- Search Search Please fill out this field.
What Is a Cover Letter?
Understanding cover letters, types of cover letters, how to write a cover letter, tips for writing a cover letter.
- Cover Letter FAQs
The Bottom Line
What Is a Cover Letter? Types and How To Write One
Andrew Ancheta is a finance editor who has reported extensively on cryptocurrency, NFTs, economics, and history. He previously worked as an editor for China Daily.
A cover letter is a written document commonly submitted with a job application outlining the applicant's credentials and interest in the open position. Since a cover letter is often one of only two documents sent to a potential employer, a well- or poorly-written letter can impact whether the applicant is called for an interview .
- A cover letter is commonly submitted with a job application explaining the applicant's credentials and interest in the position.
- A good cover letter complements the resume and explains why the candidate is the ideal person for the job.
- Common cover letter mistakes can sink a job applicant.
7 Cover Letter Blunders
Most job postings are done online and no longer require a physical application. Instead, applicants send companies a copy of their resume along with a cover letter either by email or with a hard copy through the mail. A resume offers a glimpse into the professional and academic experience of a potential employee. The cover letter, on the other hand, acts as an introduction written by the candidate to express their interest in the position and what makes them the best fit for the job.
A good cover letter complements a resume by expanding on items relevant to the job. In essence, it's a sales pitch that describes why the applicant is the best person for the position. Career experts advise job seekers to spend time customizing each cover letter for the particular position, rather than using a generic missive. Although this requires extra effort, it can be very helpful in allowing an applicant to stand out above the competition.
The cover letter provides information to the employer about who the candidate is as a professional and as a person. This includes their areas of interest, professional goals, knowledge, skills they've gained over the years, achievements, passions, and aspirations. The cover letter should be a one-page document that provides a clear and concise idea about why the candidate is the best person for the job . It should also highlight the cultural fit.
While there is no set template for a cover letter, the type of letter that you write will depend on the requirements of each individual company or employer. The information that is included in a cover letter will vary depending on the goals and purpose of your application.
- An application cover letter is the most familiar type of cover letter. This is generally written in response to a vacancy that is posted on a company's website or a job board. In addition to answering any specific questions posted in the job ad, it may also highlight any experience or skills that are suitable for the position.
- A referral cover letter is similar to an application letter, but it includes the name of a colleague or employee who recommended the applicant for the open position. A strong referral can help you stand out against other applicants.
- A prospecting cover letter , also known as a letter of interest, is written by a job seeker and addressed to a company where they would like to work. However, it is not aimed at a specific role or vacancy. Instead, this type of letter inquires about open positions in general and may highlight any special skills that make the writer suitable for the company.
When employers post a job ad that requires a cover letter, they may specify certain requirements for the cover letter to address. For example, they may require applicants to answer certain questions, or to respect a certain word limit. It is important to follow these requirements, as they reflect on the applicant's ability to understand and follow directions.
If the employer does not set any expectations, a typical cover letter should be about a page or less, and may include a formal greeting, contact information, and links to the applicant's portfolio or work. It should highlight any special skills, and explain why you would be a good fit for the position. This is your chance to impress the employer: Even if your resume does not have everything an employer wants, a well-written cover letter can make the applicant stand out from the crowd.
However, it is possible to include too much information. Most employers will simply glance at the majority of their cover letters, and a long-winded essay might end up at the bottom of the pile. A few short paragraphs explaining your skills, and why you chose that specific employer, should be enough to put your best foot forward.
Writing a cover letter doesn't have to be tedious—even though it may seem like it's a chore. Here are a few simple tips you may want to consider when composing your cover letter:
- Personalize your letter for each role. Never use a generic cover letter. This means you have to write a new one for each position. Be sure to include your strengths and skills, and explain why you’re the perfect candidate.
- Include contact information. If the posting doesn't include the hiring manager's name, call the company , or check its website. Including this person's name gives your letter a proper greeting and also shows you have initiative. And don't forget to add your contact information, too. This is important if your resume gets separated from your cover letter.
- Simplify your letter. Communicate clearly and concisely. Using complex words and sentences would most certainly fail to convey your intentions with the company and the person reading the letter probably won't bother with the rest of your application.
- Be specific when needed. Don't rehash your resume, so be sure to quantify your accomplishments. For instance, expand on your marketing experience in your cover letter by saying you brought in 200 additional clients each month and increased revenue to $10,000. This can set you apart from candidates with vague personal details.
- Proofread. After you’ve written the letter, go over it a few times to ensure there are no errors. Then ask someone else to do a once-over and recommend any changes you may need to make.
A simple, focused cover letter without any typos or grammatical errors will get you noticed by potential employers.
A perfect resume can often be sabotaged by a poorly thought-out cover letter or one that is laden with mistakes. Whether you include the letter as per required submission guidelines, or you simply want to emphasize your interest in the job, make sure you avoid making these blunders.
- Names matter. This includes the name of the hiring manager, the company, and yes, even yours. Make sure you have the right names and the correct spelling. And don't forget to change the names if you're using the same cover letter for multiple jobs.
- Restating your resume. Since the cover letter is used to identify your skills and explain how your previous experience is applicable to the desired position, don't restate the stuff on your resume. Remember, the cover letter should complement your resume, not just summarize it.
- Keep your letter tight. Recruiters often go through hundreds of applications and don't have time to read through a three-page missive. The absolute maximum length for a cover letter should be one page, with a few concise paragraphs.
- Omit unnecessary details. Stay on topic. There's no need to mention your graphic-design skills if you're applying for an accounting position. It's a good idea to leave out personal things like your IQ, recreational accomplishments, interests, and hobbies. That is unless they relate to the job or company.
- Avoid sounding arrogant. Ensure your cover letter does not make you appear arrogant . While the cover letter is about you and your accomplishments, find a way of saying "I'm the best" without actually saying it. Avoid overusing words like "I," "me," or "my."
- Remember that spelling counts. Typos and grammatical errors can show you didn't bother to proofread your own letter. And make sure to be consistent—don't convey a dash with "--" in one place and "—" in another.
- Design matters : with the proliferation of publishing, design trends, and software, candidates have become creative in making their cover letter stand out from a design perspective. Make sure your cover letter projects your personality in terms of design while remaining professional. That is personal signature and branding.
How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?
According to Indeed , a leading job-seeking site, a typical cover letter should be about three or four paragraphs long and highlight any special experience or achievements that make the applicant exceptionally well-suited to the position.
How Do You Start a Cover Letter?
A cover letter should start with a formal greeting, preferably addressed to the hiring manager. If you do not know who will be reading your cover letter, a generic "to whom it may concern" is an acceptable, albeit old-fashioned, way to address a cover letter. It is also acceptable to address the letter to a title, such as "Dear Hiring Manager," or "Dear Talent Acquisition Team."
What Should a Cover Letter Contain?
An effective cover letter should highlight the applicant's skills, experience, and any achievements that make them a good fit for their prospective employer. It is also a good chance to mention anything that is not included in the resume: For example, if an applicant is drawn to a certain employer because they love a certain product, the cover letter is a great place to mention it. Make sure your cover letter also includes your name and contact information.
In a competitive jobs market, an effective cover letter is one way to make a job application stand out. This is a chance for an applicant to demonstrate why they think they would be a good fit. However, a poorly-written or meandering cover letter can hurt an application more than it helps.
Harvard Extension School. " Resources and Cover Letters: An Extension School Resource ," Pages 3 and 5.
Harvard Extension School. " Resources and Cover Letters: An Extension School Resource ," Page 5.
Jobscan. " Cover Letter Formats ."
Indeed. " What Is a Cover Letter? "
Indeed. " How to Address a Cover Letter (With Examples). "
- Editorial Policy
- Do Not Sell My Personal Information
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
- Skip to main content
- Skip to footer
The World's Smartest Resume Builder
Home Cover Letter Help What Is a Cover Letter?
What Is a Cover Letter?
Most jobs require you to submit a cover letter with your application. But what exactly is a cover letter? Read on to learn what a cover letter is, what you need to include in yours, and all about the different types of cover letters.
Your resume shows employers your relevant work experience, skills, and education. But they also want to know about your career, accomplishments, and what motivates you. That’s where your cover letter comes in.
Cover Letter Definition
A cover letter is a one-page document that you include in a job application (along with your resume ). Your cover letter should introduce you to an employer, and give them additional information about your qualifications and character.
The goal of a cover letter is to convince employers that you’re interested in and qualified for a job. Your cover letter is also a great place to provide additional details about your work history, skills, or life situation to a prospective employer.
When written well, your cover letter provides important information that your resume isn’t able to communicate.
Still unclear on what a cover letter is, how to write a cover letter , or which types of cover letters exist? Don’t worry — we have a variety of resources to help you learn everything you need to know and put together the perfect cover letter:
- Cover letter examples
- How to start a cover letter
- Cover letter format
- How to address a cover letter
Example cover letter for a job application
Not sure what a cover letter is supposed to look like? Here’s a simple cover letter example written by a mid-level candidate:
What should I include in a cover letter for a job?
Here’s a quick look at what to include in a cover letter for a job:
- Contact information – List your name and contact details in your cover letter header , followed by the hiring manager’s name and contact details.
- Salutation – Greet the hiring manager ideally with their preferred honorific (Mr. / Mrs. / Ms. / Dr. / etc.) and their name. Can’t find their name? “Dear Hiring Manager” is acceptable.
- Opening paragraph – In your cover letter’s first paragraph, formally greet the hiring manager. Introduce yourself, and explain how you found the job posting.
- Body paragraph(s) – Provide information about your previous work experience, and how it’s relevant to the job. Also use this space to list details about your professional accomplishments and skills.
- Closing paragraph – In your closing paragraph, restate your interest in the position, and thank the hiring manager for their time.
- Sign-off – End your cover letter with a sign-off like “Sincerely,” and then sign your name below.
To illustrate, here’s an example of a cover letter with each section outlined:
Types of cover letters used in 2023
Your cover letter is the most versatile part of your job application. You can use each section to showcase your personality, argue why you’re the best person for the role, and even explain unique circumstances (if you have any).
The content and style of your cover letter depend on your work history, level of experience, and the kind of job you’re applying for.
While your cover letter can be rewritten to fit any scenario, there are several common types of cover letters. These include:
- General cover letters
- Internal position cover letters
- Career change cover letters
- Scholarship cover letters
- Creative cover letters
1. General cover letter
A general cover letter focuses broadly on your work experience and skills so that you can easily modify it for each job you apply for.
Think of the general cover letter as your default cover letter .
Applying for a range of jobs in a similar industry and already have consistent work experience? A general cover letter is perfect because it presents a straightforward overview of your qualifications and accomplishments and can be quickly modified based on where you’re applying.
2. Cover letter for an internal position
A cover letter for an internal position is what you submit to your employer if you’re applying for a different position within your current organization.
For example, if you’re applying for a promotion or want to transfer departments, you might need to write an internal cover letter to formally apply for the new position.
A cover letter for an internal position differs from a regular cover letter because it doesn’t include a formal introduction (your company already knows you). Instead, it focuses on your commitment to the company you currently work for , and your specific accomplishments while working there.
3. Career change cover letter
Making a major change in your career? You’ll need to write a career change cover letter to communicate your situation to employers and convince them that you’re worth hiring.
A career change cover letter is different from other types of cover letters because it focuses on your transferable skills and your reasons for changing careers rather than your chronological work history.
4. Scholarship cover letter
Many scholarships require you to submit a scholarship cover letter along with your other application materials.
Writing a cover letter for a scholarship gives you the opportunity to highlight your:
- Commitment to your education
The goal of such a cover letter is to ultimately convince scholarship committees that you deserve their assistance.
A scholarship cover letter differs from a standard cover letter because it targets your future ambitions and educational achievements rather than your work experience.
5. Creative cover letter
Need to stand out from other applicants? A creative cover letter can help you grab the attention of employers using humor, design, or a unique detail.
Creative cover letters differ from a general cover letter by featuring some kind of unique joke, a casual writing style, or an interesting design approach. They can be as serious or as casual as is appropriate for the job.
However, you should only use a creative cover letter if you’re applying to a company that you know has a casual work culture and will respond positively to a less traditional job application.
Why including a cover letter with your resume is important
Still wondering “ are cover letters even necessary in 2023? ”
Including a cover letter in your job application is essential in a variety of situations. For example, you should always write a cover letter if:
- The job advertisement requests that you submit a cover letter
- Someone at the company suggested you include them in your cover letter as a referral
- The job you’re applying for requires writing skills
However, even if the job you want doesn’t require a cover letter, you should still write one when possible.
Including a well-written cover letter in your job application helps you stand out from other candidates. It can even convince an employer that you’re the right person for the job – even if your resume isn’t 100% what they’re looking for .
Finally, your cover letter is the perfect opportunity to explain your unique situation and qualifications. This much-needed context is something that your resume simply can’t communicate on its own.
Click to rate this article
Written by Conrad Benz
Conrad Benz is a Digital Media Specialist & Resume Expert at Resume Genius, where he helps countless job-seekers craft standout resumes and launch their careers. His... more
Cover Letter Examples for All Job Applications in 2023
February 2, 2023 | By Conrad Benz
Cover Letter Statistics for 2023
January 12, 2023 | By Rebecca Tay, Ph.D.
How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job
December 22, 2022 | By Ida Pettersson
- Cover Letter Templates
September 18, 2022 | By Pauline Delaney
Are Cover Letters Necessary in 2023?
January 11, 2023 | By Corissa Peterson
Best Cover Letter Examples of 2022 & Why They’re So Good
May 18, 2022 | By Aaron Case, CPRW
Making a ChatGPT Cover Letter: The Good, Bad, & Ugly
March 9, 2023 | By Eva Chan, CPRW
How to Write a Cover Letter With No Experience
July 26, 2022 | By Eva Chan, CPRW
- Resume Builder
- Resume Templates
- Resume Examples
- How to Make a Resume
- Resume Format
- Resume Summary Generator
- Resume Help
Cover Letter Tools
- Cover Letter Builder
- Cover Letter Examples
- How to Write a Cover Letter
- Cover Letter Format
- Cover Letter Help
- What Is a CV?
- How to Write a CV
- CV Templates
- CV Examples
- Thank You Note Samples & Templates
- Resignation Letter Samples
- Letter of Recommendation Templates
- Business Letter Formats
- Career Advice
- Forgot Password
- Terms & Conditions
© 2023, Sonaga Tech Limited. All rights reserved
ResumeGenius.com is owned and operated by Sonaga Tech Limited, Hamilton, Zweigniederlassung Luzern with offices in Luzern Switzerland.
What is a Cover Letter? Definition, Structure, Purpose, Types & Meaning
What is a cover letter?
What is the purpose of a cover letter in a job application, what to include in a cover letter, cover letter format and layout, should you use a cover letter template or example, what is a cover letter - takeaways.
Asking yourself, “What is a cover letter?”
In this article, we break down for you the basics about cover letters, their purpose, and what to include in yours.
When you’re applying for a job, a cover letter is just as important as your resume in a lot of ways. You always want to include a cover letter when you’re submitting your resume, to personalize the facts about your work history and to tailor your application to the job.
But if you haven’t written a cover letter before, it can be intimidating to figure out what to include. Don’t worry, this expert guide boils it all down into a quick read that gives you an overview and points you in the right direction to find everything you need to know about them.
In this post, we’re going to cover:
- What is a Cover Letter?
- What is the Purpose of a Cover Letter in a Job Application?
- What to Include in A Cover Letter
We also describe how you can lay out your cover letter to amp its impact, and we’ve even made it dead simple for you by including some perfect cover letter examples for you to check out.
A cover letter is a one-page document that you include with your resume as part of your application for a job. A good cover letter grabs a Hiring Manager’s attention and gets you to the next step of the hiring process.
While every job you apply for will have either a specific application form or will ask for a resume, not every one will ask for a cover letter. But you should always include one – it’s a game changer.
The upshot is that a resume is a summary of your work and education experience, while your cover letter adds relevant context to that experience for the specific job.
A cover letter is tailored to a specific job you’re applying for, and it highlights what your qualifications are and how they relate to that role and company. You can use it to give examples of how your experiences relate to the role and show how you’re the best person for the job.
Just as its name implies, a cover letter is written in a letter format, including a greeting, three or four body paragraphs, and a closing. Unlike a resume, your cover letter should be written in full sentences, and you want to use the first-person – “I’m writing to you today to…”.
You don’t want to just rhyme off the same things that are in your resume, though. Use your cover letter to give real life examples of how your experience, skills, or interests make you perfect for the job.
Head to our full article on the differences between a resume and a cover letter to learn more on this.
Put simply, it’s your chance to make a great first impression. It’s a tool you use to grab a hiring manager’s attention long enough that they look over your resume a bit closer and call you in for an interview.
A cover letter may not be something a job posting asks you to include, but don’t think that means you shouldn’t. A good cover letter is always a good idea, here’s why:
- You can tell a story in a cover letter that dives deeper into your qualifications,
- experience, and interests to show why you’re the best candidate for the job.
- A lot of candidates skip writing a cover letter, so by including one you immediately put yourself ahead of the competition!
- You can introduce yourself in a more personalized way and tailor your application specifically for the job.
- You can add a bit of flair or personality that gets a hiring manager to ask you in for an interview
- It shows that you put effort into your application, which again, puts you ahead of most of the competition.
This is just a snapshot of how a cover letter can help you. We’ve got a great article for you to look over if you want to know more about the purpose of a cover letter .
Should you send a cover letter for a job?
There is no question, yes, you should absolutely include a cover letter with your application.
We’ve done our homework on this and can tell you: a majority of hiring managers need or expect a cover letter, even if it’s not specified in the job posting.
Not only are they expected, but they’re a great tool for you too:
- Explain the reasons for any work gaps
- Clarify how the experience you have from other jobs applies
- Show how you fit their company culture
- Let them know why you’re changing jobs or fields
So, while a cover letter may not absolutely be necessary, they’re extremely useful, and always something you should take the time to write and include with your application.
Cover letters should usually include some of the same basic elements. We’ve put together a quick list below, but head over to our complete guide on what to include in your cover letter for a full explanation.
- A header – This is where you’re going to include all the contact info the hiring manager is going to expect to see. You want to be sure to give them what theyère looking for.
- Opening statement – You can get right to it here and make sure this is an attention grabber. Summarize your skills or experience and give them one good reason why it’s important for the job you’re applying to.
- Body – This paragraph should give some more details about you personally. Employers often hire someone for who they are, not what they know; this is your time to show them you’d be a great fit on their team.
- Closing and Call to Action – You want to close your cover letter with a thanks for the time they’ve taken and a professional sign-off. You should also let them know you’re eager to hear from them, and let them know to contact you to follow up.
Try to end with a great impression. It’s key that you know how to close your cover letter well to hit all the right notes.
A hiring manager takes about 7.4 seconds to look at each resume that comes across their desk, and there may be hundreds of those. A strong cover letter design can grab their attention long enough for them to set you into the callback pile instead of in the recycling bin.
We’ve put together the details on how you can really grab a recruiter’s attention with your cover letter design , but here’s the basics:
- Font - Always use a standard, easy-to-read font like Times New Roman or Arial. It should be 12pt or slightly bigger.
- Heading – Always use a professional format of heading, which includes your name and contact info, the date of writing, and the contact info for the person you’re writing to.
- Spacing – You want to single space the body of your cover letter, but leave spaces between the heading, the greeting, each paragraph, and your sign-off.
- Length – We know that it’s tempting to try to fit in as much as possible in the cover letter, but this is definitely a case of less is more. You want the content to be about half a page, so shoot for between 250-400 words.
Keeping your cover letter lean can be hard the first few times you write one. Check out our article on ideal cover letter length to get more tips on how to hit the sweet spot.
If you’re already a pro, maybe you can go it on your own and write a killer cover letter. But if this is your first cover letter, or you have any doubts, use our Cover Letter Examples to get some great ideas on how to write and format yours – we’ve got a few samples below.
Our examples cover different industries and positions, so you can fine tune the fit of your letter for exactly the job you’re applying to without trying to reinvent the wheel! Plus, these are cover letters that work to get interviews, so you can be sure you’ve got a great start.
If you want a real head start, we’ve even got a Cover Letter Templates page where you can head to get all the basics covered for you. Head there, input your specifics, and you’ll have a winning cover letter, easy-peasy.
- A cover letter is a one-pager you include with a job application to dive deeper into exactly why you are the best fit for the job.
- You always want to include a cover letter, even if it’s not specified in the job posting.
- Hiring managers get hundreds of resumes, and they fly through them - your cover letter can and should be designed to grab their attention.
- Personalize your cover letter and tailor it to the specific job you’re sending it in to, this includes relating specific skills, letting your personality shine, and getting the hiring manager’s name.
- Make sure it’s in perfect shape to get great results. Use our Cover Letter Checklist to make sure you’ve covered all the bases and haven’t overlooked any little mistakes that could cost you the job.
- Cover Letter Guides
CV på en sida: 3 exempel som visar hur effektivt det är
Personal Details on CV (Contact Info, Phone Number & More)
What to Include in Your Cover Letter
What to Bring to an Interview: Fail-Proof Your Interview With These 10 Useful Items
15+ Words to Describe Yourself on Resume: Examples & Tips
How To Craft & Tell A Resume Story Behind Your Work Success
- Create Resume
- Terms of Service
- HTML Sitemap
- Resume Builder
- Resume Examples
- Resume Templates
- Resume Formats
- Resume Checker
- Resume Skills
- How to Write a Resume
- Modern Resume Templates
- Simple Resume Templates
- CV Examples
- CV Templates
- How to Write a CV
- Cover Letter Builder
- Cover Letter Examples
- Cover Letter Templates
- Cover Letter Formats
- How to Write a Cover Letter
- Resume Guides
- Job Interview Guides
- Job Interview Questions
- Career Resources
- Meet our customers
- Career resources
- French (FR)
- Swedish (SE)
© 2023 . All rights reserved.
Made with love by people who care.
You control your data
Choose type of cookies to accept
These cookies give you access to a customized experience of our products. Personalization cookies are also used to deliver content, including ads, relevant to your interests on our Site and third-party sites based on how you interact with our advertisements or content as well as track the content you access (including video viewing). We may also collect password information from you when you log in, as well as computer and/or connection information. During some visits, we may use software tools to measure and collect session information, including page response times, download errors, time spent on certain pages and page interaction information.
These cookies are placed by third-party companies to deliver targeted content based on relevant topics that are of interest to you. And allow you to better interact with social media platforms such as Facebook.
These cookies are essential for the Site's performance and for you to be able to use its features. For example, essential cookies include: cookies dropped to provide the service, maintain your account, provide builder access, payment pages, create IDs for your documents and store your consents.
To see a detailed list of cookies, click here .
- English (AU)
- English (UK)
- English (IN)
- Cover Letter
What Is a Cover Letter for a Job? Definition, Purpose, Meaning
Everyone has heard of one, but what is a cover letter for a job and what does it do? Here’s a simple explanation plus a full toolbox of cover letter advice.
As seen in:
Here’s a brief roundup of what a cover letter for a job is:
- A cover letter is a document attached to your job application that shows why you’re the best candidate.
- Not everyone expects cover letters, but a significant proportion of employers still do.
- If you don’t include one, you’re significantly reducing your chances of finding a job.
Though it is personalized, a cover letter for a resume should also be clean and visually organized.
Here is a cover letter sample created with our cover letter builder .
Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from 20+ professional cover letter templates that match your resume. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.
Create your cover letter now
Sample cover letter for a resume— See more cover letter examples and create your cover letter here .
See that? This resume cover letter presents the candidate in a memorable way telling stories that show his skills and experience match what the employer seeks. It’s also well-organized and long enough.
The difference between a resume and a cover letter is clear: a resume is a list of specs and a cover letter is a full-blown marketing campaign. Yes, it still mentions facts and figures, but it puts them out the in the form of a story.
You can find more in-depth information on how to write cover letters in our dedicated guides:
- How to Write a Cover Letter
- How to Start a Cover Letter
- How to End a Cover Letter
- How Long Should a Cover Letter Be
- What Should a Cover Letter Say
- Cover Letter Structure
- Resume Cover Page Example
- Cold Call/ Unsolicited Cover Letter
- What is a Motivation Letter
- Cover Letter Samples for All Professions
Now, let’s discover why cover letters are still a thing nowadays.
What’s the Purpose of a Cover Letter for a Job in Today’s Hiring?
Ever wondered why it’s called a cover letter? Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, people submitted job applications on paper. The cover letter served as the actual cover page for the resume.
It doesn’t work like that today of course. Now it’s just a smart way to provide context to your application, convey motivation, show your personality, etc.
Regardless, you still need a cover letter and it’s still important. Here’s why:
- 53% of employers say a resume alone is not enough.
- 49% of recruiters see a cover letter as a factor that’ll make them pay more attention to your application. That’s the second-best way to boost your chances after a properly targeted resume.
- 45% of recruiters say not having a cover letter will get your resume rejected, according to our hr statistics piece.
- Resume cover letters need to be a quick introduction to your skills and achievements. Nearly 70% of employers are looking for a half-page or less and 70% of employers spend less than five minutes reviewing a job application.
- 26% of recruiters still list cover letters for a resume as being of “high importance.” So no cover letter means you’ve ruined your chances with a quarter of employers.
- They’re crucial in explaining any parts of your resume that are less attractive to recruiters, like employment gaps .
- You can easily tweak it to create a letter of interest to tap the hidden job market. Around 15% of hires are made from sources other than standard job ads or referrals.
What is the Point of a Cover Letter?
The purpose of a cover letter is to provide additional background information about your application. The goal of the cover letter is to highlight your best qualifications, explain what's missing from your resume, and show a bit of your personal story. It shows your commitment to the potential job, as it requires extra time on your part to write one.
Pro Tip: Do you always need a cover letter? It is important in four cases: if the job ad requires it, if the recruiter requests it, if you're applying directly to a person and know their name, or if someone has referred you for the position.
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check . Start building a professional resume template here for free .
When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.
Is there anything we didn’t cover? Still not convinced you need a resume cover letter? Hit us up in the comments section. We’d love to help.
Don't miss out on exclusive stories that will supercharge your career!
Get a weekly dose of inspiration delivered to your inbox
What Does the Best Cover Letter Look Like in 2023
Not sure what a cover should look like? Confused by all the contrasting guidelines? Here’s an article that will straighten out all your queries once and for all.
What Is a Résumé? Meaning, Definition & Use
What is a resume (or résumé if you're feeling a bit pretentious), what is its purpose, and how to use it.
Cover Letter Outline as Suggested by Career Experts [+Tips]
Having trouble putting thoughts to paper? Take the guesswork out—our cover letter outline will make things super simple.
- To save this word, you'll need to log in. Log In
Definition of cover letter
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cover letter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback .
Dictionary Entries Near cover letter
Cite this entry.
“Cover letter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cover%20letter. Accessed 16 Mar. 2023.
Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!
Word of the Day
See Definitions and Examples »
Get Word of the Day daily email!
Challenging Standardized Test Words, Vol. 2
- The business’s new computer system proved not to be a panacea .
- Obstacle Costly burden
- Cure-all Secure space
Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.
Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?
'Hiemal,' 'brumation,' & other rare wintry words
The distinction between the two is clear (now).
Don't be surprised if none of them want the spotl...
Look up any year to find out
One goose, two geese. One moose, two... moose. Wh...
It is in fact a real word (but that doesn't mean ...
Both words imply motion, but the difference may b...
The fascinating story behind many people's favori...
A charming quiz about fortunate and unfortunate w...
Take the quiz
Can you identify these novels by their famous fir...
Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something a...
Can you outdo past winners of the National Spelli...
How to Write a Cover Letter in 2023 | Beginner's Guide
After weeks of heavy job search, you’re almost there!
You’ve perfected your resume.
You’ve short-listed the coolest jobs you want to apply for.
You’ve even had a friend train you for every single interview question out there.
But then, before you can send your application and call it a day, you remember that the job ad requires a cover letter.
Now you’re stuck wondering how to write a cover letter ...
Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered. Writing a cover letter is a lot simpler than you might think.
In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to write a cover letter that gets you the job you deserve.
- What’s a cover letter & why it’s important for your job search
- How to write a convincing cover letter that gets you the job (step-by-step!)
- How to perfect your cover letter with the Novoresume free checklist
- What excellent cover letter examples look like
So, let’s get started with the basics!
What is a Cover Letter? (and Why It’s Important)
A cover letter is a one-page document that you submit as part of your job application (alongside your CV or Resume).
Its purpose is to introduce you and briefly summarize your professional background. On average, your cover letter should be from 250 to 400 words long .
A good cover letter can spark the HR manager’s interest and get them to read your resume.
A bad cover letter, on the other hand, might mean that your application is going directly to the paper shredder. So, to make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s essential to know how to write a convincing cover letter.
How does a good cover letter look, you might ask. Well, here’s an example:
Keep in mind, though, that a cover letter is a supplement to your resume, not a replacement. Meaning, you don’t just repeat whatever is mentioned in your resume.
If you’re writing a cover letter for the first time, writing all this might seem pretty tough. After all, you’re probably not a professional writer.
The thing is, though, you don’t need to be creative, or even any good at writing. All you have to do is follow a tried-and-tested format:
- Header - Input contact information
- Greeting the hiring manager
- Opening paragraph - Grab the reader’s attention with 2-3 of your top achievements
- Second paragraph - Explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job
- Third paragraph - Explain why you’re a good match for the company
- Formal closing
Or, here’s what this looks like in practice:
How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter (And Get Hired!)
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, we’re going to guide you through the process of writing a cover letter step by step.
Step #1 - Pick the Right Cover Letter Template
A good cover letter is all about leaving the right first impression.
So, what’s a better way to leave a good impression than a well-formatted, visual template?
You can simply pick one of our hand-picked cover letter templates , and you’ll be all set in a jiffy!
As a bonus, our AI will even give you suggestions on how to improve your cover letter on the go.
Step #2 - Start the Cover Letter with a Header
As with a resume, it’s important to start your cover letter with a Contact Information section:
Here, you want to include all essential information, including:
- Phone Number
- Name of the hiring manager / their professional title
- Name of the company you’re applying to
In certain cases, you might also consider adding:
- Social Media Profiles - Any type of profile that’s relevant to your field. Social Profiles on websites like LinkedIn, GitHub (for developers), Medium (for writers), etc.
- Personal Website - If you have a personal website that somehow adds value to your application, you can mention it. Let’s say you’re a professional writer. In that case, you’d want to link to your blog.
And here’s what you shouldn’t mention in your header:
- Your Full Address
- Unprofessional Email - Make sure your email is presentable. It’s pretty hard for a hiring manager to take you seriously if your email address is “[email protected]” Whenever applying for jobs, stick to the “[first name] + [last name] @ email provider.com” format.
Step #3 - Greet the Hiring Manager
Once you’ve properly listed your contact information, you need to start writing the cover letter contents.
The first thing to do here is to address the cover letter to the hiring manager .
That’s right, the hiring manager! Not the overly popular “Dear Sir or Madam.” You want to show your future boss that you did your research and are really passionate about working with their team.
No one wants to hire a job seeker who just spams 20+ companies and hopes to get hired in any of them.
So, how do you find out who’s the hiring manager? There are several ways to do this.
The simplest option is to look up the head of the relevant department on LinkedIn. Let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Communication Specialist at Novoresume. The hiring manager is probably Head of Communications or Chief Communications Office.
So, you do a quick lookup on LinkedIn:
And voila! You have your hiring manager.
Or let’s say you’re applying for the position of a server. In that case, you’d be looking for the “restaurant manager.”
If this doesn’t work, you can also check out the “Team” page on the company website; there’s a good chance you’ll at least find the right person there.
Here are several other greetings you could use:
- Dear [Department] Hiring Manager
- Dear Hiring Manager
- To whom it may concern
- Dear [Department] Team
Step #4 - Write an Attention-Grabbing Introduction
First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your job search.
Recruiters get hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of applications. Chances are, they’re not going to be reading every single cover letter end-to-end.
So, it’s essential to catch their attention from the very first paragraph .
The #1 problem we see with most cover letter opening paragraphs is that they’re usually extremely generic. Most of them look something like this..
- Hey, my name is Jonathan and I’d like to work as a Sales Manager at XYZ Inc. I’ve worked as a sales manager at MadeUpCompany Inc. for 5+ years, so I believe that I’d be a good fit for the position.
See the issue here? This opening paragraph doesn’t say pretty much anything except the fact that you’ve worked the job before.
Do you know who else has similar work experience? All the other applicants you’re competing with.
Instead, you want to start off with 2-3 of your top achievements to really grab the reader’s attention. Preferably, the achievements should be as relevant as possible to the position.
So now, let’s make our previous example shine:
My name’s Michael and I’d like to help XYZ Inc. hit and exceed their sales goals as a Sales Manager. I’ve worked with Company X, a fin-tech company, for 3+ years. As a Sales Representative, I generated an average of $30,000+ in sales per month (beating the KPIs by around 40%). I believe that my previous industry experience, as well as excellence in sales, makes me the right candidate for the job.
See the difference between the two examples? If you were the hiring manager, which sales manager would you hire, Jonathan or Michael?
Now that we’ve covered the introduction, let’s talk about the body of your cover letter. This part is split into two paragraphs: the first is for explaining why you’re the perfect person for the job, and the latter is for proving that you’re a good fit for the company.
So, let’s get started...
Step #5 - Explain why you’re the perfect person for the job
This is where you show off your professional skills and convince the HR manager that you’re a better fit for the job than all the other applicants.
But first things first - before you even write anything, you need to learn what the most important requirements for the role are. So, open up the job ad and identify which of the responsibilities are the most critical.
For the sake of the example, let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Facebook Advertiser. You scan the job ad and see that the top requirements are:
- Experience managing a Facebook ad budget of $10,000+ / month
- Some skills in advertising on other platforms (Google Search + Twitter)
- Excellent copywriting skills
Now, in this section, you need to discuss how you fulfill these requirements. So, here’s how that would look for our example:
In my previous role as a Facebook Marketing Expert at XYZ Inc. I handled customer acquisition through ads, managing a monthly Facebook ad budget of $20,000+ . As the sole digital marketer at the company, I managed the ad creation & management process end-to-end. Meaning, I created the ad copy , images, picked the targeting, ran optimization trials, and so on.
Other than Facebook advertising, I’ve also delved into other online PPC channels, including:
- Google Search
Are you a student applying for your first internship? You probably don’t have a lot of work experience to show off in this section. Learn how to write an internship cover letter here.
Step #6 - Explain why you’re a good fit for the company
Once you’ve written the last paragraph, you might be thinking - I’m a shoo-in for the job! What else do I need to write? I’ll just wrap up the cover letter and hit that sweet SEND button.
Well, no. You’re not quite there yet.
The HR manager doesn’t only look at whether you’ll be good at the job or not. They’re looking for someone that’s also a good fit for the company culture.
After all, employees that don’t fit in are bound to quit, sooner or later. This ends up costing the company a ton of money, up to 50% of the employee’s annual salary .
Meaning, you also need to convince the HR manager that you’re really passionate about working with them.
How do you do this? Well, as a start, you want to do some research about the company. You want to know things like:
- What’s the company’s business model?
- What’s the company product or service? Have you used it?
- What’s the culture like? Will someone micro-manage your work, or will you have autonomy on how you get things done?
So, get to Googling. Chances are, you’ll find all the information you need either on the company website or somewhere around the web.
Then, you need to figure out what you like about the company and turn that into text.
Let’s say, for example, you’re passionate about their product and you like the culture of innovation / independent work in the organization.
You’d write something like:
I’ve personally used the XYZ Smartphone, and I believe that it’s the most innovative tech I’ve used in years. The features such as Made-Up-Feature #1 and Made-Up-Feature #2 were real game changers for the device.
I really admire how Company XYZ thrives for excellence for all its product lines, creating market-leading tech. As someone that thrives in a self-driven environment, I truly believe that I and Company XYZ will be a great match.
What you don’t want to do here is be super generic for the sake of having something to write. Most job seekers tend to mess this one up. Let’s take a look at a very common example we tend to see (way too often):
I’d love to work for Company XYZ because of its culture of innovation. I believe that since I’m super creative, I’d be a good fit for the company. The company values of integrity and transparency really vibe with me.
See what’s wrong here? The example doesn’t really say anything about the company. “Culture of Innovation” is something most companies claim to have.
The same goes for “values of integrity and transparency” - the writer just googled what the values for the organization are, and said that they like them.
Any hiring manager that reads this will see through the fluff.
So, make sure to do a lot of research and come up with good reasons why you're applying.
Step #7 - Wrap up with a call to action
Finally, it’s time to finish up your cover letter and write the conclusion.
In the final paragraph, you want to:
- Wrap up any points you couldn't in the previous paragraphs. Do you have anything left to say? Any other information that could help the hiring manager make their decision? Mention it here.
- Thank the hiring manager for their time. It never hurts to be courteous, as long as you don’t come off as too needy.
- Finish the cover letter with a call to action. The very last sentence in your cover letter should be a call to action. You should ask the hiring manager to take some sort of action.
And now, let’s turn this into a practical example:
So to wrap it all up, thanks for looking into my application. I hope I can help Company X make the most out of their Facebook marketing initiatives. I'd love to further discuss how my previous success at XYZ Inc. can help you achieve your facebook marketing goals.
Step #8 - Use the right formal closing
Once you’re done with the final paragraph, all you have to do is write down a formal “goodbye” and you’re good to go.
Feel free to use one of the most popular conclusions to a cover letter:
- Best Regards,
- Kind Regards,
And we’re finally done! Before sending off the cover letter, make sure to proofread it with software like Grammarly, or maybe even get a friend to review it for you.
Does your cover letter heading include all essential information?
- Professional email
- Relevant Social Media Profiles
Do you address the right person? I.e. hiring manager in the company / your future direct supervisor
Does your introductory paragraph grab the reader's attention?
- Did you mention 2-3 of your top achievements?
- Did you use numbers and facts to back up your experience?
Do you successfully convey that you’re the right pro for the job?
- Did you identify the core requirements?
- Did you successfully convey how your experiences help you fit the requirements perfectly?
Do you convince the hiring manager that you’re passionate about the company you’re applying to?
- Did you identify the top 3 things that you like about the company?
- Did you avoid generic reasons for explaining your interest in the company?
Did you finalize the conclusion with a call to action?
Did you use the right formal closure for the cover letter?
5+ Cover Letter Examples
Need some inspiration? Read on to learn about some of the best cover letter examples we’ve seen (for different fields).
College Student Cover Letter Example
Middle Management Cover Letter Example
Career Change Cover Letter Example
Management Cover Letter Example
Senior Executive Cover Letter Example
Want to discover more examples AND learn what makes them stand out? Check out our guide to cover letter examples .
Next Steps in Your Job Search - Creating a Killer Resume
Your cover letter is only as good as your resume. If either one is weak, your entire application is for naught.
After all, a cover letter is just an introduction. Imagine going through all this effort to leave an amazing first impression, but flopping at the end because of a mediocre resume.
...But don’t you worry, we’ve got you covered on that end, too.
If you want to learn more about Resumes & CVs, we have a dedicated FREE guide for that. Check out our complete guide on how to make a resume , as well as how to write a CV - our experts will teach you everything you need to know in order to land your dream job.
Or, if you’re already an expert, just pick one of our resume templates and get started.
Now that we’ve walked you through all the steps of writing a cover letter, let’s summarize everything we’ve learned:
- A cover letter is a 250 - 400 word document that convinces the hiring manager of your competence
- A cover letter goes in your job application alongside your resume
- Your introduction to the cover letter should grab the hiring manager’s attention and keep it all the way until the conclusion
- There are 2 main topics you need to include in your cover letter: why you’re the perfect candidate for the job & why you’re passionate about working in the company you’re applying to
- Most of the content of your cover letter should be factual , without any fluff or generalizations
At Novorésumé, we’re committed to helping you get the job you deserve, every step of the way! Follow our blog to stay up to date with the industry-leading advice. Or, check out some of our top guides…
- How to Write a Motivational Letter
- How to Write a Resume with No Work Experience
- Most Common Interview Questions and Answers
- Top Definitions
- New Word List
Origin of cover letter
Words nearby cover letter, how to use cover letter in a sentence.
Apply with a cover letter and resume at the Disney jobs portal.
As people quit their jobs in record numbers—4 million people in the US during April alone—and many presumably attempt to find new ones, it’s safe to assume that cover letter s are being carefully crafted across the country.
“Within 24 hours, they realized they needed to push back on the old ways unions approach this, and worked with us to summarize the terms and provide a cover letter to employees,” Peace said.
Apply with a cover letter , resume and three clips at the Disney jobs portal.
Apply with a cover letter , resume and three clips at the Disney jobs portal by March 22.
They took cover inside a print works to the north east of Paris, where they held a member of staff as a hostage.
Clad in a blue, striped button-down, a silver watch adorning his left wrist, Huckabee beams on the cover.
Until concern trolls like Sarah Ditum came along trying to cover it up again.
In memoriam, Parker Molloy writes a powerful letter to Leelah.
Jourdan Dunn is the first sole black woman to feature on a British ‘Vogue’ cover in 12 years.
All elements of expression modify each other, so that no mere rule can cover all cases.
The Vine is a universal favorite, and rarely out of view; while it often seems to cover half the ground in sight.
He turned to the gentle accents of his sweet Alice, breathed in a letter which had been wet with her grateful tears.
Hoosier hurried on board the boat, and followed Dick's instructions to the letter.
A letter from Fajardo to the king (December 10, 1621) concerns various matters of administration and business.
- Spring Updates
- For Employers
- In the Know
- Make An Appointment
- Employers We Work With
- CCE Internship Programs
- Funding Programs
- Drop-in Hours
- Career Counseling Appointments
- Practice Interviews
- Programs & Services
- Design Your Next Steps
- Resumes & CVs
- Cover Letters
- Career Advancement
- Graduate School
- Free Premium Resources
- Communications & Media
- Engineering & Technology
- Environment & Sustainability
- Financial Services
- International Affairs
- Non-Profits & Social Justice
- Psychology, Counseling & Social Work
- Student Experiences
- Career Assessments
- Connect With Alumni
- First-Generation/Low-Income Students
- International Students
- Students with Disabilities
- Veteran Students
- LGBTQ Students
- Visiting Students
- Students of Color
How and Why to Write a Great Cover Letter
A cover letter is a one-page business letter that you submit when applying to a job, along with your resume. As a piece of persuasive writing, your cover letter will aim to convey to the employer why you’re a great candidate for the role.
Cover letters … the 3-minute version
What is the purpose of a cover letter?
With your cover letter, you’ll aim to:
- Highlight your qualifications: You’ll show how your skills and experience relate to the employer’s needs for a specific position.
- Showcase your motivation: You’ll demonstrate your enthusiasm for the specific position and the organization.
- Reflect your voice and written communication skills: You’ll give the employer a sense of your personality and writing style.
How do I write a cover letter?
Before writing, research the employer.
Learn enough about the organization to articulate why you are a strong fit for that firm. Here are some things you can do:
- Review the firm’s website and LinkedIn page.
- Speak with current or previous employees.
- Read articles and social media for current news.
Analyze the job description
Look for skills, duties, and qualifications of the job so you can design your letter to match these as much as possible.
Reflect on your experience and motivation
Identify skills and personal qualities you have developed which will be useful in this role. Ask yourself:
- What attracts you about this role/company/industry?
- What have you have done in classes, projects, work experiences, internships, volunteer, activities, travel, etc., that is similar to the duties required of the job?
Writing Your Cover Letter: Format and Structure
- Keep cover letters short—three or four paragraphs and less than one page.
- Use the active voice, keeping your tone positive and professional. Avoid beginning too many sentences with “I”.
- Read your cover letter aloud to catch repetitious words and typos. Make sure that the grammar, sentence structure and spelling are correct.
- When applying online, upload your cover letter as a PDF file, unless another format is specified. When sending your resume and cover letter by email you may write a short note or paste your cover letter in the body of your email (without the address header) and also attach the PDF file.
- Address your letter to the specific individual who can hire you, if this is known. If the name is not included in the job description, address the letter to Dear Hiring Manager or to the title mentioned in the job description.
- List your contact information at the top of the page either in the same format as your resume or on the top left or right margin as shown in the samples.
- your contact information
- employer’s name, title and address
- a greeting (addressed to Ms., Mr., or Dr. with the employer’s last name)
- cover letter content
- your signature or typed name
Writing Your Cover Letter: Content
Your cover letter should answer who, what, when, where and why you are applying for the opportunity.
Introduction : State the position for which you are applying, where you found out about the job, who you are and why you are interested in/qualified for this job and company in particular. If you spoke with someone in the company or were referred by a connection ask if you can include that person’s name and mention your conversation.
Body : The body of the cover letter may be one or two paragraphs. Highlight your qualifications and emphasize your strengths which are most relevant to the industry, organization, and position. Be specific. Use 2-3 examples of your work or academic experience to communicate your motivation and how your skills and experience prepared you for the job. Structure your letter based on relevance not chronology. Explain how you will be valuable to the employer. Do not discuss or apologize if you feel you lack experience or accomplishments.
Conclusion : Thank the reader and reaffirm your interest in the position or organization. Keep your tone positive and enthusiastic. Your cover letter should be specific to the firm and explain why you would be a good fit to work there.
Check out our example of how to structure your cover letter content .
Checking Your Work
Use our Cover Letter Checklist to make sure your format and content is in line with best practices.
When should I write a cover letter?
Not all jobs require cover letters. So, how do you decide whether to submit one?
Pro-Tip: If you’re applying to several similar opportunities, creating a draft cover letter in advance, geared toward that type of opportunity, can be a helpful way to save time in your actual application process.
Submit a Cover Letter when…
- the posting explicitly requests that you do so
- you’re applying to an opportunity at a mission-driven organization
- you think that doing so could provide important information to the employer that they wouldn’t get from your resume
Consider Submitting a Cover Letter when…
- it’s marked “optional” in an application, and you have the bandwidth to do so
- you have content that you can easily recycle or repurpose into a tailored cover letter
No Need to Submit a Cover Letter when…
- a posting specifically tells you not to submit one
- there’s no way to submit one in an application portal, and doing so would require a serious workaround
Sample cover letters.
These sample cover letters will help you get started and give you an idea of what to include in your own letters!
A cover letter is a written document commonly submitted with a job application outlining the applicant's credentials and interest in the open position.
Cover Letter Definition ... A cover letter is a one-page document that you include in a job application (along with your resume). Your cover
A cover letter is a one-page document that you include with your resume as part of your application for a job. A good cover letter grabs a Hiring Manager's
A cover letter, also known as an application letter , is a document you send with your resume that provides additional information about skills
A cover letter is a document attached to your job application that shows why you're the best candidate. · Not everyone expects cover letters, but
The meaning of COVER LETTER is a letter that is sent with something to explain the reason for it or to give more information about it.
A cover letter is a one-page document that you submit as part of your job application (alongside your CV or Resume). Its purpose is to introduce
Cover letter definition, a letter that accompanies another letter, a package, or the like, to explain, commend, etc. See more.
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
A cover letter, covering letter, motivation letter, motivational letter, or a letter of motivation is a letter of introduction attached to or accompanying