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With the right tools and resources, you can write a professional cover letter with ease. That's why we put together comprehensive step-by-step tips to help you learn how to write a cover letter that is customized to your career achievements. Check out Hloom's expert advice and get ready to write your own cover letter to win that interview.

Cover Letter Sections You Should Include

  • Contact Information

    You should not overlook this cover letter section or think that this section is not valued by hiring managers since it creates the first impression. Keep the tone professional by using a professional name, not a nickname. Use a professional email address, too. It goes without saying that your contact information must be current. An old phone number and closed email account will cause you to miss interview requests from potential employers.

    Contact Information Example

      Sara Tompkins

      M: 415.555.4444 | stompkins@example.com | www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-tompkins San Francisco, CA 94129

  • Salutation/Greeting

    Gone are the days of generic greetings, such as "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Sir or Madam." Thanks to the internet, it is easier to find out to whom your cover letter concerns, and if the reader is a sir or madam. It is best to address your cover letter to the person who will ultimately read it, such as "Dear Principal Margot Florent."

    You can often find the person's name on LinkedIn or the company website. If you search but cannot identify the person by name, then use the name of a senior member of the department and address your letter to that person. A logical guess is a step in the right direction. If you are feeling bold, you can call the organization to ask to learn more about the position, including the name of the hiring manager.

    If nothing works and you cannot find an appropriate name at all, then address your letter to the company itself, such as "Dear Gap Inc."

    We mentioned the importance of avoiding generic greetings, but it is equally important to avoid sounding chummy. For example, you wouldn't write to the president of an organization using "Hi, Sam." The professional salutation would be to start with "Dear," use the person's title and include first and last names.

    Salutation/Greeting Example

      Dear President Samuel Moore,

    For more help, try our downloadable cover letter templates.

  • Opening Statement

    The best cover letters show enthusiasm for the job you're applying for. If you have a personal connection to the company — perhaps you know an employee or you are a longtime fan of its products — state this in your opening paragraph. Consider sharing a story that captures your interest in the organization or the job itself.

    But what if you lack a personal connection? In this case, it's smart to research the company, identify something about it that excites you, then mention this in your opening statement. While showcasing your interest, remember to cover the basics: why you're applying for the job and how you learned about the opening.

    Once you have written your opening statement, begin making the case why you are the ideal candidate for the position. Make your declaration brief. (You will write more on your case in your body paragraphs.) Support your stance by quickly addressing your experience or skill set. Remember, do not go into details yet.

    Many job seekers miss the chance of earning an interview because they fail to captivate their audience at the beginning of the cover letter. You can make this interview-killing mistake in two ways: starting with an uninspired statement, or writing about your needs instead of the employer's. Openers like "I am writing to express interest in the editorial assistant position at Today's Bride magazine" will put the hiring manager to sleep. Similarly, an introduction that explains that "Working at Today's Bride magazine would help me further my journalism career" will make the hiring manager wonder if you want the job solely to climb another rung up your career ladder.

    Opening Statement Example

      I first read Today's Bride magazine in fall 2014, and immediately fell in love with its couture bridal photography, engaging articles and overall creativity. When I learned about your opening for an Editorial Assistant, I knew I had to apply. Because of my two years as an editor's assistant at Luxury Plate and five years of success as a sales associate at David's Bridal, I am confident that I am the best candidate to fill this position.

      I am excited to apply for the position of Marketing Manager at Pie in the Sky. The company has become a success story because your marketing team understands how the combination of humor and digital marketing techniques sparks viral content and speaks to the internet generation. As a creative person, I wish to use my writing skills and knowledge of trends and humor to help Pie in the Sky continue to "wow" its audiences with superior content.

  • Body: Paragraphs

    The writing of your second and third paragraphs are crucial. This is the space to craft your argument for the position. No matter how well you wrote your opening statement, you still must convince your audience to continue reading your cover letter. More importantly, your assertion has to persuade employers to grant you an interview.

    Build a case based on your most relevant professional or educational accomplishments. Tie these into the requirements stated in the job description. Use the language exactly as it appears. For example, if the job advertisement notes that the ideal candidate must have, "a strong understanding of calculus," then do not write "I excel in all areas of mathematics." Recruiters and employers may run cover letters and resumes through an applicant tracking system (ATS) that identifies top candidates based on the keywords in their cover letters and resumes. Mathematics is not the same as calculus to an ATS.

    Also, it is not enough to say that you are a hard worker. You must provide evidence, and inserting industry-recognized quantifiable metrics is the best way to do this. Take a close look at your professional accomplishments and find strong examples. If you helped a company earn or save money, then state the amount. Share the number of projects you completed in a given time frame. Note the number of people that you managed or trained. Even if your past positions did not use metrics, you can still find examples to share.

    It's easy to make writing mistakes in your cover letter that deter hiring managers from inviting you to interview. For starters, do not restate your resume. Instead, this is your chance to provide more context. If you include a claim on your resume, expand on it here. Another big mistake job seekers make is failing to tailor their claims to the employer's needs. For example, if you are applying for a job as an accountant, then it does not matter that you won awards for making the best lattes at a coffeehouse. What is important is that you can handle the potential job's challenges, and that might mean dealing with large numbers, as you did at the coffeehouse.

    Body Paragraph Example

      You need a sales manager who has experience running a high-volume store. In my last position at Blu, we attracted an average of 10,000 customers every day. Despite the hustle and bustle, under my leadership, the store's overall revenue increased by 10 percent during my first year in the position. I trained 15 new hires that year, and 10 of them — all of whom were just teenagers — worked for us for at least 18 months.

      I see that you prefer bilingual candidates with excellent listening skills. It is these two talents that helped me excel at Blu. Because the store is located in a dense shopping center, we attracted customers from all over the world. My fluency in Spanish and basic conversational skills in Tagalog helped me understand our customer's needs and what products were best for them. Better yet, my active listening capabilities helped me realize that we were not catering well to these customers. I listened to their complaints and worked with the store's owner to improve our customer service. As a result, we increased our number of repeat customers by approximately 20 percent. Thanks to this experience, I feel confident that I could successfully handle any responsibilities at B.DOT.

  • A Conclusion

    The conclusion of your cover letter is the final thing that potential employers will read before deciding whether or not to call you in for an interview. Therefore, it is critical to close on a strong professional note that makes your reader want to meet you.

    The best way to write a strong conclusion is to reaffirm that you are the best fit for the position, express gratitude for your reader's time, and repeat that you are interested in the job. Start your conclusion by summarizing your claims from the previous paragraphs. Remember to keep the employer's needs in mind as you do this. Keep it short — ideally, the hiring manager already read your entire argument.

    Next, state that you are interested in an interview. Be careful, though, because what you perceive as enthusiastic might sound aggressive to a potential employer. For example, do not say that you will follow up on a specific date. Unless it is explicitly shared in the job description, you do not know what their recruiting process is like and you may interrupt it. Rather, tell the employer that you would love a chance to chat with them and learn more about the opportunity.

    Last, thank your audience for their time and consideration. This demonstrates respect. Skipping this may make you look entitled and ruin your chance to become a candidate for the job. Sign off in a way that shows that you are serious about the position. Write "Sincerely," "Respectfully yours," or "Best regards."

    Conclusion Paragraph Example

      To summarize, I believe that I am a strong candidate for the Junior Engineer role at BART because I excelled in BART's internship program, this includes my team's first place win in the intern project challenge and consistently making accurate calculations. BART plays a necessary role in the Bay Area, so I would welcome the chance to learn more about the position and how I can help BART meet its needs.

      Thank you for your time and consideration.

      Sincerely,

      Kathryn Lucero