BlogCover LettersHow to Write a Cover Letter in 2024 [Step-By-Step Guide]

How to Write a Cover Letter in 2024 [Step-By-Step Guide]

how to write a cover letter

Writing a cover letter isn’t most people’s idea of fun, especially if you aren’t much of a writer.

Still, whether you like it or not, a cover letter is a crucial part of your job application. 

Luckily, it doesn’t take a professional writer to craft the perfect cover letter that will help you secure your dream position!

That’s because the key to writing a 10/10 cover letter is knowing exactly what you need to write in each section. 

So, in this article, we will walk you through each step of writing a convincing cover letter, show you effective cover letter examples to get you inspired, and more.

Let’s dig in!

Key Takeaways

  • A cover letter is a document that complements your resume and briefly explains why you are ideally suited for the position and the company.

  • Greeting the hiring manager directly will help you grab the hiring manager’s attention and stand out from the other candidates.

  • A good cover letter opening paragraph should mention a few of your biggest achievements to secure the hiring manager’s attention.

  • In the body of your cover letter, focus on your skills, work experience, values, and similar.

  • Lastly, include a CTA in the closing paragraph and sign off your cover letter with a formal closing salutation.

What Is a Cover Letter & Why Do You Need One? 

cover letter

In a nutshell, a cover letter is a document that complements your resume when submitting your job application.

Most cover letters fit on a single page (or even half a page, depending on how much work experience you have) and are between 250 and 400 words.

The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself as a candidate and provide more information about your professional background. 

That said, your cover letter shouldn’t simply repeat what you’ve already put on your resume. Instead, a good cover letter should cover your professional background in greater detail and include any valuable information you didn’t get a chance to mention on your resume.

Ultimately, the goal of writing a cover letter is to convince the hiring manager that you’re exactly what they’re looking for—the perfect match both for the position and for the company.

Although some companies might not require a cover letter, it’s always a good idea to submit one. That’s because a well-written cover letter allows you to:

Show why and how your work experience and skills can benefit the company

  • Convey your interest in the position and the company

  • Demonstrate that you’re a highly motivated candidate 

  • Stand out from other candidates

Most importantly, just like your resume, your cover letter should always be tailored to the position you’re applying for.

What is the Typical Cover Letter Format? 

Although writing a compelling cover letter may seem like quite a feat, it’s not rocket science. All you need to do is follow a tried-and-tested cover letter structure.

So, instead of reinventing the wheel, just use this foolproof cover letter format:

Cover Letter Format

  • Header. All you need to do here is put in your contact information.

  • Greeting. Greet the hiring manager directly to make your cover letter stand out.

  • Opening paragraph. Attract the hiring manager’s attention by highlighting your professional achievements in the opening paragraph.

  • First body paragraph. Use this paragraph to explain what makes you the ideal candidate for the position. 

  • Second body paragraph. In this paragraph, explain why you want to work at the company and what makes you the ideal fit for the company.

  • Closing paragraph. To make an impact, add a call to action to your closing paragraph.

  • Formal closing. Add a formal closing salutation and your name, and you’re good to go!

Of course, if needed, your cover letter can have more than two body paragraphs. Still, it’s important that you keep your cover letter contained within a single page.

And here’s a real-life example of a typical cover letter format:

[graphic that shows the structure of a cover letter]

How to Write a Job-Landing Cover Letter (Step-by-Step)

Now that you know the basics of writing a cover letter, let’s see how you can craft a job-winning cover letter yourself in 9 simple steps!

#1. Decide How You’ll Build Your Cover Letter 

Before you actually start writing your cover letter, you need to consider what you’ll use to actually write it.

Most candidates will likely use Word or another text editor to write their cover letters. Although it does the job, this option can be time-consuming since you’re starting with a completely blank page.

On top of that, all text editor cover letters virtually look the same. However, to be invited to a job interview and land your dream job, you must stand out from other candidates. Well, if you’re looking for an easy way to make your cover letter stand out, we have a solution for you—just use our professional cover letter templates! Besides helping you save time, our cover letter templates are also visually appealing. Moreover, with our templates, you can match your cover letter to your resume to impress the hiring manager and leave a lasting impression! [graphic that shows matching resume and cover letter templates]

#2. Add Contact Information to the Header 

To start your cover letter, simply write down your and the company’s contact information in the header. 

Here are all your contact details you need to include:

Contact Details To Include

  • Your name and last name

  • Your phone number

  • Your email address

  • Date

Optionally, you can also add:

  • Your professional title

  • Your location (city and state/country)

  • Links to social media profiles (LinkedIn, Binance, GitHub, etc.)and your personal website (only if relevant to the job you’re applying for)

Easy, right?

Still, there are some things you should keep in mind to leave a good impression. In particular, here’s what you don’t want to put in your header:

What Not To Put In Your Header

  • Unprofessional email address. Think, which email address would make you look more professional and reliable: jamesgordon@gmail.com or jimbozilla@gmail.com? Generally speaking, your best bet is an email address that simply mentions your name and last name. Otherwise, the recruiter might assume that you don’t take the position seriously. 

  • Current work email address. Sending your cover letter from a work email address is disrespectful to both your current and future employers.

  • Your full address. The company doesn’t need to know your full address—it’s more than enough to include your city and state/country.

Once you’re done filling in your contact details, make sure to add the hiring manager’s full name/professional title, as well as the company’s name and address.

So, here are examples of what to do (and not to do) when adding your contact information to a cover letter:

Incorrect Example

Joe Brown Data Analyst 012-345-6789 joeythebrownie@gmail.com 1206 Stratford Court, Bridgeport, Nebraska

Correct Example

Joe Brown Data Analyst 012-345-6789 joebrown@gmail.com Bridgeport, NE

#3. Address the Hiring Manager Directly 

Once you’ve filled in the contact details, it’s time to greet the hiring manager.

Now, you might assume that this means simply writing the usual “Dear Sir/Madam,” but let’s be honest—this is how 99% of candidates start their cover letters.

Since the greeting might be one of the first things the hiring manager will see, you want it to stand out so they keep reading your cover letter.

How? The secret is to greet the hiring manager directly by their name as such:

Correct Examples

  • Dear Monica

  • Dear Monica Williams

  • Dear Miss Evans

  • Dear Ms. Johnson

  • Dear Mrs. Taylor

  • Dear Mr. Murphy

This way, you’ll immediately let the hiring manager know that you’ve customized your cover letter for the job AND researched the company.

So, here are some places where you can find the hiring manager’s name:

  • Job listing

  • Company’s website

  • Company’s social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)

But what if you scoured the internet for the hiring manager’s name and still couldn’t find it? 

Well, then your best bet is to use “Dear [Department] Hiring Manager” or simply “Dear Hiring Manager.” While not exactly specific, these greetings are still less overused than “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom it may concern.”

Tip

Try to match your cover letter greeting to the company’s culture. If you’re applying for a job at a hip startup, for example, you might want to greet the hiring manager by their first name. If you aren’t sure, however, your safest option is to stick with their last name.

#4. Use the Opening Paragraph to Capture Attention 

Now that we’ve covered the header and the greeting, let’s dive into the heart of your cover letter, starting with the opening paragraph.

Here’s the deal: most hiring managers receive dozens, if not hundreds, of applications every day. This means that unless you prove that your cover letter is worth reading right from the get-go, they’ll likely toss it into the recycle bin.

For this reason, you want to write an introduction to your cover letter, or an opening paragraph, that will instantly capture the recruiter’s attention.

Here’s an example of a typical opening paragraph that you’ll see on most candidates' cover letters:

Incorrect Example

My name is Nathan, and I am writing to express my interest in the IT Technical Support Specialist position at your company. Having worked as a Customer Service Representative for the past two years, I am confident that I’m the right person for the position.

The truth is, other applicants will have years of experience too. Many of them might have even more years of relevant work experience than you. As such, mentioning how long you have been working in a specific field isn’t nearly enough to help you land a job.

So, how can you stand out from other candidates and get the hiring manager to fully read your cover letter? 

The answer is simple: by focusing on your top achievements

In short, listing 2-4 of your biggest professional accomplishments will show the hiring manager the value you can bring to their company. 

Here’s an example of a cover letter opening paragraph that will surely capture the hiring manager’s attention and make them consider hiring you:

Correct Example

My name is Nathan, and I’m looking to contribute to Company X’s success as an IT Technical Support Specialist by providing top-quality service for your customers and helping them use your software to its full potential. In my two years of working as a Tier 2 Customer Service Representative at Company Y, I’ve assisted 8,000+ customers. I’ve resolved customer issues in 92% of cases without having to refer them to Tier 2 or higher tier customer support, and I’ve consistently maintained a >95% customer satisfaction rate.

#5. Convince Them You’re the Ideal Match for the Position 

You now know how to write a cover letter introduction to grab the recruiter’s attention. Let’s see how you can secure it with the second paragraph of your cover letter!

The point of the second paragraph is to prove to the hiring manager that you have exactly what they’re looking for

This means that you first need to open the job listing and see what the company’s main requirements for the candidate are. From there, all you need to do is identify the skills and work experience that show you fulfill these requirements.

So, let’s say you want to apply for the UX designer position, and the main company’s requirements are as follows:

  1. 4 years of experience in UX design

  2. Expert-level skill in UX software

  3. Expert knowledge of content publishing systems

  4. Understanding of accessibility in the context of digital service design

  5. Strong teamwork skills

Now, take a look at these two examples of cover letters:

Incorrect Example

I was a UX/UI Designer at Company X. I’ve made many websites easy to use for all kinds of users. I have experience with UX software and CMS, too.

Correct Example

I have been working as a UX/UI Designer at Company X for the past 6 years, where I collaborated with design and engineering teams to design, develop, and implement user-friendly graphics and interfaces. Most notably, I have identified and resolved accessibility flaws in 10+ websites, making them easily usable and accessible for people with visual and hearing disabilities.

As a UX/UI designer, I have expert knowledge of the following software and tools:

  • Figma

  • Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop

  • InVision

  • Origami Studio

  • WordPress

  • Joomla

It’s not difficult to see why the second example works much better. Unlike the first one, it doesn’t just talk about the candidate’s accomplishments. Instead, it makes use of measurable results and numbers to show that they’re qualified for the position.

#6. Show You’re the Perfect Fit for the Company 

Untitled design (85)

Once you’ve written a compelling second paragraph, you’re almost there! Your next step is to convince the hiring manager that you aren’t just the ideal match for the position but also for the company.

To achieve this, you want to express your motivation to work for this particular company. 

Now, most candidates don’t pay too much attention to this part of their cover letters, but you shouldn’t take this step lightly

Studies show that 90% of employers believe that finding a candidate that fits the company’s culture is very important. And not without good reason: if you don’t fit in, you’ll eventually quit your job. Aside from bringing the company back to the starting point where they have to look for a new employee, it can also be costly.

That said, showing the hiring manager that you’ll fit right in can easily give you an edge over your competition!

Here’s what you need to do to write a convincing third paragraph in your cover letter:

  1. Research the company

  2. Identify facts, values, services, products, mission, or anything else that you like about the company

  3. Put it into text!

Not that difficult, right? 

So, let’s see an example. Let’s say that you’re applying for a receptionist position at a hostel. Here’s what you could write in your cover letter to show that you’d be a great fit for the company:

Correct Example

As a seasoned solo traveler, I’ve stayed in 40+ hostels in Europe and Asia, including budget hostels, boutique hostels, youth hostels, and more. However, I’ve yet to see a hostel that focuses on communal living as much as Hostel X does, which is one of the main reasons why I’m very excited about the opportunity to help Hostel X prosper.

As a creative and team-minded person, I’m looking forward to contributing to the community of Hostel X by doing more than welcoming travelers at the front desk. In particular, I would love to organize artistic activities, such as art therapy and dance classes, to promote one of the main values of Hostel X—creative development.

And here’s an example you shouldn’t follow:

Incorrect Example

I’d love to work at Hostel X because I love traveling and I have stayed in many hostels. Because of this, I know how hostels work and how to make them a welcoming space for travelers from all over the world.

See the difference? 

The second example is too generic—it could be applied to virtually any hospitality business. 

The first example, on the other hand, gives a glimpse into the candidate’s personality and interests. It also shows the hostel manager that they’ve come across a candidate that will easily fit into the hostel’s culture.

#7. Finish Your Cover Letter with a Call to Action

Before you sign off, don’t forget to finish your cover letter the right way - by including a call to action.

Besides helping you stand out from other candidates, adding a call to action also allows you to show that you can take initiative and you’re passionate about landing the job. This alone can leave a lasting impression on the hiring manager!

So, here’s how to end your cover letter in a memorable way:

How To End Your Cover Letter

  1. If you didn’t have the chance to mention something of value in your cover letter, include it in your closing paragraph.

  2. Express your gratitude to the hiring manager.

  3. Add a call to action. 

Here’s an example of an effective closing paragraph with a call to action:

Correct Example

Thanks for taking the time to read my cover letter and resume. I’d appreciate the opportunity to meet and discuss how my skills and work experience could help Company X achieve its goals over an interview. If you need any additional details, please don’t hesitate to reach me at [phone number or email address]. 

And here are some things you should avoid in your closing paragraph:

What To Avoid In Your Closing Paragraph

  • Appearing desperate. Yes, your closing paragraph should convey your enthusiasm, but avoid coming off as needy or desperate.

  • Appearing arrogant. You don’t want to sell yourself short, but keep in mind that there’s a fine line between being confident and being arrogant. So, don’t act like you already got the job and make sure to thank the hiring manager—a little politeness goes a long way.

  • Appearing selfish. Whenever possible, focus on what you can bring to the table instead of looking for personal gain.

  • Appearing generic. Try to avoid the typical phrases most candidates will use (e.g. “Thank you for your time and consideration.”) to make your cover letter stand out.

With that in mind, here are two examples of cover letter closing paragraphs you definitely don’t want to follow:

Incorrect Example

Thank you for your time and consideration. I really want to learn more about email marketing and improve my skills, so it would mean the world to me if you considered my application. I honestly believe I’m the right person for the position, and I truly hope to get a call from you soon. Thank you once again!

And here’s the second one:

Incorrect Example

I am confident that everything I’ve mentioned above proves that I’m the perfect fit for the position. Contact me at [phone number or email address] to schedule an interview so we can discuss this further. 

#8. Close Your Cover Letter Professionally

Finally, there’s one last thing left to write—a formal cover letter closing

There’s not much you can mess up here, but you should avoid overly casual sign offs, such as “Yours truly,” “Bye,” and “Fondly.”

Generally, you can’t go wrong with “Sincerely,” but if you want something different, here are some great sign off options for closing your cover letter:

Sign Off Options For Closing Your Cover Letter

  • Sincerely yours,

  • Kind regards,

  • Best regards,

  • Thank you,

  • Regards,

  • Thank you for your consideration,

  • With best regards.

And, of course, add your full name. Here’s a good example:

Correct Example

Sincerely, Larry Smith

And here’s an example of what you shouldn’t do:

Incorrect Example

Cheers, Larry

Tip

To increase your chances of securing the interview, consider including a P.S. where you mention something you’ve left off your cover letter and invite the hiring manager to reach out for more information!

#9. Proofread Your Cover Letter

Once you’ve written a formal closing salutation, it’s time to revise and proofread your cover letter. This will help you ensure you’ve included all the necessary information and didn’t make any typos or grammar errors.

If you aren’t confident in your writing abilities, no worries! You can use a typing assistant software such as Grammarly to detect and correct any mistakes.

One thing you should keep in mind, however, is that noticing mistakes in your own writing can be difficult. This boils down to the fact that after you finish a piece of writing, such as a cover letter, your brain becomes blind to the details in your writing. So, you might also want to ask a friend or family member to read your cover letter and provide feedback.

As a bonus, we’ve made a cover letter checklist so you can easily see whether your cover letter is nothing short of perfect! Here you go:

Cover Letter Writing Checklist

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If you’ve answered “Yes” to all the questions above, you’re ready to attach your cover letter to your job application and land your dream job!

Don’t want to spend time formatting your cover letter and checking whether it includes all the essential parts? Use the Resume.co cover letter builder to create the perfect cover letter in minutes!

7 Compelling Cover Letter Examples

Now that you know all about how to write a cover letter, here are some real-life cover letter samples that can help you do it more efficiently:

Example #1

Abigail Wilson Digital Marketing Manager 012-345-6789 abigailwilson@gmail.com Seattle, WA linkedin.com/in/abigailwilson4 To: Mary Adams Human Resources Manager Company X 123 Employment Street Seattle, WA Dear Ms. Adams, My name is Abigail, and I’d like to join Company X as a Digital Marketing Manager to help it meet and exceed marketing and sales targets. I’ve been a Marketing Manager at Company Y for 6+ years, where I oversaw and coordinated the launch of 23 marketing campaigns for organic luxury skincare product lines, bringing in a total of over 1.6 billion in revenue. In my previous role at Company Y, I managed a $2.5 million annual marketing budget and supervised a team of 13 marketing specialists, copywriters, and graphic designers. Having a results-oriented approach to my work enabled me to optimize Company X’s digital marketing strategy and online presence, which resulted in a 63% growth in website traffic and increased the conversion rate by 35% in the first quarter of 2022. Specifically, my areas of expertise include:

  • SEO

  • Social media marketing

  • Email marketing

  • Content marketing

I’d love to have the opportunity to use my skills and experience to help Company X achieve its goals. Having been a vegetarian for nearly a decade, I’ve tried the entire line of your plant-based meat products, and I must admit that they’re some of the best, if not the best, meat analogues I’ve ever tried. I especially enjoy your plant-based protein patties, and they’ve easily become a staple of my family’s diet thanks to their taste and nutritional value. However, my admiration for your company goes far beyond your products. I genuinely believe in what Company X stands for, and I personally identify with your mission of sustainability and eco-friendliness. As someone who does their best to minimize their household’s carbon footprint, I am very excited about helping Company X spread its message. For these reasons, I strongly believe that Company X and I will be a great match. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to consider my application. I’d love to further discuss how I could contribute to the success of Company X over an interview at your earliest convenience, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at abigailwilson@gmail.com or 012-345-6789. Sincerely, Abigail Wilson

What Follows After You’ve Crafted the Perfect Cover Letter?

Here’s the thing—no matter how good your cover letter is, it’s a complementary addition to your resume and not a replacement for it. 

So, before you submit your job application, you need to create an impressive resume that highlights your professional background.

If you want to save time but still impress the hiring manager by matching your resume to your cover letter, consider using our resume templates! 

Besides, they look much better than text editor/Word resumes! See it for yourself:

Once you submit your job application (containing both your cover letter and your resume), you’re all set to start preparing for your job interview. Here are some tried-and-tested interview tips that will help you ace it:

Tips To Ace Your Interview

  • Read the job ad. Underline the company’s requirements for the job and think about how you can show the recruiter that your skills and work experience make you the ideal candidate.

  • Research the company. Before going to the interview, research the company, their values, mission, etc. to identify how they align with your goals and values. This way, you can prove that you’d be a valuable addition to their team.

  • Go through the most common interview questions. Instead of answering questions on the spot, take time to prepare and rehearse answers to the most popular interview questions. This way, you can also minimize stress during the interview.

  • Prepare questions. To show your interest in the company and the position, make sure to prepare some questions for the interviewer.

FAQs About Cover Letters

#1. How necessary is a cover letter? 

A cover letter is an essential part of your job application. Although some companies don’t ask you to submit a cover letter, you can’t go wrong with writing one in any case. 

That’s because a cover letter provides more details on your professional background. It also proves that you have not only the necessary work experience but also the right motivation to work at the company.

#2. What should you avoid in a cover letter?

One of the most common cover letter mistakes is focusing too much on personal gain

As a general rule, you want your cover letter to show the value that you can bring to the company. So, avoid focusing too much on yourself and highlight how you can meet the company’s needs instead.

#3. Should I use the word “I” in a cover letter? 

Yes, you can use the word “I” in your cover letter. That said, make sure not to overuse it. Otherwise, you might come across as arrogant and self-centered. 

If you find yourself using “I” too often, consider rewording your sentences in a way that allows you to reduce the use of this word.” For example, “I am skilled in…” -> “My skill set includes…”

#4. What do employers look for in a cover letter? 

When reading your cover letter, the main thing employers look for is to see whether you are the right candidate for the job and the company. 

For this reason, it’s important that you tailor your cover letter for the job. Your cover letter should  highlight your achievements, work experience, and skills, as well as express your motivation to work for that particular company.

Henry Garrison
Henry Garrison
Senior Content Writer
Henry Garrison is a senior content writer, but he is also a guitarist, a baseball fan, and a family man. He has years of experience in the industry, and he loves challenging himself and thinking outside the box. His passion is writing high-quality content that helps thousands of people land their dream job! He has had his fair share of editing content too, and loves to help out everyone in the team.

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