It’s a good time to be a job seeker: U.S. job growth is strong, unemployment is on a steady decline, and openings are at an all-time high.
That doesn’t make the search any less daunting. Differentiating yourself from every other job seeker on the market is no small feat, and the monotony of filling out online applications can make the task downright exhausting. That’s where a killer cover letter comes in.
Done right, a great cover letter is like a secret weapon for catching a hiring manager’s attention. Next to your resume, it’s one of the most important, underutilized tools at your disposal.
Here are some cover letter writing tips, and a free, downloadable template, to make yours stand out.
Every cover letter you write should be tailored to the job you’re applying for — just like your resume. Study the job posting carefully, and make a quick list of any essential qualifications.
“Job seekers really struggle with what to say on a cover letter,” says Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, President and CEO of Great Resumes Fast. “Taking a second to think about why you’re applying, and why you’re a good fit for the company, makes the process a lot easier.”
If you’re adding a cover letter to an online application, use a business letter format with a header and contact information. If you’re sending an email, it’s OK to leave out the header, but be sure to provide a phone number (and an attached resume, of course). Make sure you’re clear about the position you’re applying for.
Avoid nameless salutations — it might take a little Google research, and some LinkedIn outreach, but finding the actual name of the position’s hiring manager will score you major brownie points. “Do not start a cover letter with, ‘to whom it may concern,’” Holbrook Hernandez says. “It concerns no one.”
2. Tell a Story
To grab a recruiter’s attention, a good narrative—with a killer opening line—is everything.
“The cover letter is a story,” says Satjot Sawhney, a resume and career strategist with Loft Resumes. “What is the most interesting thing you’re doing that’s relevant to this job?” Use that to guide your letter.
Ideally, the story that drives your resume will focus on a need at the company you’re applying for. If you’re a PR professional, maybe you have a list of clients in an industry the team wants to break into. If you’re in marketing, a successful promotional campaign might be the ticket in. “A hiring manager wants to see results-driven accomplishments with a past employer,” says Holbrook Hernandez. “If you’ve done it before, you can deliver it again.”
If you have a career gap or are switching industries, address it upfront. “If there’s anything unique in your career history, call that out in the beginning,” says professional resume writer Brooke Shipbaugh.
(Here’s a downloadable sample.)
3. Use Bullet Points to Show Impact
Hiring managers are usually slammed with applications, so short, quick cover letters are preferable to bloated ones, says Paul Wolfe, Senior Vice President of human resources at job site Indeed.
“Make your cover letter a brief, bright reference tool,” he says. “The easier you can make it on the recruiter the better.”
Bullet points are a good tool for pulling out numbers-driven results. Job seekers in creative fields like art and design can use bullets to break down their most successful project. Those in more traditional roles (like the one in the template), can hammer off two or three of their most impressive accomplishments.
4. Highlight Culture Fit
It’s often overlooked, but a major function of the cover letter is to show a company how well you’d mesh with the culture.
As you research a potential employer, look for culture cues on the company website, social media, and review sites like Glassdoor. Oftentimes, employers will nod to culture in a job posting. If the ad mentions a “team environment,” it might be good to play up a recent, successful collaboration. If the company wants a “self-starter,” consider including an achievement that proves you don’t need to be micromanaged.
The tone of your letter can also play to culture. “The cover letter is a great place to show [an employer] how you fit into their world,” Shipbaugh says. “Show some personality.”
5. End with an Ask
The goal of a cover letter is to convince the person reading it to make the next move in the hiring process — with a phone call, interview, or otherwise. Ending on a question opens that door without groveling for it.
“You have to approach this with a non-beggar mentality,” Sawhney says. “Having an ‘ask’ levels the playing field.”
Related: What Your Resume Should Look Like in 2018
Sample Front End Web Developer Cover Letter and Resume Examples
When you are applying for a new position, it’s important that you tailor your cover letter and resume to the job you’re seeking. Carefully analyze the job requirements listed in the job posting, and match your skills as closely as possible.
Here's an example of a cover letter for a front-end web developer position. Also, below is a sample resume for a front-end web developer, along with tips for emailing your cover letter and resume.
Front End Web Developer Cover Letter
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
City, State, Zip Code
Dear HR Manager,
Building state-of-the-art, easy to use, user-friendly websites and applications is truly a passion of mine and I am confident I would be an excellent addition to your organization. In addition to my knowledge base, I actively seek out new technologies and stay up-to-date on industry trends and advancements. This has allowed me to stay ahead of the curve and deliver exceptional work to all of my employers, including those I've worked for on a project basis.
I’ve attached a copy of my resume detailing my experience, along with links to websites and applications I’ve had the honor of working on.
I can be reached anytime via my cell phone, 555-555-5555 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you about this opportunity.
Your Signature (for a hard copy letter)
The following is an example of a resume for a front-end web developer position.
Front End Web Developer Resume
123 ABC Street
Home 555-555-5555 | Cell 555-123-4567
Front-End Web Developer, Scottie, Seattle, WA
June 20XX - Present
- Translate designs to front-end code, estimate time and costs, and determine developer requirements and specifications.
- Collaborate with creative and development teams on the execution of ideas and projects.
- Promote and communicate new ideas, process improvements, and new technologies to team members and leadership.
- Write maintainable, scalable, responsive, and cross-browser code.
Front-End Web Developer, Malcolm Technology, Seattle, WA
December 20XX - May 20XX
- Updated and streamlined existing code to improve site performance.
- Wrote support documentation and provided training to internal and external users.
- Worked collaboratively with a cross-functional team to define and develop product roadmaps.
Associate of Science, ABC Community College, Seattle, WA
Major - Computer Science
- December 20XX - Present
- June 20XX - August 20XX
Sending an Email Job Application
If you're emailing your cover letter and resume, list your name and the job title in the subject line of the email message:
Subject: Front-End Web Developer Position - Your First and Last Name
Include your contact information in your email signature, and don't list the employer contact information. Start your email message with a salutation. Here's an example of a formatted email cover letter.
More Sample Cover Letters
Cover letter samples and templates for a variety of career fields and employment levels, including entry-level, targeted and email cover letters for many different jobs.
Please Note: This sample is provided for guidance only. The provided information, including samples and examples, is not guaranteed for accuracy or legality. Letters and other correspondence should be edited to fit your personal situation.