How to Write a Cover Letter

Posted July 22, 2021

What is a cover letter and why would you need one?

Cover letters are typically a one-page introduction in the form of a formal letter that gives some professional background as to who you are and why you are writing to the recipient. Sending a resume with no introduction could result in misunderstanding and an extra piece of paper in the trash bin. A cover letter will help the recruiter understand where you might fit within the company before they take a look at your resume.

How to Write a Cover Letter

When is it appropriate to include a cover letter?

A cover letter is often expected in job applications, college applications, educational grant and scholarship submissions, and many other professional inquiries. If you are sending in a resume, whether it is by mail, email, or directly to on online application, a cover letter is often required. So, at some point you will need to write a cover letter and having a current letter in your back pocket can be beneficial in many circumstances.

What is the proper format of a cover letter?

In the following article we will discuss the specifics on writing a cover letter for a job application. This format can be used for many other cover letter topics, but for the sake of clarity we will be focused on breaking down sufficient cover letters for professional inquiries and applications.

To write an effective cover letter for any job application use the following format:

1. Start with a Professional Heading

Headers for any cover letter begin with your contact information, the date and the recipient’s contact information. Start with your full name, mailing address, email address and phone number including area or country code. If sending electronically include a link to your online professional profile or if you have a social network handle for your professional profile or business profile. Align all contact information on the left, see formatting in example cover letter below.

2. Open with a salutation

Use the name of the hiring manager or recruiter to greet the recipient at the beginning of your letter. Even if the letter is generic be sure to use a name and salutation to show you took the time to research the intended recipient. Begin with a formal salutation, such as “Dear Mr. Domiguez.” If the direct recipient is undisclosed, you can use “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To Whom It May Concern.”

3. Introduce Yourself

The first paragraph of your letter should include an introduction of who you are and explain why you are interested in this specific opportunity. The style should be formal and polite, while being clear and concise with your intentions. Don’t try to list your entire resume right off the bat, just name the specifics of your experience that have prepared you the most for the new job. Give a brief example of your most recent or impressive work and how it has prepared you for the role you are applying for. The goal is to show the hiring manager why you would be a beneficial addition to the company.

4. Summarize your career

Most of your cover letters should highlight your experience and achievements. In the next two to three paragraphs of your letter write about the skills you have built and your most notable achievements that pertain to the job or application. Without repeating too much from the first paragraph, give memorable examples of what experiences have prepared you for this new role. Sometimes a bulleted list of measured achievements can be an amazingly effective way to get the point across to your reader. These bullet points might include examples of your leadership skills, technical abilities, and long-term improvements to previous companies you have worked with.

5. Highlight applicable qualities

In the final paragraph summarize your accomplishments and reiterate why you are right for this job. Look at the job description and make sure you have touched on certain qualities the recruiter is looking for. Make it clear that you would be a valuable addition to their team. Instead of writing about why you want the job, write about what makes you the right fit for the role.

6. Sign off with a thank you

Thank the hiring manager for taking time to consider you and use the closing as an opportunity to call them to action. Ask them to reach out in the form of a question, for instance “Can we set up a meeting to discuss how I can be of value to the S&S Company?” This is the time to let your reader know you are interested in the next steps of hiring. Add a grateful salutation and be sure to include your printed name and signature.

General purpose cover letter template

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State and Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email


Hiring Manager’s Name
Hiring Manager’s Title
Organization Name
City, State and Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. [Hiring Manager’s Last Name],

[Start with introducing yourself, giving major background and some insight on why you are interested in applying. You give an example of an achievement in detail and include specific results to describe how your most recent position makes you the right choice for the job.]

[Your second paragraph should further detail your experiences and qualifications that highlight how well you match the job description. A general cover letter for any occasion might contain a bulleted list of specific outcomes and achievements within your current or past position:

  • List leadership or management experience.
  • Note a specific goal that was met with your help and intuition.
  • State your innovations that moved the business forward.
  • List technical skills, soft skills and general abilities.
  • Give two or three key strengths that pertain to the role you are after.

[In your final paragraph give a quick summary of your accomplishments and reiterate why you are right for the job. Add a call-to-action to prompt the hiring manager and show your interest in taking the next steps in the hiring process.]

Best regards/ Sincerely/ Thank you,

Your Signature
Your Typed Full Name

Example Cover Letter

Use this sample cover letter as general outline and inspiration to help you write your own:

Joseph Smith
805 Limehouse Ave.
Beverly Hills, CA 90216

May 1, 2021

Michael Clemens
Talent Acquisition
OX Quality Technology, Inc.
908 Washington Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90209

Dear Mr. Clemens,

I am an industrious and determined professional looking for an opportunity to succeed at OX Quality Technology, Inc. In my current role with Agilent Technologies, I built a team that consistently met project goals days ahead of schedule and exceeded our production quota by 6%. I am confident that my experience, technical skills, and managerial abilities will help me deliver impressive results in a range of administrative positions at OX Quality Technologies, Inc.

Beyond leading the top performing group of engineers in the biggest project at my company, I also improved client satisfaction and decreased client turnover by 35% by maintaining clear and consistent communication throughout the process of each project. This resulted in a companywide increase in annual revenue by 55% over 3 years because we adapted to changing requirements using my idea to implement scrum and other agile methodologies.

Here are some of my qualifying achievements:

  • Effectively managed multiple cross-functional teams as a project lead
  • Identified and resolved technical issues associated with a top-secret project.
  • Improved communication barriers to create a satisfied and productive team.
  • Built an effective project plan that successfully launched and delivered early.
  • Engaged regularly with stakeholders to adapt and deliver what the client needed.
  • Led a team to save over 1.5 million lives with our state-of-the art GPS software.

I am certain that my skills and experience make me the best fit for any administrative role requiring adaptability, enthusiasm, and reliability. Can we schedule a call to discuss exactly how I can benefit OX Tech? I look forward to hearing from you shortly. I have included my resume with more of my previous experience and certifications.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Joseph Smith

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