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

young-woman-checking-her-cover-lette

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

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

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

What is a cover letter and why does it matter?

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

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

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

What 3 things should you include in a cover letter?

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

1. Personalization

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

2. Highlight relevant achievements and skills

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

3. Show enthusiasm and fit

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

What do hiring managers look for in a cover letter?

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

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

Clear and concise writing

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

Demonstrated knowledge of the company

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

Achievements and accomplishments

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

Enthusiasm and motivation

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

Professionalism

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

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

How do you structure a cover letter?

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

Contact information

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

Employer's contact information

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

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

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

How to write a good cover letter (with examples)

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

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

1. Add a header and contact information

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

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

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

Christopher Pike

San Francisco, California

[email protected]

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

Warm regards,

Catherine Janeway

Bloomington, Indiana

[email protected]

(555) 999 - 2222

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

2. Include a personal greeting

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

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

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

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

3. Draw them in with an opening story

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

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

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

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

“Dear Mr. John Doe,

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

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

4. Emphasize why you’re best for the job

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

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

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

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

Highlight how you fulfill these requirements:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tips to write a great cover letter that compliments your resume

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

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

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

Common cover letter writing FAQs

How long should a cover letter be.

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

Should I include personal information in a cover letter?

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

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

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

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

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

Should I include references in my cover letter?

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

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

The hardest part of writing is getting started. 

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

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

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

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

Ace your job search

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

Elizabeth Perry, ACC

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

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

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How to Write a General Cover Letter (w/ Templates & Tips!)

Background Image

You're on the hunt for a job, and your resume is all set.

It's the perfect summary of your professional journey so far, and you’re hoping it will land you at least one of the gigs you’re applying to.

There's just one thing left - you need to write a cover letter that fits your resume like a glove.

And, as you’re applying for several positions, you likely don’t want to start your cover letter from scratch every time. Instead, you’d rather learn how to write a general cover letter that you can tweak to fit many applications.

Well, we’re here to help you learn how to do just that.

In this article, we're going to cover:

  • What Is a General Cover Letter
  • How to Write a General Cover Letter
  • General Cover Letter Examples

...and more!

Let's get started.

What is a General Cover Letter?

A general cover letter is a flexible document that’s designed to accompany your CV or resume during a job application.

Unlike a regular cover letter, a general cover letter isn’t tailored to one job.

You can personalize general cover letters without being too specific about a position and easily adapt them to suit applications for different professions and industries.

The structure of a general cover letter makes it more versatile because it includes placeholders (or ‘blanks’) that you can easily swap out for job-specific details.

For example, your general cover letter could have a blank where the company’s name or the specific industry would be written, so you can quickly modify it before sending it out with different job applications.

General cover letters allow you to strike a balance between broad appeal and leaving room for a touch of customization, so you don’t have to struggle against writer’s block every time you try to write a new cover letter during your job hunt .

Still haven’t finished your resume? Check out our full guide on how to make a resume !

General Vs Generic Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter that can be used for different job applications might make you think you should write a generic cover letter.

But there’s a huge difference between writing a general cover letter and a generic cover letter.

A general cover letter is adaptable, and you can customize it to apply for different jobs and industries. The key to a general cover letter is that it has parts that you can easily change, such as the industry you’re applying to or the title of the job you’re after.

These gaps let you quickly tailor each cover letter to the specific position you want. They also manage to show employers that you've thought about how you would fit into their company without having to write a cover letter from scratch.

A generic cover letter, on the other hand, is a cover letter that’s the same for every job application.

Generic cover letters don’t change to match different jobs or companies. Because they aren’t tailored, they rarely impress hiring managers or show them why you’d be a good match for the job.

While generic cover letters are a one-and-done job, they’re not a particularly well-done job at all. Generic cover letters come off as impersonal and forgettable, so we recommend steering clear of them during your job search and instead going for a general cover letter that you can tailor.

Want a Standout Cover Letter? Use a Template!

Making sure your cover letter leaves a good impression on the hiring manager can feel overwhelming.

You have to carefully adjust the layout, tweak the page margins, set the line spacing, choose the most appropriate font, and make sure your text never spills over to page two.

Well, it doesn’t have to be that hard.

Just try one of our cover letter templates !

Each of our templates is made in collaboration with leading HR specialists to make sure your application is industry-friendly 

and stylish. You can even use our resume templates and pick a cover letter template for a matching set.

general cover letter templates

When Should You Use a General Cover Letter?

There are a few cases when you can use a general cover letter as opposed to a uniquely tailored cover letter for each job application.

These include:

#1. When You’re Applying for More Than One Position

If you’re applying for more than one position with the same employer, a general cover letter can help you showcase your interest in contributing to the company in various roles.

In this case, instead of writing a cover letter to fill in the blanks for separate job applications, you should aim for a single, thorough general cover letter that’s tailored to the different positions in the same company you’re applying for.

You can use your general cover letter to communicate your adaptability and enthusiasm for being part of the organization, not just filling a specific position, which can be a great angle for an entry-level cover letter .

Unlike a regular cover letter, which you tailor to the exact position you’re applying for, a general cover letter allows you to highlight skills and experiences that are relevant across all the roles you’re targeting. Use it to emphasize your overall potential as an asset to the company and demonstrate your ability to fit into multiple teams or projects.

Since you’re not focusing on a specific job, your general cover letter should instead show the employer how your personal and professional values align with those of the company regardless of the specific position. Focusing on your broad compatibility with the employer positions you as a valuable candidate.

#2. When You’re Attending a Job Fair

At a job fair, your goal is to present yourself as a good candidate to multiple employers.

In a dynamic setting like this, you have to interact with various companies, so a general cover letter can help you quickly adapt your approach to each potential employer you meet. If you do it right, you can highlight skills and experiences that are applicable across different industries.

A general cover letter also helps you make a strong first impression. Job fairs see their share of resumes, but having a cover letter ready to go puts you one step ahead of other candidates vying for the same job.

Instead of tailoring a cover letter for each company you might be interested in, you can focus on customizing key sections that are relevant to specific jobs or industries. For example, if you’re looking for a job as an accountant , you can easily write a general accountant cover letter and make minimal changes before applying for another job.

This can save you valuable time, and it lets you engage with more hiring managers at the job fair, so you can cast a wider net.

Not sure what to do at your first networking event? Check out these 75+ questions you can use at networking events to help break the ice.

#3. When You’re Applying Through a Referral

If you’re using your professional network to find your next job, a general cover letter can come in handy.

Applying for a job through a referral often means you don’t have a job ad to reference. So, when writing your cover letter, you should focus on your most impressive skills and relevant professional experiences.

Next, it’s time to remove all those blanks and placeholders and add details that will make the hiring manager notice your application.

The more you know about the company, the better. Researching the employer means that even if you don’t know the exact details of the job, you can still highlight what makes you a great candidate for the company in general.

Take the time to also mention your connection with the person who referred you. This can add a personal touch and show that someone who’s already part of the company thinks highly of you.

Trying to write a cover letter for your first internship ? Check out our detailed guide to learn how!

General Cover Letter Text Template

If you’re not sure how to write a general cover letter from scratch, there’s no need to worry. You can borrow our very own general cover letter text template!

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

[Your Full Name]

[Your Professional Title]

[Your Phone Number]

[Your Email Address]

[Your Location]

[Your LinkedIn Profile URL (optional)]

[Your Personal Website URL (optional)]

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

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

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

[Company Address]

[City, State/Country]

Dear [Recipient's Full Name],

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

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

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

My key strengths include:

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

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

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

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

Steps to Writing a General Cover Letter

Now that you’ve seen what a general cover letter looks like, it’s time to write your own.

Just follow these steps, and you’ll be done in no time:

#1. Add Contact Information

At the top of your cover letter, you should include all the information required for the hiring manager to reach you.

This includes:

  • Full Name. We recommend you bold your name and place it at the top of the page.
  • Professional Job Title. If you’re applying for more than one job, you might have to swap this out regularly. Make sure it matches the specific position you're applying for.
  • Email Address. Include a professional and straightforward email address, preferably a version of your first and last name. (E.g.: [email protected], not [email protected])
  • Phone Number. Make sure there are no typos in your phone number, so the hiring manager can easily contact you.
  • Location. Typically, your city and state/country are enough information. But if you're looking for remote work or are willing to relocate, make sure to specify that somewhere.
  • Relevant Links (optional). Feel free to add links to any relevant websites or social media profiles, such as your LinkedIn profile, GitHub, or an online portfolio.

Except for the job title, you don’t need to change your contact information between applications. But you also need to add the hiring manager’s contact information.

Customize this for each cover letter you plan to send:

  • Company Name. Always include the name of the company you're applying for.
  • Hiring Manager's Name. If possible, find the name of the hiring manager for the job you're interested in.
  • Hiring Manager's Title. The hiring managers for different companies will likely have different roles. Some will be head of the department you want to join, while others will be part of the HR team. If you want one less thing to swap out, you can simply keep the job title of the hiring manager in your cover letter as “Hiring Manager.”
  • Location. The general location of the company, such as the city and state/country, is enough. We don’t recommend going into more detail for your general cover letter.
  • Date of Writing (optional). Including the date you wrote your cover letter can add an extra professional touch to your application, so it’s something to consider.

#2. Address the Hiring Manager

Even in your general cover letter, you should skip the impersonal “To Whom It May Concern.”

Instead, give your cover letter a more personalized greeting. If possible, address the hiring manager by name .

You might need to do some research for that. Check the job ad, company website, or LinkedIn page to find out who’s hiring for the role you want. Then, just swap out your placeholder for their full name.

However, you might not have the time to do that. If you’re at a job fair or you just can’t find the name of the hiring manager, you don’t have to worry.

It’s perfectly acceptable to address your cover letter as “Dear Hiring Manager” or even address the company as a whole, like “Dear Company X.”

Take your cover letter to the next level by using these 21+ cover letter tips !

#3. Start with a Strong Opening

Hiring managers tend to skim through cover letters before deciding if they’re worth reading, so your general cover letter should always have an eye-catching opening paragraph.

You should start your cover letter by introducing who you are and why you’re interested in the specific position. Then, mention an impressive achievement or crucial skill that shows you would be an ideal candidate for the role.

We recommend shortlisting several of your most impressive skills and achievements and swapping them out for each other depending on what best matches the specific job you’re tailoring your cover letter for.

Just remember to keep your opening paragraph short and sweet. You’ll have the opportunity to give the hiring manager more details later.

#4. Use the Body for Details

When writing a general cover letter, you might have a hard time figuring out how to craft the body.

This is where all the details about you as a candidate and what you know about the company should go.

But don’t worry! All you need to do is follow these tips:

  • Explain what you can do for the employer. Talk about your most impressive skills and how you can use them to contribute to the company’s work.
  • Mention what you like about the job or industry. Focus on what you enjoy about the specific job or industry you’re aiming for.
  • Be enthusiastic about joining their team. Express genuine enthusiasm about joining their team, as well as confidence that you can make a meaningful contribution.
  • Use proactive language. Swap out cliche phrases for eye-catching action verbs and power words to make your cover letter pop.

Depending on how much time you have, you can research each employer in-depth and provide more details that show why you’re the best candidate according to each of these points.

Need more inspiration? Check out dozens of cover letter examples for different professions !

#5. Conclude It Professionally

Once you write the main body of your general cover letter, all you have to do is prepare a conclusion.

The end of your cover letter should leave the hiring manager confident that you’re the right person for the job.

You can do that by either summarizing your main selling points, like your top skills and most impressive achievements or by reminding them how you believe you can contribute to the company.

We recommend leaving a portion of your conclusion blank so you can tailor it for the specific job you’re applying for and leave the best impression possible on the hiring manager.

Next, include a call to action. This can be a polite prompt for the hiring manager to reach out to you and discuss your application or arrange an interview.

There’s no need to personalize your call to action—it can be simple and universal across all your applications. Finally, include a professional closing line and sign your name underneath to seal the deal on your cover letter.

Here’s an example:

I look forward to discussing how I may contribute to your business, so please don’t hesitate to contact me at your earliest convenience.

Best regards,

Cameron Pearson

general cover letter structure

General Cover Letter FAQs

Still have some questions about general cover letters? Check out the answers to the most frequently asked questions below!

#1. Is a generic cover letter okay?

You should never send a generic cover letter with your job application.

Generic cover letters don’t have any personalization that can show your genuine interest in the specific job or company. In fact, they come across as impersonal and show a lack of effort , which can make hiring managers reject your job application altogether.

You should always tailor your cover letter for each job so you can highlight the relevant skills and professional experiences that will impress the employer. This shows that you've done your homework” and that you’re genuinely enthusiastic about the position.

Even a slightly customized general cover letter is always going to be better than a generic cover letter.

Your general cover letter should still address the employer's needs and make a strong case for your application. It's your best tool for making a memorable first impression, and that’s something a generic cover letter simply won’t help you achieve.

#2. Should a cover letter be simple?

Yes, as a rule, cover letters should be kept simple.

The main focus of any cover letter should be its content. Make sure you keep your formatting clean , with an easy-to-read font and plenty of white space, so the hiring manager can quickly find the essential information.

If you’re applying for a more traditional industry, like law or finance , we recommend sticking to a minimalistic cover letter template. Bold colors or flashy fonts just don’t match those professions.

However, if you’re applying to an industry where creativity is valued, such as graphic design , you can try a more customized template. A strategically placed pop of color could make your cover letter stand out.

#3. How do you format a general cover letter?

A general cover letter is structured with blanks and placeholder information that you can easily swap out depending on the job application.

Make sure you include a place for the hiring manager’s contact information, the company’s name, the date of writing, and the title of the specific position you’re applying for.

Keep the text of your general cover letter separated into neat paragraphs so you can find and swap out the placeholders quickly and the hiring manager can easily navigate and read it later.

#4. Do employers read cover letters?

Yes, employers do read cover letters.

Regardless of whether the job ad explicitly asks for one, you should always submit a cover letter .

Once the hiring manager goes through the initial resume screening, they might use cover letters to decide among candidates they’re on the fence about.

That said, hiring managers might not read the entire cover letter in detail immediately, which is why your opening paragraph is crucial. You want to make sure to catch their attention right off the bat, so they want to read more about you.

If they skim through your cover letter and don’t see any relevant keywords or qualifications, they might skip your cover letter, and your application could get tossed in the ‘no’ pile.

#5. How long should a general cover letter be?

Your general cover letter can range from a half-page to one full page. On average, a cover letter should always be between 250 and 400 words .

The cover letter is your first chance to communicate who you are to the hiring manager and why you’re the right candidate for the job, using your own words. If you don’t consider the standard cover letter length, you could leave the hiring manager with a bad impression.

A good cover letter gets your point across quickly without delving into too many details the hiring manager could get lost in. If you go over the recommended length, the hiring manager might never actually bother reading your cover letter at all.

Key Takeaways

And you’ve made it to the end of our article!

Now you know all there is to know about writing a general cover letter. Hopefully, you feel confident about writing the perfect cover letter and landing your dream job!

But before we go, let’s quickly recap our main points:

  • General cover letters can usually be applied to different job openings, industries, and employers with minimal tailoring. We recommend writing one template with placeholders or blanks that you can swap out for details as necessary.
  • A general cover letter doesn’t need as much tailoring as writing a cover letter from scratch, but you should still put effort into it. Sending the same generic text to every employer is a huge mistake that could cost you a job opportunity.
  • Formatting your general cover letter can be time-consuming. Instead of spending valuable time on the layout, consider using one of our cover letter templates instead.
  • You’re most likely to need a general cover letter when applying for more than one job at the same company when applying for a job through a referral, or during a job fair.

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  • Cover Letters

Sample Cover Letter for a Job Application

standard cover letter format for job application

What Is an Application Letter?

What to include in your application letter, tips for writing a cover letter, cover letter sample and template, email cover letter sample.

  • How to Send an Email Application

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Alex Dos Diaz / The Balance

What's the best way to write a letter to apply for a job? Your letter should detail your specific qualifications for the position and the skills you would bring to the employer. What’s most important is to show the employer that you’re a perfect match for the job.

Your job application letter is an opportunity to highlight your most relevant qualifications and experience. An effective cover letter will enhance your application, showcase your achievements, and increase your chances of landing an interview.

Review what to include in a job application letter, tips for writing that will get your application noticed, and examples of cover letters and email messages to send when applying for a job.

Key Takeaways

  • An application letter accompanies a resume and may be uploaded to a job portal, sent via email, or even sent by postal mail, depending on the employer’s requirements.
  • Application letters are an ideal way to show your interest in a job and highlight your most relevant skills.
  • It’s important to match your letter to the job description and show the employer you have the qualifications they are seeking.

A   letter of application, also known as a  cover letter , is a document sent with your resume to provide additional information about your skills and experience to an employer. Your letter of application is intended to provide detailed information on why you are an ideal candidate for the job.

Your application letter should let the employer know what position you are applying for, what makes you a strong candidate, why they should select you for an interview, and how you will follow up.

Effective application letters explain the reasons for your interest in the specific organization and identify the most relevant skills that qualify you for the job.

Unless an employer specifically requests a job application letter sent by postal mail, most cover letters today are sent by email or attached as a file in an online application tracking system.

As with all cover letters, a job application letter is divided into sections:

  • The heading includes your name and contact information.
  • A  greeting  addressed to a specific person, if possible.
  • The introduction includes why the applicant is writing.
  • The body discusses your relevant qualifications and what you have to offer the employer.
  • The close thanks the reader and provides contact information and follow-up details.
  • Your  signature to end the letter .

Here’s how to ensure your application supports your resume, highlights your most relevant qualifications, and impresses the hiring manager.

Get off to a direct start.  In your first paragraph, explain why you are writing. Mention the job title, company name, and where you found the job listing. While you can also briefly mention why you are a strong candidate, this section should be short and to the point.

Offer something different than what's in your resume. You can make your language a bit more personal than in your resume bullet points, and you can tell a narrative about your work experience and career.

Application letters typically accompany resumes, so your letter should showcase information that your resume doesn't.

Make a good case.  Your first goal with this letter is to progress to the next step: an interview. Your overarching goal, of course, is to get a job offer. Use your application letter to further both causes. Offer details about your experience and background that show why you are a good candidate. How have other jobs prepared you for the position? What would you bring to the role and the company? Use this space to  emphasize your strengths .

Close with all the important details.  Include a thank you at the end of your letter. You can also share your contact information and mention how you will follow up.

This is a sample cover letter.  Download the cover letter template  (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for an email sample.

The Balance

John Donaldson 8 Sue Circle Smithtown, CA 08067 909-555-5555 john.donaldson@email.com

September 6, 2023

George Gilhooley LTC Company 87 Delaware Road Hatfield, CA 08065

Dear Mr. Gilhooley,

I am writing to apply for the programmer position advertised in the Times Union. As requested, I enclose my certification, resume, and references.

The role is very appealing to me, and I believe that my strong technical experience and education make me a highly competitive candidate for this position. My key strengths that would support my success in this position include:

  • I have successfully designed, developed, and supported live-use applications.
  • I strive continually for excellence.
  • I provide exceptional contributions to customer service for all customers.

With a BS degree in computer programming, I have a comprehensive understanding of the full lifecycle of software development projects. I also have experience in learning and applying new technologies as appropriate. Please see my resume for additional information on my experience.

I can be reached anytime via email at john.donaldson@email.com or by phone at 909-555-5555.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you about this employment opportunity.

Signature  (only if a hard copy letter)

John Donaldson

The following is a sample email cover letter to send as part of a job application.

Email Application Letter Example

Subject: Colleen Warren - Web Content Manager Position

Dear Hiring Manager,

I'm writing to express my interest in the Web Content Manager position listed on Monster.com. I have experience building large, consumer-focused, health-based content sites. While much of my experience has been in the business world, I understand the social value of this sector, and I am confident that my business experience will be an asset to your organization.

My responsibilities have included the development and management of website editorial voice and style, editorial calendars, and the daily content programming and production for various websites.

I have worked closely with health care professionals and medical editors to provide the best possible information to a consumer audience of patients. I have also helped physicians use their medical content to write user-friendly and easily comprehensible text.

Experience has taught me how to build strong relationships with all departments in an organization. I have the ability to work within a team, as well as cross-team. I can work with web engineers to resolve technical issues and implement technical enhancements. 

I am confident working with development departments to implement design and functional enhancements, monitor site statistics, and conduct search engine optimization.

Thank you for your consideration.

Colleen Warren colleen.warren@email.com 555-123-1234 www.linked.com/colleenwarren

How to Send an Email Application Letter

If sending your cover letter via email, list your name and the job title you are applying for in the  subject line  of the email:

Colleen Warren - Web Content Manager Position

Include your contact information in your email signature but don't list the employer's contact information.

Do you have to write a cover letter when you apply for a job?

Some employers require cover letters. If they do, it will be mentioned in the job posting. Otherwise, it’s optional but it can help your chances of securing an interview. A cover letter gives you a chance to sell yourself to the employer, showcase your qualifications, and explain why you are a perfect candidate for the job.

How can you use a cover letter to show you’re a qualified candidate?

One of the easiest ways to show an employer how you’re qualified for a job is to make a list of the requirements listed in the job posting and match them to your resume . Mention your most relevant qualifications in your cover letter, so the hiring manager can see, at a glance, that you have the credentials they are looking for.

CareerOneStop. " How Do I Write a Cover Letter? "

COMMENTS

  1. How To Format a Cover Letter (With Outline and Examples)

    If you're providing a hard copy of your cover letter, handwrite your signature and also include your full typed name. Download Cover Letter Outline Template. To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file. Related: Creating the Perfect Cover Letter (With Template and Example)

  2. How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job in 2024

    Respectfully, Kind regards, Best regards, Yours truly, Then, make two spaces below the salutation, and type your full name. For some professional (but optional) flair, sign your cover letter either with a scan of your signature or by using software like DocuSign. 8. Check your cover letter's content and formatting.

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

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

  4. 200+ Professional Cover Letter Examples for Job Seekers

    Employer name. Company Name. Street address. City, State. Salutation. Dear [Hiring Manager's Name], Opening Paragraph (Introduction) Your cover letter opening should contain a self-introduction. Write about who you are, where your expertise lies, where you found the job posting, and why you want to apply for the job.

  5. Free Cover Letter Template for Your Resume (Copy & Paste)

    Pantheon. The "Pantheon" cover letter template's bold header projects confidence, making it ideal for executives. 2024. Designed for the modern job seeker, our "2024" cover letter template is perfect for people in any industry. Classic. "The Classic" cover letter template is clean, traditional, and the perfect format to start off your application.

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

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

  7. Glassdoor Guide: How to Write a Cover Letter

    The cover letter is a tool to help introduce yourself in a memorable, personal way during a job application. A well-crafted cover letter goes over information on your resume and expands this information for the reader, taking them on a guided journey of some of your greatest career and life achievements.. Its purpose is to elaborate on the information contained in your resume while infusing ...

  8. Cover Letter Format: Examples & Formatting Tips [2024]

    The job application letter format calls for a professional and formal greeting. Use "Dear" rather than "Hello" or "Hi" in your cover letter salutation, and address the reader by name. ... An email cover letter format differs slightly from a standard cover letter format. If the job description requires you to send your letter in the ...

  9. 60+ Cover Letter Examples in 2024 [For All Professions]

    Consultant Cover Letter Example #10. Digital Marketing Cover Letter Example #11. Graphic Designer Cover Letter Example #12. Administrative Assistant Cover Letter Example #13. Front Desk Cover Letter Example #14. Human Resources Cover Letter Example #15. Sales Agent Cover Letter Example #16.

  10. How to Format a Cover Letter: Examples for 2024

    In a nutshell, this is how to format a cover letter: Use one-inch margins, single line spacing, and 11 to 12-pt font. In the top-left corner, put your contact details, city and date, and the employer's contact details. Open with a personal salutation.

  11. Cover Letter Format (w/ Examples & Free Templates)

    Check out our guide on how to start a cover letter effectively! #4. Cover Letter Body. The body of your cover letter usually consists of 1-3 paragraphs and is where you convince the recruiter that you're the right person for the job. We have a few pointers to help you do that: Don't just rehash your CV.

  12. How to Write a Letter of Application (Example & Tips)

    No hard numbers. "I worked in a team and provided customer service to elderly residents". 5. Choose engaging words for your application letter. Your letter of application's length should be 250 to 400 words or 3 to 4 paragraphs — long enough to get your point across but short enough that the reader won't lose interest.

  13. Cover Letter Template (With Tips and Examples)

    Cover letter example. Examples statements in the first paragraph of your cover letter that will showcase the value you bring to a company, and express your excitement. Here is an example cover letter following the above template. Please keep in mind that your cover letter will vary depending on the employers and jobs you're applying for.

  14. Free Cover Letter Templates [Customize & Download]

    This straightforward cover letter template free download places your name front and center. Executive. The elegant design of this sample cover letter template commands attention. Managerial. Make a bold statement with this modern cover letter template, which offers customizable colors and fonts. Original.

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    We've got examples of four types of cover letters below: a traditional cover letter, an impact cover letter, a writing sample cover letter, and a career change cover letter. So let's take a look at these examples, why they work, and how you can use them to craft your own. 1. The traditional cover letter example.

  16. How to write the perfect cover letter (With examples)

    1. Begin by introducing yourself. To start your cover letter, introduce yourself. This means including your full name, your specific interest in the position and the reasons you've chosen to apply. If you got a referral to the job from another party, ensure to mention this in the first paragraph. 2.

  17. How to Write a General Cover Letter (w/ Templates & Tips!)

    When You're Attending a Job Fair #3. When You're Applying Through a Referral General Cover Letter Text Template Steps to Writing a General Cover Letter #1. Add Contact Information #2. Address the Hiring Manager #3. Start with a Strong Opening #4. Use the Body for Details #5.

  18. How to Format a Cover Letter in 2024

    Here's a breakdown of how a cover letter should be structured: 1. Add your name and contact information to the header. At the top of your cover letter, include the following information: Name: Your full name should be the focal point of your cover letter's header, so use a large font size and bold text. Phone number.

  19. Sample Cover Letter for a Job Application

    Sample Cover Letter for a Job Application. By. Alison Doyle. Updated on April 9, 2024. In This Article. View All. Photo: Alex Dos Diaz / The Balance. Review a sample job application letter, and get tips for writing a strong cover letter that will get your application noticed.

  20. How to Write a Cover Letter When You're Changing Careers (Sample + Tips)

    How to write a career change cover letter. A cover letter is a chance to expand upon the bullet points outlined in your resume. It's a space where you can explain your interest in the role and company, highlight your experience and skills, and sell a recruiter on the overall fit you'd make. But a career changer needs to do all of that and more.

  21. The 11 Best Cover Letter Examples of 2024

    1. The professional cover letter. In this great cover letter example, the applicant landed an IT project management job by proving they had the required project management skills and experience while providing highlights from their career: Include hard numbers in your cover letter to impress the employer.

  22. How to Write an Effective Cover Letter for Career Changers

    While cover letters aren't always required for job applications (and some people even think they're unnecessary), crafting a concise and focused letter is still a great exercise. Why you're making a career change is bound to come up in interviews, so it's good to be able to articulate your reasons for doing so confidently.