How to Write an Effective Cover Letter for a Job or Internship (10 Simple Steps) 
A cover letter (or sometimes referred to as an application letter) is an introduction letter between a job applicant and a hiring manager or recruiter. The cover letter accompanies a resume or curriculum vitae in a job application. A potential employer is likely to read the cover letter before reading a job applicant’s resume.
A job seeker should write a tailored and customized letter for every job application.
How to Write a Cover Letter
Steps to writing a cover letter:
- Step 1: Research the job (using the job ad or job description).
- Step 2: Research the company.
- Step 3: Research the hiring manager.
- Step 4: Write down relevant career achievements.
- Step 5: Write down your elevator pitch.
- Step 6: Start building a cover letter using a cover letter template.
- Step 7: Add personal contact information.
- Step 8: Add the closing paragraph.
- Step 9: Refine the cover letter based on the resume.
- Step 10: Export the cover letter.
A common mistake for cover letter writers is to consider the cover letter template and layout before writing an effective letter. The perfect cover letter is one that the reader finds engaging, rather than simply visually appealing. Use Google Docs to write the cover letter before putting the letter into a business letter document.
Step 1: Research the Job
Look through the job description, job listing, job posting, or job advertisement (job ad) for details about the job requirements. Look for hard skills, soft skills, or other key qualities that the hiring manager is looking for. For example, if the hiring manager is seeking a professional with interpersonal skills or communication skills, this could be an indicator to share a story about what significant work accomplishment utilized communication skills to get the job done. Any specific skill mentioned in the job description is an indication of a potential story to share with the future employer. In other words, to share a story that displays the relevant skill.
Step 2: Research the Company
A company “About Us” page, social media accounts, and mission statements can hold beneficial information for a cover letter writer. It can contain information about company values and company culture. For example, a company embracing collaboration or innovation may call for the cover letter writer to mention work or career accomplishments that include a team rather than an individual accomplishment.
Tip: Performing an informational interview can be helpful to job seekers. An informational interview allows a job seeker to gain insightful information about a company and gain career advice from a professional who is already employed with a prospective employer.
Step 3: Research the Hiring Manager
Starting a cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager” is sufficient, but having the hiring manager’s name is best. Using LinkedIn or the company “About Us” page can be helpful in finding the hiring manager’s first and last name so they can be addressed directly in the opening paragraph. Write down findings from steps one through three before writing a cover letter. Addressing a specific person when starting the cover letter is going to make the reader feel directly spoken to.
Step 4: Career Accomplishments
From the first steps, a cover letter writer should have sufficient insights to start thinking about previous career and work accomplishments that they want to share with the hiring manager. Write these accomplishments down. Though, they will be crafted into two to four bullet points that are no longer than 150 to 200 words in total once the cover letter is finished. At this point, simply recalling which work accomplishments the potential employer might value is sufficient. For internship positions, this section may refer to personal, academic, or sports-related accomplishments.
Step 5: Elevator Pitch
The opening paragraph to a cover letter should be an elevator pitch or “sales pitch” to the hiring manager. This should utilize the information gathered about the job requirements, company culture, and more. A good elevator pitch may use this information to open the letter. Or it may use a short personal statement and story that creates a bond between the job applicant and the employer. For example, “My youth was heavily influenced by Apple products, particularly the iPhone 1.” A poor elevator pitch would be something like the following, “This seemed like my dream job, which is why I’m applying.”
Step 6: Start Building
Use the elevator pitch as the opening paragraph. And the career accomplishments as the body paragraph. Craft the two parts together in a format that tells a unified story about strong relevant work history and overall career experience. Refer to the job title desired in the opening paragraph.
Tip: A great cover letter is easy for the hiring manager to read. Avoid creative layouts and unique fonts. Use a sample cover letter to get an idea of what a professional cover letter layout resembles.
Step 7: Add Personal Information
Once the letter paragraphs have been written, add personal contact information to the cover letter. This includes the letter writer's name, phone number, email address, LinkedIn profile, and personal website in certain circumstances.
Step 8: Add the Closing Paragraph
Complete the letter by creating a call to action in the closing paragraph. A great call to action may be mentioning available times for an interview or a strong desire to end the job search for the open position. The closing paragraph should be no more than 100 words. The final paragraph should be the shortest paragraph in the letter.
Step 9: Refine the Cover Letter
Based on previous work history and the specific job titles referred to in the resume, the letter builder may want to alter the career accomplishments referred to in the cover letter. Ensure that the resume and cover letter don’t seem repetitive.
Step 10: Export the Cover Letter
A professional cover letter should be sent as a PDF or Word document in a job application. Any other file format may make it more difficult for the hiring manager to read. As well as any Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that are scanning the cover letter and resume for key insights (skills, education history, and other keywords) the hiring manager has determined are important.
Tip: A successful cover letter is tailored to a specific position. A job seeker should alter work history accomplishments and work stories shared in the letter. A cover letter builder can be helpful to expedite the letter format process. But the letter writing should be customized to the potential employer and job title each time a job application is submitted.
Cover Letter Format
A good cover letter document format is as follows:
- Use business letter document formatting.
- Use default page margins.
- Use 9pt to 11pt font size.
- Use professional fonts like Garamond, Times New Roman, or Georgia.
Cover Letter Sample
Below is a cover letter example using the method described.
Cover Letter Examples
Below are a number of cover letter examples by job.
Popular Cover Letter Examples
- Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Cover Letter Example
- Nurse Practitioner Cover Letter Example
- ICU Nurse Cover Letter Example
- Administrative Assistant Cover Letter Example
- Office Assistant Cover Letter Example
- Paralegal Cover Letter Example
- Security Officer Cover Letter Example
- Pilot Cover Letter Example
- Waitress Cover Letter Example
- Tutor Cover Letter Example
- Firefighter Cover Letter Example
- LPN Cover Letter Example
Accounting Cover Letter Examples
- Accounting Clerk Cover Letter Example
- Accounting Coordinator Cover Letter Example
- Accounting Manager Cover Letter Example
- Accounting Supervisor Cover Letter Example
- Accountant Cover Letter Example
Administration and Office Support Cover Letter Examples
- Administrative Coordinator Cover Letter Example
- Administrative Assistant Cover Letter Example
- Administrative Manager Cover Letter Example
- Administrative Officer Cover Letter Example
- Administrator Cover Letter Example
Advertising, Arts, and Media Cover Letter Examples
- Analytics Manager Cover Letter Example
- Actor Cover Letter Example
- Band Manager Cover Letter Example
- Marketing Coordinator Cover Letter Example
- Marketing Director Cover Letter Example
Banking and Financial Services Cover Letter Examples
- Banker Cover Letter Example
- Bank Teller Cover Letter Example
- Analyst Cover Letter Example
- Financial Analyst Cover Letter Example
Call Center and Customer Service Cover Letter Examples
- Call Center Agent Cover Letter Example
- Customer Success Manager Cover Letter Example
- Customer Service Manager Cover Letter Example
Community Services and Development Cover Letter Examples
Consulting and Strategy Cover Letter Examples
Education and Training Cover Letter Examples
Cover Letter Resources
- How Long Should a Cover Letter Be
- How to Start a Cover Letter
- How to Address a Cover Letter
- Cover Letter Format
- Career Change Cover Letter
Related Hiring ResourcesHow to Write a Professional Email: Writing Guide, Email Examples 
Writing an Internship Cover Letter (+ High Converting Example)
How to Write the Perfect Resume for Your Job Application 
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