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Knowing how to write a cover letter for a job can help take your job application to the top of the pile. Although it might seem like an extra step in the application process, it’s really a chance to make yourself stand out in a competitive job market.

The great news is that you don’t have to spend a whole lot of time creating the best cover letter ever. If you take some time to include relevant information, customized and crafted specifically for the position and employer, it could increase your chance of advancing to the next step in the application process.

Here are some cover letter tips that show you exactly how to write one that helps you land the interview you’ve been waiting for.

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What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a short letter you include with your resume when applying for a job. It briefly introduces you and describes your top skills and qualifications. It’s the first thing a potential employer sees when reviewing applications and resumes. Writing a great cover letter is your ticket to the recruiter scheduling an interview, so proofreading is key. Your cover letter offers one chance to sell yourself and convince the reader you have the skills for the position you’re applying for.

Cover letters come in several forms. You’ll most likely use a traditional cover letter to apply for a job, but you can use a referral cover letter if someone within the organization referred you for the position. Additionally, you may opt to write cover letters and resumes to show interest in companies without current job listings. These are called letters of interest and are more general in nature, making them ideal if you’re on the hunt for a job.

Things to consider before you write

Before you write your cover letter, consider a few things:

  • Hiring manager’s name: Including the reader’s name can grab their attention faster than a more general address, so include it if you know it.
  • Job description: Write a unique cover letter for each job you apply for by tailoring the content to the requirements listed in the job description.
  • Qualifications: Because a cover letter is meant to be a short introduction, you usually won’t have space to list all of your skills. Try to highlight and elaborate on the qualifications that will make you stand out as a candidate.
  • Cover letter format: Matching the formatting of your cover letter and resume enhances the overall look of your documents.

Things you shouldn’t do in a cover letter

A well-written cover letter can help you proceed to the next step in the job process. However, there are several things employers don’t want to see in a cover letter. These are some things you shouldn’t do in a cover letter:

  • Don’t mention money. You can discuss the salary later.
  • Don’t exaggerate. Avoid mentioning job skills and qualifications you don’t currently have.
  • Try not to talk too much about the past. You can mention skills or qualifications you gained in past jobs and briefly explain any career changes. However, it’s better to shift the focus to what you can bring to the table in the future.
  • Avoid writing a boring cover letter. A cover letter should be catchy and interesting. Boring cover letters decrease your odds of getting a callback.
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What are the four components of a cover letter?

A great cover letter includes four primary parts:

1. Cover letter header

The top of the document is the header. Use this area for your name, address and contact information. This section should also include the company name and hiring manager’s name, if you know it, and the company’s address. Also include the date you’re sending the letter.

2. Cover letter introduction

Start writing the cover letter by briefly introducing yourself. State your name and the job title you’re applying for to ensure the reader understands your intent from the start.

3. Cover letter body

The body of the letter is the longest section of this one-page document. You’ll use the body to describe why you’re applying for the job and why the reader should consider you for the position. This is your chance to sell yourself.

4. Cover letter closing

A cover letter concludes with a closing paragraph that thanks the recruiter for reading the letter and includes a call to action. It’s your chance to ask for a follow-up phone call or interview. The cover letter then ends with a complimentary closing and your name.

Follow the standard format of a cover letter

Look at a cover letter example to get an idea of what your cover letter should look like. You’ll notice the following patterns and common structural elements as you browse through examples.

Include these elements in your cover letter

Your cover letter should follow a standard letter format. Essentially, pretend like you are writing a letter and use the formatting conventions associated with that structure. However, you’ll make some slight changes so that it’s better for business use. A good tip is to look at both the best cover letter examples and cover letter templates on the web.

Even if you miss these small details regarding spacing, formatting and adapting your letter for business use, make sure you express yourself in a succinct yet effective manner. A standardized format helps the person reviewing your application scan for relevant information and clues about whether you should move on to the next step of the interview process.

Here’s a quick rundown of all the elements to include in your cover letter:

  • Your contact information
  • Date
  • Address and name of the hiring manager or human resources department
  • Greeting
  • Body
  • Closing

Share your contact details in the header

Similar to the header of your resume, center your contact information in the header of the document. At a minimum, include your full name, city, state, phone number and email. Some people also add their full address and a link to their LinkedIn profile or a relevant portfolio of projects, depending on the job posting. Here’s an example:

John Doe

123 Main St.

Hometown. MO 6577



Also, feel free to exclude information you are not comfortable sharing, such as your full address and phone number. As long as there’s enough information for a potential employer to contact you, you shouldn’t have a problem keeping some information private.

On the left-hand side of your letter, include the date, full name, title and address of the person or department you’re addressing in your letter. This format is a bit formal and, honestly, old-fashioned, but is still acceptable. Depending on the industry, position and company culture, it might be helpful to demonstrate you can follow traditional protocols.

Address the letter to the hiring manager

Addressing your letter to the hiring manager is a default greeting when you don’t know the name of the person screening resumes and cover letters. However, if you know the hiring manager’s name, include it in the greeting of your letter.

Your greeting, or salutation, can include one of these variations with a colon or comma after the name or title:

  • Dear Hiring Manager,
  • Dear Sir or Madam,
  • To Whom It May Concern,
  • Dear Mrs. Smith:
  • Dear Acme Co. Recruiting Team:

Tailor the introduction to the job

Your introduction paragraph is the first impression that will give the hiring manager a sense of whether or not they will pursue the next step with you. It should be short and to the point and contain key information such as:

  • Who you are
  • The position you’re interested in
  • A quick summary of your work experience and why you would be a good candidate for the position

You’ll describe your work experience in more detail later in the cover letter, but for now, provide a quick blurb about yourself in the first sentence or so. This short preview should be enough to engage the reader and make them want to learn more about you. As the old adage goes, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.”

Explain why you’re the best candidate for the job

Now we’re into the nitty-gritty or the body of your cover letter. Ideally, this information will be in the second paragraph. Remember, the whole point of your cover letter is to demonstrate your interest in a position and why your skillset and experience make you the right person for the job.

In your second paragraph, talk about your skills and how you acquired them — whether through a degree program, certificate or previous positions. This paragraph should be no more than three to four sentences. Refer to the posted job description when writing this section to ensure you include the most relevant information.

Conclude with a call to action

Once you make your case in the body of the cover letter, use your closing paragraph as a call to action. Reiterate your interest in the role and why you think you deserve a shot at the next step in the interview process. Your final paragraph might also mention that you look forward to the opportunity to advance through the application process.

Tips for a practical cover letter

Consider these tips for drafting a practical cover letter:

Write your header based on your application format

The format of your cover letter reveals a lot about your skills. To make a great impression, use a format that blends well with the rest of your document. Using a cover letter template or ChatGPT can make this easier.

Avoid generic references to your abilities

You have limited space with a cover letter, so every word matters. Writing generic statements about yourself is easy, but it isn’t helpful — especially if you’re applying for a more advanced role. Generic references might be fine for an entry-level position but can annoy hiring managers for upper-level jobs. Use specific examples of your skills to give readers the information they need to make the best hiring decision for the position.

Keep it concise and to the point

Be concise and intentional when choosing each word in your cover letter. Write your skills based on the job application you’re submitting to personalize it as much as possible. Then, remember to create a unique cover letter for each job you apply for.

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Sample cover letter

Below is an example of a good cover letter that contains only three paragraphs. Each paragraph is short, with no more than three sentences each, starting with a first paragraph that introduces you and ending with a call to action. Below we chose to close with “Sincerely,” but you could also use “Best regards.”

This sample cover letter uses an authoritative voice and demonstrates the applicant’s enthusiasm and relevant experience, hopefully instilling confidence in the hiring manager or other decision-maker.

John Doe

123 Main St.

Hometown. MO 6577



January 3, 2022


Mark Smith

Call Center Director

Acme Co.

567 Acme Lane

Springfield, MO 60098


Dear Mark Smith:

My name is John Doe, and I am interested in the Call Center Manager position at Acme Co. My experience includes configuring and deploying cloud-based CRMs specifically for call center applications. Also, I have seven years of experience running outbound and inbound telemarketing campaigns for the same type of customer base Acme serves. Working for an award-winning call center like Acme Co would be a great honor.

I believe I am the ideal candidate because I am well versed in all the moving parts of an effective, cost-efficient call center. I know about the technology, data, key metrics, reporting and personnel management it takes to run a high-performing call center. As a supervisor promoted to management at the Del-Tech call center for health insurance enrollment, I was responsible for decreasing call times by 25% while steadily increasing campaign profits.

If you are looking for a call center manager who can handle full profit and loss responsibilities, I could be the person you are looking for. I’d like the opportunity to discuss my experience and how I could help your call center become more efficient and more profitable, just as I have done in the past. Please contact me so we can discuss how we might work together.


John Doe

Additional considerations

Research the company and its culture

An effective cover letter should contain information specific to the company and role you’re applying for. Even the best job search sites may not publish this information about employers, so take time to do your own research.

Make a quick visit to the company website or social media sites, make note of the corporate culture and values and incorporate these characteristics into your cover letter. This type of detail shows initiative and enthusiasm and is exactly what prospective employers are looking for — someone who knows what they want in a job position and why they want it.

Keep it short and easy to read

While it might be tempting to pull out the flowery prose to impress the reader, ignore that urge! Make your cover letter short and sweet. Think about your audience: a busy recruiter or hiring manager who could be scanning hundreds of resumes a day. Use short, easy-to-understand phrases to convey the right message: Hire me!

Balance the tone of your writing

As much as possible, try to convey your personality and subject matter expertise in your cover letter in a balanced way. You don’t want to sound too smug, like a know-it-all or overly focused on yourself. Also, avoid bringing up sensitive topics like salary, benefits or work arrangements.

Yes, your cover letter should contain information about you, your experience and professional preferences, but aim to focus on how you’d be an asset to the organization if hired.

Get feedback and edit your letter

Before sending your cover letter and resume, ask a trusted friend or colleague for feedback. Proofread and edit your draft multiple times to avoid typos and errors. Use spell-check or a tool like Grammarly as necessary. If possible, work with a professional career coach who can review your letter and provide feedback regarding the tone, length, format and contents.

More recently, many job seekers have turned to cover letter builders or ChatGPT to write cover letters. AI can simplify the process, but you’ll still need to modify and proofread the cover letter before submitting it.

How to write a cover letter FAQs

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter accompanies your resume and gives a brief explanation regarding why you are an ideal candidate for the job. Ideally, a cover letter should be specific to the position and company you are applying for.

How long should a cover letter be?

A cover letter should be brief. A good length to shoot for is no more than two to four short paragraphs. These paragraphs should also be short with two to three sentences each.

How do I format a cover letter?

You should format a cover letter like a standard letter. Include the date, your contact information, the hiring manager's name and address, a greeting, body and a closing.

Should you write a generic cover letter?

The best practice is to write a cover letter specific to each company and job position you're applying for. Taking time to write a custom cover letter shows your potential employer you're serious about the position, which could indicate how you'll perform if you're actually hired.

How many words should a cover letter have?

A professional cover letter generally has 250 to 400 words. But the word count isn't as important as the length and layout. Remember, your cover letter isn't a biography but a brief synopsis of your most relevant experience.

Is it necessary to add a postscript to a cover letter?

Adding a postscript certainly isn't a necessity for a cover letter. In fact, any information you feel is important enough to include in a postscript should likely be incorporated into the body of your cover letter instead. However, this isn't a hard-and-fast rule. If you think a postscript could give your cover letter extra flair, or if it's the only feasible location for certain information in your application letter, adding one won't ruin your chances.

Summary of Money’s Guide on How to Write a Cover Letter

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