When you’re applying for a job, it’s common for employers to request both a resume and a cover letter. In around three paragraphs, your cover letter should highlight what makes you a great fit for the job and motivate the hiring manager to set up an interview.
We’ve broken down everything you need to know about formatting a winning cover letter, plus an example to help you create your own.
Date and contact information
Start by including the date and your contact info in the top left of your letter. If you’re submitting a digital copy online, feel free to leave off your specific address and just use your city, province, phone number and email — and leave off the company and hiring manager’s contact information altogether:
Salutation / greeting
Try to find the name of the hiring manager so you can address them personally. This might be listed in the job description or the company website.
If you can’t find the hiring manager’s name, stick with “Dear Hiring Manager.” Avoid outdated greetings such as “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.”
This is your chance to catch the hiring manager’s attention, introduce yourself and express your enthusiasm for the role. You’ll want to make this paragraph specific to each job you apply for. Include why you’re excited about the job and the company and how the job aligns with your career goals. Avoid making this paragraph sound formulaic by including keywords from the job posting and matching your skills to the employer’s requirements.
Now it’s time to dig into your most relevant experience and talk about the specific qualifications and skills that make you the perfect candidate. In one or two paragraphs, make the connection between your previous accomplishments and your readiness for this new role.
Think of these paragraphs as a way to pitch yourself as the ideal match for the role. Avoid repeating the bullet points on your resume and instead include details that more deeply illustrate those highlights.
Use your closing paragraph to thank the employer for their time and consideration. You also have the option of making any clarifications. For example, you can justify any major gaps in your employment history. You can also use this space to reiterate your interest in continuing to the next stage in the hiring process.
Complimentary close and signature
Choose a complimentary closing that is friendly yet formal, followed by your first and last name. Closings you might consider include:
- Thank You for Your Consideration
Avoid closings such as Cheers, Warm Regards, Thanks a Ton, or Yours Truly, which may be considered too casual or affectionate.
Cover letter format example
Here is a cover letter example.
January 23, 2018
Dear Hiring Manager,
I’m excited to be applying for the Web Developer position at [Company Name]. I’ve been programming websites and using CSS to create user-friendly experiences since I was in middle school, so it’s always been a passion of mine. I’ve also been intrigued by your company ever since it won Most Innovative at the National Web Development Awards. I strive to stay on the cutting-edge of web design and development, so when I saw this job posting, I knew I had to apply.
During my previous role at [Company Name], I built a website from scratch for a recently rebranded business, both ahead of schedule and within budget. I started by gathering requirements from my clients and holding a focus group to perform user research. My favourite part about web design is building a solution that impresses the client and meets the needs of users and customers. My new website was responsive, lightning fast and included the latest e-commerce features. After launch, I continued to lead optimization efforts. Through A/B testing, I improved the click-through rate by 10% and reduced the bounce rate on the website’s landing page by 35%.
Thank you for your time and consideration.