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How and Why to Write a Great Cover Letter

Student working in career planning guide

A cover letter is a one-page business letter that you submit when applying to a job, along with your resume. As a piece of persuasive writing, your cover letter will aim to convey to the employer why you’re a great candidate for the role.

What is the purpose of a cover letter?

Your cover letter complements your resume by making it easy for the employer to see how your experience and interest connect to the position. Your goal is to convince the employer to interview you.

With your cover letter, you’ll aim to:

  • Highlight your qualifications:  You’ll show how your skills and experience relate to the employer’s needs for a specific position.
  • Showcase your motivation: You’ll demonstrate your enthusiasm for the specific position and the organization.
  • Reflect your voice and written communication skills: You’ll give the employer a sense of your personality and writing style.

When should I write a cover letter?

Not all jobs require cover letters. So, how do you decide whether to submit one?

Submit a Cover Letter when…

  • The posting explicitly requests that you do so
  • You’re applying to an opportunity at a mission-driven organization
  • You think that doing so could provide important information to the employer that they wouldn’t get from your resume

Consider Submitting a Cover Letter when…

  • It’s marked “optional” in an application, and you have the bandwidth to do so
  • You have content that you can easily recycle or repurpose into a tailored cover letter

No Need to Submit a Cover Letter when…

  • A posting specifically tells you not to submit one
  • There’s no way to submit one in an application portal, and doing so would require a serious workaround

If you’re applying to several similar opportunities, creating a draft cover letter in advance, geared toward that type of opportunity, can be a helpful way to save time in your actual application process.

How do I write a cover letter?

Your cover letter should articulate your qualifications and motivation for the position. Read the job description closely and research the organization. As you craft your cover letter, use examples that demonstrate your relevant skills, knowledge, and interests. The cover letter should be concise, clear, and well-organized.

Before Writing

Research the employer.

Learn enough about the organization to articulate why you are a strong fit for that firm. 

  • Review the firm’s website and LinkedIn page.
  • Speak with current or previous employees.
  • Read articles and social media for current news.

Analyze the job description

Look for skills, duties, and qualifications of the job so you can design your letter to match these as much as possible.

Reflect on your experience and motivation

Identify skills and personal qualities you have developed which will be useful in this role. Ask yourself:

  • What attracts you about this role/company/industry?
  • What have you have done in your work experiences, classes, internships, activities, projects, volunteer work, travel, etc., that is similar to the duties required of the job? 

Cover Letter Structure

As a business letter, the cover letter should include:

  • Heading: Include your name and contact information in the same format as your resume
  • Salutation: Address your letter to the specific individual who can hire you, if this is known. If the name is not included in the job description, address the letter to the Hiring Manager or title mentioned in the job description.
  • Body Paragraphs:  Discuss your experiences, interests, and skills to show the employer how you can add value to their team. See the section below for more guidance.
  • Signature Line: Include a closing and your name.

The cover letter should be one page, about three or four paragraphs, and single spaced. Use 10-12 point font and one inch margins. 

When applying online, upload your cover letter as a PDF file, unless another format is specified. When sending your resume and cover letter by email, you may write a short note or paste your cover letter in the body of your email (without the address header) and also attach the PDF file.

Cover Letter Content

Your cover letter should answer who, what, when, where and why you are applying for the opportunity. 

Introduction

State the position for which you are applying. If you have a referral or spoke with someone from the company, you can mention it in the introduction. Provide some basic information about yourself; this can include your class year and what you’re studying at Columbia. Briefly outline why you’re interested in the organization and what you bring in terms of relevant experience and skills. 

Body Paragraphs

These paragraphs will highlight your qualifications and strengths that are most relevant to the organization and position. Use the job posting and your research as clues to determine what the employer is seeking in a candidate. Have your resume beside you and reflect on what you want the employer to know about you. Are there experiences you want to expand upon that demonstrate your understanding of the role and ability to do the job requirements?

Structure the paragraphs based on relevance, not chronology. Lead with your most relevant skill or strongest experience.

Start each body paragraph with a clear topic sentence.  This can highlight a key skill set, a transferable experience, or a core area of knowledge you’ve built through your studies. Walk the reader through a project or experience, integrating the relevant skills you used and qualities you demonstrated. Provide details about your accomplishments and impact. Connect how these experiences have prepared you for this role and why you are motivated to do this job. There is no need to apologize if you feel you lack experience; focus on the accomplishments that you have.

Recap what you would bring to the organization and your interest in the position. Thank the employer for their consideration. Keep your tone positive and enthusiastic. 

Check out our example of how to structure your cover letter content . 

Editing Tips

Use our  Cover Letter Checklist to make sure your format and content is in line with best practices. 

  • Ensure that the content reflects the requirements in the job description
  • Keep the cover letter concise, at one page or less
  • Correct any errors in grammar, sentence structure, and spelling
  • Use the active voice
  • Avoid beginning too many sentences with “I”

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How to Write a Cover Letter [Full Guide & Examples for 2024]

Background Image

After weeks of heavy job searching, 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 in your application and call it a day, you remember that you need to write a cover letter too.

So now, you’re stuck staring at a blank page, wondering where to start...

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.

We're going to cover:

What Is a Cover Letter?

  • How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter, Step by Step
  • 15+ Job-Winning Cover Letter Examples

Let’s get started.

A cover letter is a document that you submit as part of your job application, alongside your resume or CV.

The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce you and briefly summarize your professional background. On average, it should be around 250 to 400 words long .

A good cover letter is supposed to impress the hiring manager and convince them you’re worth interviewing as a candidate.

So, how can your cover letter achieve this?

First of all, it should complement your resume, not copy it. Your cover letter is your chance to elaborate on important achievements, skills, or anything else that your resume doesn’t give you the space to cover. 

For example, if you have an employment gap on your resume, the cover letter is a great place to explain why it happened and how it helped you grow as a person. 

If this is your first time writing a cover letter, writing about yourself might seem complicated. But don’t worry—you don’t need to be super creative or even a good writer .

All you have to do is follow this tried and tested cover letter structure:

structure of a cover letter

  • Header. Add all the necessary contact information at the top of your cover letter.
  • Formal greeting. Choose an appropriate way to greet your target audience.
  • Introduction. Introduce yourself in the opening paragraph and explain your interest in the role.
  • Body. Elaborate on why you’re the best candidate for the job and a good match for the company. Focus on “selling” your skills, achievements, and relevant professional experiences.
  • Conclusion. Summarize your key points and wrap it up professionally.

Now, let’s take a look at an example of a cover letter that follows our structure perfectly:

How to Write a Cover Letter

New to cover letter writing? Give our cover letter video a watch before diving into the article!

When Should You Write a Cover Letter?

You should always include a cover letter in your job application, even if the hiring manager never reads it. Submitting a cover letter is as important as submitting a resume if you want to look like a serious candidate.

If the employer requests a cover letter as part of the screening process, not sending one is a huge red flag and will probably get your application tossed into the “no” pile immediately.

On the other hand, if the job advertisement doesn’t require a cover letter from the candidates, adding one shows you went the extra mile.

Putting in the effort to write a cover letter can set you apart from other candidates with similar professional experience and skills, and it could even sway the hiring manager to call you for an interview if you do it right.

Need to write a letter to help get you into a good school or volunteer program? Check out our guide to learn how to write a motivation letter !

How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter

Now that you know what a cover letter is, it’s time to learn how to write one!

We’ll go through the process in detail, step by step.

#1. Choose 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, stylish template?

cover letter templates for 2024

Just choose one of our hand-picked cover letter templates , and you’ll be all set in no time!

As a bonus, our intuitive AI will even give you suggestions on how to improve your cover letter as you write it. You’ll have the perfect cover letter done in minutes!

cover letter templates

#2. Put Contact Information in the Header

As with a resume, it’s important to 

start your cover letter

 with your contact details at the top. These should be in your cover letter’s header, separated neatly from the bulk of your text.

Contact Information on Cover Letter

Here, you want to include all the essential contact information , including:

  • Full Name. Your first and last name should stand out at the top.
  • Job Title. Match the professional title underneath your name to the exact job title of the position you’re applying for. Hiring managers often hire for several roles at once, so giving them this cue about what role you’re after helps things go smoother.
  • Email Address. Always use a professional and easy-to-spell email address. Ideally, it should combine your first and last names.
  • Phone Number. Add a number where the hiring manager can easily reach you.
  • Location. Add your city and state/country, no need for more details.
  • Relevant Links (optional). You can add links to websites or social media profiles that are relevant to your field. Examples include a LinkedIn profile , Github, or an online portfolio.

Then it’s time to add the recipient’s contact details, such as:

  • Hiring Manager's Name. If you can find the name of the hiring manager, add it.
  • Hiring Manager's Title. While there’s no harm in writing “hiring manager,” if they’re the head of the department, we recommend you use that title accordingly.
  • Company Name. Make sure to write the name of the company you're applying to.
  • Location. The city and state/country are usually enough information here, too.
  • Date of Writing (Optional). You can include the date you wrote your cover letter for an extra professional touch.

matching resume and cover letter

#3. Address the Hiring Manager

Once you’ve properly listed all the contact information, it’s time to start writing the content of the cover letter.

The first thing you need to do here is to address your cover letter directly to the hiring manager.

In fact, you want to address the hiring manager personally .

Forget the old “Dear Sir or Madam” or the impersonal “To Whom It May Concern.” You want to give your future boss a good impression and show them that you did your research before sending in your application.

No one wants to hire a job seeker who just spams 20+ companies and hopes something sticks with their generic approach

So, how do you find out who’s the hiring manager?

First, check the job ad. The hiring manager’s name might be listed somewhere in it.

If that doesn’t work, check the company’s LinkedIn page. You just need to look up the head of the relevant department you’re applying to, and you’re all set.

For example, if you’re applying for the position of Communication Specialist at Novorésumé. The hiring manager is probably the Head of Communications or the Chief Communications Officer.

Here’s what you should look for on LinkedIn:

linkedin search cco

And there you go! You have your hiring manager.

But let’s say you’re applying for a position as a server . In that case, you’d be looking for the “restaurant manager” or “food and beverage manager.”

If the results don’t come up with anything, try checking out the “Team” page on the company website; there’s a good chance you’ll at least find the right person there.

Make sure to address them as Mr. or Ms., followed by their last name. If you’re not sure about their gender or marital status, you can just stick to their full name, like so:

  • Dear Mr. Kurtuy,
  • Dear Andrei Kurtuy,

But what if you still can’t find the hiring manager’s name, no matter where you look?

No worries. You can direct your cover letter to the company, department, or team as a whole, or just skip the hiring manager’s name.

  • Dear [Department] Hiring Manager
  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • Dear [Department] Team
  • Dear [Company Name]

Are you applying for a research position? Learn how to write an academic personal statement .

#4. Write an Eye-Catching Introduction

First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your job search.

Hiring managers 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 biggest problem with most opening paragraphs is that they’re usually extremely generic. Here’s an example:

  • 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 anything except the fact that you’ve worked the job before.

And do you know who else has similar work experience? All the other applicants you’re competing with.

Instead, you want to start with some of your top achievements to grab the reader’s attention. And to get the point across, the achievements should be as relevant as possible to the position.

Your opening paragraph should also show the hiring manager a bit about why you want this specific job. For example, mention how the job relates to your plans for the future or how it can help you grow professionally. This will show the hiring manager that you’re not just applying left and right—you’re actually enthusiastic about getting this particular role.

Now, let’s make our previous example shine:

Dear Mr. Smith,

My name’s Michael, and I’d like to help XYZ Inc. hit and exceed its sales goals as a Sales Manager. I’ve worked as a Sales Representative with Company X, another fin-tech company , for 3+ years, where I generated an average of $30,000+ in sales per month and beat the KPIs by around 40%. I believe that my previous industry experience, passion for finance , and excellence in sales make me the right candidate for the job.

The second candidate starts with what they can do for the company in the future and immediately lists an impressive and relevant achievement. Since they’re experienced in the same industry and interested in finance, the hiring manager can see they’re not just a random applicant.

From this introduction, it’s safe to say that the hiring manager would read the rest of this candidate’s cover letter.

#5. Use the Cover Letter Body for Details

The next part of your cover letter is where you can go into detail about what sets you apart as a qualified candidate for the job.

The main thing you need to remember here is that you shouldn’t make it all about yourself . Your cover letter is supposed to show the hiring manager how you relate to the job and the company you’re applying to.

No matter how cool you make yourself sound in your cover letter, if you don’t tailor it to match what the hiring manager is looking for, you’re not getting an interview.

To get this right, use the job ad as a reference when writing your cover letter. Make sure to highlight skills and achievements that match the job requirements, and you’re good to go.

Since this part of your cover letter is by far the longest, you should split it into at least two paragraphs.

Here’s what each paragraph should cover:

Explain Why You’re the Perfect Candidate for the Role

Before you can show the hiring manager that you’re exactly what they’ve been looking for, you need to know what it is they’re looking for.

Start by doing a bit of research. Learn what the most important skills and responsibilities of the role are according to the job ad, and focus on any relevant experience you have that matches them.

For example, if you’re applying for the position of a Facebook Advertiser. The top requirements on the job ad are:

  • Experience managing a Facebook ad budget of $10,000+ / month
  • Some skills in advertising on other platforms (Google Search + Twitter)
  • Excellent copywriting skills

So, in the body of your cover letter, you need to show how you meet these requirements. Here’s an example of what that can look like:

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 $40,000+ . As the sole digital marketer at the company, I managed the ad creation and management process end-to-end. I created the ad copy and 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

Our example addresses all the necessary requirements and shows off the candidate’s relevant skills.

Are you a student applying for your first internship? Learn how to write an internship cover letter with our dedicated guide.

Explain Why You’re a Good Fit for the Company

As skilled and experienced as you may be, that’s not all the hiring manager is looking for.

They also want someone who’s a good fit for their company and who actually wants to work there.

Employees who don’t fit in with the company culture are likely to quit sooner or later. This ends up costing the company a ton of money, up to 50% of the employee’s annual salary , so hiring managers vet candidates very carefully to avoid this scenario.

So, you have to convince the hiring manager that you’re passionate about working with them.

Start by doing some research about the company. You want to know things like:

  • What’s the company’s business model?
  • What’s the company’s product or service? Have you used it?
  • What’s the company’s culture like?

Chances are, you’ll find all the information you need either on the company website or on job-search websites like Jobscan or Glassdoor.

Then, pick your favorite thing about the company and talk about it in your cover letter.

But don’t just describe the company in its own words just to flatter them. Be super specific—the hiring manager can see through any fluff.

For example, if you’re passionate about their product and you like the company’s culture of innovation and independent work model, you can 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 strives for excellence in all its product lines, creating market-leading tech. As someone who thrives in a self-driven environment, I truly believe that I’ll be a great match for your Product Design team.

So, make sure to do your fair share of research and come up with good reasons why you're applying to that specific company.

Is the company you want to work for not hiring at the moment? Check out our guide to writing a letter of interest .

#6. Wrap It Up and Sign It

Finally, it’s time to conclude your cover letter.

In the final paragraph, you want to:

  • Wrap up any points you couldn't make in the previous paragraphs. Do you have anything left to say? If there’s any other information that could help the hiring manager make their decision, mention it here. If not, just recap your key selling points so far, such as key skills and expertise.
  • Express gratitude. Politely thanking the hiring manager for their time is always a good idea.
  • Finish the cover letter with a call to action. The very last sentence in your cover letter should be a call to action. This means you should ask the hiring manager to do something, like call you and discuss your application or arrange an interview.
  • Remember to sign your cover letter. Just add a formal closing line and sign your name at the bottom.

Here’s an example of how to end your cover letter :

I hope to help Company X make the most 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. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at the provided email address or phone number so that we may arrange an interview.

Thank you for your consideration,

Alice Richards

Feel free to use one of these other popular closing lines for your cover letter:

  • Best Regards,
  • Kind Regards,

Cover Letter Writing Checklist

Once you’re done with your cover letter, it’s time to check if it meets all industry requirements. 

Give our handy cover letter writing checklist a look to make sure:

Does your cover letter heading include all essential information?

  • Professional Email
  • Phone Number
  • Relevant Links

Do you address the right person? 

  • The hiring manager in the company
  • Your future direct supervisor
  • The company/department in general

Does your introductory paragraph grab the reader's attention?

  • Did you mention some of your top achievements?
  • Did you use numbers and facts to back up your experience?
  • Did you convey enthusiasm for the specific role?

Do you show that you’re the right candidate for the job?

  • Did you identify the core requirements for the role?
  • Did you show how your experiences helped 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 conclude your cover letter properly?

  • Did you recap your key selling points in the conclusion?
  • Did you end your cover letter with a call to action?
  • Did you use the right formal closing line and sign your name?

15 Cover Letter Tips

Now you’re all set to write your cover letter! 

Before you start typing, here are some cover letter tips to help take your cover letter to the next level:

  • Customize Your Cover Letter for Each Job. Make sure your cover letter is tailored to the job you're applying for. This shows you're not just sending generic applications left and right, and it tells the hiring manager you’re the right person for the job.
  • Showcase Your Skills. Talk about how your skills meet the company’s needs. And while your hard skills should be front and center, you shouldn’t underestimate your soft skills in your cover letter either.
  • Avoid Fluff. Don’t make any generic statements you can’t back up. The hiring manager can tell when you’re just throwing words around, and it doesn’t make your cover letter look good.
  • Use Specific Examples. Instead of saying you're great at something, give an actual example to back up your claim. Any data you can provide makes you sound more credible, so quantify your achievements. For example, give numbers such as percentages related to your performance and the timeframe it took to accomplish certain achievements.
  • Research the Company. Always take time to learn about the company you're applying to. Make sure to mention something about them in your cover letter to show the hiring manager that you're interested.
  • Follow the Application Instructions. If the job posting asks for something specific in your cover letter or requires a certain format, make sure you include it. Not following instructions can come off as unattentive or signal to the hiring manager that you’re not taking the job seriously.
  • Use the Right Template and Format. Choose the right cover letter format and adapt your cover letter’s look to the industry you’re applying for. For example, if you’re aiming for a job in Law or Finance, you should go for a cleaner, more professional look. But if you’re applying for a field that values innovation, like IT or Design, you have more room for creativity.
  • Express Your Enthusiasm. Let the hiring manager know why you're excited about the job. Your passion for the specific role or the field in general can be a big selling point, and show them that you’re genuinely interested, not just applying left and right.
  • Address Any Gaps. If there are any employment gaps in your resume , your cover letter is a great place to mention why. Your resume doesn’t give you enough space to elaborate on an employment gap, so addressing it here can set hiring managers at ease—life happens, and employers understand.
  • Avoid Quirky Emails. Your email address should be presentable. It’s hard for a hiring manager to take you seriously if your email address is “[email protected].” Just use a [email protected] format.
  • Check Your Contact Information. Typos in your email address or phone number can mean a missed opportunity. Double-check these before sending your application.
  • Mention if You Want to Relocate. If you’re looking for a job that lets you move somewhere else, specify this in your cover letter.
  • Keep It Brief. You want to keep your cover letter short and sweet. Hiring managers don’t have time to read a novel, so if you go over one page, they simply won’t read it at all.
  • Use a Professional Tone. Even though a conversational tone isn’t a bad thing, remember that it's still a formal document. Show professionalism in your cover letter by keeping slang, jargon, and emojis out of it.
  • Proofread Carefully. Typos and grammar mistakes are a huge deal-breaker. Use a tool like Grammarly or QuillBot to double-check your spelling and grammar, or even get a friend to check it for you.

15+ Cover Letter Examples

Need some inspiration? Check out some perfect cover letter examples for different experience levels and various professions.

5+ Cover Letter Examples by Experience

#1. college student cover letter example.

college or student cover letter example

Check out our full guide to writing a college student cover letter here.

#2. Middle Management Cover Letter Example

Middle Management Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to writing a project manager cover letter here.

#3. Team Leader Cover Letter Example

Team Leader Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a team leader cover letter here.

#4. Career Change Cover Letter Example

Career Change Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to a career change resume and cover letter here.

#5. Management Cover Letter Example

Management Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a management cover letter here.

#6. Senior Executive Cover Letter Example

Senior Executive Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing an executive resume here.

9+ Cover Letter Examples by Profession

#1. it cover letter example.

IT Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing an IT cover letter here.

#2. Consultant Cover Letter Example

Consultant Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a consultant cover letter here.

#3. Human Resources Cover Letter

Human Resources Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to writing a human resources cover letter here.

#4. Business Cover Letter Example

Business Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a business cover letter here.

#5. Sales Cover Letter Example

Sales Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a sales cover letter here.

#6. Social Worker Cover Letter

Social Worker Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to writing a social worker cover letter here.

#7. Lawyer Cover Letter

Lawyer Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to writing a lawyer cover letter here.

#8. Administrative Assistant Cover Letter

Administrative Assistant Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to writing an administrative assistant cover letter here.

#9. Engineering Cover Letter Example

Engineering Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing an engineer cover letter here.

#10. Receptionist Cover Letter Example

Receptionist Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a receptionist cover letter here.

Need more inspiration? Check out these cover letter examples to learn what makes them stand out.

Plug & Play Cover Letter Template

Not sure how to start your cover letter? Don’t worry!

Just copy and paste our free cover letter template into the cover letter builder, and swap out the blanks for your details.

[Your Full Name]

[Your Profession]

[Your Phone Number]

[Your Email Address]

[Your Location]

[Your LinkedIn Profile URL (optional)]

[Your Personal Website URL (optional)]

[Recipient's Name, e.g., Jane Doe],

[Recipient's Position, e.g., Hiring Manager]

[Company Name, e.g., ABC Corporation]

[Company Address]

[City, State/Country]

Dear [Recipient's Name],

As a seasoned [Your Profession] with [Number of Years of Experience] years of industry experience, I am eager to express my interest in the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. With my experience in [Your Industry/Sector] and the successes I've achieved throughout my education and career, I believe I can bring unique value and creativity to your team.

In my current role as [Your Current Job Title], I've taken the lead on more than [Number of Projects/Assignments] projects, some valued up to $[Highest Project Value]. I pride myself on consistently exceeding client expectations and have successfully [Mention a Key Achievement] in just a [Amount of Time] through [Skill] and [Skill].

I've collaborated with various professionals, such as [List Roles], ensuring that all [projects/tasks] meet [relevant standards or objectives]. This hands-on experience, coupled with my dedication to understanding each [client's/customer's] vision, has equipped me to navigate and deliver on complex projects.

My key strengths include:

  • Improving [Achievement] by [%] over [Amount of Time] which resulted in [Quantified Result].
  • Optimizing [Work Process/Responsibility] which saved [Previous Employer] [Amount of Time/Budget/Other Metric] over [Weeks/Months/Years]
  • Spearheading team of [Number of People] to [Task] and achieving [Quantified Result].

Alongside this letter, I've attached my resume. My educational background, a [Your Degree] with a concentration in [Your Specialization], complements the practical skills that I'm particularly eager to share with [Company Name].

I'm excited about the possibility of contributing to [Something Notable About the Company or Its Mission]. I'd be grateful for the chance to delve deeper into how my expertise aligns with your needs.

Thank you for considering my application, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

The Heart of 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 falls through.

After all, your cover letter is meant to complement your resume. Imagine going through all this effort to leave an amazing first impression in your cover letter, only for the hiring manager to never read it because your resume was mediocre.

But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered here, too.

Check out our dedicated guide on how to make a resume and learn everything you need to know to land your dream job!

Just pick one of our resume templates and start writing your own job-winning resume.

resume examples for cover letters

Key Takeaways

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’s meant to convince the hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for the job.
  • Your job application should always include a cover letter alongside your resume.
  • To grab the hiring manager’s attention, write a strong opening paragraph. Mention who you are, why you’re applying, and a standout achievement to pique their interest.
  • Your cover letter should focus on why you’re the perfect candidate for the job and why you’re passionate about working in this specific company.
  • Use the body of your cover letter to provide details on your skills, achievements, and qualifications, as well as make sure to convey your enthusiasm throughout your whole cover letter.
  • Recap your key selling points towards the end of your cover letter, and end it with a formal closing line and your full name signed underneath.

At Novorésumé, we’re committed to helping you get the job you deserve every step of the way! 

Follow our career blog for more valuable advice, or check out some of our top guides, such as:

  • How to Make a Resume in 2024 | Beginner's Guide
  • How to Write a CV (Curriculum Vitae) in 2024 [31+ Examples]
  • 35+ Job Interview Questions and Answers [Full List]

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How to write a great cover letter in 2024: tips and structure

young-woman-checking-her-cover-lette

A cover letter is a personalized letter that introduces you to a potential employer, highlights your qualifications, and explains why you're a strong fit for a specific job.

Hate or love them, these brief documents allow job seekers to make an impression and stand out from the pile of other applications. Penning a thoughtful cover letter shows the hiring team you care about earning the position.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to write a cover letter — and a great one, at that.

What is a cover letter and why does it matter?

A professional cover letter is a one-page document you submit alongside your CV or resume as part of a job application. Typically, they’re about half a page or around 150–300 words.

An effective cover letter doesn’t just rehash your CV; it’s your chance to highlight your proudest moments, explain why you want the job, and state plainly what you bring to the table.

Show the reviewer you’re likable, talented, and will add to the company’s culture . You can refer to previous jobs and other information from your CV, but only if it helps tell a story about you and your career choices .

What 3 things should you include in a cover letter?

A well-crafted cover letter can help you stand out to potential employers. To make your cover letter shine, here are three key elements to include:

1. Personalization

Address the hiring manager or recruiter by name whenever possible. If the job posting doesn't include a name, research to find out who will be reviewing applications. Personalizing your cover letter shows that you've taken the time to tailor your application to the specific company and role.

2. Highlight relevant achievements and skills

Emphasize your most relevant skills , experiences, and accomplishments that directly relate to the job you're applying for. Provide specific examples of how your skills have benefited previous employers and how they can contribute to the prospective employer's success. Use quantifiable achievements , such as improved efficiency, cost savings, or project success, to demonstrate your impact.

3. Show enthusiasm and fit

Express your enthusiasm for the company and the position you're applying for. Explain why you are interested in this role and believe you are a good fit for the organization. Mention how your values, goals, and skills align with the company's mission and culture. Demonstrating that you've done your research can make a significant impression.

What do hiring managers look for in a cover letter?

Employers look for several key elements in a cover letter. These include:

Employers want to see that your cover letter is specifically tailored to the position you are applying for. It should demonstrate how your skills, experiences, and qualifications align with the job requirements.

Clear and concise writing

A well-written cover letter is concise, easy to read, and error-free. Employers appreciate clear and effective communication skills , so make sure your cover letter showcases your ability to express yourself effectively.

Demonstrated knowledge of the company

Employers want to see that you are genuinely interested in their organization. Mention specific details about the company, such as recent achievements or projects, to show that you are enthusiastic about joining their team.

Achievements and accomplishments

Highlight your relevant achievements and accomplishments that demonstrate your qualifications for the position. Use specific examples to showcase your skills and show how they can benefit the employer.

Enthusiasm and motivation

Employers want to hire candidates who are excited about the opportunity and motivated to contribute to the company's success. Express your enthusiasm and passion for the role and explain why you are interested in working for the company.

Professionalism

A cover letter should be professional in tone and presentation. Use formal language, address the hiring manager appropriately, and follow standard business letter formatting.

excited-woman-in-her-office-how-to-write-a-cover-letter

How do you structure a cover letter?

A well-structured cover letter follows a specific format that makes it easy for the reader to understand your qualifications and enthusiasm for the position. Here's a typical structure for a cover letter:

Contact information

Include your name, address, phone number, and email address at the top of the letter. Place your contact information at the beginning so that it's easy for the employer to reach you.

Employer's contact information

Opening paragraph, middle paragraph(s), closing paragraph, complimentary close, additional contact information.

Repeat your contact information (name, phone number, and email) at the end of the letter, just in case the employer needs it for quick reference.

Remember to keep your cover letter concise and focused. It should typically be no more than one page in length. Proofread your letter carefully to ensure it is free from spelling and grammatical errors. Tailor each cover letter to the specific job application to make it as relevant and impactful as possible.

How to write a good cover letter (with examples)

The best letters are unique, tailored to the job description, and written in your voice — but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a job cover letter template.

Great cover letters contain the same basic elements and flow a certain way. Take a look at this cover letter structure for ref erence while you construct your own.

1. Add a header and contact information

While reading your cover letter, the recruiter shouldn’t have to look far to find who wrote it. Your document should include a basic heading with the following information:

  • Pronouns (optional)
  • Location (optional)
  • Email address
  • Phone number (optional)
  • Relevant links, such as your LinkedIn profile , portfolio, or personal website (optional)

You can pull this information directly from your CV. Put it together, and it will look something like this:

Christopher Pike

San Francisco, California

[email protected]

Alternatively, if the posting asks you to submit your cover letter in the body of an email, you can include this information in your signature. For example:

Warm regards,

Catherine Janeway

Bloomington, Indiana

[email protected]

(555) 999 - 2222

man-using-his-laptop-while-smiling-how-to-write-a-cover-letter

2. Include a personal greeting

Always begin your cover letter by addressing the hiring manager — preferably by name. You can use the person’s first and last name. Make sure to include a relevant title, like Dr., Mr., or Ms. For example, “Dear Mr. John Doe.”

Avoid generic openings like “To whom it may concern,” “Dear sir or madam,” or “Dear hiring manager.” These introductions sound impersonal — like you’re copy-pasting cover letters — and can work against you in the hiring process.

Be careful, though. When using someone’s name, you don’t want to use the wrong title or accidentally misgender someone. If in doubt, using only their name is enough. You could also opt for a gender-neutral title, like Mx.

Make sure you’re addressing the right person in your letter — ideally, the person who’s making the final hiring decision. This isn’t always specified in the job posting, so you may have to do some research to learn the name of the hiring manager.

3. Draw them in with an opening story

The opening paragraph of your cover letter should hook the reader. You want it to be memorable, conversational, and extremely relevant to the job you’re pursuing. 

There’s no need for a personal introduction — you’ve already included your name in the heading. But you should make reference to the job you’re applying for. A simple “Thank you for considering my application for the role of [job title] at [company],” will suffice.

Then you can get into the “Why” of your job application. Drive home what makes this specific job and this company so appealing to you. Perhaps you’re a fan of their products, you’re passionate about their mission, or you love their brand voice. Whatever the case, this section is where you share your enthusiasm for the role.

Here’s an example opening paragraph. In this scenario, you’re applying for a digital marketing role at a bicycle company:

“Dear Mr. John Doe,

Thank you for considering my application for the role of Marketing Coordinator at Bits n’ Bikes.

My parents bought my first bike at one of your stores. I’ll never forget the freedom I felt when I learned to ride it. My father removed my training wheels, and my mom sent me barrelling down the street. You provide joy to families across the country — and I want to be part of that.”

4. Emphasize why you’re best for the job

Your next paragraphs should be focused on the role you’re applying to. Highlight your skill set and why you’re a good fit for the needs and expectations associated with the position. Hiring managers want to know what you’ll bring to the job, not just any role.

Start by studying the job description for hints. What problem are they trying to solve with this hire? What skills and qualifications do they mention first or more than once? These are indicators of what’s important to the hiring manager.

Search for details that match your experience and interests. For example, if you’re excited about a fast-paced job in public relations, you might look for these elements in a posting:

  • They want someone who can write social media posts and blog content on tight deadlines
  • They value collaboration and input from every team member
  • They need a planner who can come up with strong PR strategies

Highlight how you fulfill these requirements:

“I’ve always been a strong writer. From blog posts to social media, my content pulls in readers and drives traffic to product pages. For example, when I worked at Bits n’ Bikes, I developed a strategic blog series about bike maintenance that increased our sales of spare parts and tools by 50% — we could see it in our web metrics.

Thanks to the input of all of our team members, including our bike mechanics, my content delivered results.”

5. End with a strong closing paragraph and sign off gracefully

Your closing paragraph is your final chance to hammer home your enthusiasm about the role and your unique ability to fill it. Reiterate the main points you explained in the body paragraphs and remind the reader of what you bring to the table.

You can also use the end of your letter to relay other important details, like whether you’re willing to relocate for the job.

When choosing a sign-off, opt for a phrase that sounds professional and genuine. Reliable options include “Sincerely” and “Kind regards.”

Here’s a strong closing statement for you to consider:

“I believe my enthusiasm, skills, and work experience as a PR professional will serve Bits n’ Bikes very well. I would love to meet to further discuss my value-add as your next Director of Public Relations. Thank you for your consideration. I hope we speak soon.

man-reading-carefully-how-to-write-a-cover-letter

Tips to write a great cover letter that compliments your resume

When writing your own letter, try not to copy the example excerpts word-for-word. Instead, use this cover letter structure as a baseline to organize your ideas. Then, as you’re writing, use these extra cover letter tips to add your personal touch:

  • Keep your cover letter different from your resume : Your cover letter should not duplicate the information on your resume. Instead, it should provide context and explanations for key points in your resume, emphasizing how your qualifications match the specific job you're applying for.
  • Customize your cover letter . Tailor your cover letter for each job application. Address the specific needs of the company and the job posting, demonstrating that you've done your homework and understand their requirements.
  • Show enthusiasm and fit . Express your enthusiasm for the company and position in the cover letter. Explain why you are interested in working for this company and how your values, goals, and skills align with their mission and culture.
  • Use keywords . Incorporate keywords from the job description and industry terms in your cover letter. This can help your application pass through applicant tracking systems (ATS) and demonstrate that you're well-versed in the field.
  • Keep it concise . Your cover letter should be succinct and to the point, typically no more than one page. Focus on the most compelling qualifications and experiences that directly support your application.
  • Be professional . Maintain a professional tone and structure in your cover letter. Proofread it carefully to ensure there are no errors.
  • Address any gaps or concerns . If there are gaps or concerns in your resume, such as employment gaps or a change in career direction, briefly address them in your cover letter. Explain any relevant circumstances and how they have shaped your qualifications and determination.
  • Provide a call to action . Conclude your cover letter with a call to action, inviting the employer to contact you for further discussion. Mention that you've attached your resume for their reference.
  • Follow the correct format . Use a standard cover letter format like the one above, including your contact information, a formal salutation, introductory and closing paragraphs, and your signature. Ensure that it complements your resume without redundancy.
  • Pick the right voice and tone . Try to write like yourself, but adapt to the tone and voice of the company. Look at the job listing, company website, and social media posts. Do they sound fun and quirky, stoic and professional, or somewhere in-between? This guides your writing style.
  • Tell your story . You’re an individual with unique expertise, motivators, and years of experience. Tie the pieces together with a great story. Introduce how you arrived at this point in your career, where you hope to go , and how this prospective company fits in your journey. You can also explain any career changes in your resume.
  • Show, don’t tell . Anyone can say they’re a problem solver. Why should a recruiter take their word for it if they don’t back it up with examples? Instead of naming your skills, show them in action. Describe situations where you rose to the task, and quantify your success when you can.
  • Be honest . Avoid highlighting skills you don’t have. This will backfire if they ask you about them in an interview. Instead, shift focus to the ways in which you stand out.
  • Avoid clichés and bullet points . These are signs of lazy writing. Do your best to be original from the first paragraph to the final one. This highlights your individuality and demonstrates the care you put into the letter.
  • Proofread . Always spellcheck your cover letter. Look for typos, grammatical errors, and proper flow. We suggest reading it out loud. If it sounds natural rolling off the tongue, it will read naturally as well.

woman-writing-on-her-notebook-how-to-write-a-cover-letter

Common cover letter writing FAQs

How long should a cover letter be.

A cover letter should generally be concise and to the point. It is recommended to keep it to one page or less, focusing on the most relevant information that highlights your qualifications and fits the job requirements.

Should I include personal information in a cover letter?

While it's important to introduce yourself and provide your contact information, avoid including personal details such as your age, marital status, or unrelated hobbies. Instead, focus on presenting your professional qualifications and aligning them with the job requirements.

Can I use the same cover letter for multiple job applications?

While it may be tempting to reuse a cover letter, it is best to tailor each cover letter to the specific job you are applying for. This allows you to highlight why you are a good fit for that particular role and show genuine interest in the company.

Do I need to address my cover letter to a specific person?

Whenever possible, it is advisable to address your cover letter to a specific person, such as the hiring manager or recruiter. If the job posting does not provide this information, try to research and find the appropriate contact. If all else fails, you can use a generic salutation such as "Dear Hiring Manager."

Should I include references in my cover letter?

It is generally not necessary to include references in your cover letter. Save this information for when the employer explicitly requests it. Instead, focus on showcasing your qualifications and achievements that make you a strong candidate for the position.

It’s time to start writing your stand-out cover letter

The hardest part of writing is getting started. 

Hopefully, our tips gave you some jumping-off points and confidence . But if you’re really stuck, looking at cover letter examples and resume templates will help you decide where to get started. 

There are numerous sample cover letters available online. Just remember that you’re a unique, well-rounded person, and your cover letter should reflect that. Using our structure, you can tell your story while highlighting your passion for the role. 

Doing your research, including strong examples of your skills, and being courteous is how to write a strong cover letter. Take a breath , flex your fingers, and get typing. Before you know it, your job search will lead to a job interview.

If you want more personalized guidance, a specialized career coach can help review, edit, and guide you through creating a great cover letter that sticks.

Ace your job search

Explore effective job search techniques, interview strategies, and ways to overcome job-related challenges. Our coaches specialize in helping you land your dream job.

Elizabeth Perry, ACC

Elizabeth Perry is a Coach Community Manager at BetterUp. She uses strategic engagement strategies to cultivate a learning community across a global network of Coaches through in-person and virtual experiences, technology-enabled platforms, and strategic coaching industry partnerships. With over 3 years of coaching experience and a certification in transformative leadership and life coaching from Sofia University, Elizabeth leverages transpersonal psychology expertise to help coaches and clients gain awareness of their behavioral and thought patterns, discover their purpose and passions, and elevate their potential. She is a lifelong student of psychology, personal growth, and human potential as well as an ICF-certified ACC transpersonal life and leadership Coach.

3 cover letter examples to help you catch a hiring manager’s attention

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Career Sidekick

The little-known truth about cover letters is: You do NOT always need to include a cover letter when applying for jobs, and you may be wasting hours sending cover letters that employers won’t read.

So if you’re wondering whether you should always submit a cover letter with your job application and resume, then keep reading.

After working for years as a recruiter , I’m going to share the exact situations where you should provide a cover letter and the situations where it’s not needed.

Should You Always Submit a Cover Letter?

Many people on LinkedIn and other sites will tell you that you should include a cover letter every time because it “can’t hurt,” but that’s not true…

Here’s how it CAN hurt you…

Writing a great cover letter takes a LOT of time and mental energy. So if it’s not making a difference, or not even getting read, then it  is hurting you in terms of wasted time and energy (I’d argue that writing a cover letter is the toughest and most time-consuming part of the process for many job seekers).

How important is a cover letter

Writing a resume is tough, sure. But once you get it, you’re done. You spend 5-15 minutes tailoring it for each specific job you apply for, but that’s it.

Cover letters take a lot of time EVERY time (at least when done right).

That’s why it’s important to look at how important a cover letter is, and which situations it’s necessary and truly beneficial in.

3 Situations Where You Need to Send a Cover Letter:

There are a couple of specific scenarios where cover letters are necessary, and you should send one. This article by Harvard Business Review says it best:

three situations where cover letters are important and necessary

In those cases, according to Harvard Business Review, you can boost your chances of getting the interview by writing a short letter to point out similarities between your resume and the job requirements (e.g. why you’d do well in their job )… rather than leaving the analysis entirely up to the hiring manager.

But this is only worth doing if you meet one or more of the criteria above, or a few other situations I’ll explain below…

Two more cases where you may want to include a cover letter:

First, you should send a cover letter if an employer specifically says it’s required on their website or job application form (however, having an optional field to include it is not the same as asking for it or saying it’s required).

And second, you should send a letter if you have a large gap in employment or something unusual in your background that you feel the need to explain, and you don’t feel your resume explains it well enough on its own.

(Although I do like addressing gaps in employment directly on your resume employment history section when possible. For example, if you took a year off to raise a kid, you could say: “2018-2019: One-year break from work to raise first child.” So do try to explain this type of thing on your resume if you can!)

When You Don’t Need a Cover Letter:

If you don’t fall into any of the situations we looked at above, then a cover letter is not needed.

For example, if you’re just applying for jobs online via job boards , via LinkedIn, on company websites via their “careers” page, etc., then I’d skip it! Send your resume and let it speak for itself. (And if you don’t have a great resume yet, you can get help  here. )

In my opinion, the extra time and effort just isn’t worth it when you’re applying online with no prior relationship, no referral, and no special knowledge of the hiring manager or job requirements that you can use to make your case for why they should interview you.

This is one reason I love LinkedIn EasyApply as a part of an online job search – because a cover letter is not required or even expected.

Of course, the final judgment call is yours!

If you’re applying to your dream employer and you don’t mind spending an hour writing up a great cover letter, then go ahead! It can’t hurt in a one-off scenario like this.

But the main point I’m trying to make here is:

You should be selective about when to send a cover letter, rather than feeling obligated to send it by default.

Recap: How Important is a Cover Letter?

The answer to how important a cover letter is depends on the hiring process and situation. If you read the information above, you now know when a cover letter is necessary/recommended, and when you probably shouldn’t bother.

And you’ve seen that cover letters do matter in some cases, but that doesn’t mean that you always need to send a cover letter.

And as mentioned earlier, the main benefit of this approach is time savings…

When you look at how much time and effort goes into writing each of these letters, it can add up to hours or days of wasted time if you’re sending cover letters without analyzing whether it’s necessary for the situation.

Tips for Writing a Good Cover Letter:

Now that we’ve answered whether a cover letter is necessary, and when it’s important, here are some tips and resources to help you in situations where you decide a cover letter is needed:

First, I’d always recommend keeping it brief, easy to read (no huge paragraphs or blocks of text without spacing), and personal.

It should feel like you’re talking directly to them! That means start with “Dear Bethany”, (for example), not with, “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Recruiter”.

(Recruiters almost never care about a cover letter anyway. It should be for the hiring manager).

Also, make sure you’re saying the word “you” at least as often as you say the word “I”. Talk about their needs and their company, not just about yourself .

The purpose of your cover letter is to point out similarities between your background and the employer’s job requirements. You want to demonstrate why you’re likely to succeed in their specific role, to sell them on interviewing you! And you cannot do this without researching their job and understanding/discussing their job. So this letter isn’t just about you , it’s about them just as much.

To help you further, we’ve published two articles here on Career Sidekick with great cover letter info:

  • 3 steps to writing a cover letter that stands out
  • How to write a cover letter with no experience

If you follow the steps above, you’ll save time in your job search and maximize the number of interviews you get for the effort you put into your job applications!

Biron Clark

About the Author

Read more articles by Biron Clark

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How to Write a Graphic Designer Cover Letter (3 Examples)

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Good stuff Biron! This is why Career Sidekick is my go-to career blog, I really admire how you take a contrarian approach to conventional job search/career wisdom!

Seems like almost every other career blog advises you to always submit a cover letter. Too bad these folks don’t consider the most important asset we all have: time!

Would being graduated out of college for 1.5 years and haven’t “launched” your career yet – getting a job in the field you got a degree in – count as something “unusual on your background” that you would need a cover letter for?

Thanks for the kind words. I don’t think you’d need a cover letter for this. Just make sure to “tailor” your resume to show the most relevant pieces of the work you have done, and to show your relevant educational background/degree. But if you’re not getting results with your resume, then it’s worth testing/trying a cover letter. My guess is that it’s not needed, and perfecting your resume will get more interviews.

Thanks for the advice Biron!

If I understand you correctly, is this an instance where you would recommend NOT using a chronological work history on a resume then?

And instead break up work experience history into a “relevant” and “other work experience” sections, since we’re trying to show specific relevant pieces of experience and educational background/degree?

I’d still keep it chronological. Just show the most relevant pieces of each past role, for the job you want now.

How about in my situation? I am looking for a job in marketing, but it has been five years and a few jobs since marketing has been the primary function of my job. My last few jobs have had a very little marketing focus and have been training, technical or sales in focus. Should I always write a cover letter to explain this when I am applying for marketing jobs?

Comments are closed.

Job Jumpstart

What is a cover letter and why do i need one.

why do i need a cover letter

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter serves as an introduction to your résumé and is written with a specific job in mind.

The main role of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to the employer and encourage them to read your résumé. It also aims to show them that you are the right person for their business. 

Your cover letter should outline your qualifications, experience, and positive work traits that are relevant to the job.

A well-written cover letter also shows that you have strong written communication skills.

Below is an example over letter:

Kim Nickel 

 0412345678

[email protected]

Dear Mr Homunculus,

I am applying for the position of Ride Attendant at Homunculus Park. I have recently completed a Cert IV in Health & Safety and understand the importance of attention to detail and diligence when helping young people onto rides.

I have experience working in fashion retail. In this role, I have demonstrated a range of relevant skills, including customer service, problem-solving and reliability. I have also volunteered at the Folk Festival and have experience handling ticket systems. I am able to work a range of shifts, including night and weekends, and am able to get to work early in the morning for opening.

Please find attached my résumé which further outlines my relevant skills and experience. I welcome the chance to talk with you about this opportunity as I think I am a good match for this position.

Thank you for your consideration.

Tips to writing a cover letter

Some tips to remember when writing your cover letter:

  • Your cover letter should be short (about 2-3 paragraphs). Explain how your skills, experience and personal traits make you a good match for the job.
  • Always tailor your cover letter to each employer. Sending out a generic letter when you are applying for a specific role can give the impression that you aren't serious about the job. If you are meeting an employer at a jobs fair or networking event and don't know much about them, you could consider giving them a one page pitch .
  • Always address your cover letter to a specific person. Never put 'To whom it may concern' or 'Dear sir/madam'. If you don't know who to address it to, call the business and find out who handles their recruitment.
  • Don't forget to proofread your cover letter . Spelling and other errors can make a very bad impression.

Need more information?

For more information to help you write a killer cover letter, check out our article 'Avoid these four cover letter mistakes' .

You can also complete our workbook 'How to write a cover letter' .

These tools can help you:

Tailoring your job application.

Tips on tailoring your job application to meet the employer's requirements.

Cover letter quality check

Tips to help you ensure your cover letter is high quality and error-free.

How to write a cover letter

Use this workbook to help you develop a cover letter you can adapt for each job you apply for.

Related articles

Avoid these four common cover letter mistakes.

why do i need a cover letter

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Do You Need a Cover Letter When It's Not Required?

When you do (and don't) need a cover letter to apply for a job

why do i need a cover letter

Why Write a Cover Letter?

Reasons to include a cover letter, reasons not to include a cover letter.

  • Tips for Writing a Cover Letter

Do you really need a cover letter if a company doesn't ask for one? Writing a lot of cover letters during a job search is often both challenging and time-consuming. Because of this, it's not surprising that applicants often hesitate to include a cover letter when it is not explicitly required by an employer.

If you're wondering if you should include a cover letter, the short answer is yes. That said, there are a few exceptions.

You should  almost always submit a cover letter , even if the company doesn't ask for one. 

Here's what you need to know about the value of cover letters, along with the situations where you can skip a cover letter. 

If you're serious about landing the job, a well-written  cover letter  gives you a chance to sell yourself to the employer in a narrative format, and explain why you are an ideal candidate. Taking the time to  match your qualifications to the job  can help you get selected for an interview.

All of your efforts in the cover letter will help hiring managers do their job of screening applicants, and may get your resume a closer look.

A cover letter also affords you the opportunity to highlight your strongest qualifications.

An effective, well-written, and  customized cover letter  also makes it clear that you are highly interested in the job. That's because it shows the hiring manager that you want the job enough to go the extra distance.

To Share Extra Information

A cover letter gives you an opportunity to include details that your resume does not contain. For example, if you are applying from a distance, your cover letter will enable you to present a rationale for relocation and to mention that you will be in the area shortly for a possible interview. 

To Explain a Gap

Gaps in employment  with reasonable explanations can also be addressed in your letter. A cover letter is also an ideal place to provide specific examples that prove you have the skills and experience listed on your resume.

The Employer May Expect One

Additionally, some employers expect to receive cover letters even though they did not stipulate that a cover letter was required in their job advertisements.

Candidates who don't take the time to compose a letter are often viewed as less motivated for the job.

In many cases, employers won't even look at a job application that doesn't contain a cover letter or letter of interest.

For some jobs, you won't need a cover letter to apply. Some employers don't accept cover letters as part of the application process. For other positions, there may be no way to submit one. If a cover letter is optional, it's better to skip it if you don't have the time to compose a well-written one.

When the Employer Doesn't Want One

If the job application instructs that you should not include a cover letter, then it's definitely best to follow directions so as not to annoy your potential employer.

When You Don't Have Time

No letter is much better than a poorly written one. A well-composed cover letter serves as a sample of your writing ability, but the opposite is also true. If you don't have time to write a well-crafted cover letter that pitches your skills and positions you for the job, forego the effort.

When There's No Way to Submit One

Also, if the company asks you to submit your application through an online platform, and there is no place for you to submit a cover letter, don't worry about it. 

Tips for Writing a Cover Letter That Will Impress

When you do include a cover letter with your resume, it's important to make it a good one. Here are tips for writing a cover letter that will make the best impression and add value to your application.

Kelly Miller. / The Balance

  • Make it targeted.  Be sure to compose a  targeted letter  that is written with the job listing in mind. Focus on the skills and abilities you possess that make you a strong fit for the specific job.
  • Keep it short.  Make sure that your  letters are concise  (no more than one page topping out at five paragraphs) and that every statement you make conveys something significant about your qualifications for the candidacy.
  • Go beyond your resume.  Avoid simply repeating your resume. Provide examples not listed in your resume, and expand upon things mentioned only briefly in your resume. Your cover letter should have a distinct purpose regarding your application.
  • Edit, edit, edit.  Errors in your cover letter  can hurt your chances of getting an interview. Errors make you look sloppy, or worse, not educated. Be sure to thoroughly read your letter before submitting it. Consider asking a friend or colleague to read it as well to check for typos, grammatical errors, and confusing language.

Key Takeaways

  • Writing a cover letter makes the hiring manager's job easier, by highlighting exactly why you're the right match for the role. That gives your application an edge. 
  • Even if the company doesn't specifically request a cover letter, it's a good idea to write one if you're interested in the role at hand. 
  • Skip a cover letter if the employer says not to write one, or if there isn't a place to include one in an online application form. 

Are Cover Letters Necessary When Applying for a Job?

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Why do I need a cover letter for a job application?

Cover letter template, cover letter example, when should i apply without a cover letter.

When you apply for a job, an employer needs more than a resume to consider you as a candidate. You should also include a cover letter when submitting a job application. This article will answer whether you need a cover letter when applying for a job.

Cover letters are important when you apply for a job because they let you explain your experience. Effective cover letters are written for specific job postings and can position you as a good candidate for the role. 

You should include a cover letter for these reasons:

Cover letters show that you are a qualified candidate

Cover letters tell stories about accomplishments and improvements, cover letters let you address questions and concerns.

Your resume includes the highlights of your work experience, but a cover letter gives you a chance to explain why you are a good candidate. A well-written cover letter can share your personality and build a relationship with your potential employer. 

While most resumes include bullet points with key details, a cover letter lets you structure your accomplishments into a story. You can create a story about the goals you’ve set, the lessons you’ve learned, your achievements and the improvements you’ve made along the way.

You know every aspect of your career path, but an employer may need more explanation regarding your professional goals. In a cover letter, you can address any concerns you anticipate or answer questions about your employment history. By handling potential objections proactively, you might improve your chances of getting an interview and advancing in the hiring process.

Follow the prompts provided to understand all of the essential information. Use the template below to structure your cover letter:

Your contact information:  Include your name, phone number and email address so the employer can contact you for additional steps.

Application date:  State the date of your application.

Employer’s contact information:  Include the employer’s contact details, including the hiring manager’s name.

Job and company details:  Mention specific reasons why you have an interest in the job and the organization.

Experience and qualifications:  Tell a story about your experience, qualifications and accomplishments.

Expression of gratitude:  Thank the hiring team for considering your application.

Formal salutation:  Conclude on a professional note with “Sincerely” or “Best regards.”

Signature:  Add your signature to a printed letter or type your name in an emailed letter.

Follow this cover letter as an example of what to include in your job application, replacing the example content with your own experiences and accomplishments as you write your cover letter:

Hannah Lee 123 Main Circle | New York, NY 11110 | 555-555-5555 | [email protected]

July 1, 2019

Pat Smith Techno Company 123 Business Blvd. New York, NY 11101

Dear Ms. Smith,

I am writing to apply for the Product Manager position at Techno Company. I was excited to learn about this position from my mentor, Lee Chen. As Vice President of Accounts at Techno Company, Lee has always encouraged me to take an interest in the organization. I am inspired by the way the company leads the industry with cutting-edge technology and flawless product launches, especially the recent debut of High-Tech Device v.3.

I have eight years of experience working in product development roles within the technology industry, and the past four years have included management components. In my most recent role, I led a team of 12, handling product launch, support and marketing tasks. I contributed to revenue 25% higher than anticipated, which has allowed the company to invest in developing new leading-edge technology. My effective management systems also led to 15% higher efficiency throughout the product team.

My past roles have allowed me to gain the management, decision making and critical thinking skills that this Product Manager position requires. With my experience and qualifications, I believe I could contribute significantly to Techno Company’s ambitious goals.

I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this Product Manager position with you further. Thank you in advance for your consideration. I look forward to talking with you in person.

Sincerely, Hannah Lee

It may not be possible to send a cover letter in some cases, such as when an online application system does not include it. In all other cases, you should include a cover letter in your application, even if your potential employer does not request a cover letter.

why do i need a cover letter

How to Write a Cover Letter That Will Get You a Job

I ’ve read thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of cover letters in my career. If you’re thinking that sounds like really boring reading, you’re right. What I can tell you from enduring that experience is that most cover letters are terrible — and not only that, but squandered opportunities. When a cover letter is done well, it can significantly increase your chances of getting an interview, but the vast majority fail that test.

So let’s talk about how to do cover letters right.

First, understand the point of a cover letter.

The whole idea of a cover letter is that it can help the employer see you as more than just your résumé. Managers generally aren’t hiring based solely on your work history; your experience is crucial, yes, but they’re also looking for someone who will be easy to work with, shows good judgment, communicates well, possesses strong critical thinking skills and a drive to get things done, complements their current team, and all the other things you yourself probably want from your co-workers. It’s tough to learn much about those things from job history alone, and that’s where your cover letter comes in.

Because of that …

Whatever you do, don’t just summarize your résumé.

The No. 1 mistake people make with cover letters is that they simply use them to summarize their résumé. This makes no sense — hiring managers don’t need a summary of your résumé! It’s on the very next page! They’re about to see it as soon as they scroll down. And if you think about it, your entire application is only a few pages (in most cases, a one- or two-page résumé and a one-page cover letter) — why would you squander one of those pages by repeating the content of the others? And yet, probably 95 percent of the cover letters I see don’t add anything new beyond the résumé itself (and that’s a conservative estimate).

Instead, your cover letter should go beyond your work history to talk about things that make you especially well-suited for the job. For example, if you’re applying for an assistant job that requires being highly organized and you neurotically track your household finances in a detailed, color-coded spreadsheet, most hiring managers would love to know that because it says something about the kind of attention to detail you’d bring to the job. That’s not something you could put on your résumé, but it can go in your cover letter.

Or maybe your last boss told you that you were the most accurate data processor she’d ever seen, or came to rely on you as her go-to person whenever a lightning-fast rewrite was needed. Maybe your co-workers called you “the client whisperer” because of your skill in calming upset clients. Maybe you’re regularly sought out by more senior staff to help problem-solve, or you find immense satisfaction in bringing order to chaos. Those sorts of details illustrate what you bring to the job in a different way than your résumé does, and they belong in your cover letter.

If you’re still stumped, pretend you’re writing an email to a friend about why you’d be great at the job. You probably wouldn’t do that by stiffly reciting your work history, right? You’d talk about what you’re good at and how you’d approach the work. That’s what you want here.

You don’t need a creative opening line.

If you think you need to open the letter with something creative or catchy, I am here to tell you that you don’t. Just be simple and straightforward:

• “I’m writing to apply for your X position.”

• “I’d love to be considered for your X position.”

• “I’m interested in your X position because …”

• “I’m excited to apply for your X position.”

That’s it! Straightforward is fine — better, even, if the alternative is sounding like an aggressive salesperson.

Show, don’t tell.

A lot of cover letters assert that the person who wrote it would excel at the job or announce that the applicant is a skillful engineer or a great communicator or all sorts of other subjective superlatives. That’s wasted space — the hiring manager has no reason to believe it, and so many candidates claim those things about themselves that most managers ignore that sort of self-assessment entirely. So instead of simply declaring that you’re great at X (whatever X is), your letter should demonstrate that. And the way you do that is by describing accomplishments and experiences that illustrate it.

Here’s a concrete example taken from one extraordinarily effective cover-letter makeover that I saw. The candidate had originally written, “I offer exceptional attention to detail, highly developed communication skills, and a talent for managing complex projects with a demonstrated ability to prioritize and multitask.” That’s pretty boring and not especially convincing, right? (This is also exactly how most people’s cover letters read.)

In her revised version, she wrote this instead:

“In addition to being flexible and responsive, I’m also a fanatic for details — particularly when it comes to presentation. One of my recent projects involved coordinating a 200-page grant proposal: I proofed and edited the narratives provided by the division head, formatted spreadsheets, and generally made sure that every line was letter-perfect and that the entire finished product conformed to the specific guidelines of the RFP. (The result? A five-year, $1.5 million grant award.) I believe in applying this same level of attention to detail to tasks as visible as prepping the materials for a top-level meeting and as mundane as making sure the copier never runs out of paper.”

That second version is so much more compelling and interesting — and makes me believe that she really is great with details.

If there’s anything unusual or confusing about your candidacy, address it in the letter.

Your cover letter is your chance to provide context for things that otherwise might seem confusing or less than ideal to a hiring manager. For example, if you’re overqualified for the position but are excited about it anyway, or if you’re a bit underqualified but have reason to think you could excel at the job, address that up front. Or if your background is in a different field but you’re actively working to move into this one, say so, talk about why, and explain how your experience will translate. Or if you’re applying for a job across the country from where you live because you’re hoping to relocate to be closer to your family, let them know that.

If you don’t provide that kind of context, it’s too easy for a hiring manager to decide you’re the wrong fit or applying to everything you see or don’t understand the job description and put you in the “no” pile. A cover letter gives you a chance to say, “No, wait — here’s why this could be a good match.”

Keep the tone warm and conversational.

While there are some industries that prize formal-sounding cover letters — like law — in most fields, yours will stand out if it’s warm and conversational. Aim for the tone you’d use if you were writing to a co-worker whom you liked a lot but didn’t know especially well. It’s okay to show some personality or even use humor; as long as you don’t go overboard, your letter will be stronger for it.

Don’t use a form letter.

You don’t need to write every cover letter completely from scratch, but if you’re not customizing it to each job, you’re doing it wrong. Form letters tend to read like form letters, and they waste the chance to speak to the specifics of what this employer is looking for and what it will take to thrive in this particular job.

If you’re applying for a lot of similar jobs, of course you’ll end up reusing language from one letter to the next. But you shouldn’t have a single cover letter that you wrote once and then use every time you apply; whatever you send should sound like you wrote it with the nuances of this one job in mind.

A good litmus test is this: Could you imagine other applicants for this job sending in the same letter? If so, that’s a sign that you haven’t made it individualized enough to you and are probably leaning too heavily on reciting your work history.

No, you don’t need to hunt down the hiring manager’s name.

If you read much job-search advice, at some point you’ll come across the idea that you need to do Woodward and Bernstein–level research to hunt down the hiring manager’s name in order to open your letter with “Dear Matilda Jones.” You don’t need to do this; no reasonable hiring manager will care. If the name is easily available, by all means, feel free to use it, but otherwise “Dear Hiring Manager” is absolutely fine. Take the hour you just freed up and do something more enjoyable with it.

Keep it under one page.

If your cover letters are longer than a page, you’re writing too much, and you risk annoying hiring managers who are likely sifting through hundreds of applications and don’t have time to read lengthy tomes. On the other hand, if you only write one paragraph, it’s unlikely that you’re making a compelling case for yourself as a candidate — not impossible, but unlikely. For most people, something close to a page is about right.

Don’t agonize over the small details.

What matters most about your cover letter is its content. You should of course ensure that it’s well-written and thoroughly proofread, but many job seekers agonize over elements of the letter that really don’t matter. I get tons of  questions from job seekers  about whether they should attach their cover letter or put it in the body of the email (answer: No one cares, but attaching it makes it easier to share and will preserve your formatting), or what to name the file (again, no one really cares as long as it’s reasonably professional, but when people are dealing with hundreds of files named “resume,” it’s courteous to name it with your full name).

Approaching your cover letter like this can make a huge difference in your job search. It can be the thing that moves your application from the “maybe” pile (or even the “no” pile) to the “yes” pile. Of course, writing cover letters like this will take more time than sending out the same templated letter summarizing your résumé — but 10 personalized, compelling cover letters are likely to get you more  interview invitations  than 50 generic ones will.

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by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

IMAGES

  1. What To Include In A Cover Letter (With Examples)

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  2. How to Write a Cover Letter (With Example)

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  3. How To Write A Cover Letter

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  4. Cover letter for job word

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  5. How to Write a Cover Letter in 2021

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  6. How to Write a Cover Letter That Will Get You a Job

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  3. Applying For Research Jobs and Not Getting Selected? Try These Expert Cover Letter Writing Tips

  4. Why do need the price tag

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  6. Cover Letter Tips for Doctors. 5 Sentences May Be All You Need

COMMENTS

  1. Is a Cover Letter Necessary? (With Other FAQs About Cover Letters)

    A cover letter is an introductory document many employers ask you to submit along with your resume when applying for a job. Depending on the company, you might need to email your cover letter and resume or there may be an online application process where you can upload it. Many job listings specify if they require a cover letter, but some don't ...

  2. Everything You Need To Know About A Cover Letter And Why It's ...

    The cover letter needs to show the employer you can meet the job requirements, why you want to work at the company, and who you are. Include an anecdote about your experience that shows how you ...

  3. Do I Need a Cover Letter in 2024? Are Cover Letters Mandatory?

    Do I Need a Cover Letter For My Resume. Short answer: yes, you should submit a cover letter alongside your resume. Here's why: Most job openings require you to submit a cover letter. Recruiters might not have the time to read ALL the cover letters they receive, but they will definitely read cover letters if they're on the fence for a candidate.

  4. How and Why to Write a Great 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 ...

  5. How to Write a Standout Cover Letter in 2022

    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").

  6. How to Write a Cover Letter [Full Guide & Examples for 2024]

    start your cover letter. with your contact details at the top. These should be in your cover letter's header, separated neatly from the bulk of your text. Here, you want to include all the essential contact information, including: Full Name. Your first and last name should stand out at the top. Job Title.

  7. How to Write a Great Cover Letter in 2024 (+ Examples)

    1. Personalization. Address the hiring manager or recruiter by name whenever possible. If the job posting doesn't include a name, research to find out who will be reviewing applications. Personalizing your cover letter shows that you've taken the time to tailor your application to the specific company and role. 2.

  8. Do I Need a Cover Letter? Answers From Hiring Professionals

    Meaning, yes: Cover letters do still matter and they can help you get to the next round in the hiring process. "One of the biggest takeaways was that tailored cover letters are far superior to generic cover letters when it comes to boosting a job applicant's chances of being hired," says Peter Yang, CEO of ResumeGo.

  9. What is a cover letter's purpose and how do you write one?

    A cover letter is meant to better prepare someone to read the rest of your job application and understand what you have to offer, so it's wise to keep it brief. That's even more true if your cover letter is sent as a plain email. Try to take extra topics, like research projects for a researcher job application, and turn them into a special ...

  10. Should You Always Include a Cover Letter?

    The little-known truth about cover letters is: You do NOT always need to include a cover letter when applying for jobs, and you may be wasting hours sending cover letters that employers won't read. So if you're wondering whether you should always submit a cover letter with your job application and resume, then keep reading.

  11. Do I Need a Cover Letter in 2024? [New Research]

    Yes, you do need a cover letter in these common situations: The job description requests or requires a cover letter. You have a referral for your cover letter. The job requires strong writing and communication skills. Even if the job description says "cover letter optional", it's still important to write a great cover letter and attach it ...

  12. Are Cover Letters Necessary in 2024? Do You Need One?

    A cover letter is important and required if the job offer requires a cover letter, the employer, hiring manager, or recruiter requests one, you're applying directly to a person and know their name, or someone has referred you for the position. So if you're wondering whether you should include a cover letter, the answer is yes in most cases.

  13. What is a cover letter and why do I need one?

    A cover letter serves as an introduction to your résumé and is written with a specific job in mind. The main role of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to the employer and encourage them to read your résumé. It also aims to show them that you are the right person for their business. Your cover letter should outline your qualifications ...

  14. Do You Need a Cover Letter When It's Not Required?

    Reasons Not to Include a Cover Letter . For some jobs, you won't need a cover letter to apply. Some employers don't accept cover letters as part of the application process. For other positions, there may be no way to submit one. If a cover letter is optional, it's better to skip it if you don't have the time to compose a well-written one.

  15. Are Cover Letters Necessary When Applying for a Job?

    It may not be possible to send a cover letter in some cases, such as when an online application system does not include it. In all other cases, you should include a cover letter in your application, even if your potential employer does not request a cover letter. This article will answer whether you need a cover letter when applying for a job.

  16. Is a Cover Letter Necessary in 2024? Do I Need a Cover Letter?

    Yes, they almost always are. 83% of recruiters agree that knowing how to write a cover letter and sending one is crucial. It gives you the opportunity to demonstrate that you are a great fit for the company you are applying for. A cover letter is important as it boosts your chances for a job. There are many contrasting opinions on that matter ...

  17. How to Write a Cover Letter That Will Get You a Job

    If you think you need to open the letter with something creative or catchy, I am here to tell you that you don't. Just be simple and straightforward: • "I'm writing to apply for your X ...

  18. How necessary are cover letters? : r/GetEmployed

    If your resume is short, a cover letter can help supplement it. A good cover letter also tells me you have basic competence at communication and writing skills. u/thirtyandtrying has a great explanation of what should be in the cover letter. Always better to include one, as long as it isnt generic.