a drawn out letter frowned upon?

  14. shaheerk

    This post is just what I was looking for. I think I'll reference you (and give you a small bump) on my blog as well, so that others can come across it.

    When I was in university, we were told to make a letter like e.g. #2, but #2 has some cheesy-factor in it (which others have pointed out). I think it's important to show your commitment to the receiving end so that they can actually consider you.

    Great work. Thanks.

  15. Tracy

    Thank you for this post. I knew my cover letters needed work, but have had a hard time finding examples that sounded like something I'd write. This gives me a great starting point for improvement.

  16. Anonymous

    I was wondering if there are different guidelines if you're applying for higher profile jobs that require an MBA.

  17. Anonymous

    I had to laugh at Teri's comments. She says she hired the person who had no spelling errors, and yet she misspelled "receiving" in her note.

  18. Meryl

    Great ideas for cover letters. Thanks for using an actual example. Too many times people talk about what makes a good cover letter, but never show you what that really looks like.

  19. Anonymous

    Pretty cool blog you've got here. Thanx for it. I like such themes and anything connected to them. BTW, try to add some pics :).

  20. uk jobs

    Awesome post, might really help someone or more likely many people getting either a new job or a job at all.

    And I do agree, its better to show something youve done.

    Once again, Great post

  21. Pingback: True story: how social media can land you a job | Allison Jones

  22. Commenter

    The good cover letter is written with an overly personal tone that isn’t formal enough for business/legal applications.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      People often think good writing means formal writing, but it’s often not the case. If the writing is good, it’s actually a good thing to use a conversational tone.

  23. Easily Distracted

    First, let me say that I do appreciate the information in this article. But am I the only one to catch the typo in the first example?…

    “I am seeking a position that that will utilize my writing skills with opportunity for growth.”

    …or am I just being overly critical? Or… was the typo left in intentionally? Gotta wonder.

    1. Ryan

      @Sassenach…. why, may I ask, do you throw out cover letters that incorporate the word “utilize”? Doesn’t that seem a bit capricious to you? Would you rather someone exemplify a shoddy vocabulary? Just asking as a job-seeker, frustrated knowing all the effort I put into a job application can be undone by someone’s prejudice against the utilization of one, seemingly innocuous word. Is it overused?

      1. Kelly

        Don’t write ‘utilize’ if you actually mean to say ‘use’. The word ‘use’ doesn’t indicate a shoddy vocabulary–it’s a perfectly valid and meaningful English word. Why, exactly, do so many people prefer ‘utilize’?

            1. Anonymous

              I’m not opposed to using utilize, nor utilizing use. I seldom use utilize, but when I do, it’s usually useful.

              1. blinky62

                OMG… this comment will make a perfect
                SOMEECARDS hahahaha.

                Just finding some humor in the unemployment line.

        1. Latinate Anglosaxon

          It’s an outgrowth of the Latinate tradition in English, which lead to writers using words learnt in Latin classes where a perfectly good English word had served before. It’s a “class” thing, founded in no small part on the bilingual stage in English history following the Norman Invasion, where, exemplia gratia, a peasant’s English cow or bull became Norman French Boef, today’s beef, for the Lord of the Manor’s table.

          It also leads to such horribles as “revolutionize”, one of my pet hates/cringes.

          Used badly, it makes reading some writing hard work; used well, it adds zing to some writing.

    2. Anonymous

      I think Sassenach’s supervisor should utilize their authority to look for a replacement. How many excellent candidates have been tossed aside over such an arbitrary item? (Hope they don’t hate the word arbitrary too!)

  24. Ryan

    In response to those that find the second cover letter too informal:

    Though I’m certainly no authority on the subject, I have landed at least one, if not two, well-paying engineering jobs using a different format (even much more so than the second CL) than what is typically considered standard. As some people have said, it is subjective to who is reading the cover letter.

    One thing I always try to do when I’m really interested in a position is get a feel for the attitude of the company (if I’m mildly interested I don’t waste extra time with my application). If the company seems innovative and a little more casual than your typical corporation, I take that as a ticket to be innovative and a little more casual with my cover letter. If the company seems conservative and formal, I typically opt for a more standard approach.

    In my experience, mirroring a company’s paradigm has worked well for me, as I’m guessing it shows them you’re willing to play by their rules and be a team player. Again, I’m fairly fresh to the job market, but I have had some successes thus far which may give me a little wisdom to dole out. Hope this helps.

  25. Anonymous

    It has been incredibly helpful reading these comments- thank you.

    my main concern- is how do you stand out to an employer when applying for a job in which you have no experience? I am graduating in May with my RN-BSN. when looking over job req’s, they all want a year of experience. of course- many of us don’t meet that and are stumped on what to do.
    At this point- I feel I am heavily relying on personality and work ethic- how do you sell those things?

    help???!!!!
    - scared nursing student

    1. Toyin

      Good job welldone here! Just discovered Ask A Manager.Pls I need some tips on how to write a compelling cover letter on a job position one has got no experience, being a fresh graduate in the field.Thanks.

    2. Anonymous

      Ask a Manager – I do not see your response to anonymous 4-4-11. A recent nursing grad. I would love to hear your opinion on the question. Thanks!

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Same answer as always about standing out: You stand out by writing an awesome cover letter, having a great resume, and being well-matched for the job!

        1. JohnQPublic

          There was another blog post early on that said job requirements were really just preferences, and AAM you said to go ahead and apply anyway.
          I’ll also say that I’ve spoken with many nurses, and several started with a temp agency at first. While there are certainly disadvantages to being a temp, for a new nurse I think the advantages definitely outweigh them. Consider: you’re a temp. You won’t be expected to know how that hospital works, let alone that dept. So questions every five minutes are expected. If you don’t like a dept, you can opt not to work that anymore. You get the opportunity to work at more than one hospital, or even a non-hospital environment. So the culture, workflow, types of patients, etc are all things that you can evaluate before you have to decide where to work.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            It’s true that job requirements are often wish lists, although that’s a lot less true now that the job market has gotten so bad. If I know the post you’re thinking of (this one?), it was 2007, when the job market was a bit different. It can still sometimes work now, but it’s definitely gotten harder!

  26. Anja

    Hello,
    I just recently discovered Ask a Manager and really enjoy reading the posts :) I was wondering if you can give any advise on what to definitely include in a cover letter/resume when applying for a permanent job overseas?
    Thank you

  27. Jennifer

    Ask a Manager: Question… I am looking at a job posting that has 15 responsibilities and 12 requirements listed (including overarching concepts like: Team player, building realationship, interpersonal skills, problem solving skills etc). How do you know which skills to highlight? They are all important and it is impossible to discuss them all in one coverletter. In addition, I took one year off from work while I looked after a family member that I need to touch on in my cover letter. Thanks for your help

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Look at the job description and figure out what YOU think are the most crucial skills of the ones listed, when you imagine what it would take to do that job well. Then focus on those. (Some of those are practically meaningless boilerplate that you can probably ignore.)

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  29. Anonymous

    Does a cover letter even matter nowadays with job markets being so saturated? I’ve submitted my resume with and without cover letters, and still find that it’s roughly the same (low) percentage of a callback to a job that I applied to that fits my experience and skills set. Albeit, having a cover letter does appear more professional, but HR people have become even more scrutinizing due to the way the job markets are now, no thanks to the economy, so based off my experiences with job hunting the past few months in the West LA area, ehhhhhh.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yes. It matters. My mail is full of letters from readers who said that when they started writing customized cover letters, they started getting interviews. Customized, though; not form letters.

  30. RR

    I read advice from a Cornell job assistance source that said to include a follow-up plan in your cover letter. Therefore, I said that I’d email in a week to touch base for a professional creative position. After reading this post as well as your post on how long creative employers take to reply, I feel like I’ve blown it. What do you think?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      You haven’t blown it! Just don’t do it again :)

      But since you said you’d follow up, make sure you do (or you’ll look like you don’t do what you say). Just send a quick email to reiterate your strong interest!

  31. Amanda

    I recently discovered this site as well, and I have been reading through these old posts. You have great advice, and it has been very interesting for the job seeker!

    However, I’m also a little put off by the tone of the second letter. Perhaps it is because I am an academic at heart, but I find the “chatty” style to be really awkward, and I inwardly wince when I read things written in that manner. Maybe this indicates that my own letters are coming across as overly formal?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      There’s obviously some degree of personal preference here, but in the sample letter here, the informality is actually pretty minimal — one could go a lot more in that direction! So that makes me think that your letters might be quite formal indeed.

  32. Anonymous

    I appreciate your approach and the logic. However, I have been looking for a job for 9 months and have not once filled out a paper application nor presented a resume with cover letter in person. All companies I have found job postings for require an online app and resume. All of these companies are represented by Job sites and recruiters, rarely linking an applicant to the company’s site, therefore making the research of these companies to individualize a cover letter difficult. Most of the time, I do not receive a confirmation of receipt from the company… causing me to question whether my resume was even submitted for consideration by the company’s HR dept. Maybe I’m missing something and if you can throw me some solution and/or tips, I’d be extremely grateful.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yes, I’m assuming online applications too — definitely not in person or on paper! If you don’t know about the company, just talk about why you would excel at the job itself!

  33. sonia

    Hi, I am working at a hospital in Niagarafalls. My family lives in NJ. I want to move there. I have applied for job in NJ, but haven’t gottne any interview. Should I mention in my cover letter that I want to move to NJ becz of my family?

    Thank You for your help.

    1. JohnQPublic

      I’d think so. You don’t want to put an employer off of giving you a chance because you might hate NJ and leave. You having a strong reason to stay is a strong reason for them not to dismiss your application for being an out of towner.

  34. Kat

    I just got my resume critiqued by a job board I belong to. I understand and acknowledge my resume needs the changes they suggest; however, being unemployed I cannot afford $399 to they charge to have it professionally “upgraded”. When I replied with the question what can a Resume Writer give me, other than doing the physical work, that I can not get from a resume program or membership to a website (costing from $29.99 to $69.99)… they did not respond. Can you, will you post an answer? Sincere thanks.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I don’t know the answer, since I’ve never used one. But I can tell you that I’ve seen some very mediocre results from some — which doesn’t mean they’re all bad, but just that you’d need to choose carefully. Ask to see samples of their work before you commit.

      But really, I think that if you’re good with words and you do your research, there’s no reason you can’t craft your own very effective resume, for free.

      And stay away from The Ladders no matter what.

  35. s. aly

    Hi, I’ve recently discovered your site I hope you can help me. I am recently short listed for a junior position and my interview will held next week. I am so much scared and I dnt know how to prepare my self for my interview. Please help me + I want to ask another thing I dnt have recieved my job description because it was an unsolicited job so should I email my employer to send me job details and what wording should I use which is appropiate to write in an email to employer?

  36. laura

    I am seeking an internship on the social service side of things, and my job experience is on the fast food side of things. My resume is strictly my job experience and my educational background. Specifically, it is dates, salary, and responsibilities for the work experience. Only one person at my job, where i have worked for over 3 years beginning when i was 17, had been promoted. She recently quit because of failed promises to promote her further. I feel any attempt relaying achievement at this job would be weak.
    It is strictly dates, degrees obtained, GPA for education. In my cover letter I dove into how my educational background has prepared me for the internship. I have no relevant provable volunteer service, other than tutoring for a summer due to needing a paying job. How do other working students handle this? How do I explain not having a promotion without bad-mouthing my current boss? The business is not doing the best, which must be taken into consideration.

    Also, my cover letter is a page long already; I was told not to make it any longer. How can I spice up my resume?
    So sorry for the long post, thanks to anyone who reads and answers!

  37. Andrew

    I’ve been applying to everything I can find for a few years now, only interrupted by a summer job the summer before last. I understand the idea behind a cover letter, but there are a few things that make them a real pain to write for me. I mean, more than the average amount of pain.

    First, I have limited experience. I’m in my early twenties and I’ve only held one “proper” job (that summer job). I’ve tried freelancing (web design/photography), but only found limited success. Nothing to pay the bills, anyway. While I still plan to continue freelancing, I need a 9-5 (or 2-11, or 11-7) to keep things paid and to invest in the freelancing (marketing/equipment/etc) until I’m making enough with it to be self-sufficient.

    Creative skills are great, sure, but I’m in rural Indiana. I can’t find salaried work in design or photography around here (the best I’d be able to manage is an unpaid internship in a neighboring city, but those are still hard to come by), so I’ve been applying to janitorial and shipping/receiving type work.

    Nothing against janitors (hey, I’ve been one and I’m trying to rejoin the ranks), but every example letter I see is (or seems to be) largely irrelevant to the kind of work I’m applying for. My ability to mop a bathroom or change out dozens of trash bags seems out of place in a formal letter, and I’m just left with generic buzzwords (hardworking, dedicated, etc) if I don’t list specific job skills.

    There’s more, but this comment is long enough as is. Any help is greatly appreciated.

    1. laura

      For my cover letter, I ended up relying on my education. I go to a community college, which isn’t normally impressive, but the internship is aimed at community college grads, and i named specific research topics. Can you include any education, or experimentation you did on your own time?

  38. Cherry

    Hi there! Awesome post! I’ve bookmarked your page for reference regarding this matter. Your cover letter example made me realize that what’s in the resume shouldn’t be all repeated in a cover letter. Good point in drawing the interest of an Employer. A lot learned from this blog, thank you so much!

  39. Daniel

    How does this work for online applications? Sometimes there’s no section to upload anything more than a resume? Should we just hope and pray if we are “under-qualified”?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      In this market, it’s very hard to get hired if you’re under-qualified. But if there’s no way to upload a cover letter, that’s a company that (unwisely) doesn’t care about them.

  40. Hani

    Really great advice! This is a short, specific and very well presented article! I think this consice example is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the job application requirements. A specially as a junior college student this little blog has contributed a lot to my understanding of managerial outlook and will be applied to my current internship search!

    Thank you for your help and effort!

    Hani Dianna W

  41. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve been trying to write an effective cover letter for a while now, but my writing skills are rusty and all attempts have sounded way too formal, stiff, and uninteresting. It was wonderful reading your article and having an example letter to look over and provide inspiration.

  42. Michael

    A very interesting and helpful article. I thought I had finished my own cover letter and was going to send it to a friend to proof read. Your article allowed me to tweak my letter and I now feel it is better for it. Thank you.

    A question on over/under qualified applicants. My fear is that I may be considered over qualified for a position I am very interested in. I understand why under qual’d would be undesirable but why would an employer not want an over qualified applicant and how might somebody overcome this perception?

  43. Charlie

    Thanks for posting this! I just used it and it was very helpful to make my letter “pop” a bit more.

  44. Soon to graduate Chemical Engineer

    Hi Ask a Manager,

    This is an incredible post, I am happy to have come across it. I am currently applying for full time positions. I found this post (and resulting comments) very useful in re-vamping my cover letter to make me more attractive to my dream employers.

    Do you have any “science-people-specific” advice w.r.t cover letter writing?

    Thank you!!

  45. Tissy

    Awesummm find!!!! I have been congratulating myself on finding this page! This is such a rarity in these times of deep insecurity. the obsessive-compulsive copy editing skills… that is soooo me. Its been like five years since you wrote this, but wonderfully wow! Before I forget congrats for writing such a brilliant one! Kudos!

  46. KingsCrib

    Hey, askamanager, i have to admit, your post is far congratulatory. Hey, look, i am an internet-surfer-addict and i search for about everything i need to know. During the past 3 years, while working with Blue Financial Services, i have been searching for CV/Resume samples and good cover letter examples. I have been using such as that in example 1 and never chanced securing an interview. Believe it or not, when i came across this post one day (about a year ago), i drafted my letter, personalised it, (and it was my first longest letter i have ever wrote) then sent it to the company i was intending to work for. In a weeks time i was called for an interview and in 3 days time i was called to start work. Much as i understand that we view things differently, i hated it so much today (the day i posted this comment-06 March, 2012) reading some comments criticizing the outline of the example 2. Guys, to be true, if this doesn’t work out for you stop blaming askamanager for not having grafted you the kind of writing your boss wanted from the firm you were applying. Why, i don’t see you writing such criticism on websites and posts that FALSELY embark themselves on the “what does a good cover letter and resume look like” platfoam and yet when you get there you see nothing like it. If you can’t see anything helpful here, stop wasting your time finding faults and discourage those who really need the help here. Get lost.

    KingsCrib

  47. Anonymous

    Hi! So i am writing my first cover letter for a garden nursery and i have no idea what to write!

  48. Just Keep Swimming

    I just have to say thank you so very much. I became unemployed back in January 2012 and for whatever reason, I’ve been struggling with cover letters this time around! I’m not sure if it’s because I just can’t believe I have to go through this process yet again (I really thought I found “the one”) or if I’m just so overwhelmed by the process because I have very little time to find a new job before unemployment runs out. Regardless…something about your post just made everything so clear. Thankfully, my passionate and heart-felt cover letter wasn’t saccharine as it was truly how I feel about wanting to work for this specific company, but all the words fell right into place after your clear, concise advice. Thank you again!

  49. Jean

    I want to apply for a job online, the posting requires that you complete the online application and submit a resume and formal cover letter.
    The problem I have with the posting is it does not provide any contact information and with that I do not have a person’s name or title. Also, the job is with a subsidiary of a large company, which company do I use in the letter, the parent company or the subsidiary?
    What do I use for the internal address in the letter? Please help.

    Thanks

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      None of these things much matter. Open it with “dear hiring manager,” don’t include an address, and use the company that you’d be applying to work for.

  50. Anonymous

    This pretty helpful, but what if you don’t find that your values coincide with those of the company you are applying to? I think it’s much easier to write an impassioned, thoughtful letter to a company you’ve always dreamed of working for, but unfortunately that is not the way the world works most of the time. I wish I had such a personal interest in the jobs I seek, but rarely am I applying to positions at companies whose values truly coincide with my own. Should I just pretend that I care deeply about the kind of work they are doing? How can I appear to have a connection with a company when really I’m just applying because I’m qualified for the position?

    1. Anonymous

      Addendum: I meant to say that this was actually extremely helpful; this post has been my guideline for applying to a few jobs recently, and while I have not heard back, I’m sure my letters are superior to those I was previously crafting. Thank you!

  51. Anonymous

    I want to apply for a job advertised, they expect a more experience person rather then fresh graduates. But I see myself that I can do that job, please give me hints for my cover letter.

  52. Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing your insights. I came across the website a few days back and have it bookmarked. I would like to know your thoughts about including a brief history of professional/academic work in the cover letter. I had some difficulties with graduate studies (academic, financial and personal) and ended up taking a break to do a couple of internships and a full time job. I came back to finish my grad studies after a 5 year break and will be finishing soon. My resume now lists 2 internships and a full time job and I have references from these places. I have done quite well in school since I returned and have references from past internship and job position on the resume. I am wondering how much of this information should be included in the cover letter. I feel like I am a much stronger person due to my (not so good) experience and it also allowed me to explore directions that I now want to pursue full time. But I am also worried that including this information might put off prospective employers. I would liek to hear what you think about it?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I wouldn’t. I see where you’re coming from, but it’s the kind of thing that can make employers uncomfortable when it’s in a letter from a stranger.

  53. searcher

    This cover letter is so long, I can’t imagine someone taking the time to read it. I’m a manager and rarely use the cover letter to differentiate applicants. It’s all in the resume, which should be scannable. A long letter just says to me that you don’t understand how busy work life is these days and you expect me stop everything for you. I think this is misinformation at best. I just don’t see how agonizing over a cover letter letter is worth it; rather, spend your time writing a really good targeted, customized resume.

    1. Mel

      Dearest ‘Searcher,’
      If you are so busy my typo-riddled-tirade friend, perhaps you shouldn’t be playing on a Blog when you should be ‘busy’ looking at resumes. I would suggest you do your level best at your current position, as this economy continues to tighten, you may find a Cover Letter is well needed to stand out in a sea of applicants. But for now, you should be getting yourself back to work.
      And, to Ask A Manager, this blog is a wonderful asset and your advice is kind, straight-forward and very helpful and respectful. I appreciate your dedication to us all.

  54. MP

    I have a question if you don’t mind. I see that a lot of cover letters have the human resource person name but what happens if you can’t find out who it is what should you put?

    Thanks

  55. Sean

    It seems as if cover letters are not focused on as much as resumes and portfolios. This may be the first thing a potential employer sees, so you must be very deliberate.
    I would also suggest two or three other people reading over your letter before sending it off. The more eyes that see it the better off you will be in the end.

  56. Anonymous

    Just wanted to let ASK A MANAGER that the information presented here has been very helpful to me! Thanks a million!

  57. BigAl250

    I have to admit I have been one who rarely ever uses a cover letter and they are often like example 1 because I found the task of writing q cover letter dreary and never truly understand it’s purpose. I have been in the unemployment boat for 2 1/2 years, and have always questioned what it was that I was doing wrong. I know I’m more than qualified for the jobs I apply for, but I fail to pass the initial screening from HR. I will be applying this advice and I hope to see fruitful results as it appears that applying personal touches in a cover letter is what is necessary to separate you from the rest.

  58. ianvogue

    From a grammar aficionado to one neurotic grammar curmudgeon:

    I just read two posts of yours regarding cover letters. The second post I read gave feedback for a letter a witty, self-assured applicant commonly used. After the flaws in the content and tone of the letter were explained, you made a note of an error in grammar you noticed. Misuse of your favorite punctuation, the semicolon. I am glad to see someone appreciates this useful yet uncommonly used punctuation as much as I do. Just hours earlier I told a friend they had misused it… rather coincidental.

    I am starting a job search and never have felt like a cover letter mattered but they are widely required of applicants now. I did a google search and your site came up second and caught my eye. I read the post comparison of two mock letters. You begin saying “The Evil HR Lady, who I secretly worship,..” I’m fairly certain it is correct to use whom in this case as your revered HR Lady is not the subject, you are.

    I was apprehensive seeing a grammatical error right away but I read on hoping if not the grammar, the content would be of quality; I was pleased. A skeptic turned advocate of the valuable opportunity to impress upon a potential employer, before getting an interview, positives not explicit in the resume. Thanks for highlighting the benefits of a cover letter and discerning what should and should not be included. After seeing you correct someone I felt like returning the favor.

    Go semi colons! Did you catch mine?

  59. ianvogue

    Is nothing sacred! I can’t look at that sentence without hearing a cacophony of discord… What next? We won’t use semicolons anymore, only one spelling of homonyms, no capitalization?

    I hear soon it will be acceptable to spell how you want because there are so many discrepancies we are going to give up and let anything slide. Its bad enough seeing misuse of basics like your and you’re. Well I can accept the change if that’s really how it is now. Good to know.

  60. Wael

    please criticizing my cover letter

    Dear sir
    It was my pleasure to see your advertisement for consultant in Yemen hr website and would like to be considered for this post.
    From the application form that attached you will see that I have good experience with civil society organization and projects management.
    Currently, I am a manager assistant at Tamkeen Development Foundation for Human Rights (TDFHR), so I have wide responsibilities including Information officer, and managing project, and charge of media section.
    This kind of work interest me and I have the skills and qualification required. I have good knowledge of documenting activities, following media, preparing project and contact with key community leaders. I am an economist and have excellent training such Transitional Justice in Yemen. I have participated in many activities about awareness and development projects. Furthermore, I have excellent at using computer, internet and ability to work as a team .
    During this post I could work whether on field or administration. These include Analyzing current affairs and economic trends on Yemen situations contact with programs, agencies, organizations and embassies.
    A copy of my application form is enclosed with copies detailed CV, transcript form and two training certificates about establishing private business and international justice in Yemen . I hope to hear from you soon and to be given the opportunity to present myself at an interview.

    Yours Faithfully,

  61. Robert Seegrist

    This is excellent advice. It seems so simple, but adding a personal touch to any communication vastly increases the impact on the reader.

  62. DivaDivine

    This is great. So many resources focus on the fact that you should tailor your cover letter but they seem more antiquated.

    You rock!

  63. Anonymous

    This was an eye opener for me. I have already recommended it to a friend. Thanks a lot

  64. Niki

    Hi..Im currently in the process of writing a cover letter, but I do not know the name of the manager for the opening store. What would be best to put in the greeting?

  65. Jess

    This is a great source of information for me. Thank you for posting all of this. I have a question that I’m hoping you can help with.

    I have been working in my industry, (advertising & marketing), for just over 25 years. I’ve risen to the top of the management level within my arena through years of actual experience at a company that then downsized and I was without a position. Since then I have gained employment with another company but at a much lower level. I would like to venture out into the job market but I’m a little concerned that education seems to be the ultimate driving force for any position these days. So the first thing an HR person is going to do is scan the resume to see that the educational qualifications are met first before reading anything else on the resume and therefore my resume will never end up in the “right” pile due to the fact that I only have an associates degree. However, what I do have are years of “Life-experience” which more than makes up for not having the final two years of a traditional four year degree.

    The challenge, obviously, is to have a great cover letter that would capture that message and get my resume into the “Let’s interview him” pile and not the “Thanks, but no thanks” pile.

    Any thoughts, help, guidance or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

  66. Anonymous

    I wanted to say, this was one of the best cover letter examples I have ever found on the net.

    I used this to apply for 5 jobs in one of the WORST job markets for post college grads.

    I work in IT, and I landed a position at a firm mid level with a benefits package that looks like it is the dot com bubble all over again.

    I sent this to a handful of my friends who are unemployed as well, and they really liked it.

    Thanks a ton! Your blog has been so useful!

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Um, you used my letter as your own? Please don’t do that. It’s really unethical. This is an example to inspire your own, not a template for you to copy.

    2. Anonymous

      How exactly would one use a writer’s cover letter to nail an IT job? Just curious. I didn’t come to the same inference as AAM, it sounded more like he used the advice in the post, but I could be wrong…

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I hope you’re right! I’ve actually received versions of this letter sent to ME when I’ve been hiring for non-writer positions, so my level of suspicious is high :)

        1. Anonymous

          Oh goodness it was an inspiration. Relax mademoiselle ;) My cover letters now have a similarly broad personal open and close down to a smaller much more concise end with technical information. Writing a cover letter is a lot like writing an effective online dating profile which your blog really seemed to nail home with this example.

          The gist of the whole thing is, after sending out cookie cutter cover letters for a long time it is nice to see advice go against the contrary suggestion of professional career counselors.

          Oh and before I forget:
          Don’t attribute malice to what could easily be attributed to stupidity or a misunderstanding.

  67. Anonymous

    Thanks so much for all of the great advice.
    However, I have a few questions that I can’t seem to find answers to.

    1. I am a graphic designer, and my dream job is to design book jackets for a publishing company. I want to apply to one particular company, however there are no current job postings. How do write a cover letter for a job that is not currently open? And how do I do it without sounding too eager? (Even though I am!)

    2. When applying for a job via email, I always find it hard to decide what to write in the email body itself. I don’t want to state the same points as my cv. & resume (they are attached, so I don’t want to be redundant). Any suggestions?

    3. Is it wrong to informally contact a potential employer to ask what they are looking for in an employee (or in my case, a portfolio), and then formally applying for a job later?

    Thank you!

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      1. Same basic thing, just noting that you realize they don’t currently have any openings posted but you’d love to work with them.

      2. It’s fine to just paste your whole cover letter into the body of the email rather than attaching it.

      3. You can try, but many won’t have the time to talk with you.

  68. JBob

    “Don’t tell the employer what you want – tell them why they should want you.”

    Really? I’ll concede that the emphasis should definitely be on what the applicant can do for the employer, but I think enlightened employers recognize that their workers have a legitimate interest in professional growth and can read a sentence or two about it without getting haughty. If your position won’t provide that kind of growth, then don’t hire the person – they will probably be better off. It’s about matching up with the best job, not matching up for every job.

      1. JBob

        Maybe … but I’m interested in what the employer can do for me. If they’re not respectful enough to consider that I have needs that are on a roughly equal footing with theirs, then I’ll wait for one who is.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Of course a good employer knows you have needs. But this stage of the process is about making the case for why they should talk further with you, not the other 300 applicants.

          1. JBob

            Maybe they shouldn’t talk futher with me – I only need to get hired once, and I don’t want to make a case for a job that won’t suit me. Isn’t it to everyone’s advantage to discover that as early in the process as possible?

  69. JB

    Thanks a for these tips!
    I also have a question regarding the cover letter. Im a recent College graduate, would you suggest emphasizing courses that I took that relate to the job or just stick with work experience?

  70. Casey

    Is it ever advisable to acknowledge weakensses in a cover letter? Thinking about it because:

    1) Seems like it would be refreshing to read something other than, “I’ve been a perfect person since the day I was born” – it would add some humanity and honesty to the letter.

    2) Makes it more credible when I describe my strengths

    3) Shows a certain degree of self-awareness

    4) Eventually they’re going to find out anyway

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      The cover letter isn’t really the place for your weaknesses; it’s the place to explain why you and this job might be a strong match for each other.

      That said, no, you definitely don’t want to write a letter full of hyperbole or sound like you think you’re perfect. But there’s a lot of middle ground between talking about weaknesses and talking about perfection.

  71. CM

    I understand that employers like personalized cover letters, but I’m sending my resume and my cover letters to dozens if not hundreds of employers, I wish I had the time to write a individual cover letter for each employer but I just don’t have the time, what should i do

      1. CM

        Okay, I sent out a mass of er letters emails with that one cover letter, should I go back and start resending the resumes, this time with different cover letters or should I wait for a reply and then resend if unsuccessful

  72. CM

    This was one of my previous cover letters could you judge it for me?

    Dear Employer

    Of course you’re looking at this resume or the name at the top of this cover letter and wondering who is this person and why should I hire this person. Which makes me wonder as well, would I hire myself, and most people would answer yes whether they believed it or not. Well lets start out by being critical about myself, I haven’t made much of a mark in the industry, I don’t have any real connections, to sum it all up, you could call me an alien. The word “alien” creates negative thoughts in our heads more often than not, but is a alien such a bad thing. You’re probably thinking “why is this guy talking about aliens when he should be talking about how he’s going to contribute to our company”.
    When I landed in Florida and started film school, many things about filmmaking were alien to me, I met people from different income brackets, from different regions of the country, some from different parts of the world, different age groups and so on. We were all aliens to each other in one way or another, but that did not stop us from collaborating for our class projects, exchanging ideas, managing each other to make sure that the workflow of our projects were consistent, as well as becoming friends and learning new things about each other. Responsibility and accountability were obviously traits that had to be acquired, those two things, admittedly were alien to me before.
    It’s known that when different civilizations mix and integrate, there is a jump in technology and overall progress, the same can be said of a group of five which chances are would have a higher IQ than the group of one, my point being that as I moved from project to project, I kept meeting new people, kept getting exposed to different ideas, I worked with professional talent which I learned a lot about productions from. On our projects we would work 12 hour shoots, we went through all the phases of a production that professionals go through, so you can’t say that I have absolutely no experience. Like in school or on a set or in any field of life deadlines were very important, and yes money was involved in the consequences of non-completion.
    After graduation I found it hard to get a job, a job in general, let alone one in our industry. I found that once again because I was put into a environment that was alien to me, I had to adapt as I did before. I learned how to draw, how to animate, I’m even learning how to code. I moved back to New York, which I shockingly found to be a little alien to me. Once again I find myself facing new challenges. I don’t give up on Challenges, and I will devote whatever time and resources that are available to me to solve whatever problem that you present before me, and with our combined IQ we will solve the problem. I will adapt because that’s what we do.

    Sincerely with endless gratitude

    Christopher Mayfield

    P.S

    I am a quick writer, so if you need anything typed 5 minutes before you know who to go to. I hope to have a meeting with you soon.

    1. Mander

      I don’t mean this as an insult, but is English your second language? Your letter seems very stilted in ways that I often see with ESL students. Otherwise, I think it’s too long, tries to be creative with the “alien” stuff but that comes across as just odd, makes some strange statements about IQ that I frankly couldn’t understand the point of, points out your negative traits, and doesn’t say anything about your skills or what you have learned from your experiences until the end of the letter. And your typing speed is presented as an irrelevant aside.

      Cut it way down, take out the negative stuff, and make it more to the point: you have experience in two different subcultures within the industry, are able to learn new and varied skills, and you are capable of meeting deadlines.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Totally agree with Mander: “Cut it way down, take out the negative stuff, and make it more to the point: you have experience in two different subcultures within the industry, are able to learn new and varied skills, and you are capable of meeting deadlines.”

      This shouldn’t be an essay; it’s supposed to be a letter about why you’d be good at the job. Get rid of the alien stuff altogether.

  73. Old Fashioned

    I am in a “classic” field, accounting, so I still use a “classic” resume format. Is this hurting me in my job search? It’s hard to quantify successes because the accounting system was already established, and the job is pretty much the same every month. How do I overcome this and stand out?

    Do I mention how well I kiss butt and then who’s butt that is? Because it seems to me that is all that matters anymore to get hired. (Actually I don’t kiss butt very well, and don’t like people who do, or people that have to have theirs kissed.) What happened to doing the job well, in an efficient, accurate and timely manner? Why is it no longer enough to be good at your job? My attitude is fine as long as I get treated fairly, but yeah, like most workers I don’t appreciate getting screwed over. Do it long enough and any worker’s attitude will suffer-why can’t managers understand this?

    The entire hiring process is just one big lie. The company won’t tell you the truth about job responsibilites and how people are evaluated and treated, and you can’t tell the truth about how you feel having to take on more and more duties without any more rewards, which is what the employer wants. “Team” just means that someone has to do more than their fair share.

    Sorry that this turned into a rant, I did enjoy the article and will change how I do things.

  74. ADowney

    What about people who have no experience in the open position? Should they just stick to what they may have previous experience in? Wonderful for #2 by the way.

  75. Nath

    Would it be possible for me to pass on a cover letter to someone here to check over and possible just offer any tips advice on how to improve it? I need to apply for a position with a closing date this Friday :/

  76. ChristineH

    How do you tailor your cover letter when the job you want to apply for has very little info about the position’s scope and qualifications? I got a bit more info from a friend whose agency works with this organization, but not much.

      1. ChristineH

        The job posting gives full contact information for the employer; it just doesn’t go into detail about what the job itself entails, and only has one vague sentence about the experience they’re looking for.

          1. ChristineH

            I have a general familiarity with this particular organization, and their overall mission is of interest to me.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              You can focus partly on that then. I’d just do as best as you can — if they don’t give you info to work with, there’s not much you can do.

  77. Maria

    Is it just me, or does #2 go against
    http://www.askamanager.org/2012/04/more-things-not-to-say-in-your-cover-letter.html
    http://www.askamanager.org/2011/11/stop-telling-me-youre-the-best-candidate-for-the-job.html
    “Reading over the job description for the position, I recognized myself.” Is this just a “better spin” on “best candidate for the job?” It sounds pretty close to “The position is tailor-made for a person with my qualifications,” which you referenced not liking.

    How do you make yourself sound like you’re a good fit without using these phrases and sounding like a used car salesman?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Nope, very different — one is claiming to be the best person for the job (something you can’t possibly know, and totally hyperbolic) and one is saying “hey, this job sounds like me.”

  78. Quinncy

    I’ve been a SAHM for two years after I was laid off. Should I mention about being laid off in the cover letter or should I just wait to explain when being asked during an interview?

  79. Vinit Joshi

    I appreciate the effort to make many job applicants understand the way to write a good cover letter. It’s like your tie that should complement your shirt! Your suggested style and tone of writing – appreciated, But what i felt was, the copy was too long. I read few lines and then i lost concentration. Being short and to the point may work rather than ballads of praise and keen interest for the company. Generally you don’t know too much about the company that can be mentioned unless you know the person who is in charge of your desired department and then only you can praise him/her for what great work the team has done. Also while presenting yourself, the resume already speaks volumes about you, your work, your interest, your achievement etc. So my point is – There are hundreds of job applications with a cover letter and to get attention make your point short yet sweet. Do you agree?

  80. Challyss

    I just uploaded a cover letter and resume for a job I’d really like. I’ve been out of the game for a while – I had twins I stayed home with, who just started full-time school, and then I had brain surgery (all better now!). This gap in my work history is hard to explain – but I took a cue from the cover letters and your explanations of what you like about them and lightly touched on it, humorously and using the twinners as a, “Hey, I totally had to learn to be organized!” I touched on it, bounced off of it, and it was the strangest cover letter I’ve ever written – and I loved it! I felt like I had a chance to introduce ME even without a face-to-face. Now, to see if the employer likes it – fingers crossed!

    Either way, thank you for this blog – I needed realistic pointers, and this was pragmatic, clear – and FUN.

  81. kathy

    I was getting lost in trying to promote myself and not focusing on why they would want me. i have a great work ethic and diverse experience…
    Thank you! i will get back to writting

  82. A....non believer

    I liked the text, and I recognize it has a lot of value and right points. HOWEVER,and this is only my opinion, I WOULD NOT hire the person from cover letter 2.and possible I wouldn’t even put the resume on top.What we all are forgetting is that in the last instance the person that reads resumes and cover letters is just a person.It has interests and desires,and even if tries to separate himself from his desires and wishes,his evaluation will always be subjective. What everybody forgets is that the candidate is ALWAYS a step back,unless he knows the recruiter.The value of a candidate is shown not in a cover letter or a resume,but on a day to day basis.You talk about marketing?Marketing sells ONLY once. You buy again because of the product,not the marketing.
    Instead of trying to make candidates believe that there may be a right or wrong way to apply to vacancies (cause really there isn’t a right or wrong way) we should be looking for different ways to accept candidates and see their true value. This is my vision.And I know what recruiters will tell me,but know what?I don’t believe in the actual recruitment systems and methods and I know they will be different in some time.

    But,as I said,I liked this post, and I believe that in the current implemented systems the second cover letter may work for SOME recruiters / managers / HR people. But the bottom line is that this isn’t a magical formula.

  83. Ann Onymous

    Here is my issue with the second paragraph of the cover letter.

    We all know this is a weak economy and certain types of jobs (especially creative ones) are hard to come by. It’s great if you can find a job advertised by a company you really want to work for…but, what if you can’t, and you have no real interest in the industry?

    There are certain types of industries for which I would not work due to a moral objection (e.g., tobacco products). However, I just saw an ad for a medical supply company seeking a writer/editor. I think if I were to try and tell them I’m really interested in their products, they’d laugh. I mean, other than someone who is already in the med field, who else would actually care about things like bandages and drug-testing kits?

    So, my concern is, how do I get enthusiasm for the company across when I don’t have any? At this point, I would almost take a job working for anyone (exceptions above).

    Do you have any advice for me?

  84. Anne

    I agree with the last two comments. I actually prefer the first cover letter because it is more honest and sincere and to the point. I think rambling on and on about how interested you are in the job can come off as insincere, especially, as the last commenter mentioned, you’re applying within a not-so exciting industry. “Dear hiring manager at Latex Incorporated. I am very passionate about latex and latex-based products. I am a huge fan of the industry and have been a long-time user of your products (especially during my college years). Thanks to the latex industry, I can say I am STD free. Undoubtedly, my fuzziness will be an asset to your company.”

  85. Alicia

    I’ve been applying for a whole year and received less than four interviews. Nobody liked me due to wearing hearing aids. I wish most managers would give me an opportunity to show them I’m capable of getting the job done just like any normal individual who hears and listens better. I’m on my last term of graduate school and very concerned with the next process of my career life.

    Today, I decided to follow you by sending a cover letter similar to the one you posted above. In less than an hour, I received a reply to confirm a phone interview within two days. I want to thank you for being a wonderful person and helping others who are in need of assistance for job search. Now I’m concerned about the phone interview due to having a (minor) hearing problem.

    I would like to ask you:
    Should I mentioned during the phone interview that I have a hearing problem and would appreciate it if they speak louder. Or should I wait and tell them on the next in-person interview (that’s if I make it to the next round).

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Do you usually have trouble hearing on the phone? If so, I might send them an email in advance, saying something like, “I wanted to mention that I sometimes have trouble hearing on the phone, so I might ask you to speak up during the conversation — I like to let people know ahead of time.” Also, do you have a phone where you can turn the volume way up? (That’s probably an obvious suggestion, but figured I’d throw it out there too.)

      But otherwise, I think it’s fine to say something in the moment if you need to.

      Good luck!

      1. Anonymous

        Not usually. I will wait and say it in the moment if it appears that I’m having difficulty hearing. Thank you for the suggestion and yes I always raise the volume.

        Thank you,
        Alicia

      2. Alicia

        Hi Alison,

        I just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful post you published. My phone interview from yesterday was very pleasant and I did pretty well. I just received an email stating I have a in-person interview this Monday. Thank you for your encouragement.

        -Alicia

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  89. Tony

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  90. kaylie

    This is why I hate hr people. Who rejects someone because of a stupid cover letter?? The only way a refusal to hire would make ANY sense is if they were applying for some kind of writing job.

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