The Essential Elements of a Cover Letter

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When writing a cover letter to apply for a job, it's critical to include all the requisite information clearly and efficiently. If any elements are missing, it may very well disqualify you from consideration.

A cover letter is comprised of several parts: contact information, a salutation, the body of the cover letter, an appropriate closing, and a signature.

Parts of a Cover Letter

Contact Information
The first section or header includes your contact information: name, address, phone or cell phone and email address.

Go with a simple block, centered header, or get a little fancy with the design if you're sending a hard copy.  In an email, you can also list your contact info below your signature.

You can also include your employer's contact information, though this is more appropriate for a formal, hard copy letter.

Cover Letter Salutation
Getting a name to address your letter is imperative. Do your research to avoid the generic "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Sir or Madam" which looks unprofessional and like you didn't make an effort.  To get in gear, review samples of cover letter salutations.

Cover Letter Body
The body of your cover letter lets the employer know what position you are applying for, why the employer should select you for an interview, and how you will follow-up. This section of your cover letter includes:

  • First paragraph - Why you are writing. This is "the grab," your chance to grasp your reader by the collar and get his attention. Offer some specific focused information regarding the job you're seeking and a few core strengths that demonstrate suitability for the position.
  • Second paragraph - What you have to offer the employer. This is your hook where you highlight examples of the work performed and achieved results. Draw on your key competencies from you resume, though don't copy it word for word. Bullet points in this paragraph are effective in drawing your reader's eye to your successes.
  • Third paragraph - Your knowledge of the company. Show that you did you your research and know something about the business and how you can contribute to its mission.
  • Fourth paragraph - Your closing. Summarize what you would bring to the position and suggest next steps by requesting a meeting or suggesting a call.

Cover Letter Template
This template outlines the information you need to include in the cover letter. Use the cover letter template as a guideline to create customized cover letters.

How to Write a Cover Letter
How to write a cover letter, including what to include in your cover letter, cover letter format, targeted cover letters, and cover letter samples and examples.

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