How to Write a Cover Letter in 2024 + Examples

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After weeks of heavy job search, you’re almost there!

You’ve perfected your resume. 

You’ve short-listed the coolest jobs you want to apply for.

You’ve even had a friend train you for every single interview question out there.

But then, before you can send your application and call it a day, you remember that the job ad requires a cover letter.

Now you’re stuck wondering how to write a cover letter ...

Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered. Writing a cover letter is a lot simpler than you might think. 

In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to write a cover letter that gets you the job you deserve.

  • What’s a cover letter & why it’s important for your job search
  • How to write a convincing cover letter that gets you the job (step-by-step!)
  • How to perfect your cover letter with the Novoresume free checklist
  • What excellent cover letter examples look like

New to cover letter writing? Give our resumes 101 video a watch before diving into the article!

So, let’s get started with the basics!

What is a Cover Letter? (and Why It’s Important)

A cover letter is a one-page document that you submit as part of your job application (alongside your CV or Resume). 

Its purpose is to introduce you and briefly summarize your professional background. On average, your cover letter should be from 250 to 400 words long .

A good cover letter can spark the HR manager’s interest and get them to read your resume. 

A bad cover letter, on the other hand, might mean that your application is going directly to the paper shredder. So, to make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s essential to know how to write a convincing cover letter.

How does a good cover letter look, you might ask. Well, here’s an example:

how to write cover letter

Keep in mind, though, that a cover letter is a supplement to your resume, not a replacement. Meaning, you don’t just repeat whatever is mentioned in your resume.

If you’re writing a cover letter for the first time, writing all this might seem pretty tough. After all, you’re probably not a professional writer.

The thing is, though, you don’t need to be creative, or even any good at writing. All you have to do is follow a tried-and-tested format:

  • Header - Input contact information
  • Greeting the hiring manager
  • Opening paragraph - Grab the reader’s attention with 2-3 of your top achievements
  • Second paragraph - Explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job
  • Third paragraph - Explain why you’re a good match for the company
  • Formal closing

Or, here’s what this looks like in practice:

structure of a cover letter

How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter (And Get Hired!)

Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, we’re going to guide you through the process of writing a cover letter step by step. 

Step #1 - Pick the Right Cover Letter Template

A good cover letter is all about leaving the right first impression.

So, what’s a better way to leave a good impression than a well-formatted, visual template?

cover letter templates

You can simply pick one of our hand-picked cover letter templates , and you’ll be all set in a jiffy!

As a bonus, our AI will even give you suggestions on how to improve your cover letter on the go.

Step #2 - Start the Cover Letter with a Header

As with a resume, it’s important to start your cover letter with a Contact Information section:

contact information on a cover letter

Here, you want to include all essential information, including:

  • Phone Number
  • Name of the hiring manager / their professional title
  • Name of the company you’re applying to

In certain cases, you might also consider adding:

  • Social Media Profiles - Any type of profile that’s relevant to your field. Social Profiles on websites like LinkedIn, GitHub (for developers), Medium (for writers), etc.
  • Personal Website - If you have a personal website that somehow adds value to your application, you can mention it. Let’s say you’re a professional writer. In that case, you’d want to link to your blog.

And here’s what you shouldn’t mention in your header:

  • Your Full Address 
  • Unprofessional Email - Make sure your email is presentable. It’s pretty hard for a hiring manager to take you seriously if your email address is “[email protected].” Whenever applying for jobs, stick to the “[first name] + [last name] @ email provider.com” format.

matching resume and cover letter

Step #3 - Greet the Hiring Manager

Once you’ve properly listed your contact information, you need to start writing the cover letter contents.

The first thing to do here is to address the cover letter to the hiring manager .

That’s right, the hiring manager! Not the overly popular “Dear Sir or Madam.” You want to show your future boss that you did your research and are really passionate about working with their team.

No one wants to hire a job seeker who just spams 20+ companies and hopes to get hired in any of them.

So, how do you find out who’s the hiring manager? There are several ways to do this. 

The simplest option is to look up the head of the relevant department on LinkedIn. Let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Communication Specialist at Novoresume. The hiring manager is probably Head of Communications or Chief Communications Office.

So, you do a quick lookup on LinkedIn:

linkedin search cco

And voila! You have your hiring manager.

Or let’s say you’re applying for the position of a server. In that case, you’d be looking for the “restaurant manager.”

If this doesn’t work, you can also check out the “Team” page on the company website; there’s a good chance you’ll at least find the right person there.

Here are several other greetings you could use:

  • Dear [Department] Hiring Manager
  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • To whom it may concern
  • Dear [Department] Team

Step #4 - Write an Attention-Grabbing Introduction

First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your job search.

Recruiters get hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of applications. Chances are, they’re not going to be reading every single cover letter end-to-end.

So, it’s essential to catch their attention from the very first paragraph .

The #1 problem we see with most cover letter opening paragraphs is that they’re usually extremely generic. Most of them look something like this..

  • Hey, my name is Jonathan and I’d like to work as a Sales Manager at XYZ Inc. I’ve worked as a sales manager at MadeUpCompany Inc. for 5+ years, so I believe that I’d be a good fit for the position.

See the issue here? This opening paragraph doesn’t say pretty much anything except the fact that you’ve worked the job before.

Do you know who else has similar work experience? All the other applicants you’re competing with.

Instead, you want to start off with 2-3 of your top achievements to really grab the reader’s attention. Preferably, the achievements should be as relevant as possible to the position.

So now, let’s make our previous example shine:

My name’s Michael and I’d like to help XYZ Inc. hit and exceed their sales goals as a Sales Manager. I’ve worked with Company X, a fin-tech company, for 3+ years. As a Sales Representative, I generated an average of $30,000+ in sales per month (beating the KPIs by around 40%). I believe that my previous industry experience, as well as excellence in sales, makes me the right candidate for the job.

See the difference between the two examples? If you were the hiring manager, which sales manager would you hire, Jonathan or Michael?

Now that we’ve covered the introduction, let’s talk about the body of your cover letter. This part is split into two paragraphs: the first is for explaining why you’re the perfect person for the job, and the latter is for proving that you’re a good fit for the company.

So, let’s get started...

Step #5 - Explain why you’re the perfect person for the job

This is where you show off your professional skills and convince the HR manager that you’re a better fit for the job than all the other applicants.

But first things first - before you even write anything, you need to learn what the most important requirements for the role are. So, open up the job ad and identify which of the responsibilities are the most critical.

For the sake of the example, let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Facebook Advertiser. You scan the job ad and see that the top requirements are:

  • Experience managing a Facebook ad budget of $10,000+ / month
  • Some skills in advertising on other platforms (Google Search + Twitter)
  • Excellent copywriting skills

Now, in this section, you need to discuss how you fulfill these requirements. So, here’s how that would look for our example:

In my previous role as a Facebook Marketing Expert at XYZ Inc. I handled customer acquisition through ads, managing a monthly Facebook ad budget of $20,000+ . As the sole digital marketer at the company, I managed the ad creation & management process end-to-end. Meaning, I created the ad copy , images, picked the targeting, ran optimization trials, and so on.

Other than Facebook advertising, I’ve also delved into other online PPC channels, including:

  • Google Search

Are you a student applying for your first internship? You probably don’t have a lot of work experience to show off in this section. Learn how to write an internship cover letter here.

Step #6 - Explain why you’re a good fit for the company

Once you’ve written the last paragraph, you might be thinking - I’m a shoo-in for the job! What else do I need to write? I’ll just wrap up the cover letter and hit that sweet SEND button.

Well, no. You’re not quite there yet.

The HR manager doesn’t only look at whether you’ll be good at the job or not. They’re looking for someone that’s also a good fit for the company culture.

After all, employees that don’t fit in are bound to quit, sooner or later. This ends up costing the company a ton of money, up to 50% of the employee’s annual salary . 

Meaning, you also need to convince the HR manager that you’re really passionate about working with them.

How do you do this? Well, as a start, you want to do some research about the company. You want to know things like:

  • What’s the company’s business model?
  • What’s the company product or service? Have you used it?
  • What’s the culture like? Will someone micro-manage your work, or will you have autonomy on how you get things done?

So, get to Googling. Chances are, you’ll find all the information you need either on the company website or somewhere around the web.

Then, you need to figure out what you like about the company and turn that into text.

Let’s say, for example, you’re passionate about their product and you like the culture of innovation / independent work in the organization.

You’d write something like:

I’ve personally used the XYZ Smartphone, and I believe that it’s the most innovative tech I’ve used in years. The features such as Made-Up-Feature #1 and Made-Up-Feature #2 were real game changers for the device. 

I really admire how Company XYZ thrives for excellence for all its product lines, creating market-leading tech. As someone that thrives in a self-driven environment, I truly believe that I and Company XYZ will be a great match.

What you don’t want to do here is be super generic for the sake of having something to write. Most job seekers tend to mess this one up. Let’s take a look at a very common example we tend to see (way too often):

I’d love to work for Company XYZ because of its culture of innovation. I believe that since I’m super creative, I’d be a good fit for the company. The company values of integrity and transparency really vibe with me.

See what’s wrong here? The example doesn’t really say anything about the company. “Culture of Innovation” is something most companies claim to have. 

The same goes for “values of integrity and transparency” - the writer just googled what the values for the organization are, and said that they like them.

Any hiring manager that reads this will see through the fluff.

So, make sure to do a lot of research and come up with good reasons why you're applying.

Step #7 - Wrap up with a call to action

Finally, it’s time to finish up your cover letter and write the conclusion.

In the final paragraph, you want to:

  • Wrap up any points you couldn't in the previous paragraphs. Do you have anything left to say? Any other information that could help the hiring manager make their decision? Mention it here.
  • Thank the hiring manager for their time. It never hurts to be courteous, as long as you don’t come off as too needy.
  • Finish the cover letter with a call to action. The very last sentence in your cover letter should be a call to action. You should ask the hiring manager to take some sort of action.

And now, let’s turn this into a practical example:

So to wrap it all up, thanks for looking into my application. I hope I can help Company X make the most out of their Facebook marketing initiatives. I'd love to further discuss how my previous success at XYZ Inc. can help you achieve your facebook marketing goals.

Step #8 - Use the right formal closing

Once you’re done with the final paragraph, all you have to do is write down a formal “goodbye” and you’re good to go.

Feel free to use one of the most popular conclusions to a cover letter:

  • Best Regards,
  • Kind Regards,

And we’re finally done! Before sending off the cover letter, make sure to proofread it with software like Grammarly, or maybe even get a friend to review it for you.

Does your cover letter heading include all essential information?

  • Professional email
  • Relevant Social Media Profiles

Do you address the right person? I.e. hiring manager in the company / your future direct supervisor

Does your introductory paragraph grab the reader's attention?

  • Did you mention 2-3 of your top achievements?
  • Did you use numbers and facts to back up your experience?

Do you successfully convey that you’re the right pro for the job?

  • Did you identify the core requirements?
  • Did you successfully convey how your experiences help you fit the requirements perfectly?

Do you convince the hiring manager that you’re passionate about the company you’re applying to?

  • Did you identify the top 3 things that you like about the company?
  • Did you avoid generic reasons for explaining your interest in the company?

Did you finalize the conclusion with a call to action?

Did you use the right formal closure for the cover letter?

5+ Cover Letter Examples

Need some inspiration? Read on to learn about some of the best cover letter examples we’ve seen (for different fields).

College Student Cover Letter Example

college or student cover letter example

Middle Management Cover Letter Example

Middle Management Cover Letter

Career Change Cover Letter Example

Career Change Cover Letter

Management Cover Letter Example

Management Cover Letter Example

Senior Executive Cover Letter Example

Senior Executive Cover Letter Example

Want to discover more examples AND learn what makes them stand out? Check out our guide to cover letter examples .

Next Steps in Your Job Search - Creating a Killer Resume

Your cover letter is only as good as your resume. If either one is weak, your entire application is for naught. 

After all, a cover letter is just an introduction. Imagine going through all this effort to leave an amazing first impression, but flopping at the end because of a mediocre resume.

...But don’t you worry, we’ve got you covered on that end, too.

If you want to learn more about Resumes & CVs, we have a dedicated FREE guide for that. Check out our complete guide on how to make a resume , as well as how to write a CV - our experts will teach you everything you need to know in order to land your dream job.

Or, if you’re already an expert, just pick one of our resume templates and get started.

resume examples for cover letter

Key Takeaways

Now that we’ve walked you through all the steps of writing a cover letter, let’s summarize everything we’ve learned:

  • A cover letter is a 250 - 400 word document that convinces the hiring manager of your competence
  • A cover letter goes in your job application alongside your resume
  • Your introduction to the cover letter should grab the hiring manager’s attention and keep it all the way until the conclusion
  • There are 2 main topics you need to include in your cover letter: why you’re the perfect candidate for the job & why you’re passionate about working in the company you’re applying to
  • Most of the content of your cover letter should be factual , without any fluff or generalizations

At Novorésumé, we’re committed to helping you get the job you deserve, every step of the way! Follow our blog to stay up to date with the industry-leading advice. Or, check out some of our top guides…

  • How to Write a Motivational Letter
  • How to Write a Resume with No Work Experience
  • Most Common Interview Questions and Answers

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how to write a cover letter job seeker

How to Write a Cover Letter: Tips for 2024 Job Seekers

Ash ayvar de alcaraz.

As a dedicated Career Strategist, Ash’s mission is to empower individuals to discover their strengths, land their ideal roles, and thrive in an inclusive and diverse community.

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In this article

Share with your community:, the best career test., find out about your career.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or attempting to land your first job, the importance of a well-crafted, personable cover letter cannot be understated. With your resume, a cover letter is your one chance to persuade employers why you deserve to move forward in the hiring process, so you want to make it count. 

As leaders in career strategy, we’ll show you how to write a cover letter fit for today’s job market , from tailoring your message for the role to common mistakes you should avoid. We’ll explain how to use your cover letter as a powerful tool that catches the recruiter’s attention, ultimately opening doors to exciting new career opportunities. 

The Importance of Cover Letters in 2024

Everyone knows that the job market is in a constant state of fluctuation, but cover letters are just as relevant (if not more so) than ever before. Job postings can receive hundreds of applications, and many recruiters use pre-screening tools to quickly assess who deserves to move forward and who to disregard—before they manually read a single application. 

As a result, it’s essential to keep the following considerations in mind when you go to write your cover letter: 

Evolving Role of Cover Letters in Job Applications

Cover letters aren’t just introductory notes; they complement your resume and act as a personal narrative about what you’ll bring to the table as a new hire. While a resume outlines your qualifications, professional history, and achievements, the cover letter brings them to life. 

It aligns your skills and aspirations with the company’s culture, which can make your application more memorable and impactful. Moreover, a cover letter offers insights into your personality and work ethic, allowing you to explain how your experiences make you an ideal candidate for the role beyond what your resume can capture. 

Analyzing Cover Letter Trends for 2024

In 2024, there’s a growing emphasis on digital proficiency, the ability to work remotely and independently, and soft skills like adaptability and emotional intelligence. Depending on the industry and role, you want to ensure you understand what the employer values and must have in a new hire, as these factors can significantly influence whether or not you move forward in the hiring process. 

Additionally, many recruiters now use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to automatically scan and sort job applications based on specific criteria, such as keywords, skills, former employers, or educational backgrounds. Since an ATS might initially assess your cover letter and resume, you should include relevant keywords from the job description to increase the chances of your application reaching a human recruiter. 

Structuring Your Cover Letter

A well-structured cover letter isn’t just about the content but how you present your professional story. You want to ensure your cover letter is concise, coherent, and highlights the most relevant aspects of your candidacy, which involves the following: 

Essential Components of an Effective Cover Letter

While you should try to determine what the company and recruiter look for in a cover letter, you should include several components to align with industry standards: 

  • Header: Include your contact information, the date, and the employer’s contact details in the cover letter heading. 
  • Salutation: Address the hiring manager or recruiter by name if possible. 
  • Opening Statement: Start with a compelling and engaging introduction that captures the reader’s attention and clearly states your purpose. 
  • Body Paragraphs: Use the body of your cover letter to detail your experiences and skills most valuable to the job. This section should align your background with the job requirements and demonstrate why you’re an ideal candidate. 
  • Company-Specific Content: Throughout your cover letter, show that you’re familiar with the company and know how your skills can benefit them. 
  • Closing Statement: Conclude by expressing your enthusiasm for the role and the possibility of an interview. 
  • Signature: End with a professional closing and your name. 

If you can articulate these components clearly and concisely (up to a one-page document), you’ll show potential employers what sets you apart from the other candidates and, hopefully, move forward in the hiring process. You might also consider researching professional cover letter templates to align with current standards.

Tailoring the Content to the Job and Company

Before you write your cover letter, think about how to customize it for the specific role and organization. This starts with reading and analyzing the job description, considering how your existing skills and experiences fit the requirements listed. Use similar language and keywords to show why you’re a clear fit, which demonstrates your suitability for the role and attention to detail. 

You should also research their website, explore their social media presence, and catch up on any recent news or achievements to gather insights you can incorporate into your cover letter. Mentioning specific aspects of the company’s culture that resonate with your background signifies you’re a great candidate for the job, so try to familiarize yourself with the organization as much as possible. 

Showcasing Your Strengths and Achievements 

Since you’re trying to convince the recruiter but have limited space in your cover letter, you want to emphasize the professional strengths and achievements that make you the best fit for the job. You can start with these strategies to showcase your advantages effectively: 

Highlighting Your Unique Qualifications 

While you write or touch up your resume, reflect on your past experiences and pick out skills the recruiter will likely value. Think about what sets you apart from other candidates, whether that’s a combination of technical skills, soft skills, leadership experiences, or problem-solving abilities. 

Whenever possible, quantify your achievements and provide evidence. For example, if you increased sales or efficiency, specify by the percentage or use numerical indicators, such as how much you saved in operating costs. Likewise, use specific and tangible examples that prove your capabilities, such as a successful project you led or a challenging problem you solved. 

Connecting Your Experiences to the Job Requirements

It’s crucial to connect your past experiences and professional history directly to the job you’re applying for. This shows the employer that you understand the role and have assessed your own experiences in relation to it. Then, go a step further and demonstrate how you can add value to the company. 

For instance, you can discuss how your unique skills will address the company’s current challenges or contribute to its future goals. Show them that you’re not just looking for any job, but specifically the role they’re offering, and that you have the skills and ambitions to excel in it. 

Engaging Writing Techniques for Cover Letters

After researching the role and knowing what you’ll discuss in your cover letter, you’re ready to start writing. Here are some valuable writing insights and an overview of what to avoid: 

Crafting a Narrative That Engages the Reader

At the end of the day, a cover letter is just that: a letter. It should come across like it was written by you and have a distinct voice , leaning more toward a personal narrative. Be personable and share specific instances where your skills made a difference, focusing on challenges, actions, and results. Moreover, use descriptive language to paint a clear picture of situations you’ve handled. 

In essence, you want to write a compelling story that resonates with the reader. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the tone, share personal insights, or include a bit about your passions related to the industry while keeping it professional and concise. 

Avoiding Common Mistakes and Clichés

When writing a cover letter, it’s important to avoid common pitfalls that can diminish its effectiveness. These include the following mistakes and clichés: 

  • Overused Phrases: Labels like “team player,” “hard worker,” or “self-starter” are so commonly used that they lose meaning and fail to differentiate you. 
  • Vague Statements: Generalizations like “I’m good at all parts of the job” lack credibility and can seem disingenuous. 
  • Negative Language: Refrain from any negativity when discussing past employers or experiences. 
  • Repeating Your Resume: Don’t just summarize your resume; offer new insights. 
  • Long Length: Keep your cover letter concise and free from long sentences or paragraphs—the goal is to make it easy to scan and digest. 
  • Jargon or Technical Language: While you can sound familiar with the industry and use some lingo, try to keep your language clear and accessible in case the recruiter isn’t as familiar with your line of work. 
  • Generic Salutations: Be creative and refrain from saying something like “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam.” 

In addition, always proofread your cover letter to catch any grammatical errors or typos, as these can create an impression of carelessness. You might also consider asking a trusted colleague, friend, or family member to review your cover letter before submitting, especially to ensure it reads well and reflects your intentions. 

Advanced Tips for Cover Letter Success 

Now that you’ve got the basics of cover letter writing down, here are some insider tips to make your submission shine: 

Leveraging Digital Tools, Platforms, and Cover Letter Templates

In 2024, you can take advantage of several online tools and platforms to enhance your cover letter. For example, you can find paid and free cover letter templates , which can provide a strong foundation while allowing you to customize them to reflect your personal brand. While you don’t need an over-the-top template, you want it to catch their attention and have clear organization that makes it easy to read. 

You might also consider researching cover letter examples or a modern cover letter template, especially ones shared by other professionals in a similar role and field. Likewise, you might even find a free cover letter template matching the organization or industry you're interested in.

Additionally, consider including links to your digital portfolio, LinkedIn profile, or any other resource that gives employers a direct avenue to view your broader work and achievements. These are especially helpful to further demonstrate your credibility and ensure the recruiter gets the complete picture of everything you’ll bring to the role. 

Following Up After Submitting Your Application

After you submit your application, be ready to follow up if needed, typically a week or two post-submission. However, the job application might indicate when you’re supposed to hear back, so follow this timeframe before reaching out (if provided).

When you send a follow-up note, you want to keep your message polite, concise, and professional. Briefly restate your interest in the position and why you believe you’re a good fit. At the end, thank the recruiter or hiring manager for considering your application. 

How JobTest.org Can Help You Write Your Cover Letter

While you’re more than capable of writing your own cover letter, JobTest.org is another excellent resource to gather ideas and refine your approach. Here’s how: 

Advanced Career Testing

Our career test is built with cutting-edge AI and machine learning technology that dives deep into your core values, work personality, compatible job paths, and more to give you an accurate picture of what it takes to find your dream job . By taking our career test, you can quickly gather insights about your strengths and what you should include in your cover letter.

Professional Career Coaching

After taking our career test, we can connect you with one of our expert career coaches who can walk you through the process of writing cover letters. They can help you develop a plan, recommend the best cover letter template, and review your letter to ensure it illustrates what a recruiter wants to know. Moreover, a career coach can help you gauge whether or not it’s appropriate to follow up and, if so, what you might say when you do. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, writing a good cover letter in 2024 requires a blend of personalization, clarity, and strategy. Always tailor your cover letter to the specific role and organization you’re applying to, and lean on your unique strengths and achievements that demonstrate your expertise. With these insights, you’re well-equipped to create a cover that stands out and paves the way for a better role. For further support, we encourage you to explore all of the resources JobTest.org offers, from our proprietary AI-powered career test to our career coaching services . 

Professional Cover Letter Template

We’ve created a professional cover template that works for most roles, industries, and companies. You can use it as a starting point, but remember to adapt and personalize it accordingly, as you don’t want to submit a generic cover letter. 

Address | Telephone | Email | LinkedIn Profile/Digital Portfolio

Street Address City, ST ZIP Code

Dear [Employer's/Hiring Manager’s/Recruiter’s Name],

Brief and Compelling Introduction:

Begin with a brief introduction about who you are and the position you are applying for. Mention how you learned about the opportunity and express your enthusiasm for the role and the company.

Body Paragraph 1 - Your Experience and Skills:

In this paragraph, highlight your relevant experience and skills. Be specific about your achievements and how they relate to the key requirements of the job. Use metrics and examples where possible to demonstrate your impact in previous roles. Keep it concise and easily scannable.

Body Paragraph 2 - Alignment with Company Values:

Discuss why you are a good fit for the company culture. Reference specific aspects of the company’s mission, values, or projects that resonate with you. Explain how your personal values and professional approach align with the company’s ethos. Discuss your familiarity with the company’s goals and how you believe you can make a positive impact.  Keep it concise and easily scannable.

Brief Conclusion:

Conclude by reiterating your interest in the role and the value you can bring to the team. Mention that you have attached your resume for further details (if applicable). State that you are looking forward to the opportunity to discuss your application in further detail.

[Your Name]

Note: The headers in bold are for reference and shouldn’t be included in your cover letter.

About the author:

Ash Ayvar De Alcaraz is a committed Career Strategist, driven by her purpose to serve others. With a diverse background in education and startups, she brings a wealth of experience to her roles at Pathrise and Hired. Ash supports individuals in identifying their strengths and securing their ideal roles. Her commitment to diverse and low-income individuals is unwavering, and she’s deeply passionate about building an inclusive community. Ash’s work is fueled by her curiosity and a desire to be the mentor she once needed, making her a beacon in her field.

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The New Rules For Cover Letters

Follow these cover letter rules on what to say in an effective cover letter. ignore them at your peril.

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If you haven’t written a cover letter in 10 years and don’t know how dramatically they’ve changed, you might as well pick up a stone tablet to compose your next one. In the age of applicant tracking software and emailed job applications , everything about effective cover letters is different—from tone and content, to purpose and relevance.

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The rise of job boards and online application systems has made cover letters an unreliable self-marketing tool—at least online. If the computer tosses out your resume, your uploaded letter gets trashed too. Even if your resume makes it through the screening, the person reading it may not bother with the cover letter. It’s a secondary document at this point, not the grabber it’s supposed to be. “With online systems, cover letters sometimes get read, and sometimes not,” says Lindsay Barbarino, Team Lead of Resume Services for RiseSmart, an outplacement service in San Jose, California. “But cover letters are pretty effective in the cases they are read. They can tip the scales.”

While uploaded cover letters are often overlooked, ones sent as email are almost always read. “Body copy is the new cover letter; that’s your first impression,” says Chris Lawson, chief executive of Eli Daniel Group, a boutique recruitment firm in Allen, Texas. If you’re able to apply directly to a hiring manager via email, your cover letter will be your greatest ally in landing you an interview.

Here are five rules for crafting an effective cover letter—and getting it read.

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Your resume lists your experience, accomplishments and skills; your cover letter should show how they are relevant to a particular job, and to the company’s goals. Before you write a word, research the company and the industry so you can make informed references in your cover letter. “Look at the company’s website—what are they actually doing in the marketplace? Get to know who their competition is,” suggests Lakewood, Colorado career coach Donna Shannon, author of  Get a Job Without Going Crazy: A Practical Guide to Your Employment Search . Shannon recommends looking at  ZoomInfo  and  Manta  for company information,  Glassdoor  for insight into hiring trends, and  LinkedIn  for information on the hiring manager and other company employees.

Put the company’s needs first.

Effective cover letters should be brief—around three paragraphs—so you need to show what you know about the company’s business ASAP. “The first couple of lines have to give the impression that you know the job you’re applying for, and why you are applying for it,” says Lawson. Don’t open with “I’m interested in a applying for the position of…” or “I’m seeking a position with high growth potential.” Nobody cares about your interests. Instead, say something like, “Your need for a team leader who understands finance is perfectly timed for my decision to leave my current employment,” suggests Shel Horowitz, a marketing consultant and cover-letter/resume writer in Hadley, Massachusetts. “What you can offer them comes before what you want,” he says. “You’re marketing your ability to help them.” Refer to facts you’ve learned from your research: say, the company’s push into Asian markets, its upcoming merger, or recent account acquisitions.

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Watch your language.

Applicant tracking software looks for keywords in resumes and cover letters that literally match the job description listed by the employer. So your uploaded letter needs to include as many of those words as possible. “Use the exact language they use,” says Horowitz. The software identifies exact matches and near-matches, but the more direct hits, the better. When applying directly to hiring managers, however, you can’t parrot back their exact words, says Horowitz: “If it’s a person, give them a rewrite of what they want—same points, different language—in a way that respects their intelligence.”

Don’t worry if you’re not Hemingway.

Effective cover letters require clarity, not creativity. They’re not a test of your narrative skills; you can even use bullet points to get your points across, according to Lawson. If you show that you’ve done your homework, understand the job, and have the particular skills to fit the employer’s particular needs, you’ve written a good letter. Having a voice and showing some personality is fine, as long as it doesn’t obscure what you’re really trying to communicate: How you can help the company.

Know the nuts and bolts.

Cover letters have become less formal and more personal, perhaps because they’re delivered through email or online. Here’s what to say in a cover letter, and how to say it:

Subject field:  the job title.

Salutation:  “Dear Hiring Manager,” or if you have an exact name, “Dear Mr./Ms. Whatever.”

First paragraph:  match up what you know about the company’s needs with your skills, strengths and experience. State what you can do to help.

Middle paragraph(s):  explain anything on your resume that may raise questions— why you left your previous job  in less than a year, or why you’re looking to switch careers. You can also offer more specific examples of how your experience fits perfectly with their requirements. “Include an anecdote that portrays you as a problem solver,” suggests Horowitz. “Then add: ‘I’d be happy to elaborate on this in an interview.’ Remember, however, that it’s about them, not you, so beware of overselling yourself. “Don’t go too over the top with the details; you don’t want to over-focus on any one minute detail,” says Shannon.

Last paragraph:  state how to reach you: email address, phone number, the best time to call. If you think that money may be a deal breaker, you can give salary requirement to save everyone the time and hassle of finding out later.

Sign off:  “Look forward to hearing from you.”

Follow instructions exactly for an effective cover letter. If the application directions say to upload a cover letter, do it—even if you plan to send it in the body of an email as well. Ignoring the cover letter rules is the quickest way for you, and your cover letter, to get bounced.

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How to write a great cover letter in 2024: tips and structure

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A cover letter is a personalized letter that introduces you to a potential employer, highlights your qualifications, and explains why you're a strong fit for a specific job.

Hate or love them, these brief documents allow job seekers to make an impression and stand out from the pile of other applications. Penning a thoughtful cover letter shows the hiring team you care about earning the position.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to write a cover letter — and a great one, at that.

What is a cover letter and why does it matter?

A professional cover letter is a one-page document you submit alongside your CV or resume as part of a job application. Typically, they’re about half a page or around 150–300 words.

An effective cover letter doesn’t just rehash your CV; it’s your chance to highlight your proudest moments, explain why you want the job, and state plainly what you bring to the table.

Show the reviewer you’re likable, talented, and will add to the company’s culture . You can refer to previous jobs and other information from your CV, but only if it helps tell a story about you and your career choices .

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What 3 things should you include in a cover letter?

A well-crafted cover letter can help you stand out to potential employers. To make your cover letter shine, here are three key elements to include:

1. Personalization

Address the hiring manager or recruiter by name whenever possible. If the job posting doesn't include a name, research to find out who will be reviewing applications. Personalizing your cover letter shows that you've taken the time to tailor your application to the specific company and role.

2. Highlight relevant achievements and skills

Emphasize your most relevant skills , experiences, and accomplishments that directly relate to the job you're applying for. Provide specific examples of how your skills have benefited previous employers and how they can contribute to the prospective employer's success. Use quantifiable achievements , such as improved efficiency, cost savings, or project success, to demonstrate your impact.

3. Show enthusiasm and fit

Express your enthusiasm for the company and the position you're applying for. Explain why you are interested in this role and believe you are a good fit for the organization. Mention how your values, goals, and skills align with the company's mission and culture. Demonstrating that you've done your research can make a significant impression.

What do hiring managers look for in a cover letter?

Employers look for several key elements in a cover letter. These include:

Employers want to see that your cover letter is specifically tailored to the position you are applying for. It should demonstrate how your skills, experiences, and qualifications align with the job requirements.

Clear and concise writing

A well-written cover letter is concise, easy to read, and error-free. Employers appreciate clear and effective communication skills , so make sure your cover letter showcases your ability to express yourself effectively.

Demonstrated knowledge of the company

Employers want to see that you are genuinely interested in their organization. Mention specific details about the company, such as recent achievements or projects, to show that you are enthusiastic about joining their team.

Achievements and accomplishments

Highlight your relevant achievements and accomplishments that demonstrate your qualifications for the position. Use specific examples to showcase your skills and show how they can benefit the employer.

Enthusiasm and motivation

Employers want to hire candidates who are excited about the opportunity and motivated to contribute to the company's success. Express your enthusiasm and passion for the role and explain why you are interested in working for the company.

Professionalism

A cover letter should be professional in tone and presentation. Use formal language, address the hiring manager appropriately, and follow standard business letter formatting.

excited-woman-in-her-office-how-to-write-a-cover-letter

How do you structure a cover letter?

A well-structured cover letter follows a specific format that makes it easy for the reader to understand your qualifications and enthusiasm for the position. Here's a typical structure for a cover letter:

Contact information

Include your name, address, phone number, and email address at the top of the letter. Place your contact information at the beginning so that it's easy for the employer to reach you.

Employer's contact information

Opening paragraph, middle paragraph(s), closing paragraph, complimentary close, additional contact information.

Repeat your contact information (name, phone number, and email) at the end of the letter, just in case the employer needs it for quick reference.

Remember to keep your cover letter concise and focused. It should typically be no more than one page in length. Proofread your letter carefully to ensure it is free from spelling and grammatical errors. Tailor each cover letter to the specific job application to make it as relevant and impactful as possible.

How to write a good cover letter (with examples)

The best letters are unique, tailored to the job description, and written in your voice — but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a job cover letter template.

Great cover letters contain the same basic elements and flow a certain way. Take a look at this cover letter structure for ref erence while you construct your own.

1. Add a header and contact information

While reading your cover letter, the recruiter shouldn’t have to look far to find who wrote it. Your document should include a basic heading with the following information:

  • Pronouns (optional)
  • Location (optional)
  • Email address
  • Phone number (optional)
  • Relevant links, such as your LinkedIn profile , portfolio, or personal website (optional)

You can pull this information directly from your CV. Put it together, and it will look something like this:

Christopher Pike

San Francisco, California

[email protected]

Alternatively, if the posting asks you to submit your cover letter in the body of an email, you can include this information in your signature. For example:

Warm regards,

Catherine Janeway

Bloomington, Indiana

[email protected]

(555) 999 - 2222

man-using-his-laptop-while-smiling-how-to-write-a-cover-letter

2. Include a personal greeting

Always begin your cover letter by addressing the hiring manager — preferably by name. You can use the person’s first and last name. Make sure to include a relevant title, like Dr., Mr., or Ms. For example, “Dear Mr. John Doe.”

Avoid generic openings like “To whom it may concern,” “Dear sir or madam,” or “Dear hiring manager.” These introductions sound impersonal — like you’re copy-pasting cover letters — and can work against you in the hiring process.

Be careful, though. When using someone’s name, you don’t want to use the wrong title or accidentally misgender someone. If in doubt, using only their name is enough. You could also opt for a gender-neutral title, like Mx.

Make sure you’re addressing the right person in your letter — ideally, the person who’s making the final hiring decision. This isn’t always specified in the job posting, so you may have to do some research to learn the name of the hiring manager.

3. Draw them in with an opening story

The opening paragraph of your cover letter should hook the reader. You want it to be memorable, conversational, and extremely relevant to the job you’re pursuing. 

There’s no need for a personal introduction — you’ve already included your name in the heading. But you should make reference to the job you’re applying for. A simple “Thank you for considering my application for the role of [job title] at [company],” will suffice.

Then you can get into the “Why” of your job application. Drive home what makes this specific job and this company so appealing to you. Perhaps you’re a fan of their products, you’re passionate about their mission, or you love their brand voice. Whatever the case, this section is where you share your enthusiasm for the role.

Here’s an example opening paragraph. In this scenario, you’re applying for a digital marketing role at a bicycle company:

“Dear Mr. John Doe,

Thank you for considering my application for the role of Marketing Coordinator at Bits n’ Bikes.

My parents bought my first bike at one of your stores. I’ll never forget the freedom I felt when I learned to ride it. My father removed my training wheels, and my mom sent me barrelling down the street. You provide joy to families across the country — and I want to be part of that.”

4. Emphasize why you’re best for the job

Your next paragraphs should be focused on the role you’re applying to. Highlight your skill set and why you’re a good fit for the needs and expectations associated with the position. Hiring managers want to know what you’ll bring to the job, not just any role.

Start by studying the job description for hints. What problem are they trying to solve with this hire? What skills and qualifications do they mention first or more than once? These are indicators of what’s important to the hiring manager.

Search for details that match your experience and interests. For example, if you’re excited about a fast-paced job in public relations, you might look for these elements in a posting:

  • They want someone who can write social media posts and blog content on tight deadlines
  • They value collaboration and input from every team member
  • They need a planner who can come up with strong PR strategies

Highlight how you fulfill these requirements:

“I’ve always been a strong writer. From blog posts to social media, my content pulls in readers and drives traffic to product pages. For example, when I worked at Bits n’ Bikes, I developed a strategic blog series about bike maintenance that increased our sales of spare parts and tools by 50% — we could see it in our web metrics.

Thanks to the input of all of our team members, including our bike mechanics, my content delivered results.”

5. End with a strong closing paragraph and sign off gracefully

Your closing paragraph is your final chance to hammer home your enthusiasm about the role and your unique ability to fill it. Reiterate the main points you explained in the body paragraphs and remind the reader of what you bring to the table.

You can also use the end of your letter to relay other important details, like whether you’re willing to relocate for the job.

When choosing a sign-off, opt for a phrase that sounds professional and genuine. Reliable options include “Sincerely” and “Kind regards.”

Here’s a strong closing statement for you to consider:

“I believe my enthusiasm, skills, and work experience as a PR professional will serve Bits n’ Bikes very well. I would love to meet to further discuss my value-add as your next Director of Public Relations. Thank you for your consideration. I hope we speak soon.

man-reading-carefully-how-to-write-a-cover-letter

Tips to write a great cover letter that compliments your resume

When writing your own letter, try not to copy the example excerpts word-for-word. Instead, use this cover letter structure as a baseline to organize your ideas. Then, as you’re writing, use these extra cover letter tips to add your personal touch:

  • Keep your cover letter different from your resume : Your cover letter should not duplicate the information on your resume. Instead, it should provide context and explanations for key points in your resume, emphasizing how your qualifications match the specific job you're applying for.
  • Customize your cover letter . Tailor your cover letter for each job application. Address the specific needs of the company and the job posting, demonstrating that you've done your homework and understand their requirements.
  • Show enthusiasm and fit . Express your enthusiasm for the company and position in the cover letter. Explain why you are interested in working for this company and how your values, goals, and skills align with their mission and culture.
  • Use keywords . Incorporate keywords from the job description and industry terms in your cover letter. This can help your application pass through applicant tracking systems (ATS) and demonstrate that you're well-versed in the field.
  • Keep it concise . Your cover letter should be succinct and to the point, typically no more than one page. Focus on the most compelling qualifications and experiences that directly support your application.
  • Be professional . Maintain a professional tone and structure in your cover letter. Proofread it carefully to ensure there are no errors.
  • Address any gaps or concerns . If there are gaps or concerns in your resume, such as employment gaps or a change in career direction, briefly address them in your cover letter. Explain any relevant circumstances and how they have shaped your qualifications and determination.
  • Provide a call to action . Conclude your cover letter with a call to action, inviting the employer to contact you for further discussion. Mention that you've attached your resume for their reference.
  • Follow the correct format . Use a standard cover letter format like the one above, including your contact information, a formal salutation, introductory and closing paragraphs, and your signature. Ensure that it complements your resume without redundancy.
  • Pick the right voice and tone . Try to write like yourself, but adapt to the tone and voice of the company. Look at the job listing, company website, and social media posts. Do they sound fun and quirky, stoic and professional, or somewhere in-between? This guides your writing style.
  • Tell your story . You’re an individual with unique expertise, motivators, and years of experience. Tie the pieces together with a great story. Introduce how you arrived at this point in your career, where you hope to go , and how this prospective company fits in your journey. You can also explain any career changes in your resume.
  • Show, don’t tell . Anyone can say they’re a problem solver. Why should a recruiter take their word for it if they don’t back it up with examples? Instead of naming your skills, show them in action. Describe situations where you rose to the task, and quantify your success when you can.
  • Be honest . Avoid highlighting skills you don’t have. This will backfire if they ask you about them in an interview. Instead, shift focus to the ways in which you stand out.
  • Avoid clichés and bullet points . These are signs of lazy writing. Do your best to be original from the first paragraph to the final one. This highlights your individuality and demonstrates the care you put into the letter.
  • Proofread . Always spellcheck your cover letter. Look for typos, grammatical errors, and proper flow. We suggest reading it out loud. If it sounds natural rolling off the tongue, it will read naturally as well.

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Common cover letter writing FAQs

How long should a cover letter be.

A cover letter should generally be concise and to the point. It is recommended to keep it to one page or less, focusing on the most relevant information that highlights your qualifications and fits the job requirements.

Should I include personal information in a cover letter?

While it's important to introduce yourself and provide your contact information, avoid including personal details such as your age, marital status, or unrelated hobbies. Instead, focus on presenting your professional qualifications and aligning them with the job requirements.

Can I use the same cover letter for multiple job applications?

While it may be tempting to reuse a cover letter, it is best to tailor each cover letter to the specific job you are applying for. This allows you to highlight why you are a good fit for that particular role and show genuine interest in the company.

Do I need to address my cover letter to a specific person?

Whenever possible, it is advisable to address your cover letter to a specific person, such as the hiring manager or recruiter. If the job posting does not provide this information, try to research and find the appropriate contact. If all else fails, you can use a generic salutation such as "Dear Hiring Manager."

Should I include references in my cover letter?

It is generally not necessary to include references in your cover letter. Save this information for when the employer explicitly requests it. Instead, focus on showcasing your qualifications and achievements that make you a strong candidate for the position.

It’s time to start writing your stand-out cover letter

The hardest part of writing is getting started. 

Hopefully, our tips gave you some jumping-off points and confidence . But if you’re really stuck, looking at cover letter examples and resume templates will help you decide where to get started. 

There are numerous sample cover letters available online. Just remember that you’re a unique, well-rounded person, and your cover letter should reflect that. Using our structure, you can tell your story while highlighting your passion for the role. 

Doing your research, including strong examples of your skills, and being courteous is how to write a strong cover letter. Take a breath , flex your fingers, and get typing. Before you know it, your job search will lead to a job interview.

If you want more personalized guidance, a specialized career coach can help review, edit, and guide you through creating a great cover letter that sticks.

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Elizabeth Perry

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3 cover letter examples to help you catch a hiring manager’s attention

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Cover Letters Tips for Older Job Seekers

how to write a cover letter job seeker

Discrimination Against Older Workers

Age-proof your cover letters, cover letter tips for older job seekers, review a cover letter example.

Applying to jobs when you're in your 50s, 60s, or beyond brings with it some unique challenges. Sure, you have plenty of experience. But hiring managers don't necessarily see all those years on the job as an asset. They may believe seasoned, mature candidates will expect more money or responsibility, struggle to work with a younger manager, or lack up-to-date skills.

And while the Age Discrimination Act in Employment Act means that discriminating against older employee and job candidates is illegal, we hear from many unemployed job seekers who feel that their age is an issue.   They say things like:

  • I have learned that age does matter in employment.
  • My age seems to be my biggest enemy.
  • I think my age is my downfall right now.

It's true—despite legal protections, being considered an older job seeker can hinder your chances of finding employment. However, there are ways you can age-proof your resume and address age issues when writing cover letters. Review these cover letter writing tips for older job seekers to help market your candidacy effectively to employers.

Key Takeaways

Pay Attention to Word Choice: It's essential that your cover letter does not look old-fashioned. Watch for dated language, too. Your word choices can potentially make you seem older or younger than your actual age.

Keep It Snappy: Favor short, snappy sentences over longer, more complex syntax. Consider having a younger professional—preferably in your industry—read through your cover letter to make sure your phrasing doesn't date you.

Don't Promote Your Age: Avoid terms like “seasoned professional,” “a wealth of experience,” “worked for many years,” or anything similar. There's no need to highlight, in general, your years of experience. Instead, stick to the facts (e.g., "I led a team of 10 marketing professionals over at XYZ company.").

Your cover letter is a sales pitch. In a few short paragraphs, it needs to convince the hiring manager that you’re a good fit for the job. These tips will help you close the deal.

Target Your Cover Letter

The most important way you can show the employer that you're worth interviewing is to customize your cover letter . Take the job posting and list the criteria the employer is seeking. Then list the skills and experience you have, either in paragraph form or in a bulleted list. This way, the hiring manager can see why you're qualified for the job.

Don't Summarize Your Entire Resume

This advice applies to candidates of all ages. A good cover letter doesn't read like an autobiography or a distillation of your resume. For older candidates, it is important to veer away from a sequential recounting of your employment, and instead focus on experience relevant to the job at hand.

Don't Include Years of Experience

Don't list the length of experience you have in your cover letter. For example, it's not advantageous to say you have 20 or 30 years of experience. It will flag you as an older candidate.

Emphasize Your Related Experience and Strengths

While highlighting your years of experience isn’t helpful, talking about your related experience will get the hiring manager’s attention. Your cover letter is an opportunity to mention your proven experience, which a less-experienced candidate may not have. Again, specify how that experienced is related to the job you're applying for—the more specific you are, the more relevant a candidate you'll be.

Do Mention Connections

As always in a cover letter, it's powerful to mention a connection . Review samples of cover letters with referrals to guide your own writing. 

Focus on Flexibility

Mention your flexibility, adaptability, and willingness to learn in your cover letter. It will peg you as young and eager, even if you aren't so young in years. Similarly, highlight any knowledge of current technology, since this is often a big concern for hiring managers.

Be Careful About Salary Requirements

If the job posting requests your salary requirements , note that you're flexible. That way employers won't think of you as being overqualified and/or overpriced.

Polish Your Cover Letter

Presentation matters. Make sure your cover letter is correctly formatted . That means opting for the right font (and font size). Use a plain font, never a scripted one. Include a space between every paragraph, and choose an appropriate salutation and closing sign-off , too.

Be Prepared to Email Your Cover Letter

Be sure that you are following email etiquette guidelines when you email your cover letters.

You can view a sample of a cover letter for an older job seeker, and download the cover letter template (compatible with Word and Google docs).

Cover Letter Sample for an Older Job Seeker

Annabel Elder 123 Shady Rest Lane Tampa, FL 33605 (123) 456-7890 aelder@email.com www.linked.com/in/annabelelder

February 25, 2021

Ms. Catherine Collins Director Helping Hands Nonprofit Organization 1234 Sunset Way Tampa, FL 33605

Dear Ms. Collins:

It was with much interest that I learned, through Indeed.com, about the Executive Assistant position that has opened with Helping Hands Nonprofit Organization.

Your position announcement intrigued me, since many of the qualifications you list are ones I’ve developed as an Executive Assistant to four C-level officers of ABC Enterprises, a global development group. Examples of my skills and experience that align with your requirements include:

  • Demonstrated efficiency and accuracy in calendaring and appointment scheduling, travel planning, and in drafting correspondence to project stakeholders.
  • Well-versed in coordinating all venue, catering, travel, and entertainment details for large-scale events including fundraisers, stakeholder meetings, and conferences.
  • Effectiveness scheduling and supervising office teams of ~5 administrative assistants and receptionists.
  • A proactive stance in learning rising administrative and office management technologies, as evidenced by my recent transition of the ABC Enterprises office to a cloud-based communications system.

As part of ABC Enterprises’ community outreach program, I’ve had the privilege of working with Jason Edwards, one of your trustees, and have found him to be a passionate advocate of the good that Helping Hands Nonprofit Organization does for underrepresented groups in Tampa. I would thus welcome the opportunity to use my administrative talents to ensure the smooth running of your initiatives.

Thank you for your time and consideration; I look forward to your response and hope to meet with you soon to learn more about the great work you do.

Best regards,

Signature (hard copy letter)

Annabel Elder

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “ The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 .” Accessed Feb. 25, 2021.

The Cut

How to Write a Cover Letter That Will Get You a Job

I ’ve read thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of cover letters in my career. If you’re thinking that sounds like really boring reading, you’re right. What I can tell you from enduring that experience is that most cover letters are terrible — and not only that, but squandered opportunities. When a cover letter is done well, it can significantly increase your chances of getting an interview, but the vast majority fail that test.

So let’s talk about how to do cover letters right.

First, understand the point of a cover letter.

The whole idea of a cover letter is that it can help the employer see you as more than just your résumé. Managers generally aren’t hiring based solely on your work history; your experience is crucial, yes, but they’re also looking for someone who will be easy to work with, shows good judgment, communicates well, possesses strong critical thinking skills and a drive to get things done, complements their current team, and all the other things you yourself probably want from your co-workers. It’s tough to learn much about those things from job history alone, and that’s where your cover letter comes in.

Because of that …

Whatever you do, don’t just summarize your résumé.

The No. 1 mistake people make with cover letters is that they simply use them to summarize their résumé. This makes no sense — hiring managers don’t need a summary of your résumé! It’s on the very next page! They’re about to see it as soon as they scroll down. And if you think about it, your entire application is only a few pages (in most cases, a one- or two-page résumé and a one-page cover letter) — why would you squander one of those pages by repeating the content of the others? And yet, probably 95 percent of the cover letters I see don’t add anything new beyond the résumé itself (and that’s a conservative estimate).

Instead, your cover letter should go beyond your work history to talk about things that make you especially well-suited for the job. For example, if you’re applying for an assistant job that requires being highly organized and you neurotically track your household finances in a detailed, color-coded spreadsheet, most hiring managers would love to know that because it says something about the kind of attention to detail you’d bring to the job. That’s not something you could put on your résumé, but it can go in your cover letter.

Or maybe your last boss told you that you were the most accurate data processor she’d ever seen, or came to rely on you as her go-to person whenever a lightning-fast rewrite was needed. Maybe your co-workers called you “the client whisperer” because of your skill in calming upset clients. Maybe you’re regularly sought out by more senior staff to help problem-solve, or you find immense satisfaction in bringing order to chaos. Those sorts of details illustrate what you bring to the job in a different way than your résumé does, and they belong in your cover letter.

If you’re still stumped, pretend you’re writing an email to a friend about why you’d be great at the job. You probably wouldn’t do that by stiffly reciting your work history, right? You’d talk about what you’re good at and how you’d approach the work. That’s what you want here.

You don’t need a creative opening line.

If you think you need to open the letter with something creative or catchy, I am here to tell you that you don’t. Just be simple and straightforward:

• “I’m writing to apply for your X position.”

• “I’d love to be considered for your X position.”

• “I’m interested in your X position because …”

• “I’m excited to apply for your X position.”

That’s it! Straightforward is fine — better, even, if the alternative is sounding like an aggressive salesperson.

Show, don’t tell.

A lot of cover letters assert that the person who wrote it would excel at the job or announce that the applicant is a skillful engineer or a great communicator or all sorts of other subjective superlatives. That’s wasted space — the hiring manager has no reason to believe it, and so many candidates claim those things about themselves that most managers ignore that sort of self-assessment entirely. So instead of simply declaring that you’re great at X (whatever X is), your letter should demonstrate that. And the way you do that is by describing accomplishments and experiences that illustrate it.

Here’s a concrete example taken from one extraordinarily effective cover-letter makeover that I saw. The candidate had originally written, “I offer exceptional attention to detail, highly developed communication skills, and a talent for managing complex projects with a demonstrated ability to prioritize and multitask.” That’s pretty boring and not especially convincing, right? (This is also exactly how most people’s cover letters read.)

In her revised version, she wrote this instead:

“In addition to being flexible and responsive, I’m also a fanatic for details — particularly when it comes to presentation. One of my recent projects involved coordinating a 200-page grant proposal: I proofed and edited the narratives provided by the division head, formatted spreadsheets, and generally made sure that every line was letter-perfect and that the entire finished product conformed to the specific guidelines of the RFP. (The result? A five-year, $1.5 million grant award.) I believe in applying this same level of attention to detail to tasks as visible as prepping the materials for a top-level meeting and as mundane as making sure the copier never runs out of paper.”

That second version is so much more compelling and interesting — and makes me believe that she really is great with details.

If there’s anything unusual or confusing about your candidacy, address it in the letter.

Your cover letter is your chance to provide context for things that otherwise might seem confusing or less than ideal to a hiring manager. For example, if you’re overqualified for the position but are excited about it anyway, or if you’re a bit underqualified but have reason to think you could excel at the job, address that up front. Or if your background is in a different field but you’re actively working to move into this one, say so, talk about why, and explain how your experience will translate. Or if you’re applying for a job across the country from where you live because you’re hoping to relocate to be closer to your family, let them know that.

If you don’t provide that kind of context, it’s too easy for a hiring manager to decide you’re the wrong fit or applying to everything you see or don’t understand the job description and put you in the “no” pile. A cover letter gives you a chance to say, “No, wait — here’s why this could be a good match.”

Keep the tone warm and conversational.

While there are some industries that prize formal-sounding cover letters — like law — in most fields, yours will stand out if it’s warm and conversational. Aim for the tone you’d use if you were writing to a co-worker whom you liked a lot but didn’t know especially well. It’s okay to show some personality or even use humor; as long as you don’t go overboard, your letter will be stronger for it.

Don’t use a form letter.

You don’t need to write every cover letter completely from scratch, but if you’re not customizing it to each job, you’re doing it wrong. Form letters tend to read like form letters, and they waste the chance to speak to the specifics of what this employer is looking for and what it will take to thrive in this particular job.

If you’re applying for a lot of similar jobs, of course you’ll end up reusing language from one letter to the next. But you shouldn’t have a single cover letter that you wrote once and then use every time you apply; whatever you send should sound like you wrote it with the nuances of this one job in mind.

A good litmus test is this: Could you imagine other applicants for this job sending in the same letter? If so, that’s a sign that you haven’t made it individualized enough to you and are probably leaning too heavily on reciting your work history.

No, you don’t need to hunt down the hiring manager’s name.

If you read much job-search advice, at some point you’ll come across the idea that you need to do Woodward and Bernstein–level research to hunt down the hiring manager’s name in order to open your letter with “Dear Matilda Jones.” You don’t need to do this; no reasonable hiring manager will care. If the name is easily available, by all means, feel free to use it, but otherwise “Dear Hiring Manager” is absolutely fine. Take the hour you just freed up and do something more enjoyable with it.

Keep it under one page.

If your cover letters are longer than a page, you’re writing too much, and you risk annoying hiring managers who are likely sifting through hundreds of applications and don’t have time to read lengthy tomes. On the other hand, if you only write one paragraph, it’s unlikely that you’re making a compelling case for yourself as a candidate — not impossible, but unlikely. For most people, something close to a page is about right.

Don’t agonize over the small details.

What matters most about your cover letter is its content. You should of course ensure that it’s well-written and thoroughly proofread, but many job seekers agonize over elements of the letter that really don’t matter. I get tons of  questions from job seekers  about whether they should attach their cover letter or put it in the body of the email (answer: No one cares, but attaching it makes it easier to share and will preserve your formatting), or what to name the file (again, no one really cares as long as it’s reasonably professional, but when people are dealing with hundreds of files named “resume,” it’s courteous to name it with your full name).

Approaching your cover letter like this can make a huge difference in your job search. It can be the thing that moves your application from the “maybe” pile (or even the “no” pile) to the “yes” pile. Of course, writing cover letters like this will take more time than sending out the same templated letter summarizing your résumé — but 10 personalized, compelling cover letters are likely to get you more  interview invitations  than 50 generic ones will.

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by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

Making a cover letter with no experience

Whether you just graduated or are switching careers, searching for jobs without experience can be challenging. If you don’t have prior experience in the field, how will employers know what you’re capable of? In these situations, it’s crucial to be able to explain your skill set and why you’re equipped for the role. Learn how to write a cover letter with no experience and land the job you want.

How to Write a Cover Letter With No Experience

Whether you just graduated or are switching careers, searching for jobs without experience can be challenging. If you don’t have prior experience in the field, how will employers know what you’re capable of?

In these situations, it’s crucial to be able to explain your skill set and why you’re equipped for the role. Learn how to write a cover letter with no experience and land the job you want.

Understand the company and the position

Before you start writing your cover letter, research both the company and the role. You should have a thorough understanding of the kind of candidate they’re looking for and what skills are required to do the job well.

If you know you aren’t a good fit or don’t possess the skills the company needs, be honest with yourself and the employer and avoid embellishing your resume examples or cover letters.

However, if you do possess those skills, make sure your cover letter reflects that. Your cover letter is the place to align your skills and values with those of the company to which you’re submitting your application. Here are a few ways to do that.

Review the job description

When learning how to write a cover letter with no experience, your first step should be to look over the job description to determine what skills are needed for the role. When you write your letter, focus on how you developed those skills to show the hiring manager you’re just what they’re looking for.

Visit the company website

If you’re not sure what the company values, many cover letter articles suggest visiting their website before you start writing your cover letter. What situations can you highlight in your letter that demonstrate your commitment to and alignment with those values?

Reach out to your contacts

If you have any contacts working at the company, ask them what the current company culture emphasizes in terms of skill needs and cultural values. Questions like this show your excitement about working for that particular company.

Start out strong

Learning how to write a cover letter with no experience starts with crafting a compelling introduction that grabs the hiring manager’s attention and makes them want to know more about you. If you’re at a loss about how to do that, here are three ways you can write an amazing introduction that makes you stand out as a candidate.

Highlight personal connections

If you have a personal connection to the company, mention it in your opening paragraph. Maybe it’s one of your favorite brands, or your family used to love their products. However the brand has impacted you personally, it’s a good idea to talk about it in the introduction.

If you have a personal referral who recommended that you apply, mention them as well. The hiring manager may value your application more highly if one of their own puts in a good word for you.

Show enthusiasm

Tell the hiring manager why you’re excited about the position and what you hope to contribute to the company. Hiring managers know that eager employees are loyal and may be willing to invest more in training someone who doesn’t have as much experience but truly wants to work for the company.

Expert Tip:

Try to find out whether the company has any exciting new (or ongoing) initiatives you might like to contribute your skills to. Discuss that initiative in your cover letter, and explain how your skills can help the company reach its goals. This is a great way to show enthusiasm for the company and the role.

Address gaps, but highlight transferable skills

When learning how to write a cover letter with no experience, it’s best not to pretend your lack of experience doesn’t exist. Most resume articles will tell you that it will already be obvious to a hiring manager that you don’t have as much experience in the field as others.

Don’t make your cover letter all about what you don’t have. Turn what seems like a negative into a positive by highlighting your transferable skills using the following tips.

Focus on skills gained elsewhere

Traditional jobs aren’t the only place where you can develop professional skills.

If you’re a new grad, you likely picked up a great deal of knowledge throughout your college career. Even if you didn’t recently graduate, you could talk about the experience you gained through education, internships, extracurricular activities, and relevant volunteer work and how it’s prepared you for the role.

Highlight transferable skills

Just because you don’t have direct experience in the field doesn’t mean you don’t have skills that can help you do the job. Make the connection for the hiring manager by adapting your cover letter examples to highlight the relevant skills that transfer from one industry or position to another.

For example, if you learned the importance of teamwork while working at a fast-food restaurant, you might explain how that can aid you in collaborating on corporate projects as a marketing professional.

Discuss courses, certifications, and training

Hiring managers love it when employees demonstrate a commitment to professional development.

While you may not have much experience, you can show your dedication to learning by discussing courses and training you’ve participated in or additional field certifications you’ve gained. This lets the hiring manager know you’re serious about your work and willing to learn the skills you need to succeed.

“Don’t make your cover letter all about what you don’t have. Turn what seems like a negative into a positive by highlighting your transferable skills.”

Show your willingness to learn and adaptability

Believe it or not, it’s possible for employees with lots of experience to get into a particular role and fall behind due to their unwillingness to learn new skills and adapt to changing times.

That’s why, in some cases, hiring managers place great value on candidates who don’t have as much experience but are willing to take advantage of every available learning opportunity.

One way you can demonstrate to the hiring manager that you’re adaptable and willing to learn new things is to articulate your game plan for filling in any skills gaps you may have. What courses or training do you plan to take to increase your knowledge? Do you have or plan to find a mentor to learn from?

You should also consider discussing past situations where you’ve had to learn a new skill to complete a task. How did you learn that skill? What motivated you to keep going? When the hiring manager knows you can persevere through challenges, they may be more willing to take a chance on you.

Express your excitement, but be concrete

When learning how to write a cover letter for a job with no experience in that field, it’s important to convey enthusiasm through specific examples that illustrate your passion. 

The hiring manager will know that you’ll be able to contribute to their workforce by seeing how you’ve done so in the past. Genuinely express your interest in the role, and make sure to emphasize how you can promote the company’s success.

Call to action and conclusion

The end of your letter is where you’ll underscore your enthusiasm and reinforce your willingness to take action. You can do this by offering to discuss the details of your background, resume , and cover letter in an interview. Don’t forget to provide your contact information and tell the hiring manager when and how they can best reach you.

Landing a job without experience is possible with the right cover letter

Landing a job without experience comes down to one thing: how you portray yourself in your cover letter.

Start strong by making a personal connection and displaying your enthusiasm, and don’t forget to highlight additional training and transferable skills you’ve gained through your education or in other fields. Additionally, show your willingness to learn, and always provide concrete examples.

If you need help learning how to write a cover letter with no job experience, consider using cover letter templates .

Not only will a well-designed cover letter and resume template tell you what sections to include, but they’ll also help you figure out how to maintain a professional image throughout your application package so you can land the job of your dreams.

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How to write a great cover letter

A cover letter is your chance to introduce yourself to a potential employer and spark their interest in reading your resume.

When you’re prepping job applications, a cover letter might seem like an afterthought compared to your resume. But your cover letter is worth just as much attention . That doesn’t mean it needs to be overly detailed – in fact, a simple single page is best.

Here are the key points to know about cover letters, plus the steps to follow to write one.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a short letter that accompanies your resume when you apply for a role. It’s often the first point of contact you make with a potential employer, hiring manager or recruiter for a job application.

It’s a way to give the employer a sense of who you are, highlighting your skills and experience, before they read the information in your resume. Just as if you were meeting someone for the first time, you’d introduce yourself first before getting into the detail.

Sometimes, a short email can take the place of a cover letter, but the way you write it is much the same.

Take a look at this article comparing an average cover letter to a great one to help you see how to craft yours well.

How does a cover letter compare to your resume?

Your resume and cover letter complement each other but do slightly different things. Your resume summarises the key details of your skills, work experience and education. Resumes are best formatted with bullet points and broken into sections with subheadings, across about two pages.

A cover letter is shorter and sharper: a single page is best. It’s also more of a conversation opener – you’re speaking to the person responsible for the role you’re applying for, expressing your interest in the job and showing them why you’re a good fit for it.

The language in a cover letter is more personal. For example, a social worker ’s resume might include, Redeveloped community youth program, increasing participation by 20 per cent. But in a cover letter you can write in the first person, which might read as, I’m a dedicated and driven social worker, with a strong commitment to supporting disadvantaged youth. It’s a chance to describe your skills and experiences in a way that also gives some insight into you and your career.

How to write your cover letter

  • Start with a brief introduction about yourself and why you’re writing. Mention the job you’re applying for and your interest in it.
  • Give a snapshot of the relevant skills, experience and qualifications you have that relate to the job. Think about the key two or three points in your resume and explaining these in a way that links them to why you’d be great for the role.
  • Give examples of your skills or mention how you’ve used them – you might need to do this in more detail if the job ad requests that you address selection criteria.
  • Note that your resume is attached. To finish, you can say that you’d welcome the opportunity to meet to discuss the role, or that you’re happy to provide more information, before signing off.

How to make your cover letter stand out

A cover letter should be engaging – you want to capture the interest of the person reading it so that they turn to your resume to find out more.

It’s also about showing the employer how your skills and experience are a good match for the role. That’s why you should always create a cover letter especially for the role you’re applying for – it shouldn’t be a generic letter. These tips can help you tailor your cover letter to the job.

A good cover letter can also demonstrate your written communication skills. Write for the environment you’re applying to: if it’s a more informal workplace or a creative type of work, don’t be afraid to inject some personal style into your writing to stand out.

Reading the 5 things employers wish they could say about cover letters and what recruiters look for in cover letters can also help you to write one that will impress.

Quick tips for improving your cover letter

  • Use clear, concise language. It’s best to avoid complicated or flowery wording.
  • Avoid overly long sentences. Try reading it aloud to see if there are any you struggle with.
  • Always tailor your cover letter to the job. An application is all about showing how you’re a good fit for the role on offer, and you don’t want your cover letter to seem reused.
  • Rather than writing ‘To whom it may concern’ or ‘Dear Sir or Madam’, find out who to address your letter to; you could phone the company to ask. It’s more personal that way and shows you’ve taken initiative.
  • Triple check your spelling and grammar. Try printing your letter out then coming back to it fresh, or get someone with a keen eye to look over it for you.
  • Keep your letter to around 250-350 words on a single page.
  • Take a look at these examples of cover letters written by successful job seekers .

Writing your cover letter might feel intimidating at first when you’re facing a blank page. But by following these steps and tips, you can focus on crafting a cover letter that captures what you can bring to the role and makes a winning impression to the employer.

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  1. Free Cover Letter Examples for Job Seekers in 2020

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  2. How to Write a Cover Letter? Examples & Tips

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  4. Free Cover Letter Examples for Job Seekers in 2020

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COMMENTS

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    1. Learn what a good cover letter looks like Before getting started, it helps to know what a cover letter is and what yours should look like. Here's an example to show you how to make a professional cover letter in 2024: Using a pre-written cover letter outline is a great way to speed up the writing process. Download Cover Letter Example

  4. How To Write a Cover Letter (With Examples and Tips)

    The key to writing an effective cover letter is to clearly show how your professional experience fits the needs of the open role and the culture of the hiring company. In this article, we explain how to write a cover letter that makes a great first impression on potential employers.

  5. How to Write a Cover Letter in 2024 + Examples

    Step #1 - Pick the Right Cover Letter Template Step #2 - Start the Cover Letter with a Header Step #3 - Greet the Hiring Manager Step #4 - Write an Attention-Grabbing Introduction Step #5 - Explain why you're the perfect person for the job Step #6 - Explain why you're a good fit for the company Step #7 - Wrap up with a call to action Step #8 - U...

  6. 200+ Professional Cover Letter Examples for Job Seekers

    5. Career change cover letter example. Writing a cover letter for a job in your current industry is pretty straightforward. But writing a career change cover letter requires a slightly different approach. The sample cover letter below includes the three elements you need to persuade a hiring manager you're ready to transfer industries:

  7. How to Write a Cover Letter: Tips for 2024 Job Seekers

    Ash Ayvar De Alcaraz is a committed Career Strategist, driven by her purpose to serve others. With a diverse background in education and startups, she brings a wealth of experience to her roles at Pathrise and Hired. Ash supports individuals in identifying their strengths and securing their ideal roles. Her commitment to diverse and low-income ...

  8. The New Cover Letter Rules for Job Seekers 50+

    Sign off: "Look forward to hearing from you.". Follow instructions exactly for an effective cover letter. If the application directions say to upload a cover letter, do it—even if you plan to send it in the body of an email as well. Ignoring the cover letter rules is the quickest way for you, and your cover letter, to get bounced.

  9. Best Cover Letter Tips for Job Seekers in 2024

    Write 250-450 words in 3-4 paragraphs to hit the cover letter length preferred by hiring managers and recruiters. If you want to keep your cover letter brief, look at some short cover letter examples online to get an idea of how it should look. 3. Address the hiring manager by name.

  10. How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job in 2024 [Guide + Examples]

    Career Guides Cover Letter How To write Build A Cover Letter How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job in 2024 [Guide + Examples] A cover letter helps you shape and expand on your professional story, adding greater detail to your resume. It's key to setting you apart from other candidates!

  11. How to Write a Cover Letter in 2024: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Frequently Asked Questions What is a cover letter and do you still need one in 2023? A cover letter is a letter of introduction accompanying your resume that paints why you are the best person for the job, what you bring to the table, and how you can help move the company forward. Is the cover letter dead? No!

  12. Free Cover Letter Examples for Job Seekers in 2020

    Convincing body paragraphs In your first body paragraph, provide examples of your past work experience. Explain how these examples make you an ideal candidate for the open position.

  13. How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job Application

    Address the criteria It's important that you don't include anything and everything. Less is more with a job application cover letter. You will be scored on how well you meet the selection criteria, so use that as a guide for what to include. Link everything you write back to the criteria, and try to find relevant examples where possible.

  14. How to Write a Great Cover Letter in 2024 (+ Examples)

    1. Personalization Address the hiring manager or recruiter by name whenever possible. If the job posting doesn't include a name, research to find out who will be reviewing applications. Personalizing your cover letter shows that you've taken the time to tailor your application to the specific company and role. 2.

  15. Cover Letter Examples for Job Seekers in 2024

    Application - This is the most common type of cover letter. It's what you send along with your resume when applying for a job. Career change - This type of cover letter is tailored for job seekers who are looking to make a significant career change.; Networking - This type of cover letter is not about applying for a job. It's more about contacting people who can help you with your ...

  16. How to Write a Cover Letter: Best Practices for Job Seekers

    At the very top of your cover letter, make sure to include the date, your name, address, and contact information as well as the name of the hiring manager, the company, and its address. Think of what you'd include on the front of a mailed envelope, and put that information at the top of your cover letter.

  17. First Job Cover Letter Examples & Expert Tips · Resume.io

    Examples First Job Written by Anna Muckerman First Job Cover Letter Example Use this First Job cover letter example to finish your application and get hired fast - no frustration, no guesswork. This cover letter example is specifically designed for First Job positions in 2024.

  18. Cover Letter Samples and Templates

    A cover letter should include the following parts: Header; Salutation; Introduction; Body paragraph; Closing paragraph; Letter ending and signature; The following cover letter samples and examples will show you how to write a cover letter for many employment circumstances. Browse cover letters by job title for inspiration.

  19. Cover Letter Tips for Older Job Seekers

    Don't Promote Your Age: Avoid terms like "seasoned professional," "a wealth of experience," "worked for many years," or anything similar. There's no need to highlight, in general, your years of experience. Instead, stick to the facts (e.g., "I led a team of 10 marketing professionals over at XYZ company."). Cover Letter Tips for Older Job Seekers

  20. How to Write a Cover Letter That Will Get You a Job

    I get tons of questions from job seekers about whether they should attach their cover letter or put it in the body of the email (answer: No one cares, but attaching it makes it easier to share and ...

  21. How To Write a Cover Letter With No Experience (Plus Example)

    The steps below explain how to write a cover letter with no experience. 1. Carefully review the job posting and research the company's website. Before you begin your cover letter, you'll want to ensure you're relating your information to the preferred and required skills listed on the job posting. You can carefully read through the job posting ...

  22. How to Write a Cover Letter With No Experience

    In these situations, it's crucial to be able to explain your skill set and why you're equipped for the role. Learn how to write a cover letter with no experience and land the job you want. Understand the company and the position. Before you start writing your cover letter, research both the company and the role.

  23. How to write a cover letter

    How to write your cover letter. Start with a brief introduction about yourself and why you're writing. Mention the job you're applying for and your interest in it. Give a snapshot of the relevant skills, experience and qualifications you have that relate to the job. Think about the key two or three points in your resume and explaining these ...

  24. PDF Five Tips for Writing a Cover Letter

    does the hiring for the open position. Addressing the letter to a specific individual is a good way to display your initiative. 3.) Tailor your cover letter to the job posting When writing your cover letter, you should use the job posting as a guide. Use similar language found in the posting to describe your qualifications and experiences. 4.)

  25. Akash pal i on Instagram: "Best way to get your job A resume is a

    1,264 likes, 3 comments - technical_sky01 on February 14, 2024: "Best way to get your job朗 A resume is a concise document that provides an overview of a perso..." Akash pal i on Instagram: "Best way to get your job🤩 A resume is a concise document that provides an overview of a person's education, work experience, skills, and accomplishments.