Cover Letter References Sample

Let's say you have a job interview that goes really well. At the end of the interview, the employer asks you for references. Uh oh! You forgot to bring your job reference sheet! No problem. You promise to send it as soon as you get home.

It would have been nice to have had the sheet ready to hand your interviewer on the spot but since you didn't, you need to:

  • Write a cover letter email.
  • Attach your job reference sheet to that email.

If you haven't already created your job reference sheet, please see my Template to Create a Job Reference Sheet.

Basic Cover Letter Template for Writing a Job Reference Sheet

You would have written a thank you letter after the job interview even if you hadn't forgotten your job reference sheet. Right? So, in this case, you can add a short paragraph to your thank you note to mention your attached job reference sheet. Here's a template to help you out.

Dear So-and-So,
Start your email by thanking your interviewer for the interview. This paragraph should be only two or three sentences long.

In the second paragraph, mention a few things from the interview that stood out for you and that you would like the interviewer to remember about you. This can be as short as two sentences or it can be longer if you have something relevant to say.

In the third paragraph, tell your reader that you have attached your job reference sheet. If there's anyone special on the list you want to point out, do that here.

Thank the interviewer again briefly.

Sincerely, (or some other closing that's professional and friendly)
Your name

Attached: Job reference sheet

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.

1. Personalize

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

 

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