WRITING A Cover Letter

Does sitting down to write a cover letter feel overwhelming? You're not alone! Many people don't enjoy writing cover letters but they're an important part of job applications. Grab some coffee, take a deep breath and scroll down to start tackling a cover letter.

How to write a cover letter

Watch this fun, 8-minute video that walks you through writing a cover letter step-by-step and provides the following tips:

  • Make it one page

  • Do research, find a hiring manager name

  • Start strong

  • Highlight your value

  • Convey enthusiasm, not desperation

  • Find a proofreader

If you're feeling inspired or saw a listing for your dream job and want to write a cover letter for it, check out the lessons by Google below. Each of them takes around 45-90 minutes but they're broken up into short videos and activities so you don't need to finish them in one sitting.


Click here (also linked in the image to the left) for a cover letter template from Career One Stop that you can use as a guide for your cover letter. Copy/paste it into a Google document or Microsoft Word document then type information specific to the job you're applying for.



Make a great first impression with this free cover letter provided by Microsoft (also linked in the image above). All you need to do is click "download", open it in Microsoft Word then replace the sample text with your own words.


You can browse these cover letter samples provided by Indeed on a wide range of job positions (also linked in the image above). Click on the job position that you're applying for, copy/paste the sample cover letter into a Google document or Microsoft Word document then be sure to change the words into your own.

Convictions & Cover Letters

Check out some FAQs below about writing a cover letter if you have a conviction.

Q: Should I include my conviction in a cover letter?

A: The decision is yours - but know your rights before making a decision! Ask CEO staff if Fair Chance Hiring (aka Ban the Box) applies in your area. If it does, employers can't ask about criminal history until after they've made a job offer. If a job application asks whether you have a conviction, we recommend answering truthfully. You can say something along the lines of "Yes, I would be happy to discuss further or provide more details in an interview." During an interview, follow the tips in the picture above to answer the conviction question.

Q: What if I don’t have relevant work experience?

A: Choose a similar job, internship, volunteer experience or any professional experience that demonstrates how the skills you gained are transferable to the job on hand. You can also mention certificates and licenses you've earned and the tools and technology you know how to use. If you feel comfortable talking about it, work experience while incarcerated definitely counts! You've gained valuable, transferrable skills from jobs while incarcerated that you can mention in your resume, cover letter and interview. On your resume, you can list your employer as your state department of corrections.

Q: How do I explain a gap in my resume when I was out of the workforce?

A: If you're asked about a gap in your resume or you would like to explain it in a cover letter, follow the steps in the picture above. You can also create a functional resume instead of a traditional resume. Functional resumes highlight skills over experience and education while traditional resumes are organized chronologically with the most recent work experience on top. You can use this functional resume template to build your own.