The key to writing a great cover letter lies in creating a compelling story of your career. A well-written cover letter can make you an unforgettable applicant, so read on to see how easy it is to write an interview-winning cover letter.
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What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a job application document where you address a potential employer and build your case for why you’re the best candidate for the job.
The cover letter should mention why you’re interested in the position and feature accomplishments demonstrating your qualifications.
Although many applicants dismiss cover letters as a waste of time, 83% of recruiters said cover letters are important when applying for a job.
Anatomy of a cover letter
Your header sits at the top of your cover letter. In this section, you put your name and contact information, including your telephone number and professional email address.
This is where you say hello to the person reading your cover letter, for instance, a hiring manager or potential supervisor.
In a single paragraph, outline why you are applying for the job. It should be succinct but entice the hiring manager to learn more by mentioning critical skills and experience directly related to the role.
The most significant part of a cover letter, this section should be two to three paragraphs long. Use this space to connect critical information from your resume to the requirements outlined in the job posting.
This section summarizes the contents of your letter in a few sentences and should finish with a call to action for a future interview.
How long should a cover letter be?
Your cover letter shouldn’t extend beyond one page since you want to avoid overwhelming the hiring manager with too much material to read in addition to your resume.
If writing a full-page cover letter from scratch seems like a hassle, try our Cover Letter Builder. You’ll get a completely personalized letter that makes you sound like a pro and showcases your best qualifications.
Even if you’re a seasoned writer, our builder draws from a vast content database where you can pick and choose your paragraphs and customize them to your liking.
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How to write a cover letter with examples
Structure your header
Your cover letter’s header should include:
- Your name
- Location (city and state)
- Phone number
- The date of when you plan to send the letter
- Name and job title of the hiring manager
- Name and address of the company you’re applying to
Some optional information you can include in your cover letter’s header is:
- Your current job title
- Your LinkedIn page
- Links to your professional social media accounts
Address the hiring manager
Addressing the hiring manager by name is a great way to show your professionalism and attention to detail.
A big no-no in cover letter writing is addressing the recipient with “Dear Sir or Madam.” These are outdated terms, making it seem like you’re sending the same letter to multiple employers. It’s always best to address them by their title and name. For example:
“Dear Dr. Ramírez,”
However, finding the hiring manager’s name can be tricky unless you’re applying for a job within your current company or have been referred.
Tips to find out your hiring manager’s name
- Do a LinkedIn search. Find the company’s account, and look for the “People” tab. You should be able to find a human resources manager or recruiter.
- Connect with someone who works in the company. If you can’t find the HR manager or there’s more than one recruiter, try to find an employee who can get you the right contact. Send them a message explaining how you’re interested in working at XYZ company, and politely ask them if they happen to know who you should contact for more information about the position.
- Give the company a call! If it’s a smaller-sized organization, you can call the main company number and simply ask them to confirm if X person is the hiring manager for the role you’re interested in.
How to address a cover letter when you don’t know the hiring manager’s name
If all else fails, and you haven’t been able to find the hiring manager’s name, there’s still a correct way to address your letter. A simple ‘Dear hiring manager” is a sure way to go, but here are a few other options.
Good cover letter greetings examples
“Dear hiring manager,”
“Dear [XYZ Company] team,”
“Dear Customer Acquisition Hiring Manager,”
Wrong cover letter greetings examples
“To whom it may concern,”
Grab the reader’s attention in the opening paragraph
Your opening paragraph should concisely state who you are and your interest in the position in no more than one or two sentences.
If a current employee at the company has referred you, you should mention it immediately in the opening paragraph. This way, the hiring manager will likely pay more attention to the accomplishments stated in your letter.
A few key elements that should appear in your opening paragraph are:
- Your profession/current job title
- Your desired position
- Your motivation for applying
Compare these cover letter opening paragraph examples:
Good example of cover letter opening paragraph
“After seven years working in marketing as brand manager in multinational companies like P&G and Unilever, I want to use my negotiation and extensive knowledge of retail operations to explore your company’s sales area as sales representative.”
Why this works:
In just one sentence, this applicant informs a potential employer of their years of experience, area of expertise, the role they wish to pursue and the skills to back up their career aspirations.
Wrong example of cover letter opening paragraph
“Hello. I am Lester Peterson. I hope you are doing well. I am writing to you because I want to apply to your company. I am a determined professional with all the qualities needed to excel in this role.”
Why this doesn’t work:
This opening statement sounds informal, and instead of showing examples of his qualifications, the applicant opted for empty statements that don’t tell the recruiter much.
Prove your value in the body paragraphs.
Your cover letter’s body can consist of one or two paragraphs where you offer more context to your career accomplishments.
Because the cover letter is a companion to your resume, you shouldn’t repeat everything you mentioned in your resume verbatim.
However, you could narrate the challenges and opportunities that arose during your career that led you to accomplish that increase in sales, gain that valuable client or lead a big project, for example.
Check out these cover letter body paragraph examples for different approaches you could take depending on your unique situation:
Body paragraph example focused on career accomplishments
“In my previous teaching role, I carved out 10-minute slots in my senior class to do SAT prep testing, resulting in having the district’s highest SAT score average in English. My dedication to my student’s needs has always been my priority, and students responded with increased participation in the portion of the class allotted for the syllabus topics. After being named Teacher of the Year, I organized a continuing education and mentorship program for newly graduated teachers in the school district.”
Body paragraph example focused on skill set
“Throughout my career as an accountant, I have acquired skills in various areas of accounting and finance. In my first years, I worked in the public sector, developing budgets between $50,000 and $2 million and ensuring accounting records complied with federal and state regulations. Eventually, I moved to work in private equity firms. I gained firsthand experience in financial analysis in tech investments and monitoring funds’ investments, preparing all financial statements and presenting to investors and stakeholders.”
Body paragraph example focused on career goals
“After graduating from Columbia School of Social Work and working as a volunteer in various non-profit organizations focused on at-risk youth and women’s shelters, I’m eager to put my skills to work as a counselor in the court system. My understanding of vulnerable children’s needs and challenges has inspired me to continue my career supporting children through their caregivers’ or their court proceedings.”
If you find your body paragraph is becoming too long, use bullet points to break up blocks of text.
If you want your cover letter to make a mark on the reader, your body paragraph needs to be full of job-relevant skills and achievements — and written like a pro.
Our Cover Letter Builder will suggest over a dozen body paragraph examples you can choose from to make a big impact.
You can edit these content suggestions with quantifiable achievements and extra keywords from the job ad to make your cover letter unforgettable.
Close by encouraging next steps.
Your closing statement should be concise and direct, leaving the reader excited to learn more about you.
Make sure your closer is:
- One or two sentences long
- Direct about your eagerness to fill the role
- Encouraging the reader to set up an interview
Compare the impact of these two cover letter’s closing statements:
Good example of a cover letter closer
“I am eager to discuss how I can contribute to XYZ Company’s mission to impact women professionals in their search for investment opportunities and financial education resources they can trust as Head of Marketing operations. I am available for a call or meeting at your convenience.””
Why this works:
This is a phenomenal closer showing the candidate has researched the company and is passionate about the role. Let yourself stand out without bragging.
Wrong example of a cover letter closer
“All in all, you won’t likely find a better candidate than me. My qualifications and experience will knock it out of the park. Let me know when you can meet with me for an interview.””
Why this doesn’t work:
Although supremely confident, this statement lacks substance, and the tone is off-putting. Be careful not to confuse confidence with cockiness.
Choose an appropriate sign-off.
Your cover letter’s sign-off consists of two words at most. Plenty of signatures will make you sound like a pro, and others you should avoid.
Good cover letter sign-offs
Keep it formal and professional with these signature lines:
Thank you for your consideration,
Cover letter sign-offs not to use
Avoid informal phrases you would use with friends:
Take it easy,
Have a great day,
Thx, or any other abbreviation
Now that you’ve learned how to write every part of your letter check out our collection of cover letter examples. These professionally written letters for various jobs and industries can inspire the content you can include in your cover letter
Make your cover letter stand out
A cover letter can significantly impact your job application, making you stand out when done correctly and with attention to detail. How?
- Mention in-demand industry skills and qualifications like the ones our Cover Letter Builder suggests based on your desired job title and years of experience.
- You can choose from over a dozen professionally designed templates in our builder and customize them with your favorite colors and fonts. Opt for an eye-catching cover letter template.
- Use the proper industry jargon and appropriate language to show employers you are a knowledgeable and professional candidate. Our builder automatically generates personalized cover letter content that makes you sound like a professional writer.
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Cover letter mistakes to avoid
- Never send your cover letter using your current company email. Recruiters will perceive it poorly, and employers can monitor company emails. Use a personal, professional email instead.
- Don’t just write the same thing you have on your resume. Pick one or two key accomplishments from your resume and provide more details on how you achieved them. You can also include any achievements you couldn’t fit into your resume.
- Don’t ignore the importance of numbers to illustrate your achievements. Using dollar amounts, numbers or percentages gives verifiable proof of your success.
- Avoid writing paragraphs that are too long. You can instead use bullet points in your body paragraph to break down your text into easy bite-sized statements.
- Don’t make a generic cover letter for all your job applications. Tailor your cover letter to each job you apply to by highlighting the skills and experiences required in the job ad.
- Don’t discuss salary. Don’t mention money unless you have been explicitly asked to state your desired salary. Never include information about your current salary. Some states have made it illegal for recruiters and hiring managers to ask about salary history.
5 cover letter essentials
Here are the key elements you need to include in your cover letter. If there’s anything you should remember from this guide, it’s the following:
- Make sure yours and the company’s contact information are correct.
- Address the hiring manager by name whenever possible.
- Open strong by mentioning key skills or a proud career accomplishment.
- Talk about how your experiences and knowledge can help you impact the job.
- Close your cover letter by suggesting a job interview, and use a formal signature line.
5 cover letter essentials
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Frequently Asked Questions
How to write a cover letter for an internship?
When writing a cover letter for an internship, you should:
- State the internship position for which you’re applying.
- Mention required skills and keywords from the internship advertisement.
- List any relevant coursework or projects that show you are a capable candidate.
- Explain your motivations and career aspirations.
- Emphasize what the company can gain from your unique abilities.
How to format a cover letter?
Cover letters follow a standard business letter format. You must include the following sections to format a cover letter accurately:
- Date, your contact information and the recipient’s information
- Address the hiring manager
- Include a one- to two-sentence opening paragraph
- Write one or two body paragraphs (you can use bullet points) to showcase your qualifications
- Closing statement with a call to action for an interview
- A sign-off like “Best regards,” or “Sincerely,”
- Your name and signature
What is the best cover letter template?
The best cover letter template is the one that provides you with a visually attractive but practical design. You can find pretty templates online; however, our collection of professionally designed cover letter templates also allows you complete control of their customization. You can change the fonts and colors, adjust margin size and even include additional sections to discuss availability, relocation and employment gaps.