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How to Write a Cover Letter
Advice for tackling one of the toughest parts of the job-hunting process.
Perhaps the most challenging part of the job application process is writing an effective cover letter. And yes, you should send one. Even if only one in two cover letters gets read, that’s still a 50% chance that including one could help you. Before you start writing, find out more about the company and the specific job you want. Next, catch the attention of the hiring manager or recruiter with a strong opening line. If you have a personal connection with the company or someone who works there, mention it in the first sentence or two, and try to address your letter to someone directly. Hiring managers are looking for people who can help them solve problems, so show that you know what the company does and some of the challenges it faces. Then explain how your experience has equipped you to meet those needs. If the online application doesn’t allow you to submit a cover letter, use the format you’re given to demonstrate your ability to do the job and your enthusiasm for the role.
No one likes job hunting. Scouring through online job listings, spiffing up your résumé , prepping for grueling interviews — none of it is fun. For many, the most challenging part of the process is writing an effective cover letter. There’s so much conflicting advice out there, it’s hard to know where to start. Do you even need one, especially if you’re applying through an online system?
What the Experts Say
The answer is almost always yes. Sure, there will be times when you’re submitting an application online and you may not be able to include one, but whenever possible, send one, says Jodi Glickman, a communications expert and author of Great on the Job . “It’s your best chance of getting the attention of the HR person or hiring manager and an important opportunity to distinguish yourself from everyone else.” And in a tight job market, setting yourself apart is critical, says John Lees, a UK-based career strategist and author of Knockout CV . Still, as anyone who’s ever written a cover letter knows, it’s not easy to do well. Here are some tips to help.
Do your research first.
Before you start writing, find out more about the company and the specific job you want. Of course, you should carefully read the job description, but also peruse the company’s website, its executives’ Twitter feeds, and employee profiles on LinkedIn. This research will help you customize your cover letter, since you shouldn’t send a generic one. It’ll also help you decide on the right tone. “Think about the culture of the organization you’re applying to,” advises Glickman. “If it’s a creative agency, like a design shop, you might take more risks, but if it’s a more conservative organization, like a bank, you may hold back.”
If at all possible, reach out to the hiring manager or someone else you know at the company before writing your cover letter, advises Lees. You can send an email or a LinkedIn message “asking a smart question about the job.” That way you can start your letter by referencing the interaction. You might say, “Thanks for the helpful conversation last week” or “I recently spoke to so-and-so at your company.” Of course, it’s not always possible to contact someone — or you may not get a response. That’s OK. It’s still worth a try.
Focus it on the future.
While your résumé is meant to be a look back at your experience and where you’ve been, the cover letter should focus on the future and what you want to do, says Glickman. “It can be helpful to think of it as the bridge between the past and the future that explains what you hope to do next and why.” Because of the pandemic there is less of an expectation that you’ll be applying for a job that you’ve done before. “There are millions of people who are making career changes — voluntarily or involuntarily — and need to pivot and rethink how their skill set relates to a different role or industry,” says Glickman. You can use your cover letter to explain the shift you’re making, perhaps from hospitality to marketing, for example. Think of it as an opportunity to sell your transferrable skills .
“People typically write themselves into the letter with ‘I’m applying for X job that I saw in Y place.’ That’s a waste,” says Lees. Instead, lead with a strong opening sentence . “Start with the punch line — why this job is exciting to you and what you bring to the table,” says Glickman. For example, you might write, “I’m an environmental fundraising professional with more than 15 years of experience looking for an opportunity to apply my skills in new ways, and I’d love to bring my expertise and enthusiasm to your growing development team.” Then you can include a sentence or two about your background and your relevant experience, but don’t rehash your résumé.
Read more about
How to Write a Resume That Stands Out
Chances are the hiring manager or recruiter is reading a stack of these, so you want to catch their attention. But don’t try to be funny. “Humor can often fall flat or sound self-regarding,” says Lees. Stay away from common platitudes, too. “Say something direct and dynamic, such as ‘Let me draw your attention to two reasons why I’d be a great addition to your team.'”
If you have a personal connection with the company or someone who works there, also mention it in the first sentence or two. And always address your letter to someone directly. “With social media, it’s often possible to find the name of a hiring manager,” says Glickman.
Emphasize your personal value.
Hiring managers are looking for people who can help them solve problems. Drawing on the research you did earlier, show that you know what the company does and some of the challenges it faces. These don’t need to be specific but you might mention how the industry has been affected by the pandemic. For example, you might write, “A lot of health care companies are overwhelmed with the need to provide high-quality care while protecting the health and safety of their staff.” Then talk about how your experience has equipped you to meet those needs; perhaps explain how you solved a similar problem in the past or share a relevant accomplishment. You want to provide evidence of the things that set you apart.
Lees points out that there are two skills that are relevant to almost any job right now: adaptability and the ability to learn quickly. If you have brief examples that demonstrate these skills, include those. For example, if you supported your team in the shift to remote work, describe how you did that and what capabilities you drew on.
“When you don’t get hired, it’s usually not because of a lack of skills,” says Glickman. “It’s because people didn’t believe your story, that you wanted the job, or that you knew what you were getting into.” Hiring managers are going to go with the candidate who has made it seem like this is their dream job. So make it clear why you want the position . “Enthusiasm conveys personality,” Lees adds. He suggests writing something like “I’d love to work for your company. Who wouldn’t? You’re the industry leader, setting standards that others only follow.” Don’t bother applying if you’re not excited about some aspect of the company or role.
Watch the tone.
At the same time, don’t go overboard with the flattery or say anything you don’t mean. Authenticity is crucial. “Even if you’ve been out of work for months, and would take any job at this point, you want to avoid sounding desperate ,” says Lees. You don’t want your tone to undermine your message, so be professional and mature. A good rule of thumb is to put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager and think about “the kind of language that the hiring manager would use with one of the company’s customers.” Of course, it can be hard to discern your own tone in writing, so you may need to ask someone to review a draft (which is always a good idea anyway — see advice below). Lees says that he often cuts outs “anything that sounds like desperation” when he’s reviewing letters for clients.
Keep it short.
Much of the advice out there says to keep it under a page. But both Glickman and Lees say even shorter is better. “Most cover letters I see are too long,” says Lees. “It should be brief enough that someone can read it at a glance.” You do have to cover a lot of ground — but you should do it succinctly. This is where asking a friend, former colleague, or mentor to review your letter can be helpful. Ask them to read through it and point out places where you can cut.
In fact, it’s a great idea to share your cover letter with a few people, says Lees. Rather than sending it off and asking, “What do you think?” be specific about the kind of feedback you want. In particular, request two things. First, ask your friend if it’s clear what your main point is. What’s the story you’re telling? Are they able to summarize it? Second, ask them what’s wrong with the letter. “Other people are more attuned to desperation, overselling, over-modesty, and underselling,” says Lees, and they should be able to point out places where the tone is off.
When you can’t submit a cover letter.
Many companies now use online application systems that don’t allow for a cover letter. You may be able to figure out how to include one in the same document as your résumé, but that’s not a guarantee, especially because some systems only allow for data to be entered into specific boxes. In these cases, use the format you’re given to demonstrate your ability to do the job and your enthusiasm for the role. If possible, you may try to find someone to whom you can send a brief follow-up email highlighting a few key points about your application.
Principles to Remember
- Have a strong opening statement that makes clear why you want the job and what you bring to the table.
- Be succinct — a hiring manager should be able to read your letter at a glance.
- Share an accomplishment that shows you can address the challenges the employer is facing.
- Try to be funny — too often it falls flat.
- Send a generic cover letter — customize each one for the specific job.
- Go overboard with flattery — be professional and mature.
Advice in Practice
Case study #1: demonstrate an understanding of what the company needs..
Michele Sommers, the vice president of HR for the Boys & Girls Village, a nonprofit in Connecticut, recently posted a job for a recruiting and training specialist. “I was looking for someone with a strong recruiting background who could do everything from sourcing candidates to onboarding new hires,” she says. She also wanted the person to hit the ground running. “We’re a small team and I can’t afford to train someone,” she says.
More than 100 candidates applied for the job. The organization’s online application system doesn’t allow for cover letter attachments, but one of the applicants, Heidi (not her real name), sent a follow-up email after submitting her résumé. “And it’s a good thing she did, because she would’ve been weeded out otherwise,” Michele says.
Heidi’s résumé made her look like a “job hopper” — very short stints at each previous employer. Michele assumed she was a poor performer who kept getting fired. She was also the only candidate who didn’t have a four-year college degree.
But Heidi’s email caught Michele’s eye. First off, it was professional. Heidi stated clearly that she was writing to double-check that her application had been received. She went on to explain how she had gotten Michele’s name and information (through her husband’s boss, who was on the board) and her personal connection to Boys & Girls Village (her father-in-law had done some work with the organization).
Stand Out in Your Interview
What really stood out to Michele, though, was Heidi’s understanding of the group and the challenges it was facing. She’d done her research and “listed some things she would do or already had done that would help us address those needs,” says Michele.
“The personality and passion she conveyed in the cover letter came through during her phone screening,” Michele says. Heidi ended up being more than qualified for the job. “I wanted this role to be bigger from the get-go, but I didn’t think that was possible. When I met her, I knew we could expand it.” Three weeks later Michele offered Heidi the job and she accepted.
Case Study #2: Catch their attention.
Over the past four years, Emily Sernaker applied for multiple positions at the International Rescue Committee (IRC). She never gave up. With each application, she sent a personalized cover letter. “I wanted my cover letter to highlight my qualifications, creative thinking, and genuine respect for the organization,” she says.
Sarah Vania, the organization’s regional HR director, says that Emily’s letters caught her attention, especially because they included several video links that showed the results of Emily’s advocacy and fundraising work at other organizations. Emily explains, “I had prior experience advocating for former child soldiers, human trafficking survivors, vulnerable women, and displaced persons. It’s one thing to make statements in a cover letter, like ‘I can make a pitch, I am a creative person, I am thoughtful,’ but showing these qualities seemed like a better way of convincing the recruiter that the statements were true.”
This is what Emily wrote to Sarah about the video:
Here is a short video about my story with activism. The nonprofit organization Invisible Children made it for a youth conference I spoke at this year. It is about four minutes. As you’ll see from the video, I’ve had a lot of success as a student fundraiser, raising over $200,000 for Invisible Children. I’ve since gone on to work as a consultant for Wellspring International and have recently concluded my studies as a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar.
In each of the cover letters, Emily also made clear how much she wanted to work for IRC. “To convey enthusiasm is a vulnerable thing to do and can come off as naivete, but, when it came down to it, my enthusiasm for the organization was genuine and expressing it felt right,” she says.
This is how Emily conveyed her interest in working for IRC:
You should also know that I have a sincere appreciation of the IRC. I have enjoyed learning about your programs and have personally visited your New York headquarters, the San Diego New Roots farm, the We Can Be Heroes exhibit, and the Half the Sky exhibit in Los Angeles. The IRC is my top choice and I believe I would be a valuable addition to your fundraising team.
Emily learned throughout the process that the organization had hundreds of applicants for each position and it was extremely competitive. “I appreciated that I wouldn’t be the best for every opening but also remained firm that I did have a significant contribution to make,” she says. Eventually, Emily’s persistence paid off. She was hired as a temporary external relations coordinator, and four months later she moved into a permanent role.
Editor’s note: The author updated this article, which was originally written in 2014, to reflect the latest advice from the experts and the reality of job-seeking during the pandemic.
- Amy Gallo is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review, cohost of the Women at Work podcast , and the author of two books: Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People) and the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict . She writes and speaks about workplace dynamics. Watch her TEDx talk on conflict and follow her on LinkedIn . amyegallo
How to Write a Cover Letter in 2023 | Beginner's Guide
After weeks of heavy job search, you’re almost there!
You’ve perfected your resume.
You’ve short-listed the coolest jobs you want to apply for.
You’ve even had a friend train you for every single interview question out there.
But then, before you can send your application and call it a day, you remember that the job ad requires a cover letter.
Now you’re stuck wondering how to write a cover letter ...
Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered. Writing a cover letter is a lot simpler than you might think.
In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to write a cover letter that gets you the job you deserve.
- What’s a cover letter & why it’s important for your job search
- How to write a convincing cover letter that gets you the job (step-by-step!)
- How to perfect your cover letter with the Novoresume free checklist
- What excellent cover letter examples look like
So, let’s get started with the basics!
What is a Cover Letter? (and Why It’s Important)
A cover letter is a one-page document that you submit as part of your job application (alongside your CV or Resume).
Its purpose is to introduce you and briefly summarize your professional background. On average, your cover letter should be from 250 to 400 words long .
A good cover letter can spark the HR manager’s interest and get them to read your resume.
A bad cover letter, on the other hand, might mean that your application is going directly to the paper shredder. So, to make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s essential to know how to write a convincing cover letter.
How does a good cover letter look, you might ask. Well, here’s an example:
Keep in mind, though, that a cover letter is a supplement to your resume, not a replacement. Meaning, you don’t just repeat whatever is mentioned in your resume.
If you’re writing a cover letter for the first time, writing all this might seem pretty tough. After all, you’re probably not a professional writer.
The thing is, though, you don’t need to be creative, or even any good at writing. All you have to do is follow a tried-and-tested format:
- Header - Input contact information
- Greeting the hiring manager
- Opening paragraph - Grab the reader’s attention with 2-3 of your top achievements
- Second paragraph - Explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job
- Third paragraph - Explain why you’re a good match for the company
- Formal closing
Or, here’s what this looks like in practice:
How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter (And Get Hired!)
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, we’re going to guide you through the process of writing a cover letter step by step.
Step #1 - Pick the Right Cover Letter Template
A good cover letter is all about leaving the right first impression.
So, what’s a better way to leave a good impression than a well-formatted, visual template?
You can simply pick one of our hand-picked cover letter templates , and you’ll be all set in a jiffy!
As a bonus, our AI will even give you suggestions on how to improve your cover letter on the go.
Step #2 - Start the Cover Letter with a Header
As with a resume, it’s important to start your cover letter with a Contact Information section:
Here, you want to include all essential information, including:
- Phone Number
- Name of the hiring manager / their professional title
- Name of the company you’re applying to
In certain cases, you might also consider adding:
- Social Media Profiles - Any type of profile that’s relevant to your field. Social Profiles on websites like LinkedIn, GitHub (for developers), Medium (for writers), etc.
- Personal Website - If you have a personal website that somehow adds value to your application, you can mention it. Let’s say you’re a professional writer. In that case, you’d want to link to your blog.
And here’s what you shouldn’t mention in your header:
- Your Full Address
- Unprofessional Email - Make sure your email is presentable. It’s pretty hard for a hiring manager to take you seriously if your email address is “[email protected]” Whenever applying for jobs, stick to the “[first name] + [last name] @ email provider.com” format.
Step #3 - Greet the Hiring Manager
Once you’ve properly listed your contact information, you need to start writing the cover letter contents.
The first thing to do here is to address the cover letter to the hiring manager .
That’s right, the hiring manager! Not the overly popular “Dear Sir or Madam.” You want to show your future boss that you did your research and are really passionate about working with their team.
No one wants to hire a job seeker who just spams 20+ companies and hopes to get hired in any of them.
So, how do you find out who’s the hiring manager? There are several ways to do this.
The simplest option is to look up the head of the relevant department on LinkedIn. Let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Communication Specialist at Novoresume. The hiring manager is probably Head of Communications or Chief Communications Office.
So, you do a quick lookup on LinkedIn:
And voila! You have your hiring manager.
Or let’s say you’re applying for the position of a server. In that case, you’d be looking for the “restaurant manager.”
If this doesn’t work, you can also check out the “Team” page on the company website; there’s a good chance you’ll at least find the right person there.
Here are several other greetings you could use:
- Dear [Department] Hiring Manager
- Dear Hiring Manager
- To whom it may concern
- Dear [Department] Team
Step #4 - Write an Attention-Grabbing Introduction
First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your job search.
Recruiters get hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of applications. Chances are, they’re not going to be reading every single cover letter end-to-end.
So, it’s essential to catch their attention from the very first paragraph .
The #1 problem we see with most cover letter opening paragraphs is that they’re usually extremely generic. Most of them look something like this..
- Hey, my name is Jonathan and I’d like to work as a Sales Manager at XYZ Inc. I’ve worked as a sales manager at MadeUpCompany Inc. for 5+ years, so I believe that I’d be a good fit for the position.
See the issue here? This opening paragraph doesn’t say pretty much anything except the fact that you’ve worked the job before.
Do you know who else has similar work experience? All the other applicants you’re competing with.
Instead, you want to start off with 2-3 of your top achievements to really grab the reader’s attention. Preferably, the achievements should be as relevant as possible to the position.
So now, let’s make our previous example shine:
My name’s Michael and I’d like to help XYZ Inc. hit and exceed their sales goals as a Sales Manager. I’ve worked with Company X, a fin-tech company, for 3+ years. As a Sales Representative, I generated an average of $30,000+ in sales per month (beating the KPIs by around 40%). I believe that my previous industry experience, as well as excellence in sales, makes me the right candidate for the job.
See the difference between the two examples? If you were the hiring manager, which sales manager would you hire, Jonathan or Michael?
Now that we’ve covered the introduction, let’s talk about the body of your cover letter. This part is split into two paragraphs: the first is for explaining why you’re the perfect person for the job, and the latter is for proving that you’re a good fit for the company.
So, let’s get started...
Step #5 - Explain why you’re the perfect person for the job
This is where you show off your professional skills and convince the HR manager that you’re a better fit for the job than all the other applicants.
But first things first - before you even write anything, you need to learn what the most important requirements for the role are. So, open up the job ad and identify which of the responsibilities are the most critical.
For the sake of the example, let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Facebook Advertiser. You scan the job ad and see that the top requirements are:
- Experience managing a Facebook ad budget of $10,000+ / month
- Some skills in advertising on other platforms (Google Search + Twitter)
- Excellent copywriting skills
Now, in this section, you need to discuss how you fulfill these requirements. So, here’s how that would look for our example:
In my previous role as a Facebook Marketing Expert at XYZ Inc. I handled customer acquisition through ads, managing a monthly Facebook ad budget of $20,000+ . As the sole digital marketer at the company, I managed the ad creation & management process end-to-end. Meaning, I created the ad copy , images, picked the targeting, ran optimization trials, and so on.
Other than Facebook advertising, I’ve also delved into other online PPC channels, including:
- Google Search
Are you a student applying for your first internship? You probably don’t have a lot of work experience to show off in this section. Learn how to write an internship cover letter here.
Step #6 - Explain why you’re a good fit for the company
Once you’ve written the last paragraph, you might be thinking - I’m a shoo-in for the job! What else do I need to write? I’ll just wrap up the cover letter and hit that sweet SEND button.
Well, no. You’re not quite there yet.
The HR manager doesn’t only look at whether you’ll be good at the job or not. They’re looking for someone that’s also a good fit for the company culture.
After all, employees that don’t fit in are bound to quit, sooner or later. This ends up costing the company a ton of money, up to 50% of the employee’s annual salary .
Meaning, you also need to convince the HR manager that you’re really passionate about working with them.
How do you do this? Well, as a start, you want to do some research about the company. You want to know things like:
- What’s the company’s business model?
- What’s the company product or service? Have you used it?
- What’s the culture like? Will someone micro-manage your work, or will you have autonomy on how you get things done?
So, get to Googling. Chances are, you’ll find all the information you need either on the company website or somewhere around the web.
Then, you need to figure out what you like about the company and turn that into text.
Let’s say, for example, you’re passionate about their product and you like the culture of innovation / independent work in the organization.
You’d write something like:
I’ve personally used the XYZ Smartphone, and I believe that it’s the most innovative tech I’ve used in years. The features such as Made-Up-Feature #1 and Made-Up-Feature #2 were real game changers for the device.
I really admire how Company XYZ thrives for excellence for all its product lines, creating market-leading tech. As someone that thrives in a self-driven environment, I truly believe that I and Company XYZ will be a great match.
What you don’t want to do here is be super generic for the sake of having something to write. Most job seekers tend to mess this one up. Let’s take a look at a very common example we tend to see (way too often):
I’d love to work for Company XYZ because of its culture of innovation. I believe that since I’m super creative, I’d be a good fit for the company. The company values of integrity and transparency really vibe with me.
See what’s wrong here? The example doesn’t really say anything about the company. “Culture of Innovation” is something most companies claim to have.
The same goes for “values of integrity and transparency” - the writer just googled what the values for the organization are, and said that they like them.
Any hiring manager that reads this will see through the fluff.
So, make sure to do a lot of research and come up with good reasons why you're applying.
Step #7 - Wrap up with a call to action
Finally, it’s time to finish up your cover letter and write the conclusion.
In the final paragraph, you want to:
- Wrap up any points you couldn't in the previous paragraphs. Do you have anything left to say? Any other information that could help the hiring manager make their decision? Mention it here.
- Thank the hiring manager for their time. It never hurts to be courteous, as long as you don’t come off as too needy.
- Finish the cover letter with a call to action. The very last sentence in your cover letter should be a call to action. You should ask the hiring manager to take some sort of action.
And now, let’s turn this into a practical example:
So to wrap it all up, thanks for looking into my application. I hope I can help Company X make the most out of their Facebook marketing initiatives. I'd love to further discuss how my previous success at XYZ Inc. can help you achieve your facebook marketing goals.
Step #8 - Use the right formal closing
Once you’re done with the final paragraph, all you have to do is write down a formal “goodbye” and you’re good to go.
Feel free to use one of the most popular conclusions to a cover letter:
- Best Regards,
- Kind Regards,
And we’re finally done! Before sending off the cover letter, make sure to proofread it with software like Grammarly, or maybe even get a friend to review it for you.
Does your cover letter heading include all essential information?
- Professional email
- Relevant Social Media Profiles
Do you address the right person? I.e. hiring manager in the company / your future direct supervisor
Does your introductory paragraph grab the reader's attention?
- Did you mention 2-3 of your top achievements?
- Did you use numbers and facts to back up your experience?
Do you successfully convey that you’re the right pro for the job?
- Did you identify the core requirements?
- Did you successfully convey how your experiences help you fit the requirements perfectly?
Do you convince the hiring manager that you’re passionate about the company you’re applying to?
- Did you identify the top 3 things that you like about the company?
- Did you avoid generic reasons for explaining your interest in the company?
Did you finalize the conclusion with a call to action?
Did you use the right formal closure for the cover letter?
5+ Cover Letter Examples
Need some inspiration? Read on to learn about some of the best cover letter examples we’ve seen (for different fields).
College Student Cover Letter Example
Middle Management Cover Letter Example
Career Change Cover Letter Example
Management Cover Letter Example
Senior Executive Cover Letter Example
Want to discover more examples AND learn what makes them stand out? Check out our guide to cover letter examples .
Next Steps in Your Job Search - Creating a Killer Resume
Your cover letter is only as good as your resume. If either one is weak, your entire application is for naught.
After all, a cover letter is just an introduction. Imagine going through all this effort to leave an amazing first impression, but flopping at the end because of a mediocre resume.
...But don’t you worry, we’ve got you covered on that end, too.
If you want to learn more about Resumes & CVs, we have a dedicated FREE guide for that. Check out our complete guide on how to make a resume , as well as how to write a CV - our experts will teach you everything you need to know in order to land your dream job.
Or, if you’re already an expert, just pick one of our resume templates and get started.
Now that we’ve walked you through all the steps of writing a cover letter, let’s summarize everything we’ve learned:
- A cover letter is a 250 - 400 word document that convinces the hiring manager of your competence
- A cover letter goes in your job application alongside your resume
- Your introduction to the cover letter should grab the hiring manager’s attention and keep it all the way until the conclusion
- There are 2 main topics you need to include in your cover letter: why you’re the perfect candidate for the job & why you’re passionate about working in the company you’re applying to
- Most of the content of your cover letter should be factual , without any fluff or generalizations
At Novorésumé, we’re committed to helping you get the job you deserve, every step of the way! Follow our blog to stay up to date with the industry-leading advice. Or, check out some of our top guides…
- How to Write a Motivational Letter
- How to Write a Resume with No Work Experience
- Most Common Interview Questions and Answers
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Home Cover Letter Help What to Include in a Cover Letter
What to Include in a Cover Letter (& What to Leave Out)
Your cover letter needs to include a few key elements in order to make a positive impression on hiring managers. We outline the parts of a cover letter, give examples, and explain what not to include in a cover letter.
Curious about exactly what a cover letter should say? Have you looked at a good cover letter sample and are still unsure what to include and what to leave out?
No problem — we’re here to guide you.
What to put in a cover letter in 2023
A great cover letter consists of the following components:
1. Your name and contact information in a header
The hiring manager needs to have your contact information. Without these details, they have no way of inviting you for an interview.
The most eye-catching way of adding your contact information to your cover letter is by creating a large cover letter header , which includes your name (in the largest font on your cover letter ) and the best ways to contact you. Here’s an example of a clear, well-designed cover letter header:
Even if you’ve included your contact details on your resume, repeat them in your cover letter in case the hiring manager doesn’t have your resume on hand when they decide you’re the candidate they want to interview.
2. A polite cover letter greeting (salutation)
You should also greet the reader of your cover letter with a polite salutation. “Dear Mr./Ms./Mx. [Hiring Manager’s Surname]” does the trick:
Dear Ms. Hernandez,
Using an actual name is better than writing “Dear Hiring Manager” or “ To Whom It May Concern ” because it shows you aren’t sending out applications in bulk, and likely have actual interest in the job you’re applying for.
Then, begin your cover letter with a brief introduction that contains the following details:
- The position you’re applying for
- How you found out about the opening
- Why you’re excited to apply
When starting off a cover letter , keep your introduction concise and attention-grabbing so the hiring manager will want to keep reading.
3. Specific examples of achievements
Now you’ve set up your cover letter, it’s time to write the body text.
To make a strong impression, mention an important project or contribution from your past work or academic experience that’s related to the role you’re applying for. Then, explain exactly how you contributed to the company’s success.
A great way to make your achievements stand out is adding some hard numbers to prove exactly how much impact your work had. Finding this data doesn’t have to be difficult.
Some common quantifiable achievements include:
- Number of customers served in a given time period
- Percentage of positive reviews
- Dollar amount of sales
- Percentage of increase in profit
- Number of people managed or trained
Here’s an example of how one candidate successfully backed up their achievements with evidence:
As a Sales Assistant with TRP Insurance Inc., I ranked within the top 10 salespeople company-wide for 2 years in a row, and in my first year, I successfully expanded our customer account base by 18% through networking and client referrals.
Including this data shows the hiring manager what you can achieve on the job. These numbers give them a glimpse at how your output will improve their company’s performance, and whether you’d be a good fit on their team.
4. Reasons why you’d be a good fit at the company
To write a great cover letter, you need to put in a little effort (but trust us, it’s worth it).
Start by going to the company’s website. On the site, see if you can find a corporate culture webpage or some form of “company mission” page. Take a look at this example from KPMG :
KPMG’s executives emphasize specific values, so you’d want to give examples that highlight integrity and teamwork skills if you were applying here.
WD-40 Company , on the other hand, has a less formal corporate culture:
The company describes its workers as a tribe, emphasizing the bonds it wishes to develop between employees.
If you were applying here, you could mention what you could bring to the “tribe” and showcase your people skills in your cover letter.
Showing familiarity with the company makes you seem invested in the opportunity, and hiring managers take notice.
5. Proof you can help the company reach its goals
As well as researching a company’s culture, investigate its performance, history, and ambitions. If you prove you’ve researched these details in your cover letter, you’re more likely to catch the hiring manager’s attention.
A good place to start your research is on a company’s website. Use its website to find out about product lines and recent news. For example, you might discover it just launched a product similar to one you used to work on.
Then use some of the information you gathered as a starting-off point in your cover letter.
Mention how you can bring expertise from a similar project to the company’s new endeavor, or give an example that shows how you’d contribute something new to the team.
Here’s how one candidate used their foreign language skills to appeal to an internationally-expanding company:
As a multinational organization, your company has connections with several other businesses across the globe. I believe my fluency in Spanish and English — two widely spoken languages — will be crucial in establishing trust and solid, working relationships with clients in other countries.
6. A cover letter ending that requests an interview
Wrap up your cover letter by asking the hiring manager to invite you in for an interview. An interview request may seem forward, but it also shows confidence and helps drive the urgency of your application home to the reader.
Here’s an example of an effective ending from a legal assistant cover letter sample :
After reviewing my resume, I hope you’ll agree that I’m the candidate you’ve been looking for. Please contact me by phone (775-034-2512) or email ([email protected]) when you’d like to set up a time for an interview. I look forward to elaborating on how my specific skills and abilities will benefit [company name]!
7. Your professional sign-off and signature
Your cover letter closing is not a time to get creative. “Sincerely” is always a safe bet for wrapping up your cover letter..
If you’re not sold on “Sincerely”, “Respectfully” and “Best” are also good options.
What not to include in a cover letter
Just like when you write your resume , avoid mentioning anything that doesn’t demonstrate your suitability for the job you’re applying for. You have limited space to win over potential employers, so don’t discuss any irrelevant achievements or experiences, even if they’re impressive.
Also avoid any disclaimers like “although I have limited experience…” because it could make you seem under-qualified. False modesty doesn’t belong in a cover letter, so keep your tone confident and focus on your most valuable qualifications.
Lastly, you should never put negative remarks about your previous employer in a cover letter because it gives hiring managers a bad impression of your ability to work well with others, even if your criticisms are well-deserved.
- Political opinions
- Criticisms of previous employer
- Irrelevant information
- Religious views
- Disclaimers (what you lack)
- Lies (even exaggerations!)
- Salary expectations
- Too much flattery
What to include in an email cover letter
An email cover letter contains most of the same elements as a regular cover letter, but you also need to include a subject line.
Your subject line should be something similar to this:
Application for [Position] role
When writing an email cover letter, you also don’t need to include the hiring manager’s name and address.
Here’s what an email cover letter will look like:
Don’t forget to attach your resume and full-length cover letter to your email. An email cover letter is usually just a couple of paragraphs informing the hiring manager you’re applying for the role, and telling them your full cover letter and resume are attached.
Written by Emily Crowley
Emily Crowley is a Senior Content Writer and Resume Expert at Resume Genius, where she loves helping job seekers overcome obstacles and advance their careers. She graduated... more
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Your Complete Guide to Writing a Cover Letter (Plus Bonus Tips and Examples)
Hot jobs on the muse.
Ah yes, the familiar cycle: You sit down to write a cover letter, open a blank document, check your email, browse cover letter examples , do some chores, watch that cursor blink a few more times, and finally Google something like “how to write a cover letter”—which hopefully brought you here. But you still might be thinking something to the effect of: Does anyone really read cover letters? Why do they even exist?
First off: Yes, we can assure you that cover letters do, in fact, get read . To some hiring managers, they’re the most important part of your job application . And regardless, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to tell prospective employers who you are, showcase why they should hire you, and stand out above all the other candidates.
To ensure your letter is in amazing shape (and crafting it is as painless as possible), we’ve got easy-to-follow steps plus examples, a few bonus tips, and answers to frequently asked questions
What is a cover letter and why is it important?
How to write a cover letter hiring managers will love, what do examples of cover letters look like, bonus cover letter tips to give you an edge over the competition, cover letter faqs (a.k.a., everything else you need to know about cover letters).
A cover letter is a brief (one page or less) note that you write to a hiring manager or recruiter to go along with your resume and other application materials. Done well , a cover letter gives you the chance to speak directly to how your skills and experience line up with the specific job you’re pursuing. It also affords you an opportunity to hint to the reviewer that you’re likable, original, and likely to be a great addition to the team.
Instead of using cover letters to their strategic advantage, most job applicants blabber on and on about what they want, toss out bland, cliché-filled paragraphs that essentially just regurgitate their resume, or go off on some strange tangent in an effort to be unique.
Given this reality, imagine the leg up you’ll have if you learn how to do cover letters right.
OK, you’re sold on how important cover letters are. Here are eight steps to writing one that screams, “I’m a great hire!”
Step 1: Write a fresh cover letter for each job (but yes, you can use a template).
Yes, it’s way faster and easier to take the cover letter you wrote for your last application, change the name of the company, and send it off. But most employers want to see that you’re truly excited about the specific position and organization—which means creating a custom letter for each position.
While it’s OK to recycle a few strong sentences and phrases from one cover letter to the next, don’t even think about sending out a 100% generic letter. “Dear Hiring Manager, I am excited to apply to the open position at your company ” is an immediate signal to recruiters and hiring managers that you’re mass-applying to every job listing that pops up on LinkedIn.
At the same time, there’s nothing that says you can’t get a little help: Try out one of our free cover letter templates to make the process a bit easier.
Step 2: Add your contact info.
At the top of your cover letter, you should list out your basic info. You can even copy the same heading from your resume if you’d like. Some contact info you might include (and the order you might include it in) is:
- Your pronouns (optional)
- Your location (optional)
- Your email address
- Your phone number (optional)
- Your Linkedin, portfolio, or personal website URL (optional)
Note that only name and email are mandatory, and you don’t need to put a full address on a cover letter or resume anymore. A city and state (or metro area) are more than enough.
So your header might look like this:
Inigo Montoya he/him Florin Metropolitan Area [email protected] 555-999-2222
If the job posting tells you to submit your cover letter in the body of an email, you can add your contact info at the end, after your name (and if you’d like to forgo the email address here, you can—they have it already).
So your sign off could look like this:
Violet Baudelaire she/her [email protected] 123-123-1234 https://www.linkedin.com/in/violet-baudelaire/
Step 3: Address your cover letter to the hiring manager—preferably by name.
The most traditional way to address a cover letter is to use the person’s first and last name, including “Mr.” or “Ms.” (for example, “Dear Ms. Jane Smith” or just “Dear Ms. Smith”). But to avoid accidentally using the wrong title, or worse, inadvertently misgendering someone—first and last name also work just fine. And if “Dear” feels a bit too stiff, try “Hello.” But never use generic salutations like “ To Whom it May Concern ” or “Dear Sir or Madam.”
For more help, read these rules for addressing your cover letter and a few tips for how to find the hiring manager .
Step 4: Craft an opening paragraph that’ll hook your reader.
Your opening sets the stage for the whole cover letter. So you want it to be memorable, friendly, conversational, and hyper-relevant to the job you’re pursuing.
No need to lead with your name—the hiring manager can see it already. But it’s good to mention the job you’re applying for (the hiring manager may be combing through candidates for half a dozen different jobs), and yes, you could go with something simple like, “I am excited to apply for [job] with [Company].” But consider introducing yourself with a snappy first paragraph that highlights your excitement about the company you’re applying to, your passion for the work you do, and/or your past accomplishments.
This is a prime spot to include the “why” for your application. Make it very clear why you want this job at this company . Are you a longtime user of their products? Do you have experience solving a problem they’re working on? Do you love their brand voice or approach to product development? Do your research on the company (and check out their Muse profile if they have one) to find out.
For instance, say you’re applying for a marketing job with a company known for its incredible pies and baked goods. You might want to use your opening to mention how you love pie so much that when you were in the 4th grade, you took the blue ribbon in the National Cherry Festival pie-eating contest. Or take a look at this cover letter hook by a client of career coach and Muse writer Jenny Foss , who was working to land a leadership role at a nonprofit specializing in fire prevention:
“I have a personal interest in fire prevention that dates back to my youth. As the daughter of a nurse who worked in a hospital burns unit for many years, I grew up with significant exposure to those impacted by fire. I’d spend hours thinking about my mom’s patients, wishing there were some way to better protect people from fire.”
Read More: 30 Genius Cover Letter Openers Recruiters Will LOVE
Step 5: Convey why you’d be a great hire for this job.
A common cover letter mistake is only talking about how great the position would be for you . Frankly, hiring managers are aware of that—what they really want to know is what you’re going to bring to the position and company.
So once you’ve got the opening under wraps, you should pull out a few key ideas that will make up the backbone of your cover letter. They should show that you understand what the organization is looking for and spell out how your background lines up with the position. Study the job description for hints . What problems is the company looking to solve with this hire? What skills or experiences are mentioned high up, or more than once? These will likely be the most important qualifications.
Select the three to five important qualifications that you feel you exemplify best. For instance, maybe you’re looking for an account executive role and come across a posting that excites you. You might pull out these details that match you well:
- The job description mentions meeting and exceeding quotas several times.
- The company has a very collaborative, cross-departmental approach to solving problems.
- The sales department requires a fast learner so the account executive can get up to speed quickly on leads and tailor pitches to their needs.
If you tend to have a hard time singing your own praises and can’t nail down your strengths, here’s a quick trick : What would your favorite boss, your best friend, or your mentor say about you? How would they sing your praises? Use the answers to inform how you write about yourself. You can even weave in feedback you’ve received to strengthen your case (occasionally, don’t overuse this!). For example:
“When I oversaw our last office move, my color-coded spreadsheets covering every minute detail of the logistics were legendary; my manager said I was so organized, she’d trust me to plan an expedition to Mars.”
Step 6: Back up your qualifications with examples and numbers.
Look at your list of qualifications from the previous step, and think of examples from your past that prove you have them. And go beyond your resume . Don’t just regurgitate what the hiring manager can read elsewhere. Simply put, you want to paint a fuller picture of what experiences and accomplishments make you a great hire and show off what you can sashay through their doors with and deliver once you land the job.
For example, what tells a hiring manager more about your ability to win back former clients? This: “I was in charge of identifying and re-engaging former clients.” Or this: “By analyzing past client surveys, NPS scores, and KPIs, as well as simply picking up the phone, I was able to bring both a data-driven approach and a human touch to the task of re-engaging former clients.”
Having trouble figuring out how to do this? Try asking yourself these questions and finding answers that line up with the qualifications you’ve chosen to focus on:
- What approach did you take to tackling one of the responsibilities you’ve mentioned on your resume?
- What details would you include if you were telling someone a (very short!) story about how you accomplished one of your resume bullet points?
- What about your personality, passion, or work ethic made you especially good at getting the job done?
Come up with your examples, then throw in a few numbers. Hiring managers love to see stats—they show you’ve had a measurable impact on an organization you’ve worked for. Did you bring in more clients than any of your peers? Put together an impressive number of events? Make a process at work 30% more efficient? Work it into your cover letter!
Going back to the example from the last step. How could you prove that you’ll meet and exceed sales quotas if they hire you? Try something like:
“ I’ve always been very goal-oriented—whether that goal was hitting a new personal best on the swim team in college or smashing my quotas as a sales development rep for ZZZ Inc. As an SDR, I break my quarterly sales goals down month-by-month and then week-by-week—so that I always know whether I’m ahead, behind, or on-track. I also take an hour every Friday to reflect on what I could’ve done better in the previous week—so that I’m always improving. With these strategies, I’ve met my goals for meetings set 10 out of the last 10 quarters and actually averaged 114% to goal for finding leads that eventually turned into sales over every quarter last year. As an account executive for your company, I’d bring that same drive and systematic approach for meeting longer-term targets to my sales quotas. ”
Do this for each of the qualifications you want to focus on, and feel free to connect your accomplishments directly to the company. Pro tip: Use your space wisely. For more important qualifications, you might dedicate an entire paragraph, while others may only need a sentence or two.
Step 7: Finish with a strong conclusion.
It’s tempting to treat the final lines of your cover letter as a throwaway: “I look forward to hearing from you.” But your closing paragraph is your last chance to emphasize your enthusiasm for the company or how you’d be a great fit for the position. You can also use the end of your letter to add important details—like, say, the fact that you’re willing to relocate for the job.
Some advice might tell you to go with a hard close: Boldly insist that you’re the one, and that you’re going to call them within a week to set up a meeting. But with over 10 years of experience as a recruiter, Foss finds this annoying. It’s one thing to be proactive and confident but, to her, this approach feels like a cheesy tactic stripped out of an old school “How to sell yourself” textbook.
Instead, try something like this:
“I believe my energy, desire to innovate, and experience as a sales leader will serve OrangePurple Co. very well. I would love to meet to discuss the value I could add as your next West Coast Sales Director. I appreciate your consideration and hope to meet with you soon.”
Then be sure to sign off professionally , with an appropriate closing and your first and last name.
Read More: 3 Cover Letter Closing Lines That Make Hiring Managers Grimace (Plus: Better Options )
Step 8: Reread and revise.
We shouldn’t have to tell you to run your cover letter through spell-check, but remember that having your computer scan for typos isn’t the same as editing . Set your letter aside for a day or even just a few hours, and then read through it again with fresh eyes—you’ll probably notice some changes you want to make.
You might even want to ask a friend or family member to give it a look. In addition to asking them if they spot any errors, you should ask them two questions:
- Does this sell me as the best person for the job?
- Does it get you excited?
If the answer to either is “no,” or even slight hesitation, go back for another pass.
Here’s an example cover letter that follows this advice:
Alia Farhat San Francisco Bay Area [email protected] 444-000-1111
Hello Danny Tanaka,
If I’m being honest, I still haven’t fully gotten over the death of my first Tamagotchi pet when I was six years old. (His name was Tommy, and I’ve gotten far more creative since then, I promise.) When I was older, I discovered NeoPets and I was hooked for years—not just on the site, but on the community that surrounded it. So when I heard about FantasyPets last year, I immediately started following news about your development process, and that’s how I saw your post looking for a marketing strategist. Not only do I have eight years of experience in digital marketing, but as a lifelong gamer with a passion for pet-focused titles who’s spent years in online communities with like-minded people, I also know exactly what kind of messaging resonates with your target audience.
You’re looking for someone to help you craft a social media marketing campaign to go along with your game launch, and I’ve been a part of three launch-day marketing campaigns for mobile and web-based games. In my current role as social media manager at Phun Inc., I proposed a campaign across Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok based on competitor research and analysis of our social campaigns for similar games to go along with the launch of the mobile game FarmWorld. Using my strategy of featuring both kids and adults in ads, we ended up driving over one million impressions and 80k downloads in the first three months.
I’ve always believed that the best way to find the right messaging for a game is to understand the audience and immerse myself in it as much as possible. I spend some of my research time on gaming forums and watching Twitch streams and Let’s Plays to see what really matters to the audience and how they talk about it. Of course, I always back my strategies up with data—I’m even responsible for training new members of the marketing team at Phun Inc. in Google AdWords and data visualization.
I believe that my passion for games exactly like yours, my digital marketing and market research experience, and my flair for turning data into actionable insights will help put FantasyPets on the map. I see so much promise in this game, and as a future player, I want to see its user base grow as much as you do. I appreciate your consideration for the marketing strategist role and hope to speak with you soon.
Looking for more cover letter examples? Check out these from across our site:
- 4 best cover letter examples for different types of job seekers
- Pain point cover letter example
- Internship cover letter example
- Recent graduate cover letter example
- Career changer cover letter example
- Stay-at-home parent returning to work cover letter example
- Sales cover letter example
- Email marketing manager cover letter example
- No job description or position cover letter example (a.k.a., a letter of intent or interest)
- Buzzfeed-style cover letter example
- Creative cover letter example (from the point-of-view of a dog)
As you write your cover letter, here are a few more tips to consider to help you stand out from the stack of applicants:
- Keep it short and sweet: There are always exceptions to the rule, but in general, for resumes and cover letters alike, don’t go over a page. Need help? Check out these tips for cutting down your cover letter .
- Never apologize for your missing experience: When you don’t meet all of the job requirements, it’s tempting to use lines like, “Despite my limited experience as a manager…” or “While I may not have direct experience in marketing…” But why apologize ? Instead of drawing attention to your weaknesses, emphasize the strengths and transferable skills you do have.
- Strike the right tone: You want to find a balance between being excessively formal in your writing—which can make you come off as stiff or insincere—and being too conversational. Let your personality shine through, for sure, but also keep in mind that a cover letter shouldn’t sound like a text to an old friend.
- Consider writing in the company’s “voice”: Cover letters are a great way to show that you understand the environment and culture of the company and industry. Spending some time reading over the company website or stalking their social media before you get started can be a great way to get in the right mindset—you’ll get a sense for the company’s tone, language, and culture, which are all things you’ll want to mirror—especially if writing skills are a core part of the job.
- Go easy on the enthusiasm: We can’t tell you how many cover letters we’ve seen from people who are “absolutely thrilled for the opportunity” or “very excitedly applying!” Yes, you want to show personality, creativity , and excitement. But downplay the adverbs a bit, and keep the level of enthusiasm for the opportunity genuine and believable.
The bottom line with cover letters is this: They matter, much more than the naysayers will have you believe. If you nail yours, you could easily go from the “maybe” pile straight to “Oh, hell yes.”
- Are cover letters still necessary?
- Do I have to write a cover letter if it’s optional?
- Can I skip the cover letter for a tech job?
- What does it mean to write a cover letter for a resume?
- How can I write a simple cover letter in 30 minutes?
- How can I show personality in my cover letter?
- What should I name my cover letter file?
- Is a letter of intent different from a cover letter?
- Is a letter of interest different from a cover letter?
Regina Borsellino and Jenny Foss contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.
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A cover letter is a single-page letter that you include with your job application.
You should always include a cover letter, unless the job advertisement clearly says not to.
The purpose of a cover letter
When writing a cover letter, you should:
- introduce yourself
- mention the job (or kind of job) you're applying for (or looking for)
- show that your skills and experience match the skills and experience needed to do the job
- encourage the reader to read your resume
- finish with a call to action (for example, asking for an interview or a meeting).
How long should a cover letter be?
Keep it short. A cover letter is meant to be a summary of your resume, so don’t write more than one page.
Matching your cover letter to the job
Use a different cover letter for each job you apply for. Your cover letter needs to show that you know what the job involves, and what the employer is looking for.
To do this, be specific about your skills and qualities. You also need to show how they match the needs of the job or the organisation.
Here are three simple ways to make your cover letter as specific as possible:
1. Find out who to address it to
Try not to address your letter ‘To whom it may concern’. Find out the name of the person who will read your application. This might take a little effort, but it's worth it.
If you found the job in an advertisement, it will probably name a person to send the application to. If it doesn’t, call the employer or advertiser and ask who to send the application to. Telephone is best, but email them if you can’t find a contact phone number.
If you find out the person's name, don't use their first name. Use either ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’ and their last name instead.
2. Find out more about the job
When finding out who to address your application to, you could also try to contact that person so you can ask questions. This can help you match your cover letter (and resume) to the job.
You could ask:
- Does the job involve working as part of a team?
- Who would I be reporting to if I got the job?
- Can you tell me more about the kind of person you're looking for?
- Is there a position description I can look at? (Only ask this if the job advertisementdoesn’t mention a position description.)
Note down the answers to these questions as they can be used in your cover letter
3. Find out more about the company
Find out more about the company so you can tailor your cover letter for the job. Here are some tips:
- If you know the name of the company, look for information online.
- If the company has a website, visit it (especially their ‘About us’ page).
- If the company name isn't in the advertisement, call the recruitment agency or advertiser and ask who the employer is.
What to include in your cover letter
Here's a list of things you should include in your cover letter. For examples of how to include these things, visit our sample resumes and cover letters pages.
Your name and contact details
Put your name and contact details at the top of your cover letter. You don't have to give your postal address, but you do need to include your email and phone number.
Your email address should create a professional impression. Don't use an email address like [email protected] .
If you don't have a professional email address, you can make one with a free email provider. Make it simple – something that includes your first name and your last name is a good way to go.
Their name and contact details
Under your own name and contact details, you should include:
- the name of the person you're writing to
- their position or the name of their company
- their contact details.
If you're having trouble finding this information, you can call the company to ask who you should address your application to.
You can also use ‘To whom it may concern’, but it’s best to only use this as a last resort.
The name of the job you're going for
At the start of your cover letter you need to say which job you're applying for.
You can do this on a line by itself (for example, ‘Regarding: Application for Stock Controller position’).
You can also do this in the opening paragraph (for example, ‘I am writing to apply for the recently advertised Stock Controller position’.)
A list of your relevant skills
Include a brief summary about how your skills and experiences match the job description. A short bullet list is fine.
If you're answering a job advertisement, there may be a position description that lists essential skills and experiences. It may also have a list of ‘desirable’ skills and experience. Your cover letter needs to respond to all of the items on the ‘essential’ list. You should also respond to as many items as you can on the ‘desirable’ list.
Remember that if you say you have a skill or experience, you need to show how you've used it or how you got it (for example, if you say you've got child-minding skills, mention some jobs where you've used them).
A summary of why you're right for the job
After listing your skills and experience, you should explain why these mean you're suited to the job (for example, ‘My ability to get along with anyone and my experience in solving customer problems in a retail setting make me ideally suited for this job.’)
Speak their language
Using the same language as people who do a particular job shows that you understand the industry or field that the employer works in.
Find out what the employer does, and how they talk about themselves. Use this language in your cover letter.
For example, if there's a tool or software or skill the job requires, like machining tools or cash handling, mention it in your cover letter (but make sure you mention it correctly!).
Read what to research before a job interview page to find more ways to research an employer.
Ask them to contact you
Your cover letter should finish by asking the employer to read your resume. It should also ask them to contact you about an interview.
Try something simple like, ‘I have attached a copy of my resume. I look forward to hearing from you about this job’.
What you shouldn’t include in your cover letter
There are some things that should never be in your cover letter. Here are some things to watch out for.
Typos or mistakes
Always spellcheck your cover letter. It's even better to get someone else to read it and point out any mistakes or confusing things.
People you could ask to read your cover letter include friends, family members, your careers teacher or a careers counsellor at your university or TAFE.
Double-check everything in your cover letter. If you mention a company's name, make sure you spell it right. If you mention places you've worked before, make sure you spell their names right, too.
Including your whole resume in your cover letter
Don't cut and paste your resume into your cover letter. Try to re-word the information in your resume, rather than just repeating it. Keep your cover letter short and let your resume tell the whole story.
Using ‘I’ too much
Try not to over use phrases like ‘I believe’, ‘I have’ and ‘I am’. Remember, it’s not about you – it’s about how you can help the employer.
Once you've written your letter, read over it, and try to take out or rewrite as many sentences that start with ‘I’ as you can.
Don't mention your other job applications
You're probably applying for more than one job at a time. However, it’s best not to mention other job applications. Your letter should aim to convince the employer that you really want this job.
Even though most employers will assume you're applying for more than one job, you don’t need to mention it.
Different kinds of cover letters
There may be times when you need use different kinds of cover letters. Visit the pages below for examples of these situations:
- cover letter when you have no work experience
- cover letter when you have some work experience
- cover letter when no resume is required
- cover letter when there’s no job advertised .
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- Cover Letter
How to Write a Cover Letter for Any Job in 8 Steps (2023)
So you need a cover letter. Where do you start? How long should it be? Do yourself a favor: follow our guide on how to write the best cover letter the recruiter has ever seen.
As seen in:
Why do you even need to write a cover letter? Isn’t it extra work on top of an already stressful and time-consuming job hunt?
It’s work that pays off. A resume alone can show your achievements and qualifications, but can it explain in detail why you’re the absolute best for the job? Or show a glimpse of your personality? A good cover letter will do all that—while also defining your motivations and showing the employer you’re the asset they truly need to make their lives easier.
And that’s why this guide will show you:
- What a cover letter is and why you should write one.
- A sample cover letter to tweak, customize, and get more interviews.
- How to write a cover letter for a job—better than 9 out of 10 others.
- Cover letter writing tips and hacks to boost your chances of landing a job.
And if you experience writer’s block, let us write your cover letter for you. Tell us your name, job title, and years of experience to get an automatically generated cover letter in less than a minute . Pick from 18+ cover letter templates and match your resume!
Create your cover letter now
Sample cover letter for a resume—See more cover letter samples here.
Here’s what you’ll find in this article (jump right into the desired section):
- What Is a Cover Letter?
- What Is the Purpose of a Cover Letter? (i.e., Why You Should Write One)
- Start With a Header
- Address the Reader
- Make a Proper Introduction
- Explain Why You’re the Perfect Fit
- Show Your Motivation to Join the Company
- Close With a Promise
- Stay Formal in the Closing Salutation
- Add a Postscript
- Frequently Asked Questions About Cover Letters
What Is a Cover Letter
A cover letter is an integral part of your job application, along with your resume. It’s designed to introduce you in a more personal way, complementing the contents of the resume/CV, expanding on relevant skills and achievements, and highlighting a selection of your most prominent accomplishments.
How long should a cover letter be ? Aim at 2–4 paragraphs within one page.
Not many achievements or relevant experience to talk about yet? Don’t worry—read our dedicated guides:
- How to Write a Cover Letter With No Experience
- How to Write a Good Cover Letter for an Internship
What Is the Purpose of a Cover Letter
A good cover letter persuades the employer your qualifications match their needs , plus:
- Shows you did research and take the job seriously.
- Proves you understand the challenges of the company.
- Reflects that your vision aligns with their goals.
- Presents how your skills and experience are a solution .
Ultimately, a good cover letter should be all about “ why should we hire you ” and “what’s in it for us.” The winning tactic here is focusing on them , not just on you, which will ultimately make you stand out from other applicants
And that’s why it’s worth spending time writing a solid cover letter.
Let’s find out how to do it.
How to Write a Cover Letter
You can start working on your cover letter right away as you follow our steps. Use this cover letter template, or explore more cover letter samples here (we have one for most jobs and industries):
By the way, you can upload your resume into our cover letter builder , and it will convert the info into the cover letter!
Let’s now move on to detailed instructions on how to write a successful cover letter:
1. Start With a Header
A professional cover letter opens with a header. Ideally, your cover letter header should be the same as in your resume (for consistency), so feel free to use the same template.
If you prefer to make the header of your cover letter from scratch, include the following contact information:
- Phone number
- Email address
Pro Tip: If you send your cover letter via email , don’t use your current work email address. It’s impolite to your current and potential employer.
2. Address the Reader
Once you’re done with the header, it’s time to mention the location and date of writing.
Then, address your cover letter directly to the hiring manager like so:
- Dear Katherine,
- Dear Ms. Smith,
- Dear Mr. McConnor,
According to studies , people respond actively to hearing/seeing their names—so use it in the cover letter salutation . Look for the hiring manager's name by:
- Checking the job description
- Going to the company’s LinkedIn page (to look for the person responsible for uploading the job offer)
If you can’t find the name by any means possible, opt for “ Dear Hiring Manager .” Avoid starting your cover letter with “ To Whom It May Concern ” like the plague. And if you’re not living in Victorian England, don’t start a cover letter with “ Dear Sir or Madam ,” either.
Follow this template to make sure you include everything:
[Hiring Manager’s or Recruiter’s Name]
[Hiring Manager’s or Recruiter’s Job Title]
Dear [Ms./Mr.] ...
Pro Tip: Wondering whether you should use the hiring manager’s first or last name? That depends on the company culture. Use the first name if you’re applying to a relaxed, casual company. For corporate cover letters, it’s safer to use the addressee's last name.
3. Make a Proper Introduction
Here’s the brutal truth: these few sentences at the beginning of your cover letter will determine whether the hiring manager will read on. So you need to start your cover letter in a way that attracts and holds the reader’s interest.
Here are several proven strategies for starting your cover letter :
- Highlight your achievements.
- Display your passion and enthusiasm.
- Drop names.
- Do all the above.
Have a look at these two sample cover letter opening paragraphs:
Why is the wrong example not delivering? Because it provides no value and details. The bottom line is: “I’ve already done this job, so I think I’d fit in.” And it’s just not enough for someone with more than eight years of experience to get the job.
4. Explain Why You’re the Perfect Fit
The second paragraph (main body) of your cover letter has a couple of jobs to perform:
- Give the hiring manager what they’re looking for.
- Show that you’ll satisfy the company’s specific needs.
Let’s look at the cover letter example from above to see how this could be done.
Remember Jane, our digital marketing manager candidate? The XYZ company she applies to needs (based on the job ad):
- A savvy digital marketing manager (1)
- Someone who will supervise the development of their new online portal (2)
Let’s look at how Jane managed to show that she’s both:
Your go-to strategy on what your cover letter should say in the main body:
- In the first sentence, prove you’re an expert in your field (refrain from bragging too much).
- The remaining part should be all about how your previous experiences will help your future employer press ahead with their plans.
Pro Tip: A cover letter also is a great place to explain gaps in your employment , if you have any.
5. Show Your Motivation to Join the Company
Your future employers have needs . If they’re willing to hire you, it’s because they think you’ll satisfy those needs. But they also want you to enjoy working with them. That way, they know you’re more likely to stay with them for longer.
The key to writing a perfect third paragraph of your cover letter is showing the hiring manager why you want this job, not just any job. That’s particularly important for entry-level candidates—enthusiasm and passion help prove you'll hit the ground running.
Have a look at these cover letter examples:
Above all, you want to avoid writing too much of a general cover letter . Generic doesn't win jobs; targeted does. (We’re, of course, assuming you tailored your resume to every job description you’re after, too.)
Job seekers impress employers by identifying transferable skills related to new positions. People often apply to new positions, so it’s likely you’ll not have the exact experience requested. But employers would rather know how your past experiences will inform future decisions. You were a hostess? Relate those management and organizational skills to the Executive Assistant position. Lauren Little Career Coach
6. Close With a Promise
How to make the best cover letter ending? By providing value.
The worst mistakes you can make in the final paragraph are:
- Coming off needy
- Focusing on how much you want the job, not on what you have to offer
- Repeating the clichéd phrase, “Thank you for your consideration and your time”
Instead, tell the hiring manager that you’re looking forward to meeting in person and discussing how your experience and knowledge can help your future employer fulfill their goals. Like here:
Trying to find exciting ways to end your cover letter, but to no avail? See how to write a convincing final paragraph here: How to Successfully Close a Cover Letter
7. Stay Formal in the Closing Salutation
Once you’ve written the body of your cover letter, you just need to put a formal closing at the very end. Write “Sincerely” and follow it with your full name. Adding your handwritten signature is optional (recommended for more formal cover letters).
If you’re not a fan of the well-worn “Sincerely,” feel free to use any of the following:
- Best regards,
- Kind regards,
- Respectfully yours,
- With best regards,
8. Add a Postscript
All of the above sections are must-haves in a good cover letter. But there’s one special trick you can use—the postscript. Why is it so important? Because it’s like a magnet for the hiring manager’s eyes that screams: “you cannot miss this information.”
Use the postscript to tell the hiring manager about something impressive about your career, even if it’s not strictly related to the job opening. And say you’d be happy to provide them with more details if they find it interesting.
Pro Tip: Looking to work for a company, but there aren't any open positions? Try writing a letter of interest for a job . It's a great way of uncovering vacancies that aren't even advertised.
9. Double-Check the Formatting
Before you hit send, make sure your cover letter formatting is intact.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to format your cover letter:
- Choose a legible cover letter font like Arial or Garamond, and keep it between 10 and 12 points in font size.
- Set even margins on all sides—1-inch margins should be perfect.
- Left-align all your contents.
- Use double cover letter spacing between paragraphs and 1–1.15 between lines.
- Title your cover letter by JobTitle—CoverLetter—YourName .
- Let your cover letter layout stay intact en route to the recruiter by saving the file in PDF.
The final step of writing your cover letter is, in fact, checking up on your resume to see if they both match the job requirements. Make sure you meet your hiring manager's expectations to the best of your ability.
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 .
For the final thought on how to write a great cover letter in 8 steps:
- Ensure your contact info in the header is correct.
- Address your hiring manager or recruiter personally.
- Attract their attention in the introduction.
- Use your experience to prove you're the exact match to the company's needs.
- Explain your motivation and fit for the position.
- Finish with a call to action and ask for a meeting.
- Be formal in the closing sentiment.
- Include a postscript.
Or use our cover letter builder to remember it all for you!
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. Do you have any questions about how to make a cover letter? Want to share an example of a cover letter? Give us a shout in the comments, and we’ll reply!
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Write a Cover Letter
What is a cover letter.
A cover letter is a formal letter that accompanies a CV or a resume . It includes a candidate’s introduction and an overview of the candidate’s qualifications , skills, and accomplishments most relevant to the job they’re pursuing. The cover letter also serves to express the candidate’s interest in the position and the company, as well as eagerness to contribute to the company’s success. It can also help to explain employment gaps .
What are the four parts of a cover letter?
- Cover letter header with your contact information such as full name, phone number, and email address
- Cover letter introduction with your hiring manager’s address and a hook that hypes the reader up so much that they can’t stop reading
- Cover letter body with a description of your significant accomplishments and strengths that you’ll bring to the table. (Beware! It’s not a copy of your resume.)
- Cover letter closing with a call to action and your signature
What should a cover letter say?
That you’re the one. That you want them, but that they want you, too. That you’re the solution to their problems. That’s what your cover letter should say .
And you can achieve all of that by having a number of things in your cover letter :
- action verbs and power words
- accomplishment statements
- organized cover letter layout , and
- enthusiastic but determined tone of voice
How to write a simple cover letter?
To make cover letter writing simple, you need to know a couple of things first:
- Create proper cover letter formatting before putting down words. You’ll ensure a correct structure and that you’ll fit onto one page with your cover letter.
- Find your hiring manager’s or recruiter’s name. By personalizing your cover letter, you have a higher chance of landing the gig.
- Create a list of job keywords you need to target with your application. Have a look at the job ad and mark those words which speak of necessary qualifications and qualities. Then use them in your paragraphs.
- Never lie in your job application .
- And lastly, do as extensive research about the company as possible. The intricate details about their mission, values, and vision will help you find an angle to write your cover letter.
How to write a cover letter for an internship?
A cover letter to an internship resume is a fantastic way to shoo away your competition. So don't hesitate and write a cover letter for an internship you’ve dreamt of for too long.
First and foremost, prove to your potential employer that you’re worth hiring, and that they’re a great company to work for. Do your research and don’t be shy to show what you’ve learned. Later use that knowledge to give away your connection to the company and its values. Show your transferable skillset and achievements, and let your determination and motivation do their magic.
How to write a cover letter for 2023?
In 2023, write your cover letter with these simple steps:
- Create a consistent look by mirroring a resume header to your template.
- Make a clean cover letter layout to keep enough whitespace on the page.
- Find an angle to write your cover letter—motivation to advance, shared values or mission statement, recent developments in the industry. Doing thorough research always helps.
- Start your cover letter with a relevant accomplishment that makes the reader want to carry on.
- Create a smooth transition from the hook through your strengths to motivation in 3 to 4 paragraphs, tops.
- Call your recruiter to action in the cover letter closing and ask for a meeting with you.
Is a cover letter necessary?
Almost half of the recruiters reject applications without a cover letter. Cover letters are a treat for those who still care to hire dedicated professionals. (And that’s you, right?)
It’s no surprise, though, that you’re questioning whether a cover letter is necessary . The entire job application process can be exhausting, so cutting down on documents you have to produce always seems like a good idea. But not this time.
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Do I Need a Cover Letter? Are Cover Letters Necessary in 2023
Do I need a cover letter? Is it important? What if the job offer doesn’t require a cover letter? Read this guide to find out all you need to know.
What Does the Best Cover Letter Look Like in 2023
Not sure what a cover should look like? Confused by all the contrasting guidelines? Here’s an article that will straighten out all your queries once and for all.
5 Short Cover Letter Examples for Any Job (+ Writing Guide)
Today’s hiring process is fast and furious. Don’t waste the recruiter’s time—see our 5 short cover letter examples and learn how to make every word count.
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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.
Cover letters … the 3-minute version
What is the purpose of a cover letter?
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.
How do I write a cover letter?
Before writing, research the employer.
Learn enough about the organization to articulate why you are a strong fit for that firm. Here are some things you can do:
- 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 classes, projects, work experiences, internships, volunteer, activities, travel, etc., that is similar to the duties required of the job?
Writing Your Cover Letter: Format and Structure
- Keep cover letters short—three or four paragraphs and less than one page.
- Use the active voice, keeping your tone positive and professional. Avoid beginning too many sentences with “I”.
- Read your cover letter aloud to catch repetitious words and typos. Make sure that the grammar, sentence structure and spelling are correct.
- 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.
- 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 Dear Hiring Manager or to the title mentioned in the job description.
- List your contact information at the top of the page either in the same format as your resume or on the top left or right margin as shown in the samples.
- your contact information
- employer’s name, title and address
- a greeting (addressed to Ms., Mr., or Dr. with the employer’s last name)
- cover letter content
- your signature or typed name
Writing Your Cover Letter: Content
Your cover letter should answer who, what, when, where and why you are applying for the opportunity.
Introduction : State the position for which you are applying, where you found out about the job, who you are and why you are interested in/qualified for this job and company in particular. If you spoke with someone in the company or were referred by a connection ask if you can include that person’s name and mention your conversation.
Body : The body of the cover letter may be one or two paragraphs. Highlight your qualifications and emphasize your strengths which are most relevant to the industry, organization, and position. Be specific. Use 2-3 examples of your work or academic experience to communicate your motivation and how your skills and experience prepared you for the job. Structure your letter based on relevance not chronology. Explain how you will be valuable to the employer. Do not discuss or apologize if you feel you lack experience or accomplishments.
Conclusion : Thank the reader and reaffirm your interest in the position or organization. Keep your tone positive and enthusiastic. Your cover letter should be specific to the firm and explain why you would be a good fit to work there.
Check out our example of how to structure your cover letter content .
Checking Your Work
Use our Cover Letter Checklist to make sure your format and content is in line with best practices.
When should I write a cover letter?
Not all jobs require cover letters. So, how do you decide whether to submit one?
Pro-Tip: 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.
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
Sample cover letters.
These sample cover letters will help you get started and give you an idea of what to include in your own letters!
Have a strong opening statement that makes clear why you want the job and what you bring to the table. · Be succinct — a hiring manager should be
How to write a cover letter in 6 steps · 1. Start with your header · 2. Include a greeting · 3. Write an opening paragraph · 4. Add a second paragraph · 5. Finish
What is a Cover Letter? (and Why It's Important) · Header - Input contact information · Greeting the hiring manager · Opening paragraph - Grab the
1. Your name and contact information in a header · 2. A polite cover letter greeting (salutation) · 3. Specific examples of achievements · 4.
The most traditional way to address a cover letter is to use the person's first and last name, including “Mr.” or “Ms.” (for example, “Dear Ms.
What to include in your cover letter · Your name and contact details · Their name and contact details · The name of the job you're going for · A
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
What Is a Cover Letter. A cover letter is an integral part of your job application, along with your resume. It's designed to introduce you in a
What is a Cover Letter? · Memorable introduction · Specific, organized examples of relevant work done and problems solved · Concise conclusion with
Writing Your Cover Letter: Format and Structure · Keep cover letters short—three or four paragraphs and less than one page. · Use the active voice, keeping your