What to Include in a Cover Letter | Writing Guidelines

A great way to supplement your job application is to include a cover letter. A well-structured cover letter can boost your chances of landing a job if you incorporate the right information. However, many still don’t know what should be included in a cover letter.  

A cover letter should include a brief summary of your working experience, relevant skills, capabilities, and qualifications by giving examples that validate the relevant information in your resume. It is an overview, and at the same time a supplementary document and completes your introduction as a candidate for a job position.

So, what does a cover letter look like? Keep reading to find out more! 

The very first thing that appears in  a cover letter is the header. The header includes important information that  allows recruiters to know who sent the letter at first sight.

Printed / separate file letter

If you plan to hand in a printed version or a separate file letter instead of using email, begin the letter using the normal letter writing format. 

These are the elements that you have to include in a cover letter. The information needed for the cover letter header can usually be found on the company’s website or on the job listing itself.

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • City / State / Country
  • Date written

  • Hiring Manager‘s Name
  • Job title of hiring manager
  • Company name
  • Company address
  • City / State / Country

Email cover letter

Now, if you prefer writing an email cover letter, here are the elements that are needed to put in a cover letter. It will be simpler than the printed version, where you do not have to include the company’s address.

  • Your name
  • Your address 
  • Your email address
  • Your phone number
  • Your LinkedIn / other relevant links

A Professional Salutation / Greeting

You will have to put a professional greeting before you start writing any contents in a resume cover letter. 

A good salutation will always give a good impression of you before you even see the recruiter in person, meaning that using an appropriate salutation is a very important inclusion in your cover letter.

5 examples of good cover letter salutations you can include in your cover letter:

  • Dear Hiring Manager,
  • Dear Mr./Ms. [Last name],
  • Dear [Full name of Hiring Manager],
  • Dear [Department name] Recruiting Team,
  • Dear [Department name] Team,

5 examples of bad cover letter salutations your cover letter should not include:

  • Dear whoever you are,
  • Hello,
  • To whom it may concern,
  • Hey, what’s up?
  • Dear Sir or Madam,

A Hooking Cover Letter Opening Paragraph

At some point in our life, we were all probably taught by a teacher or advisor on how to write a cover letter, which makes it highly possible that most people have a similar cover letter opening paragraphs. However, you would not want to bore the recruiters before they reach the most important body of your cover letter with a generic cover letter opening. So, what does a covering letter opening look like, and how should you write one?

An interesting hook will do the job of catching the recruiter’s attention and leave a good first impression. 

Here are the things that should a cover letter contain in the opening paragraph:

1. Purpose of the letter

Incorporating the purpose of writing the letter is very important and should always be included. Recruiters want to know your motivation for writing your cover letter.

2. Your key qualifications

You should include the key qualifications that highlight why the company should employ you. Including relevant qualifications in the related career can prove your chances of success in your application.

3. Your interest in the position

You can mention why you want to be hired for the position you are applying for. Your reasoning is highly personal. Perhaps you hope to work under a famous designer or want to bloom in the company starting from that position.

4. Your objectives / goals for the position

In the last sentence of your opening paragraph, you can mention the short and long-term goals that you have for the position. This shows that you are not shortsighted.

Example of how the first paragraph of a cover letter should look like: 

“My name is Charles, and if you are looking for an increase in sales rate, I am the best candidate for that as part of MPH’s sales management team. I am bringing my 3+ years of experience as a manager from Company X where I helped increase a 15% sales rate within a month. I am very interested in working with MPH after seeing the job listing on LinkedIn and I believe my capabilities will not disappoint you.”

Body Paragraph - Summary of Experiences and Skills

Now, we move on to the most informative section: the body paragraph. It is okay for you to have short paragraphs but do keep it on subject and informative because this is where you summarize your working experience and qualifications.

This is the information that you would want to add in a cover letter for the first body paragraph: 

1. A summary of your experiences and qualifications.

When getting into the first body paragraph, you should summarize or pick out the most outstanding working experience and relevant qualifications. It is also very good if you can include numbers that are more accurate than mere words and build credibility to your accomplishments.

2. Keywords relevant to the job description.

Specific keywords included to describe yourself will help show your value as a candidate. There are different kinds of keywords that can be found in the job description which can show that you are up to standards.

Example: 

“In the past year, I was the main designer who led a team of five to design Company X’s products which were a big hit in the American market. My ability to cooperate with customers is extraordinary, and my soft skills in Adobe software will never fail to exceed customers’ expectations. Before that, I worked in Company X where I gained most designing experience while adding more artwork to my portfolio as a graphic designer.”

Body Paragraph - Why You Are a Great Fit for the Job

After giving the recruiter an idea of where your skills and experience lie, you should also mention the reason for you being the perfect fit for the job.

1. Demonstrate how your skills and experiences can bring benefits to the new job / company.

If you have gained specific skills that will come highly useful for the job you are applying for, make sure to include them in your cover letter. For instance, if you are applying for a job in web developing and have gained skills such as web designing or data analysis that are highly demanded in the industry, do not be afraid to include these things in your cover letter.

2. Use the STAR method.

The STAR method is an acronym for situation, task, action, and result. It is an easier way for you to figure out how to write the cover letter, while also helping you to elaborate more to the recruiter.

Example of using the STAR method when describing experience in a cover letter:

“In my last job as Gogoro’s data analyst, I worked on the company’s monthly sales rate, customers’ preferences, and the company’s future possibilities. After being with the company for some time, I noticed that there were some times that the company needed a breakthrough to achieve better sales but had no idea where to begin. I gave the idea of holding an event related to one of the SDGs while also promoting the company’s products to help improve people’s impression of the company while also gaining possible clients. In the end, the event was a success in a visible increase in sales income, and I was assigned more tasks, giving me the drive to work harder.” 

Body Paragraph - Your Interest in the Company / Position

Instead of bragging non-stop to the recruiter in your cover letter, mention something about the company you are applying to. Expressing your interest in joining the company or your desire to get the position should be put in a cover letter to add more points.

1. Your knowledge about the company / position

If you want to apply for a job, you first have to know about the job. You can mention the reason you are interested in the position by including some information about the company. This is also a highly personal feature; for instance, it may be a desire to work under a famous artist or a perfect platform that helps reach your future goals.  

2. How the company goals align with yours

You should do some research on the company’s goals so that you can incorporate them into your cover letter. However, randomly including goals will not help. It is best if you can tell how the company goals and yours are aligned.

Example of how to express your interest in the company or position in your cover letter:

“I have always wanted to work at Vogue as an editor when I decided to study Arts as my major. Vogue has always delivered the most updated, high-quality fashion series to readers, which is what I want to do all the time. I want to be part of the fashion industry to deliver beauty concepts to everybody.” 

A Strong Closing Paragraph with a Call-to-Action

Finally, it’s time to wrap things up.

A call-to-action will fit perfectly for you to interact with the recruiter, and is an expression of hope that the recruiter will contact you for more information or an interview. 

Here are the things to put in a cover letter closing paragraph:

1. Invite to meet/interview

Like usual emails and letters, you would invite the recipient to reply to the mail. Here, you should also invite the recruiter to allow you to have an interview with you in person by incorporating your email address and/or phone number.

2. Mention your attachments

Since you have written the resume/CV, you should mention it as a reminder for the recruiter to take a look before jumping into the next person’s cover letter. If you have a portfolio to show, you can also mention it by leaving a website link at the end.

3. Show appreciation

Be polite and thank the recruiter for reading your cover letter. At the same time, you can thank the recruiter in advance for allowing the interview.

Example of how to close your cover letter with a strong closing paragraph:

“Thank you for the time spent on my application. I would be thrilled if I am given the chance to have an interview in person. I am looking forward to hearing from you. Here is my email address: [email protected].”

Complimentary Close & Signature

You do not want to leave any bad impression from the cover letter. Therefore, a professional complimentary close is very important in showing your respect to the recruiter.

So, what must be included in a cover letter’s complimentary close and signature? 

The simple and formal format is to follow the structure below. Keep the information on the bottom left side and leave a line between the signature and closing paragraph.

Printed / separate file letter:

  • Complimentary close
  • Signature
  • Name

Email:

  • Complimentary close
  • Digital signature / personal logo
  • Name

Here are some ideas for you to know on what complimentary closes you can include in a cover letter.

Good Cover Letter Complimentary Closes:

  • Sincerely,
  • Yours truly,
  • Best regards,
  • Cordially,
  • Respectfully,

Bad Cover Letter Complimentary Closes:

  • Bye,
  • See you,.
  • TTYL,
  • XOXO,
  • Cheers,

Attachments

Before handing in your job application, you have to proofread the whole letter to ensure there are no mistakes made in terms of grammar, punctuation, and the accuracy of your content and contact information.

The easiest way to do this is by checking the job listing from the company to see what are the requirements needed for a job application. You do not want to miss things and let the chance fly past you.

These attachments usually are the things to put in a cover letter:

  • Resume
  • Recommendation Letter
  • Certificates
  • Portfolio

Cover Letter Example

Mark Dickson
45 Schweiz Street,
Subang, Malaysia
+999 76655421
[email protected]

21 April 2022

Paul Johanson
Human Resource Manager
Theo Business Co.
154 Avenue Plaza
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Dear Mr. Johanson,

I am an experienced tutor who is looking to advance my career as an elementary school teacher. In the previous institutions that I worked at, I have always excelled in creating a happy and healthy learning environment for students. I believe these experiences will make me a good fit for the English teacher position that La Salle Elementary School is hiring. 

I spent the past 3 years tutoring many children, opening a new door for them to learn things other than their mother tongue. I got my teaching license 2 years ago and a TOEFL result of 100 on iBT. I believe my tutoring experience will be a useful tool when I have to deal with children’s issues.

I handled approximately a class of 10 to 20 students every lesson, giving them English lessons while introducing general knowledge . I realized that there were many concentration issues for the children since they were not as mature as adults.I also came up with different games and activities for them to participate in while also learning the language. The results turned out extraordinary as they were very active when playing games, which led to more information absorption as well. Seeing them have so much fun while learning always gave me the drive to work harder in teaching.

I would be truly honored to get the chance to teach at La Salle. To my knowledge, La Salle is a school that aims to provide a better study environment for the children while also allowing them to develop in their way. After teaching for these few years, I realized that academics may be important but children’s mental health should not be ignored.

Thank you for your consideration. I would be thrilled if I am given the chance to have an interview in person to have further discussion. I am looking forward to hearing from you. 

Respectfully,
Mark Dickson

Other Cover Letter FAQs

Do you still have a question in mind? Here are some frequently asked cover letter questions that may help to clear up your confusion! 

💭 What are the 4 parts of a cover letter?

  • Contact information of you and the company/hiring manager
  • Opening Paragraph/Introduction 
  • Middle Paragraph/Body Paragraph (1-2 Paragraphs)
  • Closing Paragraph
  • Sign-off

💭 What should I  include in a cover letter for an internship?

The main difference in content between a general cover letter and a cover letter specific for internships is the experience. A student might not have as much (or any) working experience compared to someone who has been working for years. Therefore, if you are writing a cover letter for an internship, you should emphasize your educational background  that relates to the job, relevant activities that you have participated in, and skills that you have gained.

💭 What do I  mention in a cover letter?

  • Key achievements
  • Qualifications
  • Relevant working experience
  • Hard and soft skills

💭 What does a cover letter look like?

A cover letter is best when you can make it similar to the resume. It is suggested to use a template to match the appearance in the same color tone, font, and design. To keep things formal, it should always be black and white.


Here are 3 cover letter examples for you to take a look at:

Nursing Cover Letter Example
Nursing Cover Letter Example from CakeResume
Engineering Cover Letter Example
Engineering Cover Letter Example from CakeResume
Cover Letter Example
Cover Letter Example from CakeResume

With CakeResume, you can easily create a resume online, free download your resume’s PDF formats, and utilize ATS-compliant templates to create a resume. Land your dream job, create your resume online (free download) now!

--- Originally written by Ryan Goh ---


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