Writing a cover letter can be daunting, especially if you’re unsure where to start. In this article, we’ll provide step-by-step guidance on how to write a cover letter that impresses hiring managers and increases your chances of landing an interview.
We spoke with David Grimes, director of people and talent operations at Taulia LLC, about the importance of creating a cover letter for your job application.
Grimes told us, “I sincerely appreciate cover letters, as they signal to me an amplification of interest and offer an additional opportunity to convey that [job candidates] have taken the time to truly review the position or organization and see an alignment.”
“When done well, a cover letter can provide a window into the candidate as they picture themselves at our organization.”
– David Grimes, Director of People and Talent Operations at Taulia LLC
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to write a cover letter for a job application. Plus we’ll provide cover letter examples and expert tips on how to write a resume cover letter that lands interviews.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a one-page document that accompanies your resume or CV when you apply for a job. A well-written cover letter can help you stand out from other applicants and demonstrate your enthusiasm and passion for the position. It serves as an opportunity for you to showcase your communication and writing skills, as well as your attention to detail and professionalism.
We’ll teach you how to write a good cover letter so that you can craft this job-winning document with ease. Your cover letter should accomplish the following:
- Introduce yourself to the hiring managers.
- Provide details about your qualifications.
- Tell employers why you want to work for them.
- Illustrate why you’re the best match for the job.
- Explain circumstances like job hopping or gaps in employment.
What to include in a cover letter
All cover letters follow a basic business letter structure and should include the sections detailed below.
How to write the perfect cover letter
Do your research
Wondering how to write a great cover letter? Preparation is key. Researching the essential information before you start writing will save you time and ensure you put your best foot forward.
First, review the job description to compare it with your professional skills and qualifications. Make a checklist of areas where your skills match the requirements of the job. Make note of the following areas:
- Notable accomplishments from previous jobs.
- Any volunteer work where you gained skills listed in the job description.
- Skills that match the required skills in the job listing. Include a mix of hard skills and soft skills.
- Educational qualifications, including certificates and licenses.
- Relevant awards and honors.
Next, research the company to get a sense of its culture and values. This will help you create a personalized cover letter that indicates your genuine interest in the company. Take notes on the following areas:
- Get an idea of the company’s culture, mission and values so that you can tell the hiring manager why you’re a great fit.
- Research the company’s news and press releases so you can congratulate key players on recent milestones or explain how you will contribute to future goals.
- Learn the hiring manager’s name so that you can address your cover letter to them.
Choose a cover letter template
Want to know how to write a perfect cover letter? Use a cover letter template. Using a professionally designed template ensures that your cover letter format is ATS-friendly and vetted by career advice experts.
We have hundreds of templates to help you get started on the right track. Pick from modern, creative, or simple styles to match your CV or resume template and build a professional cover letter in minutes. Not sure if a template’s right for you? Try one for free!
Add a professional header
Cover letter headers follow the standard business letter format. A cover letter header typically includes your name, address, phone number and email address. It should be placed at the top of the page and aligned to the left or center.
Include your contact information
Place your name, city, state, ZIP code, phone number and email address in your cover letter heading. Your email address should be professional like “Jdoe@email.com,” and not personal like “firstname.lastname@example.org.” Include links to your LinkedIn profile or professional online portfolio if you have one.
Include the recipient’s contact information
First, write the current date followed by a space. Then include the hiring manager’s name and title, company address and the hiring manager’s email address. It should look like this:
Greet the hiring manager
Greet the hiring manager by name whenever possible to establish a personal connection. If you are unsure of their gender, you can use their first and last name.
For example: “Dear [hiring manager’s full name],”
If you are certain of the hiring manager’s gender, you can address them using “Mr.” or “Ms.” in your cover letter. Avoid using “Mrs.” or “Miss” as these titles imply that you are assuming the hiring manager’s marital status.
Don’t use informal language like “Hello,” or “Hi,” or outdated salutations like“Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom it May Concern” to greet the person reading your letter.
If your research doesn’t turn up a name, then use “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Hiring Team.” Take a look at some acceptable and unacceptable salutations below.
- Dear Lucy Garcia,
- Dear Ms. Lowe,
- Dear Hiring Manager,
- Dear Vice President of Marketing,
- Hi there!
- Hey Mr. Jones,
- Dear Sir,
- Sam Spade:
Write a compelling introduction
The opening sentences of a cover letter act as your elevator pitch. You should clearly and concisely tell hiring managers why you are the best fit for the job.
But how do you start a cover letter in a way that intrigues hiring managers and makes them want to read more?
The following examples can help you write a cover letter introduction that grabs the attention of hiring managers.
Exude confidence, passion and enthusiasm
Want to know how to write a cover letter that stands out? It all starts with a compelling introduction that confidently asserts your interest in the position.
“I was excited to see that Tech Solutions — a company I respect for its innovation — has an opening for an experienced lead producer.”
Emphasize your skills and experience
Start your cover letter off strong with a brief explanation of your top skills and experiences that make you a great fit for the role.
“With seven years of experience in production for leading start-up companies in Silicon Valley, I have in-depth knowledge of cyber security and cloud computing and know my way around artificial intelligence.”
Show you’ve done some research
Mention an interesting fact or statistic from an article, news story or the company’s website.
“When I saw that WILCO Services was touted in Business Magazine for being one of the most inclusive companies in the world, I knew I had to apply for the marketing associate position.”
Highlight measurable accomplishments
Showcase your qualifications by mentioning an impressive award, honor or measurable accomplishment from a past role.
“As director of Visit Mass, I created tourism programs that resulted in a 30% increase in international tourists to Massachusetts in 2019.”
Tell a story about why you are applying.
“When I was a child, I spent my days in the city parks around my neighborhood, listening to birds sing and watching squirrels jump through trees. Those days instilled a passion in me for wildlife that has intensified over the years and, combined with admiration for the animal rehabilitation programs at Prospect Park Nature Conservancy, led me to apply for the Wildlife Technician position at the conservancy.”
Mention a shared contact
If applicable, mention a shared contact that you have with the hiring manager. This can help explain who you heard about the role from and establish a personal connection with the hiring manager.
“Jayne Peck told me you had an opening on your graphics team, and I’m thrilled to apply for the role. You and I know Jayne from Volunteers for the Bay, where I volunteered on the cleanup crew in 2017.”
Write the body paragraphs
The body paragraphs of your cover letter should explain why you’re the best candidate for the job. Follow the expert tips below to learn how to write a professional cover letter with engaging body paragraphs.
- If you have work experience in your target role or industry, detail your work accomplishments and use numbers to quantify the results of your actions.
- If you’re applying for your first job, connect the new opportunity with a personal or school project, extracurricular activity or internship.
- Highlight relevant skills from your work experience and explain clearly how you can apply them to the job.
- If you think you’re a shoo-in for the company’s culture, show it! For example, if you enjoy volunteering for social justice causes and you are applying to a nonprofit organization focused on social justice, explain why the company’s mission is meaningful to you.
- If you’re changing careers, emphasize your transferable skills. Career change cover letters that emphasize transferable skills are more effective because they show prospects that you can perform the work with little or no experience.
Write a closing paragraph
When you write a cover letter closing statement, make it clear to the employer that you’re excited about the possibility of working with them and that you are confident you have the expertise to be successful at the job.
Remember that you’re writing a cover letter to a specific person, so thank them for their time and consideration.
You should also encourage the recipient to follow up (e.g., “I look forward to further discussing my qualifications with you.”)
Here are a few examples of how to write a strong cover letter closing paragraph.
I have attached my resume and creative portfolio to my application for further review of my credentials. I am eager to speak with you about this role and greatly appreciate your consideration. Please contact me at your earliest convenience to discuss my background in more detail.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I’m excited about the prospect of working for the Museum of Ancient History. I look forward to discussing what I learned in my year abroad as an English teacher and how I can apply those lessons to the docent role. Feel free to contact me any time during the week.
I’m confident that a review of my resume and portfolio will convince you that I have the technical skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in the lead designer role at Creative Ads, LLC. I’m excited about the opportunity and would be thrilled to meet with you and your team next week to discuss my ideas for your next campaign. Please contact me this week to schedule a convenient date and time.
What goes in a cover letter ending isn’t complicated, but you have to get it right if you want a chance at the job.
That means you must be respectful, polite, professional and formal.
- Best regards,
- Kind regards,
- Thank you,
- Take Care,
Proofread your cover letter
Knowing how to write a cover letter for a job isn’t all there is to making a cover letter. You have to proofread it at least once before sending your job application letter to a potential employer. Typos and cover letter formatting mistakes can reduce your chances of getting hired.
When you’ve finished proofreading, have someone else read it for you too, just to be sure it’s job application ready. You can ask a trusted friend or family member, a former colleague or a professional mentor to read your cover letter.
Be specific about the feedback you are seeking. For example, you might ask for constructive criticism in the following areas:
- Relevance: Does your cover letter demonstrate how your skills and experience match the job requirements?
- Clarity: Is your writing clear, concise and easy to understand?
- Tone: Is your tone professional and appropriate for the company and position you are applying for?
- Grammar and spelling: Are there any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes that need to be corrected?
- Formatting: Is your cover letter formatted properly with a clear and organized structure?
- Overall impression: Does your cover letter make a strong impression and effectively communicate your enthusiasm and interest for the position?
Alternatively, you can seek the advice of a career counselor or professional resume writer who can review your cover letter and provide constructive criticism to help you improve your application.
Cover letter writing checklist
Now that you know how to write a compelling cover letter, we recommend running through this cover letter writing checklist to ensure that your document isn’t missing anything.
- Did you choose a cover letter design that matches your resume?
- Contact information
- Are your name, location, phone number and email address up to date and displayed at the top of your cover letter?
- Did you add a link to your professional portfolio or website and your current LinkedIn profile (if you have them)?
- Did you add the current date at the top of your cover letter?
- Company information
- Did you address your letter to the hiring manager by name and include their title, email address and the correct company address?
- Did you greet the hiring manager, recruiter or HR associate by name or title?
- Did you use a polite but formal greeting?
- Opening paragraph
- Are the first few sentences of your cover letter clear and compelling?
- Do you convey enthusiasm for the job?
- Body paragraphs
- Did you effectively express how you can apply your skills, experience and achievements to the target job to help the company achieve its goals?
- Did you highlight one or two things you like about the company, such as its values or culture and why?
- Closing paragraph
- Did you thank the reader for their time?
- Did you end your cover letter with a call to action?
- Did you use a proper, formal closure to end your letter?
How to make a cover letter that stands out
A professional cover letter template is the best way to craft a cover letter that stands out. Use one of our professionally designed templates with our Cover Letter Builder to make a cover letter in minutes.
Our cover letter templates frame your qualifications with the correct formatting, and they meet the latest applicant tracking system (ATS) requirements. Our builder makes writing a cover letter a snap with the following features:
- Job-specific phrases and skills: No matter the job you’re applying for, we give you the right words and relevant skills you can incorporate with just one click
- Step-by-step guidance: Get expert advice on how to write a good cover letter at every step to help you showcase your top skills and qualifications.
- Easy customization: Write a cover letter for every job application and save as many versions of it as you need.
- Multiple download formats: Save and export your cover letter as a PDF, DOCX or plain text.
Cover letter tips from career advice experts
In this guide on how to write a cover letter for a job, we’ve detailed the key elements of writing a good cover letter, from making a cover letter header to crafting a compelling closing paragraph.
While you write, keep the following pointers in mind to craft a standout document. Here are our top five tips for how to make a cover letter that hiring managers will love:
- Follow instructions. This is probably the most important tip on how to write a cover letter for a job. If the job posting says to send your letter as a PDF, don’t send a Word document. If it tells you to send your cover letter as an email attachment, then do so. If the job posting says to write your cover letter in the body of an email, then do that. If you fail to follow all instructions in a job ad, you will likely not be considered for the position.
- Tailor your cover letter to the job. Hiring managers know a generic cover letter when they see one — and they’ll usually ignore it. That’s why it’s critical to customize your cover letter to show your enthusiasm for the specific job and company you’re applying to. Use resume keywords from the job description to showcase that your skills match the requirements of the role.
- Don’t apologize. Never point out the skills and experience you lack. If you are qualified for the job but don’t have much experience in the field, don’t apologize. Instead, focus on experiences like volunteering, school projects and community service you’ve done that make you a good fit and play up your transferable skills.
Don’t overshare. While writing a cover letter to explain a career change or job gap is a good idea, sharing every detail about your life or career is not. Do not share personal information such as political views, salary expectations or irrelevant hobbies.
It’s possible to be too enthusiastic. We stress the importance of conveying enthusiasm when you write a cover letter because it demonstrates your interest in the position. However, use caution when displaying your zeal. Keep your tone professional, genuine and confident without going overboard.
Professional cover letters
Get inspired by our professionally crafted cover letters for top jobs and industries. You can use them with our builder to make a cover letter that effectively highlights your skills and qualifications.
Cover letters for top jobs
Cover letters by situation
- A cover letter is a one-page document that complements your resume without repeating it.
- Address the cover letter to the hiring manager. If you can’t find their name, then address them as “Hiring Manager,” by their title or address the department.
- Write a cover letter introduction that immediately grabs the hiring manager’s attention and compels them to keep reading.
- It’s a good idea to use a professionally designed cover letter template to ensure your cover letter is formatted correctly.
- Knowing how to write a good cover letter involves customizing your cover letter to the position. Tailor yours to your target job and use keywords from the job description if they fit your abilities.
How long should a cover letter be?
A cover letter should typically be one page long and no more than three to four paragraphs. Aim to concisely express your points in about 250-500 words.
Read up on how to write a short cover letter to browse professionally made examples and to learn how to write a simple cover letter that effectively showcases your skills and qualifications.
Hiring managers and recruiters often receive many applications, so a short and focused cover letter that quickly communicates your qualifications can help you stand out from other applicants.
However, it is also important to ensure that your cover letter provides enough detail to showcase your skills and experience and convince the employer to invite you for an interview.
How to address a cover letter without a name?
It’s always best practice to try to find the hiring manager’s name when writing a cover letter because it personalizes your letter and emphasizes your interest in the position by showing you’ve done your homework.
It also creates a connection with the hiring manager and conveys that you’re willing to go the extra mile, which is a quality most hiring managers want to see in prospective employees.
If you don’t have a name, it’s acceptable to write “Dear Hiring Manager,” “Dear [Title],” or “Dear [Department Name]” to address your cover letter.
Can I send an email cover letter for a resume?
Yes, you can send an email cover letter for a resume. In fact, many employers prefer to receive job applications via email.
When sending an email cover letter, you should include a brief introduction in the body of the email and attach your resume and cover letter as separate documents.
Make sure to use a professional email address and include a clear subject line that indicates the position you’re applying for.
It’s also a good idea to personalize your email by addressing the hiring manager by name and mentioning where you found the job posting.
Is a cover letter necessary?
While writing a cover letter for a job application is not always required, it is highly recommended to include one either way. A well-written cover letter can help you stand out from other applicants and demonstrate your interest in the position.
A cover letter provides an opportunity for you to showcase your communication skills, highlight your qualifications and experience and explain why you are a good fit for the job.
Even if the job application does not specifically request a cover letter, submitting one can show that you are willing to go above and beyond to make a good impression and can help you differentiate yourself from other candidates. So while it’s not always necessary, a well-crafted cover letter can definitely improve your chances of getting hired.
What do I write in a cover letter?
Wondering what to write in a cover letter? Generally, cover letters should tell employers why you’re the best fit for your target job. Write about your background and how it fits the job, show your personality and explain precisely what you can do for the employer and how.
It’s also a good idea to explain unique situations like job gaps or frequent career changes in your cover letter. Remember to include the following information in your cover letter:
- A header with your contact information and the employer’s information if you have it.
- A professional salutation that includes the employer’s name if you have it.
- A brief introduction explaining why you’re interested in the job.
- One or two body paragraphs that summarize your qualifications.
- A conclusion that reiterates your interest in the position.
- A professional signoff such as “Sincerely” or “Best regards,” followed by your name.
Overall, your cover letter should be concise, well-written and tailored to the job you’re applying for. It should demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position and your ability to make a valuable contribution to the company. Learn more about what to include in a cover letter to craft a cover letter that lands interviews.
What does a cover letter look like?
A good cover letter follows the standard business letter format. Your cover letter should be well-formatted, easy to read and professional in appearance. Remember to include the following when using standard business format to structure your cover letter:
- Your contact details: Include your full name, title, company name, full address, phone number and email address in the letterhead.
- Date: The date should be written below your address.
- Recipient’s contact details: The recipient’s full name, title, company name, full address, phone number and email address should be included below the date.
- Salutation: The salutation should be formal, such as “Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. [Last Name].”
- Body: The body of the letter should be divided into paragraphs, with each paragraph discussing a specific point or topic. The tone of the letter should be professional and courteous.
- Closing: The closing should be formal, such as “Sincerely” or “Respectfully,” and followed by your signature.
Download a sample cover letter from this page to jump right into writing your cover letter rathe than worrying about formatting. Some cover letter templates have splashes of color and stylized headers, but they all follow the same standard cover letter format.
How do you write a cover letter for an internship?
Wondering how to write a cover letter for an internship? Take a look at the following tips to get started:
- Introduce yourself: Begin by introducing yourself and explaining why you are interested in the internship. State the position you are applying for and where you heard about the internship.
- Highlight your qualifications: Discuss your relevant coursework, skills and experience that make you a good fit for the internship.
- Show your enthusiasm: Express your enthusiasm for the opportunity to work for the company, and explain why the internship aligns with your career goals.
- Write a strong closing: Summarize your interest in the internship and thank the employer for considering your application.
- Use a professional tone: Use a professional tone throughout the letter, and proofread carefully for spelling and grammar errors.
Understanding how to write a good cover letter for an internship boils down to knowing how to effectively showcase your qualifications and your enthusiasm. For some inspiration, take a look at this marketing intern cover letter example.
How do you write a cover letter for a teaching job?
A cover letter for a teaching position should effectively communicate your qualifications, teaching experience and enthusiasm for the position. Take a look at these teaching cover letter examples to get inspired.
Here are a few tips on how to write a cover letter for a teaching job:
- Customize your letter: Tailor your cover letter to the specific teaching job you are applying for. Research the school and the position to ensure you are addressing the employer’s needs.
- Highlight your experience: Discuss your relevant teaching experience, including any specializations or certifications.
- Discuss your teaching philosophy: Include a section that discusses your teaching philosophy and how it aligns with the school’s mission and values. Discuss your approach to teaching and how you engage students in the learning process.
Overall, your cover letter should be well-written, tailored to the specific teaching job and demonstrate your understanding of the school’s mission and values.
How do you write a nursing cover letter?
A great cover letter for a nursing position will highlight your medical knowledge and your compassion for patients. Here are some tips on how to write a nursing cover letter:
- Address the employer’s requirements: Carefully read the job description and address the skills and qualifications required for the position. For example, injection administration, patient care techniques and attention to detail.
- Discuss your nursing philosophy: Discuss your approach to nursing care and how you prioritize patient safety and satisfaction.
- Show your enthusiasm: Express your enthusiasm for the opportunity to work for the healthcare facility, and explain why you are excited about the nursing position.
For an example of how to write a cover letter for a nursing job, take a look at this professionally made director of nursing cover letter example.
What are the goals of a cover letter?
The goal of a cover letter is to convince the hiring manager that you are the right person for the job and worth considering for further evaluation.
A cover letter allows you to formally introduce yourself, demonstrate your interest in the job and highlight your relevant skills and experience. Some of the specific goals of a cover letter include:
- Providing context for your application.
- Demonstrating your qualifications and fit for the position.
- Showing your enthusiasm and interest in the role.
- Differentiating yourself from other applicants.
A well-written cover letter should grab the employer’s attention and persuade them to take a closer look at your resume and ultimately invite you for an interview.
What do employers look for in a cover letter?
Employers look for a well-written cover letter that demonstrates relevance, enthusiasm, attention to detail, personalization and professionalism. Here are a few key areas to keep in mind while you write your cover letter:
- Relevance: Demonstrate that you have the relevant qualifications, skills and experience necessary to succeed in the role.
- Enthusiasm: Your cover letter should express your enthusiasm for the opportunity and explain why you are excited about the job.
- Attention to detail: Your letter should be free of errors and show your ability to communicate effectively to demonstrate that you have taken the time to write a thoughtful cover letter.
- Personalization: Employers want to see that you have tailored your cover letter specifically to the job and the company. Demonstrate that you have done your research and understand the company’s mission, values and culture.
- Professionalism: Your cover letter should demonstrate that you are professional and have a strong work ethic. Use a professional tone and demonstrate your ability to work well with others.
Ultimately, your cover letter should indicate your relevant qualifications and your enthusiasm for the role. Remember to include new information in your cover letter rather than restating the same details from your resume.
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