Key Elements of a Cover Letter
The cover letter is usually the first item an employer reads from you. Your letter should immediately indicate what position you are applying for and then give information that demonstrates why you should be considered for the position. Do not repeat all of the information contained in your resume. Instead, highlight or elaborate on resume items that are directly applicable to the position for which you are applying. The following information should be included in your cover letter.
Information about you
Begin your cover letter with your contact information. It should be in block style, on the left margin of your paper, towards the top. Name Current home address Telephone number
Include a date as you would do with any business letter.
Contact Person's Name, Title, Employer, and Address
Including a specific name can get your letter and resume to the hiring manager more quickly and can be an effective personal touch. If you are applying for an advertised position that does not give a name to contact, call the company and ask for the department manager's name.
Choose the appropriate way to address the contact person. For example: Dear Mr. Johns (if a man's name is the contact) Dear Ms. Smith (if a woman's name is the contact) Dear Prospective Employer (if there is no contact name)
In the opening paragraph tell how you learned about the position. You may, for example, know of a job through: a classified advertisement an unsolicited mailing the Internet personal referrals
This paragraph gives a summary of your background and critical skills (hard skills) that make you qualified for the position.
Second Middle Paragraph
This paragraph can be used to demonstrate your persuasive skills (soft skills).
Contact Information and Closing
At the end of the letter talk about your availability for the job, where you can be contacted, and when you are going to contact the hiring person for an appointment to discuss your application. If you have no contact name you may simply want to indicate your anticipation for a response in this part of the letter. Thank the person to whom you are writing for his/her time and consideration of your application.
Paper and Printing
- Use white or ivory (20-25 lb.), 8 ½ x 11 bond paper printed on one side only.
- Use the same paper for resume, cover letter, and envelopes if possible.
- Make sure that there is no shadowing or dirty marks from your printer on the papers.
- Follow instructions in employment ads or recruitment directions.
- Proofread! Look for spelling and formatting errors. Make sure recipient's name, company name, and title are correctly spelled in the letter and on the envelope.
- Proofread again!
- Have another person proofread your letter and resume.
- Be sure there are no errors of fact.
- Sign in blue or black ink.
- Keep a copy of the cover letter and resume for your records.
- Follow up with a phone call, about five days after expected delivery.
Layout and Design
- Follow standard cover letter format.
- Keep the cover letter to one page.
- Set margins at 1 ½”.
- Use a simple, easy to read font style, 10-14 point. (Times, Courier, or Helvetica)
- Use boldface, italics, all-caps and underlining, but don't overdo it.
Planning and Tone
- Tailor each cover letter to one specific position.
- Use industry jargon specific to your career field.
- Identify the employer's key words and use them.
- Make all statements positive. Check the tone by asking yourself if each sentence leaves a positive impression.
- Show originality but not cuteness.
- Use action verbs and phrases .
- Sound determined and confident not desperate.
- Organize context in a reasonable and logical order.
- Use correct grammar.
- Keep sentences short.
- Keep paragraphs short.
- Use short words and simple language.
- Make every word count.
- Punctuate using commas, dashes, and periods.
- Focus on the employer's need for a worker, rather than your need for a job.
- Tell how your skills and personal qualities match the employer's needs.
- Focus on what you can do for the employer and how you contribute to the organization.
- Show you have researched the company double check those facts.
- Be specific avoid general statements.
- English (UK)
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- Cover Letter
What to Include in a Cover Letter (Examples for 2023)
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You know you need a cover letter… But what should be in a cover letter besides a desperate plea to give you a job? Your dream opportunity may slip by if you don’t include the right things in your cover letter.
Cheer up! Writing one will be a breeze if you know what to put in a cover letter. Not only that—you’ll write an attention-grabbing cover letter that will get employers on the phone ASAP.
So what should a cover letter include? Our brief cover letter guide will show you what should and shouldn’t be in a cover letter and why.
This guide will tell you:
- What to include in a cover letter to land the job you're after.
- What NOT to include in a cover letter.
- What are the elements that make a great cover letter.
Want to save time and have your cover letter ready in 5 minutes? Try our cover letter builder. It’s fast and easy to use, and you'll get tips and right-vs-wrong examples while writing it. Choose from 20+ professional cover letter templates that match your resume.
CREATE YOUR COVER LETTER NOW
Here’s an infographic showing you what to include in a cover letter:
Sample cover letter for a resume— See more cover letter examples here .
Looking for some cover letter examples? See:
- The Perfect Cover Letter for Any Job (Example & Guide)
- General Cover Letter Example
- Email Cover Letter Example
- Brief Cover Letter Example
- Cover Letter with No Experience Example
- Motivational Statement Example
- 5 Short Cover Letter Examples for Any Job (+ Writing Guide)
- Cover Letter for an Internship: Example & Tips for All Interns
- Business Cover Letter: Samples, Proper Format, & Writing Guide
- Cover Letter Examples to Land Any Job
Need a detailed cover letter writing guide? Check here: How to Write a Cover Letter in 8 Simple Steps
Now, let’s see what should be in a cover letter for a resume to make it successful:
What to Include in a Cover Letter?
The key to writing a successful job application is to know exactly what to put in a cover letter. With a good writing guide, it’s just like following a cooking recipe. Think of each element of a cover letter as the necessary ingredients and your writing style as seasoning that adds a unique flavor.
Here are the key elements a cover letter should include:
Professional Cover Letter Format
Remember to use easy-to-read cover letter fonts that can make a good impression on recruiters. Set the spacing and margins of your cover letter to maintain a good balance between text and white space, and limit the cover letter length to one page.
What contact details should you add? Must-haves include your name, email address, and phone number. Nice-to-haves are your mailing address, branding statement, and LinkedIn profile.
End your cover letter header by inserting the date of writing before moving on.
You need to list the name of the person leading the recruitment process, their job title, and the company address.Research the company website, or a site like Glassdoor , to locate the hiring manager’s name so that you can address your cover letter correctly.
Dear is regarded as one of the best cover letter salutations out there, as it is helpful whether the letter is formal or informal and whether you know the recruiter’s name. Avoid cliché greetings such as Dear Sir or Madam , or To Whom It May Concern , as they’re considered lazy and outdated.
What should the first paragraph of a cover letter include? Like the compelling first line in a great novel, the opening paragraph in a cover letter should immediately hook the reader in a way that makes them want to read further.
Your Interest in the Company and Position
Show your enthusiasm for the job by including attention-grabbing facts about the company or your respect for their products and services. A bit of praise can get you very far!
Reasons You’re Great for the Job
Show them you are the perfect fit for the company and team by mentioning your professional achievements . Give specific examples of using the required skills in the past. This section of your cover letter shouldn’t be a repetition of your resume but a tailored demonstration of your expertise.
Closing Paragraph With a CTA
Write an impressive closing paragraph of your cover letter by briefly summarizing everything, and add a Call To Action by proposing a meeting or a phone call.
Closing Sentiment and Your Name
Simple ones such as “Best Regards” or “Sincerely” with your full name are enough. Remember to add a cover letter enclosure to make sure the hiring manager knows you sent through a complete application.
A P.S. at the bottom of your cover letter always draws the reader’s attention, even if they don’t care to read the rest. Include an original idea for the company, or show off an impressive achievement in a way that will make them want to learn more about you.
Now that you know what should be included in a cover letter, make sure to fill each element correctly. Remember what your cover letter should say : you can help the company succeed!
Sloppy cover letters don’t land job interviews—they land in the trash can instead. Make sure your cover letter looks its best. Learn more: Formatting a Cover Letter Step-by-Step
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check . Start building a professional resume template here for free .
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What Not to Include in a Cover Letter?
Maybe you’ve got a unique idea about what to include in a cover letter for a job. It’s better to check if it’s not against the rules. There’s always a bit of freedom in writing a job application, but going too far won’t make a good impression on recruiters.
What not to put in a cover letter:
Your cover letter should include relevant experience that fits the advertised position. Skip anything that won’t matter to the hiring manager.
A cover letter is not an essay! Keep the paragraphs up to 5 sentences long to write a killer cover letter .
It’s the same as in a resume— lying on a job application is a big NO. If you claim something, make sure you have facts to back it up.
Generally, it’s better not to include them. Mention your salary requirements in the cover letter only if the job advertisement tells you to do it.
Negative Remarks About Previous Jobs
Never say you hated your job . Whatever the circumstances of leaving a previous position are, keep all remarks professional.
If you need to explain something in your cover letter, make sure you’re not using unverifiable claims, such as: “I didn’t get a promotion because the manager chose someone who slept with the boss .”
Unless it’s relevant to the position or the job advertisement, don’t focus on details of your personal life. The recruiter doesn’t need to know everything about you. In fact, providing irrelevant information may lead to unconscious bias and employment discrimination, even though it’s against labor laws .
Leave the socials, profile URLs, and portfolio to your resume unless the cover letter template of your choice has a place for them.
You don’t need to be like, “I love you guys!”. Show your enthusiasm for the job, but don’t go too far with flattery . Focus on the company's achievements rather than subjective opinions about it.
It’s perfectly fine that you expect certain things from the company. But in your cover letter, focus on saying what you can do for them .
Spelling or Grammar Errors
It’s just common sense—use a spellchecking tool such as Grammarly to ensure you didn’t make any mistakes.
It’s obvious, but make sure that you address the letter to the right company and person.
Strange File Name
Naming a cover letter is important. You don’t want the file lost on the recruiter’s hard drive. Always put your name and the position you apply for in the file name.
Remember that a cover letter should be formal . Unless you know for certain that the company culture is extremely relaxed, don’t include jokes or puns.
got a wealth of tips on writing a cover letter that will let you stand out: 35+ Successful Cover Letter Tips, Advice & Guidelines
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:
See more cover letter templates and start writing.
In a nutshell, here's what to put in a cover letter to get the job of your dreams:
- Powerful start: Your opening sentence and the introductory paragraph on your cover letter are vital because they’ll determine if the hiring manager continues reading. Mention your relevant skills and work achievements to grab their attention.
- Strong middle: Use the second and third paragraphs to show that you are a perfect fit for the position on offer and the company and that they are the ideal place you’d love to work at.
- Memorable finish: You kept their attention that far but have a compelling ending and an attention-grabbing postscript, so they’ll be sure to move on to your resume.
Do you have any questions on what to put in a cover letter? Not sure what should be in a cover letter to make it effective? Get at us in the comments below, and we will answer your question. Thanks for reading!
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Frequently Asked Questions about What to Include in Cover Letters
What to include in a cover letter.
It’s good that you know that cover letters are necessary . When writing a job application, it’s also important to know what should a cover letter include. The purpose of a cover letter is to express your interest in the advertised position and present your qualifications for the job. In order to do that, you must include the essential cover letter information.
Here’s what goes in a cover letter:
1. Your contact information
2. Date of the letter
3. Contact information of the hiring manager and the company
4. Salutation + the hiring manager’s name
5. Attention-grabbing opening statement .
6. First paragraph, containing your enthusiasm for the position and the company
7. Second paragraph, containing an overview of your qualifications
8. Third paragraph, specifying why this position is perfect for you
9. Closing paragraph with a Call To Action
10. Greetings and optional P.S.
Remember that your cover letter layout should match the resume template—this makes your job application appear more professional! If you don’t want to work with font sizes, cover letter spacing & margins , and all of that fluff, you can pick some simple cover letter templates to download , or a few free cover letter templates in Microsoft Word to make your life easier.
What are 3 things you should include in a cover letter?
While certain parts of a cover letter, such as contact information and salutations, are easy to remember, the contents of the cover letter’s paragraphs are more difficult to write. However, once you remember what your cover letter should say in 3 short points, it will become easier to write one.
Here are the 3 things you should include in a cover letter:
- Your enthusiasm for the job and the company
- Your research about the position and the company’s business goals
- Your willingness to make a contribution
Why do these things matter to recruiters?
First, they want to see you are enthusiastic about the advertised position . By letting them know what attracts you to the job and the company, they can see that you didn’t just send the same letter to 20 other businesses. For this reason, never address your cover letter with “To whom it may concern” —it really makes a bad impression on the reader!
Second, by doing research about the position and the business, you can learn about their current goals, history, achievements, and challenges to overcome. You can make a great impression by referring to a little-known fact or a significant achievement of the company in your cover letter.
Third, the hiring managers want to know what you can do for the company. Explain how you can contribute to the overall business goal and the goals of the department you’d work for. Be as specific as possible!
What are the 7 things you should include while formatting your cover letter?
Just like there are many recipes for apple pie, there are also many guidelines for cover letters. How are you supposed to know which ones matter? We tried to combine them into 7 points to make formatting a cover letter easier.
Here are the 7 things you should include in a cover letter:
1. Cover Letter Header : add your contact information and contact details of the company
2. Salutation : tailor the cover letter greeting and use the hiring manager’s name instead of the cliché “ Dear Sir or Madam ”
3. Opening paragraph : grab the reader’s attention by introducing yourself, stating why you want this job, and what attracts you to the company.
4. Second paragraph : present your qualifications by referring to the requirements from the job advertisement.
5. Third paragraph : show that you’re the perfect candidate for this position by explaining how you can contribute to the company's success.
6. Closing paragraph : summarize your interest in the position and include a Call To Action.
7. Greetings and signature : use a professional closing and paste your scanned signature for a personal touch.
Sometimes, the job advertisement may ask candidates to also include their salary expectations in cover letters . If that’s the case, make sure to also mention them!
As for the ideal length of a cover letter , it’s best to keep it short enough to fit a bit more than half of a page. Recruiters are busy people, they don’t have time to read long essays.
What are the 4 parts of a cover letter?
It’s not easy to find a general cover letter outline . But don’t worry, writing a cover letter can be easier than finding the perfect answer to your question via Google . You just need to know what 4 parts to include in your cover letter .
Each cover letter has four distinct sections:
- Header with contact information and salutation
- Your introduction
- Body of the letter
- Closing statement
That’s what a cover letter should look like .
The body is the longest section of a cover letter. It may consist of several paragraphs (though usually two are enough) dedicated to proving that you’re the best fit for the advertised position. In this part, you should include an overview of your qualifications, refer to the requirements mentioned in the job ad, and explain how you can use your skills and knowledge to assist the employer and help the company achieve its goals. Remember that the goal of your cover letter is to sell yourself . It’s important to be specific—vague promises are not convincing for recruiters!
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Are Cover Letters Necessary in 2023? Do You Need One?
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How to Send an Email Cover Letter (Samples & Tips)
Want to send a cover letter along with your resume? You've got two options: email your cover letter as an attachment, or write an email cover letter. We'll show you how to do both.
General Cover Letter Sample, Generic Template, & Tips
Can you use a generic cover letter for all jobs? Only if you know how to do it well. See a professional general cover letter sample and read our tips to make it even better.
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What to Include in a Cover Letter for a Job
When writing a cover letter , specific information needs to be included: a contact section, a salutation, an introduction to the hiring manager, information on why you are qualified for the job, a closing, and your signature. The way the information is listed and the format depend on how you are sending your letter.
The goal of your cover letter is to make a case for getting selected for a job interview, so it's important to include all required information along with a compelling argument for why you would be a strong candidate for the position .
It can be time-consuming to write a custom cover letter for each job you apply for, but it's important to take the time and effort to show the company why you are a good match.
The more your experience and your skills match the job description, the higher your chances of getting picked for an interview.
Be sure to include information in your letter about how you possess the particular skills and requirements that the employer is seeking.
Don't simply repeat what's in your resume. Your resume lists your skills, but your cover letter should highlight how you have put those skills to use.
Before you start writing, review cover letter examples and make sure that your letter explains how your skills relate to the criteria listed in the job posting. Looking at examples of effective cover letters will give you a starting point for creating your own letter.
Here's what to include in a cover letter to send with a resume when you apply for a job.
What to List in a Cover Letter Contact Section
When writing a cover letter to mail or to upload to a job board or company website, the first section of your cover letter should include information on how the employer can contact you.
Printed or Uploaded Letter List the following information in the contact section:
Hiring Manager Name (if you have it) Title Company Address City, State Zip Code
Your Name Address City, State Zip
Email Cover Letter When you send an email cover letter , include your contact information in your signature instead of listing your contact information at the top of the message:
Your Name Street Address City, State Zip Code Email Phone LinkedIn
Here's more information, with examples, on how to address a cover letter .
Choose an Appropriate Salutation
It's important to include an appropriate greeting at the beginning of the cover letter or message. If you have a contact person for your letter, be sure to include their name in your letter.
Consider salutation examples that are appropriate for cover letters and other employment-related correspondence.
- Dear Hiring Manager (if you don't have a contact person)
- Dear Mr. Smith
- Dear Ms. Jones
- Dear Rory Dolan
- Dear Dr. Milliard
Highlight Your Qualifications in the Body Section
The body is the most important part of a cover letter or an email message applying for employment.
The body of a cover letter includes the paragraphs where you explain why you are interested in and qualified for the posted job :
- Why you are writing.
- How you are qualified for the job.
- Appreciation for being considered for the position.
Be specific by referencing the employer's job requirements as listed in the job posting in this part of your cover letter.
Include Keywords in Your Letter
Including keywords related to the jobs for which you are applying in your cover letters can help you get selected for a job interview. These are specific words hiring managers look for when considering applications.
As hiring processes have become automated, online applicant tracking systems are programmed to search for keywords.
Choose an Appropriate Closing
Make sure to close your letter in a professional manner. Casual closings as you would write to a friend or a family member are not appropriate in a letter to a potential employer.
- Best regards
- Thank you for your consideration
Add Your Signature to the Letter
What is included in a cover letter signature depends on whether you are sending or uploading a cover letter document or using an email message as your cover letter.
Hard copies of letters should be signed by hand. Scanning your signature to include on PDFs can be a nice touch, while emails should include a professional electronic signature that includes your contact information.
Review Cover Letter Examples
Here's an example of the final product, including information on why the applicant would be an excellent candidate with a summary of his qualifications for the job.
Download the template for a cover letter here and also review more cover letter samples with free templates you can download to use as a starting point for your own letter.
John Bigham 111 Maple Street Anytown, MA 02222 555-555-5555
September 1, 2020
Shaun Lee Human Resources Goodspring 123 Business Rd. Business City, NY 54321
Dear Mr. Lee:
I am writing to state my interest in the position of Assistant to the Director of Goodspring. I believe that my work experience and education have equipped me with the skills necessary to be a successful candidate for this position.
During my years with XYZ Wellness, I have been responsible for everything from accounting, bookkeeping, marketing and maintaining records to scheduling appointments and greeting clients and their families at the door. I have proudly overseen our growth from a startup business to a well-respected contributor to the community.
I have also been in charge of organizing our very successful annual golf fundraiser and dinner. Last year, we raised $145,000 for our local homeless shelter.
Your mission is an important one, and I would very much appreciate the opportunity to speak with you about how I can contribute to your team and help you continue to provide the services so vital to our community. Thank you for your consideration.
John Bigham (signature hard copy letter)
When you're sending an email cover letter (see below) your contact information should be listed after your signature.
What to Include in an Email Cover Letter
The body of an email cover letter should contain the same information as a document cover letter, but two big differences are the subject line and your contact information.
Many employers ask that specific information is included in the subject line , and you must follow those instructions carefully. Contact information should be included with your electronic signature.
What Not to Include in a Cover Letter
There are some things that don't belong in a cover letter. Don't go overboard. Including too much information can hinder your chances of getting an interview.
Keep your letter concise and focused, and don't include extraneous details.
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How and Why to Write a Great Cover Letter
A cover letter is a one-page business letter that you submit when applying to a job, along with your resume. As a piece of persuasive writing, your cover letter will aim to convey to the employer why you’re a great candidate for the role.
What is the purpose of a cover letter?
Your cover letter complements your resume by making it easy for the employer to see how your experience and interest connect to the position. Your goal is to convince the employer to interview you.
With your cover letter, you’ll aim to:
- Highlight your qualifications: You’ll show how your skills and experience relate to the employer’s needs for a specific position.
- Showcase your motivation: You’ll demonstrate your enthusiasm for the specific position and the organization.
- Reflect your voice and written communication skills: You’ll give the employer a sense of your personality and writing style.
When should I write a cover letter?
Not all jobs require cover letters. So, how do you decide whether to submit one?
Submit a Cover Letter when…
- The posting explicitly requests that you do so
- You’re applying to an opportunity at a mission-driven organization
- You think that doing so could provide important information to the employer that they wouldn’t get from your resume
Consider Submitting a Cover Letter when…
- It’s marked “optional” in an application, and you have the bandwidth to do so
- You have content that you can easily recycle or repurpose into a tailored cover letter
No Need to Submit a Cover Letter when…
- A posting specifically tells you not to submit one
- There’s no way to submit one in an application portal, and doing so would require a serious workaround
If you’re applying to several similar opportunities, creating a draft cover letter in advance, geared toward that type of opportunity, can be a helpful way to save time in your actual application process.
How do I write a cover letter?
Your cover letter should articulate your qualifications and motivation for the position. Read the job description closely and research the organization. As you craft your cover letter, use examples that demonstrate your relevant skills, knowledge, and interests. The cover letter should be concise, clear, and well-organized.
Research the employer.
Learn enough about the organization to articulate why you are a strong fit for that firm.
- Review the firm’s website and LinkedIn page.
- Speak with current or previous employees.
- Read articles and social media for current news.
Analyze the job description
Look for skills, duties, and qualifications of the job so you can design your letter to match these as much as possible.
Reflect on your experience and motivation
Identify skills and personal qualities you have developed which will be useful in this role. Ask yourself:
- What attracts you about this role/company/industry?
- What have you have done in your work experiences, classes, internships, activities, projects, volunteer work, travel, etc., that is similar to the duties required of the job?
Cover Letter Structure
As a business letter, the cover letter should include:
- Heading: Include your name and contact information in the same format as your resume
- Salutation: Address your letter to the specific individual who can hire you, if this is known. If the name is not included in the job description, address the letter to the Hiring Manager or title mentioned in the job description.
- Body Paragraphs: Discuss your experiences, interests, and skills to show the employer how you can add value to their team. See the section below for more guidance.
- Signature Line: Include a closing and your name.
The cover letter should be one page, about three or four paragraphs, and single spaced. Use 10-12 point font and one inch margins.
When applying online, upload your cover letter as a PDF file, unless another format is specified. When sending your resume and cover letter by email, you may write a short note or paste your cover letter in the body of your email (without the address header) and also attach the PDF file.
Cover Letter Content
Your cover letter should answer who, what, when, where and why you are applying for the opportunity.
State the position for which you are applying. If you have a referral or spoke with someone from the company, you can mention it in the introduction. Provide some basic information about yourself; this can include your class year and what you’re studying at Columbia. Briefly outline why you’re interested in the organization and what you bring in terms of relevant experience and skills.
These paragraphs will highlight your qualifications and strengths that are most relevant to the organization and position. Use the job posting and your research as clues to determine what the employer is seeking in a candidate. Have your resume beside you and reflect on what you want the employer to know about you. Are there experiences you want to expand upon that demonstrate your understanding of the role and ability to do the job requirements?
Structure the paragraphs based on relevance, not chronology. Lead with your most relevant skill or strongest experience.
Start each body paragraph with a clear topic sentence. This can highlight a key skill set, a transferable experience, or a core area of knowledge you’ve built through your studies. Walk the reader through a project or experience, integrating the relevant skills you used and qualities you demonstrated. Provide details about your accomplishments and impact. Connect how these experiences have prepared you for this role and why you are motivated to do this job. There is no need to apologize if you feel you lack experience; focus on the accomplishments that you have.
Recap what you would bring to the organization and your interest in the position. Thank the employer for their consideration. Keep your tone positive and enthusiastic.
Check out our example of how to structure your cover letter content .
Use our Cover Letter Checklist to make sure your format and content is in line with best practices.
- Ensure that the content reflects the requirements in the job description
- Keep the cover letter concise, at one page or less
- Correct any errors in grammar, sentence structure, and spelling
- Use the active voice
- Avoid beginning too many sentences with “I”
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How to write a cover letter.
A cover letter introduces you to an employer and asks them to think about your application.
It’s a short letter, usually 3 to 5 paragraphs long.
When to include a cover letter
You should always include a cover letter when you apply for a job using a CV.
You can write it as an email if you’re applying online or print a copy to go with a paper application.
When writing a cover letter, let the employer know you’re keen by showing that you’ve researched the company. Learn more about what they do through:
- their website
- recent news articles
- talking to people you know who work there
Send it to the right person
It's important to try to address your cover letter to someone by name. Check you have the details of the person you need to send it to.
You'll need their name and preferred title. For example, ‘Dr’, ‘Mr’, ‘Mrs’, ‘Ms’, and their job title. You should also make sure you have the right company name and address, including postcode.
If you do not know their name
If the job advert does not include a name you can check the company website. Try to find details of the head of the department, head of human resources or a recruitment manager.
If you still cannot find a name, you can start your letter with ‘Dear Sir or Madam’.
Introduce yourself and explain how you found the advertised job. You can mention the job title, and reference number if there is one.
If you’re asking about any job openings and not applying to a vacancy, tell them what sort of job you’re looking for. Let the employer see how keen you are to work for them.
Show you're right for the job
Highlight the skills and experience you have that match what the employer is looking for.
Convince them that you're enthusiastic about working for them. Let them know you share their work values, culture and style.
Give extra information
If you have gaps in your employment history, you could talk about the skills you gained while you were out of work.
If you’ve mentioned on your CV that you have a disability, you might want to talk more about this in your cover letter. Organisations like Disability UK can give you advice on how to do this. You do not have to mention your disability at this stage if you prefer not to.
You can get more help with specialist advice on finding work if you have a disability.
Ending your cover letter
Thank the employer for considering your application. Let them know that they can get more details from your CV, and tell them you're looking forward to hearing from them.
Let them know how they can best contact you. Make sure your contact details are correct on both your cover letter and CV.
Yours sincerely or yours faithfully
If you know the name of the person you’re writing to, you should end the letter with ‘Yours sincerely’.
If you’ve addressed the letter ‘Dear Sir or Madam’, you should end the letter with ‘Yours faithfully’.
Tips for writing a cover letter
When writing your cover letter, remember to:
- write a new one for every job you apply for and make sure it’s tailored to the company and the specific role
- use the same font and size as you do for your CV, so it looks consistent
- make sure the company name and recruiter’s details are correct
- use the right language and tone: keep it professional and match the keywords used by the employer in their job advert
- show you’ve done your research into the job and the company
- highlight your most relevant skills and experience to stand out from other applicants
- back up any statements you make with facts and use the STAR method
- double check spelling and grammar before you send it
- keep a copy of your cover letter as they may ask you about it in an interview
How to write a CV
Completing application forms
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What to Include in a Cover Letter
Let your resume set 'em up and your cover letter knock 'em down..
Many jobs ask you to file a cover letter along with your other application materials, but even if a cover letter is optional, you might take the opportunity to send one along. To make the effort worth your while, you need to know what to include in a cover letter. The goal is to express your knowledge, applicable skills, and passion for the job in question. But you only have one page to work with, so you need to be smart when choosing what to say.
Before you submit a cover letter, first make sure each one is tailored to the job you’re applying for and references the position. Second, make sure each cover letter you write includes these three elements.
This Is What to Include in a Cover Letter
1. proof that you’ve done your homework.
Recruiters and hiring managers want to see that you know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s important in the early sections of your cover letter that you refer to these essentials:
- the job (example: copywriting)
- its title (example: assistant healthcare copywriter)
- the company (example: Company ABC)
And don’t be afraid to do a little flattering. Impress your potential future boss with an acknowledgement of a major company success. Bonus points if that success relates to the team you’d be joining.
Here's an example for how you’d sneak this info into your cover letter narrative:
I’m impressed by the way Company ABC makes climate change issues accessible to everyday people (particularly in commercials for your EFG Product, which have resonated with me often), and I would be grateful for the opportunity to be part of such meaningful work.
The writing is informal, flattering, and shows the job applicant knows the ropes.
2. An Explanation of How Your Skills Relate to the Job
If you're not sure what should be included in a cover letter, look at how your skills align with the job for which you're applying. Connect the dots for the reader by explaining in the letter what exactly it is you can do for this company and this role based on your previous experience.
One of the best indications of what to include in a cover letter is right in the job ad . Take a piece of paper and make two columns. In one column, pull sentences from the job ad that express what the company is looking for. Then in the next column, add a sentence that explains how your skills match those requirements. It’s a smart, organized way you untangle an unruly ball of qualifications and pick out the most appropriate things to include in a cover letter.
Of course, you can also do this in a more traditional way—simply stating how your skills connect to the job.
3. Your Excitement About the Position
Here’s an exercise: Think about yourself in the job you’re applying for. What do you feel? You’re probably pretty pumped, huh? Now harness some of that excitement and put it down on paper.
For example, if you were applying to a web design or UX job, you could write
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in how the digital world works and how users interact with websites. Website design is not only my career, it’s my passion, which is why I hope you’ll consider me for this great role on your team.
This has feeling and emotion; a far cry from the dry form letter you thought you had to write.
As we said, HR staff and hiring managers have limited time and a lot of resumes to sort through. Don’t put them to sleep. Create something they’ll remember you by. It just might be the difference between your application ending up in the trash or the inbox of the boss.
Now, About Your Resume...
Great, you know what to include in a cover letter! But while that piece of paper might be optional, your resume most definitely is not. Resumes are still a tried-and-true requirement that hiring managers use to screen potential candidates. Need some help with that? Get a free resume assessment today from Monster. It's quick and simple and can improve your chances of hearing back from employers.
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How to Write a Cover Letter (Cover Letter Tips + Free Templates)
A well-written cover letter to accompany your resume can help you stand out to employers and significantly impact a hiring manager’s decision to call you for an interview .
David Grimes, director of people and talent operations at Taulia LLC, told us, “I sincerely appreciate cover letters, as they signal to me an amplification of interest and offer an additional opportunity to convey that [job candidates] have taken the time to truly review the position or organization and see an alignment.”
He notes that “when done well, a cover letter can provide a window into the candidate as they picture themselves at our organization.”
So, if you’re wondering if you need a cover letter for a job, or you’re asking, “what is a cover letter for a resume?” and you want to know how to create a cover letter effectively, look no further!
In this guide, we’ll address the following:
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a one-page business document that should complement a CV or a resume in a job application. Its purpose is to:
- Introduce you to hiring managers.
- Provide details about your qualifications.
- Tell employers why you want to work for them.
- Illustrate why you’re the best match for the job.
- Explain circumstances like job hopping or gaps in employment.
Pro tip Did you know? 41% of job seekers replicate their resumes in their cover letters — a huge mistake. Your cover letter should complement your resume, not repeat it.
How to write a cover letter for a resume in 10 steps
Follow the simple steps below to make a cover letter that wows prospective employers.
STEP 1 Prepare to write your cover letter.
Preparation is key to writing a cover letter that stands out. Having your essential information ready will save you time and ensure you put your best foot forward.
First, review the job requirements and compare them to your relevant qualifications.
Then make a checklist of your:
- Notable accomplishments from previous jobs and volunteer work .
- Skills that match the required skills in the job ad. Include a mix of hard and soft skills .
- Educational qualifications, including certificates and licenses.
- Awards and honors.
Next, if you haven’t already, research the company to:
- Get an idea of the culture and their mission and values so you can tell the hiring manager how well you fit and why.
- Take note of the company’s news and press releases so you can highlight how you can help them reach their goals or congratulate them on a milestone.
- Learn the hiring manager’s name, so you can address your cover letter to them.
STEP 2 Choose a cover letter template
Want to know how to write the perfect cover letter? Use a cover letter template . Why? Because cover letter templates ensure your cover letter is in the correct cover letter format , they’re ATS-friendly and they are designed by professionals.
We have hundreds of templates to help you get started on the right track. Pick from modern, creative, or simple styles to match your CV or resume template and build a professional cover letter in minutes. Not sure if a template’s right for you? Try one for free!
STEP 3 Add your contact information.
Place your name, city, state, ZIP code, phone number and email address in your cover letter heading. Your email address should be professional like [email protected] and not personal like [email protected]. Include links to your LinkedIn profile or professional online portfolio if you have one.
STEP 4 Add the recipient’s address.
First, write the current date followed by a space. Then include the hiring manager’s name and title, company address and hiring manager’s email address (in that order).
It should look like this:
Pro tip Always follow instructions in the job ad. If an ad directs you to address your cover letter to a human resources team member or the HR department, use the information the prospective employer provides for the recipient’s address.
STEP 5 Address the hiring manager (by name).
Here’s a tip for how to address a cover letter correctly: Use the hiring manager’s name (unless the job ad specifies a department or HR team member), avoiding titles like “Mr.” or “Mrs.” unless you are certain of the person’s gender.
“Dear [hiring manager’s full name],” but if your research doesn’t turn up a name, then use “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Hiring Team.” If you know their title, then write “Dear [Title].
Don’t use informal language like “Hello,” or “Hi,” or old-fashioned salutations like“Dear Sir or Madam,” or “To Whom it May Concern,” to greet the person reading your letter.
Pro tip Did you know? 45% of hiring managers read an applicant’s cover letter before their resume.
- Dear Lucy Garcia,
- Dear Ms. Lowe,
- Dear Hiring Manager,
- Dear Vice President of Marketing,
- Hey Mr. Jones,
STEP 6 Grab the hiring manager’s attention with a powerful cover letter introduction
The opening sentences of a cover letter are like an elevator pitch . They should clearly and concisely tell hiring managers why you’re interested in the job and they’ve got to be compelling.
But how do you start a cover letter in a way that intrigues hiring managers and makes them want to read more?
The following tips and examples can help you write a cover letter opening that gets attention.
Exude confidence, passion and enthusiasm.
“I was excited to see that Tech Solutions — a company I respect for its innovation — has an opening for an experienced lead producer .”
Talk up your skills and experience.
“With seven years of experience in production for leading start-up companies in Silicon Valley, I have in-depth knowledge of cyber security and cloud computing and know my way around artificial intelligence .”
Show you’ve done some research.
Mention an interesting fact or statistic from an article, news story or the company’s website.
“When I saw that WILCO Services was touted in Business Magazine for being one of the most inclusive companies in the world, I knew I had to apply for the marketing associate position.”
- Highlight an impressive accomplishment, award or honor and use numbers when possible.
Tell a story about why you are applying.
“When I was a child, I spent my days in the city parks around my neighborhood, listening to birds sing and watching squirrels jump through trees. Those days instilled a passion in me for wildlife that has intensified over the years and, combined with admiration for the animal rehabilitation programs at Prospect Park Nature Conservancy, led me to apply for the Wildlife Technician position at the conservancy. ”
Mention a shared contact (if you’re sure it’s a positive connection).
“ Jayne Peck told me you had an opening on your graphics team, and I’m thrilled to apply for the role. You and I know Jayne from Volunteers for the Bay, where I volunteered on the cleanup crew in 2017.”
STEP 7 Explain why you’re the best candidate for the job in your cover letter body paragraphs.
The body of a cover letter should paint an in-depth picture of your professional life while providing insight into your personality. It’s your chance to show the potential employer what you’re made of.
Here’s what to write in a cover letter body paragraph, no matter your background:
- If you have work experience in your target role or industry, detail your work accomplishments and use numbers to quantify the results of your actions.
- If you’re applying for your first job , connect the new opportunity with a personal or school project, extracurricular activity or internship.
- Highlight your most relevant skills and explain clearly how you can apply them to the job.
- If you think you’re a shoe-in for the company’s culture, show it! For example, if you enjoy volunteering for social justice causes and you are applying to a nonprofit organization focused on social justice, then explain why the company’s mission is meaningful to you.
- If you’re changing careers, explain your motivation and emphasize your transferable skills to how you can contribute to the company’s success. Career change cover letters that emphasize transferable skills are more effective because they show prospectives that you can perform the work with little or no experience.
Pro tip Did you know? 83% of hiring managers surveyed said they would hire a candidate who sent a strong cover letter, even if their resume wasn’t up to par.
STEP 8 Write your closing paragraph.
When you write a cover letter closing statement, make it clear that you’re excited about the possibility of working for the employer and that you are confident you have the expertise to be successful at the job.
You must also thank your reader for their time and consideration, and perhaps most importantly, end with a call to action that encourages the reader to follow up with you.
Remember that you’re writing a cover letter to a specific person, so thank them for their time and consideration. You should also encourage the recipient to follow up (e.g., “I look forward to further discussing my qualifications with you.”).
Here are a few examples of how to create a cover letter closing paragraph.
Pro tip A “call to action” in your cover letter closing paragraph shows hiring managers that you’re serious about the job and confident in your qualifications.
STEP 9 Sign off.
What goes in a cover letter ending isn’t complicated, but you have to get it right if you want a chance at the job.
That means you must be respectful, polite, professional and formal.
- Best regards,
- Kind regards,
STEP 10 Proofread your cover letter
Knowing how to write a cover letter for a job isn’t all there is to making a cover letter. You have to proofread it at least once before sending your job application letter to a potential employer. Typos and cover letter formatting mistakes can reduce your chances of getting hired. When you’ve finished proofreading, have someone else read it for you too, just to be sure it’s job application-ready.
And there you go! That’s how to write a good cover letter.
What should a cover letter look like?
All cover letters follow a basic business letter structure that looks like this.
What to include in a cover letter
A professional cover letter must contain:
Your contact information
The current date
The hiring manager’s name and title
The company’s address
The hiring manager’s email address
A salutation (greeting)
An opening paragraph
A closing paragraph
Cover letter writing checklist
- Did you choose a cover letter design that matches your resume?
- Are your name, location, phone number and email address up to date and displayed at the top of your cover letter?
- Did you add a link to your professional portfolio or website and your current LinkedIn profile (if you have them)?
- Did you add the current date at the top of your cover letter?
- Did you address your letter to the hiring manager by name and include their title, email address and the correct company address?
- Did you greet the hiring manager, recruiter or HR associate by name or title?
- Did you use a polite but formal greeting?
- Are the first few sentences of your cover letter clear and compelling?
- Do you convey enthusiasm for the job?
- Did you effectively express how you can apply your skills, experience and achievements to the target job to help the company achieve its goals?
- Did you highlight one or two things you like about the company, such as their values or culture, and why?
- Did you thank the reader for their time?
- Did you end your cover letter with a call to action?
- Did you use a proper, formal closure to end your letter?
How to make a cover letter fast
A professional cover letter template is the best place to start a cover letter . Download one for free to create a cover letter from scratch, or use one of our expertly designed templates with our Cover Letter Builder to make a cover letter in minutes.
Our templates frame your qualifications with the correct formatting , and they meet the latest applicant tracking system (ATS) requirements.
Our builder makes writing a cover letter a snap with:
- Job-specific phrases and skills: No matter the job you’re applying for, we give you the right words and relevant skills you can incorporate with just one click.
- Step-by-step guidance: Get expert advice at every step to help you present your best self and get the job.
- Easy customization: Write a cover letter for every job application and save as many versions of it as you need.
- Multiple download formats: Save and export your cover letter as a PDF, DOCX or plain text.
Pro tip Always match your cover letter template to your resume template for a polished job application. Use our resume builder to create a matching resume and cover letter!
Cover letter tips
We’ve given you almost all the advice for writing a good cover letter that you’ll need to start creating a cover letter, but we’ve saved a few pointers for last.
Here are our top five tips for how to make a cover letter effectively.
TIP #1 Follow instructions. This is probably the most important tip for writing a cover letter. Read the job description carefully and do what it says. If the job posting says to send your letter as a PDF, don’t send a Word document. If it tells you to send your cover letter as an email attachment, then do so. If the job posting says to write your cover letter in the body of an email, then do that. If you fail to follow all instructions in a job ad, you will likely not be considered for the position.
TIP #2 Tailor your cover letter to the job. Hiring managers know a generic cover letter when they see one — and they usually ignore them. That’s why it’s critical to customize your cover letter to show your enthusiasm for the specific job and company you’re applying to. To do this, use keywords from the job description when they apply to you. Doing so also ensures ATS software can find you and signals to hiring managers that you meet their requirements.
Our Cover Letter Builder makes it fast easy to customize a cover letter for every job you target.
TIP #3 Don’t apologize. Never point out the skills and experience you lack. If you are qualified for the job but don’t have much experience in the field, don’t apologize. Instead, focus on experiences like volunteering, school projects and community service you’ve done that make you a good fit and play up your transferable skills.
TIP #4 Don’t overshare. While writing a cover letter to explain a career change or job gap is a good idea, sharing every detail about your life or career is not. Keep away from the following topics every time you create a cover letter:
- Political views.
- Current or past salary or salary expectations for the target job.
- Exaggerations and lies (about anything).
- Personal details such as marital status, family background, financial situation, ethnicity or religious beliefs
- Negative thoughts about your former boss, company or coworkers.
- Irrelevant personal hobbies.
- Details about work from more than three years ago that doesn’t pertain to your target job.
TIP #5 It’s possible to be too enthusiastic. We stress the importance of conveying enthusiasm when you write a cover letter because you should. However, use caution when displaying your zeal. Keep your tone professional, be genuine and never present yourself as desperate.
Cover letter examples
Cover letter examples for top jobs.
Get inspired with our professionally crafted cover letter examples for top jobs and industries. You can use them with our builder to make a cover letter that’s as unique as you are.
- Executive assistant
- Customer service representative
- Educational assistant
- Case manager
- Payroll specialist
Cover letter examples by situation
Example of how to make a cover letter when you have no experience.
Use this example to help you write a career change cover letter.
Here’s what to include in a cover letter if you have employment gaps.
Example of how to write a “cold call” cover letter.
This example shows how to write a cover letter for a job that isn’t advertised.
Here’s how to write a cover letter for a temporary to a permanent position.
Example of a cover letter for a job with the same company.
Example of a job application letter when you’re seeking a promotion.
How to write a cover letter: important takeaways
Let’s recap the basics of what to include in a cover letter one more time:
- A cover letter is a one-page document that complements your resume without repeating it.
- Address the cover letter to the hiring manager. If you don’t know who to address the cover letter to or can’t find their name, then address them as “Hiring Manager,” by their title, or address the department.
- Write a cover letter introduction that immediately grabs the hiring manager’s attention and compels them to keep reading.
- It’s a good idea to use a professionally designed cover letter template to ensure your cover letter is formatted correctly.
- A good cover letter is a custom cover letter. Tailor yours to your target job and use keywords from the job description if they fit your abilities.
How to make a cover letter FAQ
How long should a cover letter be.
A cover letter should cover one half-a page minimum and it should never be more than one-page long. Aim to concisely express your points in about 250-500 words.
How do you write a cover letter for a job application?
To make a cover letter effectively, use a standard business letter format, include your contact details and the potential employers’ contact information, address the hiring manager if possible, and in 250-500 words, explain how your achievements, skills, and work experience make you the best fit for the job. Introduce yourself and show enthusiasm for the job in the first paragraph, then in one or two paragraphs, detail exactly why you’re the best fit for the position. Ensure you address situations such as job gaps, a career change, or a move to a new location, and wrap it up in a compelling closing paragraph that reiterates your interest in the job and invites the hiring manager to contact you for an interview.
How to address a cover letter without a name?
It’s always best practice to try to find the hiring manager’s name when writing a cover letter because it personalizes your letter and emphasizes your interest in the position by showing you’ve done your homework. It also creates a connection with the hiring manager and conveys that you’re willing to go the extra mile, which is a quality most hiring managers want to see in prospective employees. But if you don’t have a name, it’s acceptable to write “Dear hiring manager,” “Dear [Title],” or “Dear [Department Name] to address your cover letter.
Can I send an email cover letter for a resume?
Yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to send a cover letter in an email message, unless the job description states to attach it. Be sure to attach your resume to the email and let the hiring manager know it’s attached.
Is a cover letter necessary?
Yes! Unless a job posting specifically states not to send one, writing a cover letter for a job application is a must if you want to stand out from the competition. Sending a cover letter along with your resume shows recruiters that you are a professional who is sincerely interested in the job and willing to go the extra mile for it — traits employers look for in job candidates.
What to write in a cover letter?
Generally, cover letters should tell employers why you’re the best fit for your target job. Write about your background and how it fits the job, show your personality, and explain precisely what you can do for the employer and how. It’s also a good idea to explain unique situations like job gaps and the reasons for a career change in a cover letter.
Of course, you should also include your name, contact information, links to professional profiles, the employer’s address, addressee’s name and title, a greeting, a job applicant’s contact information, the employer’s address, a compelling introduction, a strong closing inviting the hiring manager or recruiter to follow-up and a formal signoff.
What does a cover letter look like?
A good cover letter looks like a classic business letter. Some cover letter templates have splashes of color, like this one:
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Kellie Hanna, CPRW
Career advice expert.
Kellie is a Certified Professional Resume Writer with 20+ years of experience in digital media and is passionate about helping job seekers navigate their careers. She earned a B.A. in English and writing from Temple University.
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