What to Include in a Cover Letter for a Job

When writing a cover letter, specific information needs to be included: a contact section, a salutation, an introduction to the hiring manager, information on why you are qualified for the job, a closing, and your signature. The way the information is listed and the format depend on how you are sending your letter. 

The goal of your cover letter is to make a case for getting selected for a job interview, so it's important to include all required information along with a compelling argument that you're a strong candidate for the position.

It can be time consuming to write a custom cover letter for each job you apply for, but it's important to take the time and effort to show the company why you are a good match. The more you and your skills match the job description, the higher your chances of getting picked for an interview.

Include information in your letter about how you have the requirements the employer is seeking. Don't simply repeat what's in your resume. Your resume lists your skills, but your cover letter should be an opportunity to highlight how you have put those skills to use.

Before you start writing, take the time to review cover letter examples, then make sure that your letter explains how your skills relate to the criteria listed in the job posting. Looking at examples of effective cover letters will give you a starting point for creating your own letter.

Here's what to include in a cover letter to send with a resume when you apply for a job.

01
What to List in a Cover Letter Contact Section

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When writing a cover letter to mail or to upload to a job board or company website, the first section of your cover letter should include information on how the employer can contact you.

When you send an email cover letter, include your contact information in your signature instead of listing your contact information at the top of the message.

02
Choose a Cover Letter Salutation

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It's important to include an appropriate salutation at the beginning of the cover letter or message. If you have a contact person for your letter, be sure to include their name in your letter. Consider salutation examples that are appropriate for cover letters and other employment-related correspondence.

03
The Body Section of a Cover Letter

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The body is the most important part of a cover letter or an email message applying for employment. The body of a cover letter includes the paragraphs where you explain why you are interested in and qualified for the posted job. Be specific by referencing in this part of the letter the employer's job requirements as listed in the job posting.

04
Include Keywords in Your Letter

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Including keywords related to the jobs for which you are applying in your cover letters can help you get selected for a job interview. These are specific words hiring managers look for when considering applications. As hiring processes have become automated, online applicant tracking systems are programmed to search for keywords.

05
Choose an Appropriate Closing

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Make sure to close your letter in a professional manner. Casual closings as you would write to a friend or a family member are not appropriate in a letter to a potential employer. 

06
How to Add Your Signature to the Letter

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What is included in a cover letter signature depends on whether you are sending or uploading a cover letter document or using an email message as your cover letter. Hard copies of letters should be signed by hand. Scanning your signature to include on PDFs can be a nice touch, while emails should include a professional electronic signature that includes your contact information.

07
Review a Cover Letter Sample

Screenshot of a cover letter template

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Here's an example of the final product, including information on why the applicant would be an excellent candidate with a summary of his qualifications for the job. When you're sending an email cover letter (see below) your contact information should be listed after your signature.

John Bigham
111 Maple Street
Anytown, MA 02222
555-555-5555

September 1, 2018

Shaun Lee
Human Resources
Goodspring
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321

Dear Mr. Lee:

I am writing to state my interest in the position of Assistant to the Director of Goodspring. I believe that my work experience and education have equipped me with the skills necessary to be a successful candidate for this position. 

During my years with XYZ Wellness, I have been responsible for everything from accounting, bookkeeping, marketing and maintaining records to scheduling appointments and greeting clients and their families at the door. I have proudly overseen our growth from a startup business to a well-respected contributor to the community. 

I have also been in charge of organizing our very successful annual golf fundraiser and dinner. Last year, we raised $145,000 for our local homeless shelter. 

Your mission is an important one, and I would very much appreciate the opportunity to speak with you about how I can contribute to your team and help you continue to provide the services so vital to our community. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

John Bigham (signature hard copy letter)

John Bigham

08
What to Include in an Email Cover Letter

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The body of an email cover letter should contain the same information as a document cover letter, but two big differences are the subject line and your contact information. Many employers ask that specific information is included in the subject line, and you must follow those instructions carefully. Contact information should be included with your electronic signature.

09
What Not to Include in a Cover Letter

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Don't go overboard. Including too much information can hinder your chances of getting an interview. Keep your letter concise and focused, and don't include extraneous details.