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Cover letters

It's important to get your cover letter right. It's your one opportunity to sell your skills and experience to potential employers. Find out how to write and format a cover letter and take ideas and inspiration from our cover letter templates

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a document sent alongside your CV when applying for jobs. It acts as a personal introduction and helps to sell your application.

Cover letters are necessary as they give you the chance to explain to an employer why you're the best candidate for the job. You do this by highlighting relevant skills and experience; therefore, you should always write your cover letter with the position you're applying for in mind.

Not to be confused with  personal statements for your CV , cover letters should complement your CV but not duplicate it. The consensus among recruiters when it comes to the length of these documents is the shorter the better. Typically, three to five short paragraphs, cover letters should not exceed one A4 page.

If sending electronically, put the text in the body of the email rather than as an attachment, to avoid it being detected by spam filters.

Applications should always include a cover letter unless the job advert instructs you differently.

How do I write a good cover letter?

Before writing your cover letter it's important that you do your research. While reading the job description thoroughly is essential, it's not enough on its own. To help you craft a successful cover letter you’ll need to find out more about:

  • who will be reading your cover letter
  • the organisation and its culture
  • the industry it operates in and any relevant news
  • company competitors and market position.
  • the organisations goals over the next five years.

When writing your cover letter keep it brief, while making sure it emphasises your suitability for the job. Cover letters can be broken down into the following sections:

  • First paragraph  - The opening statement should set out why you're writing the letter. Begin by stating the position you're applying for, where you saw it advertised and when you are available to start.
  • Second paragraph  - Highlight relevant experience and demonstrate how your skills match the specific requirements of the job description. Summarise any additional strengths and explain how these could benefit the company.
  • Third paragraph  - Cover why you're suitable for the job, what attracted you to this type of work, why you're interested in working for the company and what you can offer the organisation. This is a good opportunity to show off your knowledge of the company.
  • Last paragraph  - Use the closing paragraph to round up your letter. Reiterate your interest in the role and indicate your desire for an  interview. Now is the time to mention any unavailable dates.

Once finished read through the document and cut out any unnecessary words and sentences. Don't fill up space by repeating what's already covered in your CV. As a rule, only mention your current salary or salary expectations if the employer has specifically asked you to. If you're asked to include this information, put it between the third and last paragraphs.

Unless the job advert states differently (for example, it may ask you to provide your CV and cover letter as a Word document) save with a .PDF file extension to make sure it can be opened and read on any machine. Windows PCs and Macs don't always work in harmony - Windows use a .docx file extension and Macs .pages but if the recruiter uses the opposite system, they may not be able to open your file. Using a .PDF file extension should solve this.

If you need help with your CV take a look at  how to write a CV .

How should I address a cover letter?

Always try and address your cover letter directly to the person who will be reading it. Bear in mind that you're more likely to receive a reply if you send it to the right person.

If you're struggling to find a named contact, you can use a general greeting such as:

  • Dear Sir/Madam
  • Dear Hiring manager
  • Dear Human resources director.

However, general greetings should only be used once you have exhausted methods of finding a named contact.

How do I sign off?

How you sign off your cover letter depends on how you addressed it. If you include a named contact, sign off 'Yours sincerely'. If you use a general greeting, finish with 'Yours faithfully'.

Example cover letters

  • Sample cover letter  - Used to highlight your skills and experience and to express your suitability and passion for the job, cover letters are used to encourage recruiters to look at your CV. Attention to detail is crucial and spelling, grammar and formatting needs to be spot on. Take a look at our sample cover letter for inspiration.
  • Speculative cover letter  - These can sometimes be an effective method of creating an opportunity. To ensure that speculative cover letters are successful you'll need to do your research on the company you're applying to. Using our cover letter template, discover what to include in speculative applications.
  • Cover letter by a Masters graduate  - You probably embarked on a Masters to expand your subject knowledge, gain industry contacts and improve your job prospects but to really make it work you need to know how to sell your postgraduate qualification to employers.
  • Cover letter for a jobseeker with no experience  - It can be tough applying for a job with no experience, but our example cover letter shows you how to promote yourself to an employer if you haven't got any directly related work experience.
  • Explaining a gap in your CV  - Knowing how to navigate around gaps in your CV can be tricky but it's a mistake to try and gloss over them. Your cover letter is the perfect place to explain these gaps in your employment history to potential employers. Take a look at our sample cover letter to find out how to go about it.
  • Cover letter for changing career  - Find out how to explain a change of direction in our example cover letter for career changers. You'll need to briefly cover why you want to change career and relate your past experience and wealth of skills to the industry/job you’re applying to.
  • Cover letter by an international graduate  - If you'd like to expand your horizons by working abroad, take a look at our cover letter of an international student applying for a job in the UK. You’ll need to do your research if you apply for a job in another country, as application rules may differ.
  • Disclosing a disability  - Just like your gender, marital status and dependants your disability doesn't affect your ability to do a job and you're not legally required to disclose it on your CV or in your cover letter. However, if you would like to disclose a disability to outline any adjustments you may need, this sample cover letter will show you how.
  • Internship cover letter - To set yourself above the competition you need to successfully sell your relevant skills and experience while conveying your passion for the role. As well as explaining to employers what the opportunity could do for you, you'll need to communicate what you could do for the company. Discover how to craft the perfect application for a formal internship with our internship cover letter template.
  • Apprenticeship cover letter - Apprenticeships are an increasingly popular route into work, as well as a great alternative to university. Find out how to apply for these roles with our apprenticeship cover letter example.

For inspiration and guidance on crafting a CV see example CVs .

When should I follow up my application?

It's always a good idea to follow up on a job application if you don't hear back. If two weeks have passed and you've had no response, send an email to the hiring manager to check that your application has been received. Use this opportunity to reiterate your interest in the role and why you think you'd be an asset to the company.

Keep this email brief. It shouldn't act as a second cover letter or attempt to replace or repeat the original.

What are some top tips for writing a cover letter?

With employers often receiving lots of applications for each vacancy, you need to ensure that your cover letter makes a lasting impression for the right reasons. These tips will increase your chances of success:

  • Tailor to the organisation  - You should rewrite your cover letter every time you apply for a position in order to target the company. Sending out a generic letter for all applications rarely yields positive results and recruiters can spot your lack of time and effort from a mile away.
  • Format  - Presentation is important so you'll need to format your cover letter properly. Make sure the document is as uncluttered as possible, use the same font and size as you use in your CV and if you're sending it through the post or handing it in use good quality plain white paper to print it on.
  • Use keywords that appear in the job advert - This lets the employer know that you’ve read and understood the job description. It also demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to tailor your application to the job.
  • Identify your USPs  - They're your unique selling points. Be positive about what you have to offer and clearly outline how your skills and experience meet those requested in the job description. Demonstrate why you're the perfect candidate.
  • Include examples  - Back up the claims in your cover letter with real evidence or examples that show how and when you've used your skills and experience.
  • Save a copy - If you’re invited to interview you might need to refer back to it.

If you're a student or recent graduate, you can make an appointment with your university's careers and employability service to access further help when writing your cover letter. You'll be able to talk with specially-trained advisers, get advice on what to include and have a professional eye look over your application before sending.

To make sure you don’t trip up read about the  5 things to avoid when writing a cover letter .

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Remote Work From Home Job Search Tips and Advice

  • cover letter tips
  • cover letters
  • how to write a cover letter

Woman writing prospecting cover letter to impress potential employers.

  • August 3, 2021
  • 7 minutes read

How to Write a Prospecting Cover Letter

Also known as a letter of inquiry or a cold call letter, a prospecting cover letter is a useful tool if you have an interest in a company that isn’t actively hiring or isn’t widely advertising. A prospecting cover letter expresses interest in learning about available positions, demonstrates initiative and eagerness, and puts yourself at the front of the interview line when or if the company decides to expand its talent pool.

However, the problem remains: how do I write a successful prospecting cover letter? It’s a common question to ask, especially to construct one that isn’t overreaching, a simple laundry list of your skills, or a blanket template that you send to every employer. A prospecting letter is a dynamic piece that should balance your skills with tact, leaving a potential hiring manager with the details they might need about a prospective candidate for future openings. If you have a few companies that you’ve always dreamed of working for, use these tips to help you construct an intriguing, well-written prospecting cover letter.

Research Several Companies

Even if you only have a sole company in mind, don’t limit yourself by submitting just one prospecting cover letter. Cast a wide net by constructing a list of five to 10 companies. To choose these companies, you can make criteria such as mission, vision, company culture, or opportunity for advancement. Or you use the following research methods to compile your list of prospective companies:

  • Use social media platforms, especially LinkedIn, to connect with people who work for the company
  • Reach out to former colleagues, coworkers, or classmates that now work for one of your target companies
  • Perform an online search for companies in your field of expertise using search terms like “Top Marketing Companies” or “Best Software Development Firms”
  • Access  Virtual Vocations  database of remote-friendly companies
  • Combine one of your passions with your search, including “Environmentally Friendly Companies” or “Companies That Value Inclusion and Diversity”

Subscribe to Virtual Vocations Career Services to boost your online presence and chance to gain remote employment.

Know Who You’re Writing To

While you can address your prospecting letter to a generic “Dear Sir or Madam” or the ubiquitous “Dear Hiring Manager,” you will make the best impression if you do a some investigative work to reveal the man or woman who makes the important decisions. Some methods you can try to find the person who you’ll resonate with might include:

  • Explore the company’s website staff directory or try to find the person on LinkedIn.  Look for human resources contacts or a person with the title of Hiring Manager.
  • Check the company’s website for job listings.  You can do this even if the jobs are not related to your desired position. The job ads will likely list a company hiring contact.
  • Call the company.  This old-school approach is surprisingly effective if you’ve exhausted all other avenues. Simply ask the receptionist for the name of the hiring manager. If you feel strange being so straightforward, ask to verify the correct spelling of the hiring manager’s name before you send out an email.

If all else fails, you can still go with a nonspecific title. But if you can track down the right person, it shows initiative and that personal touch. Or when all else is equal, it makes you stand out

How To Grab the Attention of the Hiring Manager

A prospecting cover letter is a means to introduce yourself to a company, list your qualifications, and inquire about open positions. However, your letter shouldn’t read like a technical manual. A hiring manager will read thousands of cover letters over his/her career. They may even fall under the “ six-second rule .” This is the idea that you have six seconds to grab the attention of the person reading your cover letter. If you don’t, your application falls squarely in the reject pile. Thus, you can use your prospecting letter to set yourself apart from the field.

Keep in mind that the expansion of remote work has created fiercer competition than ever. Here’s how to make your cover letter stand out:

  • Draw in the hiring manager with a powerful opening sentence.  Praise the company or immediately state your best qualification.
  • Write in a tone that is industry-suitable.  Don’t use casual, regional slang if you want to work for a national company.
  • Use humor and whimsy when appropriate.  But don’t try to be a comedy writer if you are interested in a position as a Senior-level Business Analyst.
  • Add personalization.  Inject your own research about the company instead of submitting a stock form letter to all of your prospects.

With these brave words to use on your resume to attract the attention of potential employers.

Demonstrate How You Can Add Value to the Organization

While incorporating the aforementioned attention grabbers, you also need to discuss how you can potentially add value to the organization. Yet this isn’t just a list of accomplishments or braggadocious commentary. The difficulty of this task is further exacerbated by the fact that you’re not applying to a specific position. Instead, you need something that’s more broad on how you would fit into any relevant position within the company.

You can certainly start with tasteful examples of past successes and how they would translate to a position with the company you’re prospecting. Furthermore, highlight some of your transferrable and employable skills that make you an attractive candidate for the future. These can be a mix of hard and soft skills. Here are some examples of what you may add based on your own unique skill set:

List of Skills to Include in a Prospecting Cover Letter

  • Great listening skills
  • Training others
  • Collaborative skills
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Strong communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Leading productive meetings
  • Hiring and interviewing
  • Various computer skills or proficiencies
  • Goal setting and task prioritization
  • Time management and multitasking
  • Ability to learn new skills

You can obviously come up with more on your own, but the main idea is to provide a sense of what you bring to the company the next time they have an open position.

Finish Up With the Next Phase

Although you could end a prospecting cover letter with a simple “Regards” or “Sincerely,” this doesn’t tie the letter together like providing information for the next step or phase in the process. Instead, include contact information such as an email or phone number, as well as links to your LinkedIn page or online portfolio. While not absolutely necessary, you could provide your resume for the hiring manager to peruse at his or her leisure.

Example of a Great Prospecting Cover Letter

Even if you have a basic idea of how to ride a superb prospecting letter, seeing an example can provide you with the framework to shape one to your personality and writing style. Remember that hiring managers have been around; they’ve seen templates before, and a surefire way to have your email disregarded is to simply copy one of these examples. Use these to your advantage, but don’t copy them or paraphrase them where the origin becomes obvious or the prosepecting letter loses its personal touch.

Steve Smith 123 Fake Street Springfield, Rhode Island 10101 456-789-0123 [email protected]

Dear Ms. Jackson,

I read about X Company in a Forbes article about how your company is becoming an innovator in the industry. It’s something I want to be a part of. While I don’t see any open positions on your website, I would like to inquire about applying for open positions in the future. I’m interested in a career in software engineering, and I have extensive remote work experience, which may play into the hybrid work model that X Company is employing in the near future.

I have a bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering, and I am currently working toward a credential as a Certified Software Engineer from the Institute of Certification of Computing Professionals. In addition, I also have five years of software engineering experience at a publicly traded corporation, as well as two as a freelancer. Due to some of the programs I wrote, I won Software Engineer of the Year at my company, which is an award I’m extremely proud of.

I’ve attached my resume, which contains additional information on my experience and skills that relate to your company. I would love the opportunity to discuss any openings you may have coming up or discuss my skills and what I can bring to the company. Please reach out to me via email or by calling me at 1-456-789-0123.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I look forward to speaking with you in the near future.

Steve Smith

expert answers - what makes a good cover letter - Virtual Vocations remote jobs

Add Your Own Spin

The above prospecting cover letter should give you a basic idea of where to start, but don’t be afraid to put your own spin on it. If humor is your thing, throw in some of your best stuff. Or if your position is of a more serious nature, stick to accomplishments. Just as you’d dress for the job you want, you should create a tone for the job you desire. But any details or language that can make you stand out is always a welcomed addition to a cover letter.

Keep in mind that you should also tailor each prospecting cover letter to each company you send one to. The intro paragraph is where you’ll usually differentiate from other employers and demonstrate your knowledge of the organization. While you might be able to keep your accomplishments the same, always conduct your research to add in-depth knowledge and why you want to join the company. If you fail to do this, it will seemingly appear as though you’re not looking for a career; you’re just looking for something to pay the bills.

Your Work Isn’t Done: How To Follow Up on Your Prospecting Cover Letter

Once you’ve taken a deep breath and clicked the send button on your prospecting cover letter, your job isn’t quite done yet. You still need to follow up. However, this isn’t like a traditional follow-up that you’d have after the interview. If you haven’t heard anything back in a few weeks, start your follow-up by seeing if the company has posted any jobs recently. If they have, it’s worth your time to apply to a position you want or to reach out to the contact you emailed before. By doing so, you can solidify your name among a pool of applicants, as well as put your best foot forward toward finding the perfect job for your career aspirations.

Do you have any tips for a prospecting cover letter? What worked for you in the past? Connect with Virtual Vocations on  Facebook ,  Twitter ,  LinkedIn ,  Instagram , and  YouTube  to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!

cover letter template prospects

Joining  Virtual Vocations  grants you access to our hand-picked remote jobs database. Learn  how our service works , browse job leads by  location and career category , or search hundreds of hand-screened remote jobs to find legitimate work-at-home job leads that match your skills and background.  Register for free  or  contact us  for more information on our service guarantee. Check out our menu of Career Services provided by our team of certified professionals, including resume and career coaching services for remote jobseekers. Resume assessments and writing, LinkedIn profile enhancement, and cover letter writing are available to maximize the success of your remote job applications.  Discounts on all services available to subscription members,  become one now.


Based on original content by Kimberly Back

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CVs and cover letters

CVs are tricky to get right and the success of a job application often hinges on your cover letter. If you're in need of expert CV and cover letter advice then you've come to the right place. Discover how to write them, mistakes to avoid and a variety of CV and cover letter examples to help you target your application to the company.

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  2. Free Cover Letter Templates

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  4. Cover Letter Samples and Templates

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  6. Cover letters

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  9. How to Write a Cover Letter (Expert Tips & Examples)

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  12. Top 3 Cover Letter Template Samples

    The prospecting cover letter for resume. A prospecting cover letter is written by a job seeker about potential job openings. Unlike most cover letters, this one is not tailored to a specific company or job. It asks about job openings in general and does not include the same details as other cover letters. Sample prospecting cover letter [Your ...

  13. How to Write a Prospecting Cover Letter

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  14. CVs and cover letters

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