1. Examples
  2. General

General Cover Letter Example

You’ve developed an excellent resume. What a relief! But you’re not finished with your job application package. It’s time to write a stellar cover letter. That blank page can be scary, but the tips below will help you grab that interview.
4.7
Average rating
68 people’ve already rated it
General Cover Letter Example
Edit This Cover Letter

A job application is much more than a resume. You may be asked to provide a portfolio or other examples of your work, take a skills or personality test, or offer your LinkedIn or other social media profiles as supplemental materials. Most likely, you will be asked to include a cover letter with your documents. 

You know that hunting for a job requires you to put your best self out there. Your resume covers the highlights of your career, but your cover letter has the potential to really give your prospective employer a feel for who you are and what you’ll bring to the organization.

You have a resume you’re proud of (if you’re still working on it, we have a guide to help you there too), but the cover letter can be a more challenging task because it is completely open-ended … or is it? In this guide, paired with an expert-written cover letter example, you will learn how to grab the attention of recruiters so that you get that interview. Keep reading for tips and hints on

  • What the purpose of a cover letter is
  • How to structure a cover letter and which paragraphs to include
  • Getting the most out of each section (header, greeting, intro, body, and conclusion)
  • What to highlight in the text of your cover letter
  • Avoiding common errors when writing your cover letter.

What’s the purpose of a cover letter?

The main purpose of a cover letter is to round out the basic information you provided in your resume. Within that document, you have only 3-4 lines to express your personality in complete sentences and one or two pages to detail the last decade of your working life.

That’s where a cover letter comes in. A bulleted item in your employment history section cannot do justice to the fact that you taught 10 seventh graders to read during Covid while suggesting politely that they keep their masks over their noses. A cover letter gives you room to express how you accomplished that (and kept your sanity). It also tells your prospective employer what’s important to you by the very fact that you chose to write about it.

Certainly, if you are applying for any kind of job that requires writing or attention to detail, your cover letter is a wonderful showcase. You never know who your witty turn of phrase will impress – as long as you keep it professional.

Your cover letter also affords you the opportunity to explain gaps in your work experience, how the skills from your old career translate to the one you’re embarking on now, or simply why this job at this company. If you’re new to the working world, you can use this page to convince employers that your lack of experience doesn’t mean you lack skills and worth ethic.

Finally, a cover letter gives you yet another opportunity to choose your top three or four achievements and highlight them again.

Expert tip

Does anyone read cover letters?

The answer is a resounding “Maybe.” You can find human resources personnel on both sides of this divide, but ask yourself this question: Why would employers ask for a cover letter if they weren’t going to take it into account?

Perhaps they simply want to see if you read the listing. Even in that case, you still need to write the cover letter, so you may as well make it count.

Going the extra mile probably won’t hurt, but if there’s only one case where your prose gets you an interview, that’s one more opportunity than you had before.

Best format for a cover letter

Now that you know you’re going to write that cover letter, you need to know that while it may seem unstructured, there are parts it must contain. 

The format of a cover letter should contain the following elements:

  • The cover letter header
  • The greeting (or salutation)
  • The cover letter introduction
  • The middle paragraphs (body of the letter)
  • The ending paragraph of your cover letter (conclusion and call-to-action)
Expert tip

Resume.io is an expert resource for job seekers in all fields and at all levels of their careers. For general information on putting together a cover letter, read our comprehensive cover letter guide or check out our collection of 180+ adaptable cover letter examples and writing guides!

If you are just starting out in your career, you can use your academic accomplishments, volunteer activities, or extracurriculars to show your skills. Your letter should focus more on why you chose the career, your goals for your first job, and the interpersonal and general job skills you have already demonstrated.

This cover letter example will give you a blueprint for writing your own cover letter:

Adaptable cover letter example

Dear Mr. North,

My experience of managing teams through change has taught me that if you put people first, everything else will fall into place. I led a team through a turbulent 18 months of downsizing at Labsworth, while a blistering period of growth at Pine Inc. provided an entirely different experience. No matter what the trajectory of the company is, there are lessons to be learned.

Upon the completion of my MBA last year, I understood that I wanted to pursue a management role with an international dimension. I have never used my native Spanish in a business context and feel that your expansion into South America will allow me to employ my change management skills in a cultural setting that is familiar to me.

In a start-up, it is important to employ people with both operational and commercial expertise. I have negotiated contracts worth $9.5m, improved delivery efficiencies by 12%, redesigned warehouse packing flows, overseen staff disputes, and driven profitability to industry-leading levels. In my last year at Pine, I spearheaded three initiatives to improve the net profit from 5.2% to 6.1%. Profits improve when everything is considered.

I believe in letting my teams dictate the direction of their development. I have experience working with HR to design training modules, something that is particularly useful in a start-up. I enjoy the creativity and challenge of working out how to get the most out of a diverse set of professionals. 60% of my former team have enjoyed promotions over the past five years.

I cannot wait to find out more about your international expansion plans and hope that I am well-placed to assist.

Sincerely,

Lara Fernandez

Copied!

Cover letter header

The cover letter header has two functions: it presents your contact information and it gives a design flourish to this otherwise black and white document.

Display your name prominently and legibly, along with the phone number and email you check regularly. You definitely don’t want to wait too long or even miss the opportunity when a recruiter reaches out to schedule an interview or ask a few follow-up questions.

If you are new to the job market, make sure you acquire a professional email address. Use first name dot last name or first initial dot last name if possible. You may need to add your middle initial or a few numbers if your name is more common. There’s no better way to negate your professional image than with that jokey email you created for your college friends.

The goal of the header: Create an eye-catching design that also allows recruiters to get a hold of you easily.

Expert tip

Align document styles

Your resume and cover letter are part of a complete application package so they should have a cohesive look. Coordinate the fonts and colors you use in all your documents. That looks more professional, but also means that if the pages in your file get separated, they are easily reunited.

If you don’t want the hassle of formatting and designing your own application, try a tool builder such as the one at Resume.io, which offers resume templates and cover letter templates to match.

Cover letter greeting

Although it is only a few words, those words count. The cover letter greeting sets the tone for the rest of your document, but it also gives you a chance to start off on the right foot by naming the person to whom you are writing.

Brain imaging studies have shown that our brains involuntarily respond to the sound of our own names. Take that well-known quote from Dale Carnegie to heart: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language” when you start your cover letter.

Do your due diligence to find out who will be reading your letter. Some job listings include the name of the person to whom you should direct your application. If not, you can often find this information on the company website under “About Us,” “Leadership,” “Staff Directory” or a similar category. LinkedIn is another helpful source, especially if you are linked to anyone who works there. If that is the case, you may also choose to let them know you are applying and see if they have any other information they are willing to share.

Expert tip

Get the name right

After you’ve gone through the trouble of finding the correct person to address, make sure you spell their name right! There’s no faster way to turn someone off than to get their name wrong.

More than just the spelling, check on the honorific and title they prefer. Some people list their preferred pronouns in their bios. If not, a phone call can help you there. Also, check to see if the person has earned the title “Doctor.” People can be prickly about this oversight. After all, earning a doctorate is no small feat.

You can always call the company directly and ask. If all your efforts come up empty, You may begin your cover letter with a greeting such as “Dear People Department” or “Dear Editorial Staff.” We do not recommend using the old-fashioned and stilted “ To Whom It May Concern .”

The goal of the greeting: Set the tone for your letter and warm up the hiring person by using their name and correct title.

To Whom It May Concern
To Whom It May Concern

Cover letter introduction

You’ve gotten off on the right track, with the correct person’s name, now your task is to pique their interest with an intriguing cover letter introduction. This paragraph serves as far more than an introduction to your career, it is the attention-getter that leaves them wanting more.

Right off the bat, you need to set a professional tone. Depending on your career, you may need to be precise and serious or a bit playful and creative. An emotional and passionate tone is appropriate for an elementary school teacher, for example, but not for a bank loan officer. Also, the key to the decision on tone is the company you are targeting. Is it a startup with a foosball table in the conference room or a Fortune 500 company where the managers wear business suits?

The best way to entice an HR professional to read on is to answer the question: Why should I hire you? Don’t be shy here! Explain how you will fill the needs of your prospective employer and how your experience will add value to their team.

The aim of the cover letter intro: Put your most important message out front in a tone that matches that of your profession and the company. Leave them wanting more.

Below are the greeting and introduction from our cover letter sample.

Adaptable cover letter example for a greeting and introduction

Dear Mr. North,

My experience of managing teams through change has taught me that if you put people first, everything else will fall into place. I led a team through a turbulent 18 months of downsizing at Labsworth, while a blistering period of growth at Pine Inc. provided an entirely different experience. No matter what the trajectory of the company is, there are lessons to be learned.

Copied!

Cover letter middle part (body)

You’ve reached the heart of your cover letter. Within the middle part, or body, you will build on the message you delivered in your intro. The reader may be thinking, “So, you are an excellent software engineer. Of course, you’re going to tell me that. How do I REALLY know?” This is where you convince them.

How do you accomplish that? You choose your greatest achievement – the one that increased company profits, earned you accolades, or made a parent cry for joy – and detail it. Explain the situation you faced, the actions you took (giving proper credit to others on your team), and your outstanding results. Take care to describe the soft skills as well as the hard skills you used to accomplish this success.

Expert tip

Your portfolio, if career appropriate, will play a big role. (Make sure you link to it from your resume or cover letter using an online builder tool such as the one from Resume.io.) 

To avoid a dense page of type, you may choose to enumerate several other career achievements in a bulleted list. These can be more fleshed out than the ones you have developed for your resume, but you don’t need to use full sentences here since space is tight. You may use one of the following phrases to introduce the list:

  • Among my other achievements:
  • Other career highlights include:
  • I am in the midst of the following projects:
  • I have received accolades for
  • My publications include:

From there, you can launch right into your conclusion.

The aim of the cover letter body: Back up the assertions you made in your introduction and broaden your list of accomplishments to form a convincing argument for employment.

Below is the middle part of our cover letter sample.

Adaptable cover letter example for a middle part

Upon the completion of my MBA last year, I understood that I wanted to pursue a management role with an international dimension. I have never used my native Spanish in a business context and feel that your expansion into South America will allow me to employ my change management skills in a cultural setting that is familiar to me. 

In a start-up, it is important to employ people with both operational and commercial expertise. I have negotiated contracts worth $9.5m, improved delivery efficiencies by 12%, redesigned warehouse packing flows, overseen staff disputes, and driven profitability to industry-leading levels. In my last year at Pine, I spearheaded three initiatives to improve the net profit from 5.2% to 6.1%. Profits improve when everything is considered. 

I believe in letting my teams dictate the direction of their development. I have experience working with HR to design training modules, something that is particularly useful in a start-up. I enjoy the creativity and challenge of working out how to get the most out of a diverse set of professionals. 60% of my former team have enjoyed promotions over the past five years.

Copied!

How to close a cover letter (conclusion and sign-off)

The introduction is more than a simple, “Hello my name is” and the conclusion is more than a “Thanks for your time.” Remind the hiring manager of your key message without sounding too self-aggrandizing or eager, but then add a little something that leaves them wanting more.

By this, we don’t mean you should leave out a key career accomplishment. That would lessen your chances of getting the interview. Instead, offer a story about a tricky situation you navigated or why your love of film noir makes you a better real estate agent (it’s possible) – anything related to the position that you think will get the hiring manager curious to hear more in the interview. After all, your goal here is to speak with a person about the job. 

Before you sign off, make sure you clearly express your desire for the interview with a call to action. Keep it simple and don’t make assumptions. For example, “when I meet you in the interview” is a little presumptuous.

The goal of the conclusion: Remind the hiring manager of your message, leave them curious, and politely request an interview.

Below is the conclusion from our cover letter sample.

Adaptable cover letter example for a conclusion

I cannot wait to find out more about your international expansion plans and hope that I am well-placed to assist. 

Sincerely, 

Lara Fernandez

Copied!

Basic mistakes in an application letter and how to avoid them

After putting in all the effort to compile a compelling argument for employment, you don’t want to blow your chances by making an easily avoidable error. Below are some mistakes to keep an eye out for before you hit the submit button on your application.

  • Adopt the correct tone: Not every startup is a hotbed for freewheeling hipster fun. Make sure you know the company’s culture before you get too casual.
  • Personalize it: If an employer asks for a cover letter, assume they at least want to know that you cared enough to address their specific needs. Yes, your greatest achievement is likely to remain the same, but you may tweak the reason it shows you are a great fit for the company. You may also either reorder or switch out bulleted items to emphasize the skills mentioned in the job listing. Finally, the enticing detail in your conclusion may differ depending on the job description.
  • Spelling and grammar count: No matter your profession, employers value the ability to communicate clearly. Typos also say you do not carefully attend to details. Use spellcheck and a grammar check program such as Grammarly. Then, find a trusted friend or colleague to proofread for you.
  • Formatting counts: This speaks to attention to detail and the fact that looks count, especially when they make for a first impression. Make sure your paragraphs are aligned and your header is legible, neat, and coordinates with your resume.

Key takeaways

  1. Whether or not you believe your cover letter will be read by a human resources person, you should write one. Better to be over-prepared than underprepared.
  2. Keep your main goal in mind: get that interview. To do that, answer the question “Why are you the best person for the job?” in your introduction.
  3. Maintain a consistent tone throughout and make sure it matches the culture of the company to which you are applying.
  4. Close with a sentence or two that will lead them wanting more.

Filling a blank screen with an outstanding cover letter is no easy task, but Resume.io’s tools and resources ease the task. Using the tips and tricks you learned in this guide, you may simply click on one of our ready-made and carefully market-researched cover letter templates and start writing. 

Build your cover letter in minutes
Build your cover letter in minutes
Stand out and get hired faster with our collection of free cover letter templates expertly-designed to land you the perfect position.
Create Cover Letter
Build your cover letter in minutes
Build your cover letter in minutes
Stand out and get hired faster with our collection of free cover letter templates expertly-designed to land you the perfect position.
Create Cover Letter

Free professionally designed templates

With over 10 million resumes and cover letters created, Resume.io is the leading online career builder that land you interviews
4.5 out of 5
based on 43,025 reviews on Trustpilot
Use This TemplateStockholm cover_letter template
Stockholm
790,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateNew York cover_letter template
New York
220,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateVienna cover_letter template
Vienna
51,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateSydney cover_letter template
Sydney
74,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateLondon cover_letter template
London
89,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateDublin cover_letter template
Dublin
76,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateMoscow cover_letter template
Moscow
26,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateAmsterdam cover_letter template
Amsterdam
79,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateMadrid cover_letter template
Madrid
65,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateSantiago cover_letter template
Santiago
53,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateSingapore cover_letter template
Singapore
23,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateOslo cover_letter template
Oslo
23,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateCape Town cover_letter template
Cape Town
2,300+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateParis cover_letter template
Paris
16,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateBerlin cover_letter template
Berlin
47,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateGeneva cover_letter template
Geneva
910+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateVancouver cover_letter template
Vancouver
17,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateTokyo cover_letter template
Tokyo
31,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateMilan cover_letter template
Milan
27,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateLisbon cover_letter template
Lisbon
7,600+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateBarcelona cover_letter template
Barcelona
15,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateCopenhagen cover_letter template
Copenhagen
9,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateChicago cover_letter template
Chicago
8,400+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateRio cover_letter template
Rio
12,000+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateRome cover_letter template
Rome
1,400+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateBoston cover_letter template
Boston
3,900+ users chose this template
Use This TemplateToronto cover_letter template
Toronto
16,000+ users chose this template
This website uses cookies to improve user experience and perform analytics and marketing. By using our website, you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Cookie Policy and Privacy Policy.
Accept Cookies