Resume and Cover Letter Writing Guide
Resumes and cover letters alone won't get you a job; rather, they'll help you win an interview. Here is comprehensive information that will guide you through the process of writing a targeted resume and cover letter.
What's the Difference?
What should you communicate on a resume versus a cover letter? Before you begin, review the key differences between the two and information on what each should focus on.
Keep in mind that the more specifically you can tailor your resume and cover letter to address the requirements of the position, the better your chances of earning an interview.
Below you'll find step-by-step information on how to create your resume, along with formatting tips and insight into which words to use, and which words to avoid. The guide also features techniques for writing cover letters that showcase your accomplishments and form a clear connection between your experience and the position you are applying for. If you follow these steps, you'll have a better chance of securing job interviews.
How to Build Your Resume
Before delving into writing a resume, ask yourself some basic questions that will shape your direction. Are you seeking an entry-level job? Changing careers? Are you re-entering the workforce after a lengthy time off? The first step to writing an eye catching resume is determining what you're trying to accomplish.
While you might not include an "Objective" section on your resume, write one for yourself to serve as a guiding principle for your overall resume.
Build a Resume in 7 Easy Steps
Build your own professional resume quickly and easily with this step-by-step guide. It will guide you through every step of the resume writing processing.
Resume Writing Techniques
A resume includes information on your education, work history, and skills. Get started writing your resume by creating a list of your accomplishments in each job that you have held. From there, you can decide which details are most important to highlight and work on phrasing information in a way that will get the attention of both hiring managers and searchable databases.
Get inspiration for your own resume by reviewing these sample resumes, including chronological, functional, and mini, as well as templates for resume writing.
How to Write a Cover Letter
A cover letter typically accompanies each resume you send out. Your cover letter may make the difference between obtaining a job interview and having your resume ignored. Where a resume focuses on your work experience and accomplishments, a strong cover letter will make a connection between what the company needs and what you can offer.
The body of your lettertells the employer what position you're applying for, why the company should select you for an interview, and how you will follow-up. Grab the reader in your first paragraph with some specific information about the job you're seeking and a few core strengths that demonstrate your suitability for the position.
The delve into what you have to offer the employer by highlighting examples of the work performed and achieved results. Detail your knowledge of the company based on your research and the ways in which you can contribute to their goals, and finally, close the letter by suggest a meeting or next steps.
Cover Letter Writing Tips
It makes sense to devote the necessary time and effort to write an effective, targeted cover letter. Your letter should convey how your skills and accomplishments will benefit the company.
Types of Cover Letters
There are several different types of cover letters, including application letters, inquiry letters, referral cover letters, and prospecting letters. Here's where you'll be able to see examples of different kinds of cover letters used to apply for jobs or inquire about jobs.
You'll also find information about when to use different letters.
Cover Letter Examples
With about 100 sample cover letters and templates to choose from, this will help you write the perfect cover letter for your situation, regardless of your occupation and employment situation.
The End Game
Once you've finished perusing the step-by-step guide, you'll have a resume and cover letter(s) which will be polished, professional, and ready to send to prospective employers.
Smart tips to help you format and write a cover letter
Struggling to write a cover letter that will catch an employer's attention? We've got tips to help you show your best self—and a sample you can use to get started.
There's nothing scary about writing a cover letter.
You've found the perfect job, hit the "apply" button, and started the process with your engines revved and ready. But wait! Slam the brakes! They want a cover letter. Oh no.
Don't let this request derail you. Here's everything you need to know to write a letter that truly sells your skills. Plus, scroll down to see a sample cover letter you can use to craft your own.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a one-page document that, along with your resume, is sent with your job application. A cover letter is your chance to tell a potential employer why you’re the perfect person for the position and how your skills and expertise can add value to the company. The letter should be professional but personable, and serve as a sort of introduction.
Do I need to send a cover letter?
A lot of job seekers today wonder if a cover letter is still appropriate to send with your resume—and the answer is yes! Even if an employer doesn’t ask for a cover letter, it couldn’t hurt to send one. In fact, it’s can help you get someone's attention in a different way, and it can be a great way to display your enthusiasm for the job and company.
What are the basic elements of a cover letter?
- Greeting: Address your cover letter to the proper person.
- Opening: Write a personable, inviting opening paragraph that notes how your skills are a perfect fit to the job and displays your enthusiasm.
- Hook: Highlight your past achievements as they relate to the job you're applying for.
- Skills: Emphasize additional relevant skills, such as computer languages or certifications.
- Close: Briefly recap your strengths as a candidate, and include your contact information.
Cover letter tips
1. Parrot the keywords: Just like with your resume, your cover letters should be customized for each job you apply to. Start by reviewing the job description. In it, you will find important keywords that let you know what kind of employee the company is hoping to find. Use these same keywords throughout your cover letter.
2. Adapt for the company: Each version of your cover letter should talk about how your skills will benefit the particular company that you want to work for. You want to target the company’s needs—not your own. Demonstrate how you could help them achieve their goals. Remember: You're selling yourself in a resume and a cover letter, but the employer has to want to buy.
3. Show you "get" them: Your cover letter should demonstrate that you have done some research into what the organization's pain points are. Presenting yourself as a solution to a hiring manager’s problem can help your cover letter take the right tone. If you’re applying to an administrative position, be sure to mention your time-management skills; if you’re an IT professional, include your expertise in improving efficiency. Always ask yourself: How can I help this company?
4. Proofread. Don’t assume spell check will catch every mistake (it won’t). Slowly review your cover letter to make sure everything reads properly. Have someone else read your cover letter for backup.
Need even more confidence before you start your cover letter? Below are some additional cover letter tips you could reference—or keep scrolling for a cover letter sample:
Cover letter mistakes you should avoid: From overusing “I” to being too vague, there are a bunch of pitfalls that can trip you up. Don’t let them!
Cover letter format and advice tips: Learn how to set up your cover letter and what each section should include.
Cover letter tips for new grads: You might lack real-world work experience, but your cover letter can be chock-full of activities that demonstrate your potential to succeed.
Cover letter tips for technology professionals: The ease of applying to online jobs has led many IT professionals to skip sending a cover letter, but that’s a mistake.
Cover letter tips for finance professionals: If you’re searching for a finance job or want to be prepared just in case, you will need a dynamic cover letter to grab the hiring managers’ attention.
Tips for better email cover letters: If you're emailing a resume, your cover letter will deliver the first impression. These eight tips will help you craft a better email cover letter.
Cover letter sample
Check out the sample cover letter below (or download the template as a Word doc) to get some inspiration to craft your own. And we've also got you covered if you're looking for a cover letter in a specific industry.
Once you've finished your cover letter, consider joining Monster—you can upload and store up to five cover letters and resumes, so that you can apply for jobs on our site in a snap!
Ms. Rhonda West
Customer Service Manager
123 Corporate Blvd.
Sometown, CO 50802
Re: Customer Service Representative Opening (Ref. ID: CS300-Denver)
Dear Ms. West:
I was excited to see your opening for a customer service rep, and I hope to be invited for an interview.
My background includes serving as a customer service associate within both call-center and retail environments. Most recently, I worked on the customer service desk for Discount-Mart, where my responsibilities included handling customer merchandise returns, issuing refunds/store credits, flagging damaged merchandise for shipment back to vendors and providing back-up cashiering during busy periods.
Previously, I worked within two high-volume customer-support call centers for a major telecommunications carrier and a satellite television services provider. In these positions, I demonstrated the ability to resolve a variety of issues and complaints (such as billing disputes, service interruptions or cutoffs, repair technician delays/no-shows and equipment malfunctions). I consistently met my call-volume goals, handling an average of 56 to 60 calls per day.
In addition to this experience, I gained considerable customer service skills during my part-time employment as a waitress and restaurant hostess while in high school.
I also bring to the table strong computer proficiencies in MS Word, MS Excel and CRM database applications and a year of college (business major). Please see the accompanying resume for details of my experience and education.
I am confident that I can offer you the customer service, communication and problem-solving skills you are seeking. Feel free to call me at 555-555-5555 (home) or 555-555-5500 (cell) to arrange an interview. Thank you for your time—I look forward to learning more about this opportunity!