Curious about exactly what needs to go in a cover letter? Not sure what things you should include, and what you can leave out?
No problem — we’re here to show you.
4 Things You Must Put in a Cover Letter
Be sure to include these four important parts in your cover letter (or else your application might be in trouble):
1. Contact Information
The hiring manager needs to have your contact information. Without these details, they have no way of inviting you in for an interview.
Even if you’ve included your contact details on your resume, repeat them in your cover letter in case the hiring manager doesn’t have your resume on hand when they decide you’re the one they want to interview.
At the very least, include your email address and phone number. Today, adding your home address is unnecessary, since snail mail is too slow for most recruiters.
Adding a LinkedIn profile is also an option if you have one that’s up to date.
2. Personal Greeting
Greet the reader of your cover letter with a polite salutation. Dear Mr./Ms. [Hiring Manager’s Name] should do the trick.
Using an actual name is simply better than writing “Dear Hiring Manager,” or “To Whom It May Concern,” because it shows you’ve done some research while preparing your application.
Find the hiring manager’s name on the company website or on LinkedIn. If all else fails, call the company and ask for their name, and explain that it’s for addressing your application if asked.
3. Body Content
After your greeting comes the body of your cover letter. This part is text heavy, and gives you space to explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job.
4. Call-to-Action (CTA)
A call-to-action (CTA) does exactly what it sounds like: it calls the hiring manager to invite you in for an interview.
Here’s an example of an effective CTA from our legal assistant cover letter sample:
You should ask the hiring manager to contact you and arrange an interview, as politely as possible of course.
3 Things That Should Be in Your Cover Letter
All of the above items are necessities — without them, you’re not even a contender for the position.
But if you want to prove you’re better than other applicants, give the hiring manager a little extra to convince them to hire you.
Check out the following actions you can take to perfect your cover letter to guarantee yourself a position at the top of the hiring manager’s list.
1. Reasons You’re a Good Fit
To write a great cover letter, you need to put in some extra work. Start by going to the company’s website.
Once there, see if they have a corporate culture webpage or some form of “company mission” page. Take a look at this example from KPMG:
KPMG’s executives make it clear they value teamwork and honesty. If you were applying here, you’d want to mention how you work well with a team (by providing an example) in your cover letter.
WD-40 Company, on the other hand, has a less formal corporate culture:
The company describes its workers as a tribe, emphasizing the bonds they wish to develop between employees.
If you were applying here, you could mention what you could bring to the “tribe.” Showing familiarity with the company in your cover letter makes you seem invested in the opportunity, and hiring managers take notice.
2. Proof You’ve Researched the Company
As well as researching a company’s culture, do a more general investigation of their performance, history, and ambitions. If you provide proof of doing so in your cover letter, you’ll catch the hiring manager’s attention.
A good place to start (once again) is on their website. Here you can find out about product lines and recent news. For example, you might discover they just launched a product similar to one you used to work on.
Then mention some of these highlights in your cover letter.
3. Quantifiable Data
Listing your previous achievements is not enough. Provide data that proves you can get results for your new employer if you want your application to stand out.
Finding this data doesn’t have to be difficult.
For instance, if you were previously working in a customer service position, think about how many customers you served on an average day. A bullet point built with such information might look something like this:
- Served approx. 47 customers per day, remaining professional, courteous, and patient each individual
Or if you were in an office role, you might focus on your output over a regular period of time:
- Produced 17 sales reports per week for our product portfolio
Including this data shows the hiring manager what you can achieve on the job. It gives them a glimpse at how your output will improve their company’s performance, and where you’d be a good fit on their team.
What to Include in the Final Paragraph
What should a cover letter say in its final paragraph? After all, if the hiring manager has read this far but hasn’t committed to calling you in for that all-important interview, your final paragraph is where you hook them.
Here’s what should go in your cover letter’s final paragraph.
Recruiters are busy. They don’t have a lot of time, so you need to be flexible. Reassure them by making it clear you’re available for an interview.
Look at this example from taken from a construction cover letter:
This applicant makes sure the hiring manager knows they’re available to come in for an interview at any time.
Even if you don’t have great availability, mention how you’re able to move around your schedule if necessary.
Your cover letter closing is not a time to get creative. “Sincerely” is how employers expect you to wrap up your letter, so there’s no reason to write anything else.
There are casual closings commonly seen in email cover letters, but don’t use them for normal applications. They’re simply too informal. These include:
- Best wishes
- Best regards
You might think that your cover letter ends with your closing, but there’s one last thing you can add: an eye-catching postscript (P.S.).
Your P.S. can be used to squeeze an extra bit of something into your cover letter, and its placement at the bottom means it will be seen by the hiring manager — even if they skip over other important details.
One way to make your P.S. catchy is to add a relevant accomplishment:
I’m looking forward to talking to you about how I achieved a 47% increase in conversions on my current company’s ecommerce platform.
Now that you fully understand what you need to include in your cover letter, you should be ready to start writing it soon.
Happy job hunting!