Samantha Shankman
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Writing a compelling, professional cover letter can often be the most daunting aspect of any job application. Heck, sometimes it can feel like the hardest part of the job search as a whole, even.

We are faced with a blank page where we must whimsically explain why we are the perfect fit for the role and how our previous experience has prepared us. We want to show our willingness to put all of our energy into the new role while also appearing well-rounded and a great team member. And don't forget how important writing with flawless punctuation is, of course!

When you write a cover letter, however, it's also an incredible opportunity to show off your skills and personality. It is your first introduction to a prospective employer and should go beyond listing your previous accomplishments and qualifications. Think of it as both a more lyrical resume, a more concise Curriculum Vitae (or CV), and a perfectly executed business letter all in one. And in today's hyper-competitive job market, it truly must be perfect.

So, what should your cover letter include? Here’s a basic breakdown:

  • Start with an introduction paragrah that shows the hire manager you are excited about the role. Inform the prospective employer how you heard about the position and confidently state that you know you’d be a great fit.
  • Then, write a brief overview of your most recent positions and highlight how those experiences will aid you in this new role. Don't be afriad to work a few industry keywords and buzzwords into this paragraph, too; the keywords most relevant to the position you're applying for can most often be found in the position's job description.
  • Now is your opportunity, job seeker, to show even more personality. Talk about something outside of your work experience that is relevant to the role or suggest an idea about how the prospective company could change for the better.
  • Close strong by stating your eagerness to learn more about opportunity and your gratitude for being heard. Make sure to include contact information so they have no trouble following up for an interview!

Below you’ll find three sample cover letters written from three different perspectives. Don’t be afraid to replicate parts of these the next time you need to write a cover letter. (A fun side note: These are all real cover letters that resulted in a job interview — then in a secured job! Woo!)

Looking to write to a company that doesn't have any open job postings? Try a letter of intent.

1. An Internship Seeker

As an internship cover letter, this sample is for the young woman who is just starting her professional journey. It's written from the perspective of a college student who is serious about learning during a summer internship. You will see how they incorporate their current experience in a leadership role on a campus club and translate that into skills that can be used in the office. For your own cover letter, look at all the activities in your life and how they highlight your innate intelligence, creativity or leadership. Then let people know!

Your first and last name

17 Example Street, Binghamton, NY 13905

Your phone number • [email protected]

May 20, 2017

Direct contact's first and last name

Company Name

Street Address City, State + Zip

Dear Hiring Manager:

I am excited by the prospect of joining ____’s sales team as an intern this summer and eager to speak with you in greater detail about the available positions. Jane Smith, intern coordinator recently told me about the position at our campus job fair.

I am currently a junior at Binghamton University studying English Literature and Rhetoric. Through my studies, I have built both oral and written communication skills as well as developed persuasive rhetoric skills that I believe will be useful in the sales field.

I previously interned at _______, a content marketing company, which helps brands connect with their customers via digital and social media. I assisted the sales team with day-to-day activities in order to build relationships with new clients and maintain open lines of communication with current customers. My hands-on experience at _______ gave me a great perspective on what it takes to build a quality company through an effective and productive sales team.

I am currently the head of marketing and sponsorship coordinator for the Example University Women’s Soccer Club. I am responsible for creating and maintaining the club’s presence on social media outlets. I also work with alumni to plan and execute a self-designed marketing plan to build relationships and gain sponsorship with local businesses.

My positive experiences at ______ and the Example University Soccer Club have given me with a quality starting point for a successful career in sales. I am eager to continue my path in the sales field by working with such a successful and dynamic brand as _______. I am more than confident I will make a beneficial contribution to the company’s sales team.

Attached is a resume outlining my qualifications and letters of recommendation are available upon request. I look forward to speaking with you and hopefully working with you this summer!

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

(Name)

2. A Professional with a Diverse Background

This one is written from the perspective of an experienced professional who has held several jobs and has a wide range of experiences. You’ll see how she highlights these experiences briefly and always brings it back to how they’ve taught her lessons or skills that relate directly to the job she is now applying for. No matter how much you’ve done in the past, as a current job seeker, you should always focus on whatever experiences and skills you have that are most relevant to the new role.

First and last name

17 Example Street, Binghamton, NY 13905

Your phone number • [email protected]

May 20, 2017

Direct contact's first and last name

Company Name Street Address City, State + Zip 

Hi ________,

I am very excited to submit my application to work with you as a copywriter for travel and luxury hospitality brands. With a breadth of experiences in travel journalism and luxury marketing, I am confident that I will be an invaluable asset to _____________.

I started my editorial career as an employee of _______ where I developed our editorial voice, produced daily posts and long-form trend analysis, launched several products including a weekly podcast and video interview series, and represented the brand at conferences and in media.

________ then handpicked me for a new leadership role that crossed the lines between print and digital as well as worked with the marketing team on new multimedia projects.

After four years with my head down, focusing on covering and analyzing the business of travel, I spent a year interacting with the industry in a whole new way — planning, booking and overseeing domestic and international trips for a family of luxury travelers from Manhattan. This involved conversations with five-star hotel properties and travel agencies, negotiations with private jet providers, and group reservations at Michelin-star restaurants.

This would have little bearing on this role had I not previously written about the business of travel. I viewed all experiences through the lens of a content creator, which is to say with a keen eye for the service, marketing and business considerations behind every interaction.

Throughout my editorial career, I’ve also worked with luxury brands whose ethos I admired to assist them in crafting their brand story and better communicating with customers.

I conceptualized and launched a digital platform for a high-end food service, consulted with digital creative agencies, and launched a multimedia platform empowering girls to own ambition for ______.

I believe my unique editorial experience and unbridled passion for travel, and the companies that make truly luxurious trips possible, would greatly contribute to ____________’s creation of high-quality branding, marketing, and social content. I’d love the opportunity to speak with your further via a phone call or video chat to learn more about the role and how I can best contribute.

I've attached my resume and am eager to send a sample piece crafted for a luxury hotel within the next week if you're interested. Kindly let me know if you have any questions at all.

All my best,

(Name)

3. The Professional Changing Careers

The last cover letter sample is written from the perspective of an experienced professional who is attempting to break into a completely new field. This is an exciting and complex position to be in, but you will see how she smoothly explains her previous experience and then honestly and humbly explains why she is making the switch. She keeps her tone confident and positive throughout which indicates that this is a motivated employee who will work her hardest in her new field.

First and last name

17 Example Street, Binghamton, NY 13905

Your phone number • [email protected]

May 20, 2017

Direct contact's first and last name

Company Name

Street Address City, State + Zip

Hi ________,

I’m very excited about the sales role currently available at ________. I am confident that my previous career experience has given me the skills and tools I need to thrive in this role. I most recently worked as a financial analyst who alone covered the east coast for a team of four bankers. I interacted daily with a wide variety of personalities and prioritized my tasks to complete as many as eight deadlines in one day.

One of the most rewarding aspects of this position, however, was coordinating itineraries and entertainment for our out-of-town clients. I listened to their needs and desires before arrival, created a plan that would exceed expectations, presented it for feedback and communicated with the guests throughout their stay. I found it very fulfilling to work with these clients to ensure the best possible experience with our firm and took great pride in this task. I wished it was a bigger part of my time there!

Although I have spent the majority of my career in analytical roles, I recently left what appeared to be a well-paved path to pursue positions that better align with my passion for working directly with customers and creating -- as cheesy as this may sound -- magical moments.

I’ve worked on small and large teams through my career and am now eager to be part of a young and growing company where my daily hustle has a tangible impact on the success of the business. I am ready and excited to learn any new platforms, including your particular CRM system, that will help me and my team achieve our objectives. In closing, I am confident that I can hit the ground running at Museum Hack and truly hope we have the chance to discuss further.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you soon!

All the best,

(Name)

 

 

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Samantha Shankman is a freelance business reporter and writer whose work has appeared in CNN, NBC, Travel & Leisure, Skift and Mic. She's also helped develop content for large lifestyle brands. You can follow her Twitter at @SamShankman and see more of her work at samanthashankman.com.

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