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What to Include in a Cover Letter (Examples for 2024)

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What to include in a cover letter besides a desperate plea to give you a job? Cheer up! Writing one will be a breeze if you know what to put in a cover letter. Not only that—you’ll write an attention-grabbing cover letter that will get employers on the phone ASAP.

So what should a cover letter include? Our brief cover letter guide will show you what should and shouldn’t be in a cover letter and why.

This guide will tell you:

  • What to include in a cover letter to land the job you're after.
  • What NOT to include in a cover letter.
  • What are the elements that make a great cover letter.

Want to save time and have your cover letter ready in 5 minutes? Try our cover letter builder. It’s fast and easy to use, and you'll get tips and right-vs-wrong examples while writing it. Choose from 20+ professional cover letter templates that match your resume.

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Here’s an infographic showing you what to include in a cover letter:

Sample cover letter for a resume—See more cover letter examples here.

Looking for some cover letter examples? See:

Need a detailed cover letter writing guide? Check here: How to Write a Cover Letter in 8 Simple Steps

Now, let’s see what should be in a cover letter to make it successful:

What to Include in a Cover Letter: Example

Adalynn Harris

Customer Service Representative

123 Seaside Lane

Portland, Maine, 04101

123-456-7890

adalynnharris@email.com

linkedin.com/in/adalynn-harris7136

Portland, July 1, 2023

Emersyn Campbell

Human Resources Manager

LumeTech

456 Tech Boulevard

Portland, Maine, 04102

Dear Ms. Campbell,

I am writing to express my interest in the advertised Customer Service position at LumeTech. With my proven track record of exceptional customer service during my tenure at ThriveSwift, I am confident I can contribute to LumeTech's renowned customer satisfaction ratings.

At ThriveSwift, I led the implementation of a new customer relationship management system, increasing customer satisfaction scores by 25% within the first quarter of its launch. This achievement underlines my commitment to driving customer-centric improvements and showcases my ability to proactively identify and address our client's needs.

My motivation to join LumeTech stems from your commitment to innovation and focus on providing outstanding customer experiences. I want to bring my excellent communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and a customer-first mindset to support LumeTech's continued growth. My expertise and ability to work well in a team will greatly benefit your company.

I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how my skills and experiences align with LumeTech's goals and how I can contribute to maintaining the high standards of customer service that your company is known for.

Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to contributing to LumeTech.

Sincerely,

Adalynn Harris

What to Include in a Cover Letter?

The key to writing a successful job application is to know exactly what to put in a cover letter. Are you wondering: "What should I include in a cover letter?" With a good writing guide, it’s just like following a cooking recipe. Think of each element of a cover letter as the necessary ingredients, and your writing style as seasoning that adds a unique flavor.

Here are the key elements a cover letter should include:

Contact Information

What contact details should you add? Must-haves include your name, email address, and phone number. Your mailing address, branding statement, and link to your optimized LinkedIn profile are nice-to-haves.

Current Date

End your cover letter header by inserting the date of writing before moving on.

Company Information

You need to list the name of the person leading the recruitment process, their job title, and the company address. Research the company website, or a site like Glassdoor, to locate the hiring manager’s name so that you can address your cover letter correctly. 

Salutation

Dear is regarded as one of the best cover letter salutations out there, as it is helpful whether the letter is formal or informal and whether you know the recruiter’s name. Avoid cliché greetings such as Dear Sir or Madam, or To Whom It May Concern, as they’re considered lazy and outdated.

Opening Line

What should the first paragraph of a cover letter include? Like the compelling first line in a great novel, the opening paragraph in a cover letter should immediately hook the reader in a way that makes them want to read further.

Your Interest in the Company and Position

Show your enthusiasm for the job by including attention-grabbing facts about the company or your respect for their products and services. A bit of praise can get you very far!

Reasons You’re Great for the Job

Show them you are the perfect fit for the company and team by mentioning your professional achievements. Give specific examples of using the required skills in the past. This section of your cover letter shouldn’t be a repetition of your resume but a tailored demonstration of your expertise.

Closing Paragraph With a CTA

Write an impressive closing paragraph of your cover letter by briefly summarizing everything, and add a Call To Action by proposing a meeting or a phone call.

Closing Sentiment and Your Name

Simple ones such as “Best Regards” or “Sincerely” with your full name are enough. Remember to add a cover letter enclosure to make sure the hiring manager knows you emailed a complete job application

Postscript

A P.S. at the bottom of your cover letter always draws the reader’s attention, even if they don’t care to read the rest. Include an original idea for the company, or show off an impressive professional achievement in a way that will make them want to learn more about you.

Now that you know what should be included in a cover letter, make sure to fill each element correctly. Remember what your cover letter should say: you can help the company succeed!

Pro Tip: Remember to format your cover letter professionally. Use easy-to-read cover letter fonts that can make a good impression on recruiters. Set the spacing and margins of your cover letter to maintain a good balance between text and white space, and limit the cover letter length to one page. Learn more about cover letter formatting: Formatting a Cover Letter Step-by-Step.

When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building a professional resume template here for free.

When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and our resume checker will tell you exactly how to make it better.

What Not to Include in a Cover Letter?

Maybe you’ve got a unique idea about what to include in a cover letter for a job. It’s better to check if it’s not against the rules. There’s always a bit of freedom in writing a job application, but going too far won’t make a good impression on recruiters.

What not to put in a cover letter: 

Irrelevant Information

Your cover letter should include relevant experience that fits the advertised position. Skip anything that won’t matter to the hiring manager.

Extensive Paragraphs

A cover letter is not an essay! Keep the paragraphs up to 5 sentences long to write a killer cover letter.

False Claims

It’s the same as in a resume—lying on a job application is a big NO. If you claim something, make sure you have facts to back it up.

Salary Expectations

Generally, it’s better not to include them. Mention your salary requirements in the cover letter only if the job advertisement tells you to do it.

Negative Remarks About Previous Jobs

Never say you hated your job. Whatever the circumstances of leaving a previous position are, keep all remarks professional.

Excuses

If you need to explain something in your cover letter, make sure you’re not using unverifiable claims, such as: “I didn’t get a promotion because the manager chose someone who slept with the boss.”

Personal Information

Unless it’s relevant to the position or the job advertisement, don’t focus on details of your personal life. The recruiter doesn’t need to know everything about you. In fact, providing irrelevant information may lead to unconscious bias and employment discrimination, even though it’s against labor laws.

Social Links

Leave the socials, profile URLs, and portfolio to your resume unless the cover letter template of your choice has a place for them.

Excessive Flattery

You don’t need to be like, “I love you guys!”. Show your enthusiasm for the job, but don’t go too far with flattery. Focus on the company's achievements rather than subjective opinions about it.

Your Wishes

It’s perfectly fine that you expect certain things from the company. But in your cover letter, focus on saying what you can do for them.

Spelling or Grammar Errors

It’s just common sense—use a spellchecking tool such as Grammarly to ensure you didn’t make any mistakes.

Wrong Names

It’s obvious, but make sure that you address the letter to the right company and person.

Strange File Name

Naming a cover letter is important. You don’t want the file lost on the recruiter’s hard drive. Always put your name and the position you apply for in the file name. 

Remember that a cover letter should be formal. Unless you know for certain that the company culture is extremely relaxed, don’t include jokes or puns.

Indulge in the wealth of tips on writing a cover letter that will let you stand out: 35+ Successful Cover Letter Tips, Advice & Guidelines

Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:

See more cover letter templates and start writing.

Key Takeaway

Here's what should a cover letter include:

  • Opening paragraph—grab the recruiter's attention with relevant skills and accomplishments.
  • Middle paragraphs—show that you are a perfect match and how you can add value to the company.
  • Compelling ending—ask for a meeting or a call and add a catchy postscript.

Do you have any questions about what should you include in a cover letter? Not sure what should be in a cover letter to make it effective? Get at us in the comments below, and we will answer your question. Thanks for reading!

About Zety’s Editorial Process

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team to make sure it follows Zety's editorial guidelines. We’re committed to sharing our expertise and giving you trustworthy career advice tailored to your needs. High-quality content is what brings over 40 million readers to our site every year. But we don't stop there. Our team conducts original research to understand the job market better, and we pride ourselves on being quoted by top universities and prime media outlets from around the world.

Sources

Frequently Asked Questions about What to Include in Cover Letters

What to include in a cover letter?

It’s good that you know that cover letters are necessary. When writing a job application, it’s also important to know what should a good cover letter include. The purpose of a cover letter is to express your interest in the advertised position and present your qualifications for the job. In order to do that, you must include the essential cover letter information.

Here’s what goes in a cover letter:

  1. Your contact information
  2. Date of the letter
  3. Contact information of the hiring manager and the company
  4. Salutation + the hiring manager’s name
  5. Attention-grabbing opening statement.
  6. First paragraph, containing your enthusiasm for the position and the company
  7. Second paragraph, containing an overview of your qualifications
  8. Third paragraph, specifying why this position is perfect for you
  9. Closing paragraph with a Call To Action
  10. Greetings and optional P.S.

Remember that your cover letter layout should match the resume template—this makes your job application appear more professional! If you don’t want to work with font sizes, cover letter spacing & margins, and all of that fluff, you can pick some simple cover letter templates to download, or a few free cover letter templates in Microsoft Word to make your life easier.

What are 3 things you should include in a cover letter?

While certain parts of a cover letter, such as contact information and salutations, are easy to remember, the contents of the cover letter’s paragraphs are more difficult to write. However, once you remember what your cover letter should say in 3 short points, it will become easier to write one.

Here are the 3 things you should include in a cover letter:

  • Your enthusiasm for the job and the company
  • Your research about the position and the company’s business goals
  • Your willingness to make a contribution

Why do these things matter to recruiters?

First, they want to see you are enthusiastic about the advertised position. By letting them know what attracts you to the job and the company, they can see that you didn’t just send the same letter to 20 other businesses. For this reason, never address your cover letter with “To whom it may concern”—it really makes a bad impression on the reader!

Second, by doing research about the position and the business, you can learn about their current goals, history, achievements, and challenges to overcome. You can make a great impression by referring to a little-known fact or a significant achievement of the company in your cover letter.

Third, the hiring managers want to know what you can do for the company. Explain how you can contribute to the overall business goal and the goals of the department you’d work for. Be as specific as possible!

What are the 7 things you should include while formatting your cover letter?

Just like there are many recipes for apple pie, there are also many guidelines for cover letters. How are you supposed to know which ones matter? We tried to combine them into 7 points to make formatting a cover letter easier.

Here are the 7 things you should include in a cover letter:

  1. Cover Letter Header: add your contact information and contact details of the company
  2. Salutation: tailor the cover letter greeting and use the hiring manager’s name instead of the cliché “Dear Sir or Madam
  3. Opening paragraph: grab the reader’s attention by introducing yourself, stating why you want this job, and what attracts you to the company.
  4. Second paragraph: present your qualifications by referring to the requirements from the job advertisement.
  5. Third paragraph: show that you’re the perfect candidate for this position by explaining how you can contribute to the company's success.
  6. Closing paragraph: summarize your interest in the position and include a Call To Action.
  7. Greetings and signature: use a professional closing and paste your scanned signature for a personal touch.

That’s it!

Sometimes, the job advertisement may ask candidates to also include their salary expectations in cover letters. If that’s the case, make sure to also mention them!

As for the ideal length of a cover letter, it’s best to keep it short enough to fit a bit more than half of a page. Recruiters are busy people, they don’t have time to read long essays.

What are the 4 parts of a cover letter?

It’s not easy to find a general cover letter outline. But don’t worry, writing a cover letter can be easier than finding the perfect answer to your question via Google. You just need to know what 4 parts to include in your cover letter.

Each cover letter has four distinct sections:

  • Header with contact information and salutation
  • Your introduction
  • Body of the letter
  • Closing statement

That’s what a cover letter should look like.

The body is the longest section of a cover letter. It may consist of several paragraphs (though usually two are enough) dedicated to proving that you’re the best fit for the advertised position. In this part, you should include an overview of your qualifications, refer to the requirements mentioned in the job ad, and explain how you can use your skills and knowledge to assist the employer and help the company achieve its goals. Remember that the goal of your cover letter is to sell yourself. It’s important to be specific—vague promises are not convincing for recruiters!

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Christian Eilers, CPRW
Christian is a career expert and Certified Professional Resume Writer. His guides cover every aspect of the career spectrum, from job hunting and acing interviews to settling in on the first days of a new career. With Christian's guidance, job seekers can navigate the job market with confidence and make the most of their career opportunities.
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