A Cover Letter Template That Hiring Managers Will Actually Want to Read

Cover letter. Those two little words alone are likely enough to fill your mind with an overwhelming sense of impending dread.

Alright, perhaps that’s a little dramatic. But, the point remains the same: Cover letters can be a total pain to write.

When you’re tasked with pulling together a few polished and concise paragraphs that accurately embody everything that makes you the perfect candidate, it’s all too easy to want to hide under your desk until the pesky thing somehow miraculously writes itself.

But, if you’ve ever tried that avoidance tactic, you know it doesn’t get you too far. Instead, you need to take a deep breath, organize your thoughts, and craft a letter that’s both attention-grabbing and professional.

Sounds impossible? I assure you, it’s not. In fact, I’ve pulled together a template that will take most of the pain out of the process for you. Ready? Let’s get to it!

The Groundwork

Before you jump in with the template, there are a few key pieces of information you’ll want to have situated first. Getting these sorted out ahead of time will make using the template that much easier. Here’s what you’ll need:

THE HIRING MANAGER’S NAME: You’d be surprised by how many people skip this crucial step. You want to address your letter to someone personal, and skip that generic “To Whom It May Concern” line.

This doesn’t necessarily need to be the name of the hiring manager—the department head or even CEO could fit the bill here as well, if that’s the only name you can find. And, while you’re at it, confirm that you know how to correctly spell the company’s name. That’s not something you want to mess up.

A CAPTIVATING STORY: I always recommend starting off your cover letter with a story that pulls the reader right in—rather than using your standard opener of, “I’m writing to apply for the position of…”. Don’t overthink this part. It really doesn’t need to be anything complicated.

Start your cover letter with a story that pulls the reader right in.

Perhaps you discovered your love for sales while running your childhood lemonade stand. Maybe your college professor once said something in a lecture that was a lightbulb moment for your entire career. Come up with a brief anecdote that relates to your chosen field, and you’re sure to grab the hiring manager’s attention.

WHAT YOU LOVE ABOUT THE COMPANY: It’s important to weave elements of your passion for and knowledge about the brand throughout the overall tone of your letter.

Believe me, hiring managers can tell right away if you’re applying just for the sake of applying, or if you actually really admire the company. Needless to say, you want to fall into that latter category.

3 KEY SKILLS OR ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The goal of your cover letter is to present yourself as a qualified and intelligent candidate. The best way to do that? Pulling out two or three of your most impressive skills or accomplishments.

Jot those down for now. We’ll work them into your cover letter later.

The Template

Now that you have those key pieces of information set to go, it’s time to take a look at the template and inject your own personality, creativity, and personal tidbits.

Dear [Name],

When I was [your story about how you chose this career field].

Since that very moment, my passion for [career field] has only grown stronger. I know that combining this passion with my experience in [aspect of position], knowledge of [aspect of position], and excitement about [element of the brand or company’s culture] makes me the perfect addition to [company name’s] growing [department] team.

As a committed and self-driven employee, here are a few of the many things I’d bring to the table in this position:

[Key Skill #1]: I have [number] years of experience in [skill], delivering [result of skill]. I know this expertise could add significant value to [company name’s] [department].

[Key Skill #2]: I am an expert in [key skill], and have used this skill to greatly benefit my previous employers, including [hard fact or statistic about the impact of this skill].

[Key Accomplishment or Award]: In [year], I was [awarded/published/recognized] with [award or accolade] to recognize my efforts in [career field or skillset].

I’m confident I’d make a great addition to your team, and I’d love the opportunity to speak with you further about how my various skills and experiences could contribute to the great work you’re doing at [company name].

Thank you so much for your consideration!

Best wishes,

[Your Name]

The Final Steps

Now that you’ve filled in the blanks, it’s time to polish your letter and put on the finishing touches.

Remember, a template is just a starting point. Go back through and inject a little of your own personality.

When using a template, it’s all too easy to have your letter read a little choppy or robotic. But, remember that this template is just a starting point—you should definitely plan to go back through, inject a little more personality, and ensure the whole thing reads smoothly. Read it out loud if you have to!

Finally, don’t neglect the importance of proofreading. No matter how well-written your cover letter, it won’t impress anybody if it’s riddled with typos and errors.

What story or anecdote will you open your cover letter with? We’re curious—let us know in the comments!

  • Helen Harm

    This is so helpful! I dread writing cover letters because I never know what to say! Thanks for the guidelines.

    xo Helen @ http://www.KaleidoscopeSpinning.com

  • Kelly B

    I’m getting ready to make a career jump into a completely different industry and this is so helpful. Any event planners out there who can offer advice to someone looking to start after several years in public accounting?

  • As someone who is looking to possibly make a career change this is extremely helpful. I would have never thought to share a story off the bat. Thank you for another wonderful post Kat!

  • ugh I hate writing cover letters- I feel so awkward writing them! I’m curious if anyone (besides HR recruiters) read them at larger organizations?

    • Hanny

      My former bosses all read my cover letters.

  • Love these tips, Kat! I work with college students almost every day (well…even more when I worked at a university here in Boston), and these cover letter tips are gold. I receive so many cover letters where it’s clearly evident that the student doesn’t even think to change the internship name in it – yikes!

  • Love these tips, Kat! I work with college students almost every day (well…even more when I worked at a university here in Boston), and these cover letter tips are gold. I receive so many cover letters where it’s clearly evident that the student doesn’t even think to change the internship name in it – yikes!

  • Melanie Y. Waters

    I love this template. It definitely makes the candidate seem more personable. Thanks for sharing.
    ~Melanie http://www.melanieywaters.com

  • Hanny

    Great tips!! It’s so true, bullet points makes your cover letter look less long and catches the recruiter or hiring manager attention right away. Also I believe buying a template for your resume and cover letter makes you stand out.

  • Jasmine Merrill

    When I started working at Nordstrom I developed a true passion for customer service and going that extra mile. I started in the men’s department, and one day I had an older gentleman come in for a new outfit for his holiday acapella performance. Not only did we find the perfect shirt-trouser combo, but he also took a liking to my favorite Ted Baker bow tie we had in the store. As I continued to get to know the gentlemen I found that his heart was set on a pair of suspenders, and the fact that the event was the next day. I leveraged my connections with the tailors to have a next day turnaround for the alterations, and while the tailor was fitting the gentleman, I found the perfect pair of suspenders to compliment his outfit at the downtown store. After showing the suspenders to him, seeing the smile on his face, and given the go ahead, I had them transferred overnight. The next day when he had come in to pick up, I had the outfit pressed and in a garment bag, and I had made a sample of the cologne he had liked for his big day.

  • Sam Wolf

    What do you suggest the title of an email with a cover letter and resume should be? Thanks!