By Miraclyn Rubavathi

19 October 2021 - 5:30pm

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter also referred to as a covering letter or an application letter is an important document most organisations ask for along with a job application. It helps boost your resume which by itself might not be sufficient for a recruiter to get to know you. 

Although not all recruiters demand a cover letter, including a cover letter along with your resume is good practice, as many recruiters go through cover letters to shortlist candidates for the interview. A well-written cover letter can create a good first impression and make you stand out from other applicants.

What is difference between a cover letter and a resume?

Your resume is not your cover letter. Consider a resume like a menu in a restaurant. A menu provides a list of all the items available in the restaurant. Similarly, a resume is a list of your work-related skill sets and experience. A resume focuses on facts like your educational qualifications, work experience, skills, achievements, etc. However, a cover letter focuses on the job that you’re applying for and how you fit in that role. It is a chance for you to explain to the recruiters how you can use your professional skills and experience to excel in the new role that you’re applying for. 

What is the purpose of a cover letter?

Not only does a cover letter give more insights about you to the hiring manager but it is also a vital element in getting you the interview. Most job seekers spend a lot of time perfecting their resume but don’t put so much thought into writing a proper cover letter.  It’s important that the cover letter includes information about why you are suitable for that specific role, which helps show the recruiter that you have put some thought into the job application. 

What should be included in a cover letter?

There are several key components in a cover letter, mentioned below. It may seem like a very time-consuming process to write a cover letter but it is essential and your letter must be specific to every job that you apply for, as it shows how serious you are about the job you’re applying for. 

  • Name, address, contact information and date
  • Salutation
  • Opening statement
  • Your knowledge of the company and the position you’re applying for and your interest in working for this particular company
  • Your background
  • Your professional skills and experience that matches the job description along with examples
  • Highlighting why you’re the right fit for the job
  • Closing
  • Sign off

Here’s a sample cover letter.

Justin Joseph
C1, Dhavali Bypass Road
North Goa - 403401
+91 9999999999
August 16, 2021 
Dear Mr. Gupta, 
I recently came across your job posting for Social Media Manager on your company’s Instagram page and I’m excited to apply for the position. I’ve been closely following the amazing work RestApp has been doing on Instagram and other platforms in terms of creating content and keeping customers engaged. As a marketing professional with more than a decade of experience, I would love to bring my skills and expertise to the current leader in the industry. 
For the past four years, I’ve been working as a Social Media Strategist for Blue Bag, where I’ve run multiple social media campaigns successfully on various platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and many more while taking into consideration different backgrounds and target demographics. I am known especially for my social skills, and proactive approach in my ability to think critically and come up with the right solution. Moreover, I have extensive experience in working with analytic tools such as Sprout Social, Later, Hubspot and more in evaluating and interpreting data. As your Social Media Manager, I would apply this knowledge to ensure we delivered organic content that drive traffic while staying on time and within budget. 
My background in the social media industry, combined with my passion for your company and this role, would make me uniquely qualified to forecast new industry and social media trends. RestApp ‘s focus on customer service has made a huge impression on me and I would be thrilled to work for your organization. Thank you for your time. 
Yours sincerely,
Justin Joseph

How should you write a cover letter?

Writing a cover letter only involves a few simple steps. If you know how to write them yourself, you can showcase your unique skills and experience to the recruiter which increases your chances of you getting hired. 

A cover letter, like all other formal documents, has three parts, a beginning, a middle and an end. Let’s look at what goes into each of these parts and what kind of phrases to use when writing one.

In the past, cover letters were sent through post or submitted in person. Hence, they included addresses. However, nowadays as cover letters are submitted through an online job portal or via emails, physical addresses are no longer necessary. So, you can skip the address if you are sending your letter electronically.


Starting to write a cover letter can be very intimidating especially if you’ve never done it before. All you need to do is try and be authentic and original. Here are some tips on what to say, how to say and how not to say it in your cover letter along with example phrases:

  • Salutation

    It is imperative to use formal language in your cover letter. In the salutation, address the person you’re writing for by their name. If you do not know who exactly you’re writing to, say ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ instead. In recent years, due to growing and changing trends, ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ could be considered old-fashioned and extremely formal.

    Formal / Appropriate
    Informal / Inappropriate
    a. Dear Ms Brown,
    b. Dear Jane Palmer,
    a. Hi Ms Brown, 
    b. Hey,
    c. Hello,
  • Opening statement

    This is the purpose of your letter or the reason you’re writing the letter. Although, you could dive right into the skills you possess and what you offer, starting with an opening statement sets the tone for the covering letter.

    Formal / Appropriate
    Informal / Inappropriate
    a. I am excited to apply for the product manager position.
    b. I was excited to hear about the opening…
    c. I was excited to come across your posting for…
    d. I am writing to express my interest in…
    e. I’m a (position) with (number of years) of experience looking for an opportunity to apply my skills in….
    a. I’m super stoked to apply…
    b. This is the best job in the world and I’m so so so happy to apply.
  • You and the Company

    In this section, you can talk about how you found out about the job, why you’re interested in the job and answer some questions like what you like about this position, why you like this particular company, and what you can offer to this company as a potential employee.

    Formal / Appropriate Informal / Inappropriate
    a. I learned about your company through…
    b. My experience aligns well with your company’s requirements…
    c. The work (company name) is doing in the (industry) is incredibly interesting.
    a. I like working for Multinational companies.
    b. I’ve never heard of your company but I’m looking for a good job in a good company.
    c. My friend told me to apply to your company.


Nowadays, companies are not just looking for people with skills, they also want someone whose values align with theirs. You can bring in your personality to the letter by talking about your passion, beliefs, values, and ethics. It’s also a great opportunity to show them how hiring you would be mutually beneficial for both parties. 

Do your research by going through the job description, roles and responsibilities, code of conduct and any other information you can get hold of about the organisation, either from their website, mutual friends who work there or by checking with the HR manager.

You can also use bullet points or numbers in this section to highlight your achievements.

  • Your background

    This is basically your qualifications, what you’ve done previously and your worth as a business professional.

     Formal / Appropriate
    Informal / Inappropriate
    a. Having more than five years of experience in…, I provided…
    b. I managed the XYZ team in my previous organization, (company’s name)
    c. I succeed in working with a team and independently.
    d. I’m enthusiastic about …
    e. In my current position, I’m responsible for...
    a. I’m very creative and really like to work alone
    b. Not to brag but I’m a great team leader with a lot of experience…
    c. I’m very passionate about singing and dancing apart from work.
  • Skillset with examples

    In this segment, emphasise your accomplishments, talk about your ability to lead, communicate and overcome challenges. Talk about your transferrable skills, i.e., the skills that can be used in any job, such as strong leadership or critical thinking skills. These skills are not job-specific and can be useful especially when you are changing your career path. Provide examples for these skills from previous work experience to show your credibility and make sure these skills and the examples you provide match the role you are applying for. It’s a good idea to refer to the points you’ve noted from your research as needed when you write the letter.

    Formal / Appropriate
    Informal / Inappropriate
    a. During (time period), I worked as (job title) for (company name), I created…
    b. To give you an example, as (job title), I was responsible for (Task 1, Task 2, and Task 3).
    c. I’m excellent at multitasking. For instance, in my roles as (designation), I worked on several projects, including (Project 1, Project 2, and Project 3).
    a. I’ve worked with several difficult clients.
    b. I find it difficult to work under a person who micromanages. That’s why I had to leave my previous company.
  • Highlighting why you’re the right fit for the job

    To address this element, think about what goals of the company are and how you can help achieve them. This is also where you use statements that support why you’re suitable for the job and say why you’re perfect for each other again.

    Formal / Appropriate
    Informal / Inappropriate
    a. I’m eager to apply what I’ve learned in this new role.
    b. I believe I have all the right qualifications and my addition to the team will be an asset for the organisation.
    c. Your initiative to develop… is a perfect match for my personal and professional goals.
    d. This is an exciting opportunity for me because it’s a great way for me to learn and use my skills for the organisation’s growth as well.
    a. I want to see how it’s gonna go.
    b. This will be a wonderful opportunity for me to grow.
    c. You cannot find anyone better than me for this position.


The end or the closing consists of three parts: call-to-action, thanking the reader, and signing off. The end is also an important part of the cover letter as sometimes inappropriate endings can throw people off. Make sure you’re polite and respectful even when you end your letter.

  • Call-to-action

    Ending a cover letter with a call-to-action is optional but including it can prompt the hiring manager to move forward, take the next step and contact you for an interview. It’s another way to show you’re enthusiastic about the job. Here are some ways to write a call-to-action:

    Formal / Appropriate
    Informal / Inappropriate
    a. I would welcome the chance to discuss further how my skills can benefit the organisation.
    b. I would value the opportunity to show you…
    c. I would be happy to provide more details regarding…
    a, I hope I get this chance.
    b. Please give me a chance.
    c. I’m willing to learn a lot from this job.
  • Thank the reader

    It is professional and graceful to thank the person who took the time to read your letter and considering you for the job. Here are some phrases you can use to convey your gratitude.

    Formal / Appropriate
    Informal / Inappropriate
    a. Thank you for your time and consideration.
    b. I would love the chance to further discuss the position with you.
    c. I look forward to hearing from you.
    d. Thank you for taking the time to review my letter.
    e. I appreciate your time and consideration.
    a. See you soon.
    b. Hope I get this job.
    c. Bye.
    d. Goodbye.
    e. Thanks a lot.
    f. All I ask is for you to consider my application.
  • Sign-off

    These are some safe options listed below which you can use when you sign off. Avoid using overly friendly phrases and always sign off with your full name, not your short name or nickname. You do not need to add your physical or e-signature when you sign off. Your full name is sufficient.

    Formal / Appropriate Informal / Inappropriate
    a. Sincerely, 
    b. Thank you,
    c. Best regards,
    d. Kind regards,
    a. Love,
    b. Cheers,
    c. Thanks,
    d. Obediently
    e. Affectionately
    f. Fondly  

How long should your cover letter be?

Ideally a cover letter is a one-page document. You don’t need to write pages about all your skills and experience, as these details are already in your resume. So, don’t write an essay; keep it short, organise it into paragraphs and highlight how you are the best candidate for the job. 

Things to check before sending your letter

  • Writing style

    Remember, your cover letter is a fairly formal document. So, don’t use informal words, phrases, expressions or contractions like I’m, I’ve. Instead, use the full form: I am, I have. However, some companies are fine with semi-formal or neutral style and if you are sure, you can shift your tone to adapt to the organisation’s style. However, you shouldn’t write very informally. 

  • Linkers
    Linkers, linking words or connectors are the words and phrases that link your ideas, sentences and paragraphs to make it sound more cohesive and not like strings of sentences put together. Some examples of linkers are because, moreover, additionally, etc. You can find more examples of linkers here. Using linkers will give more structure and unity to your letter.

  • Emotional control
    Avoid being too emotional or sound desperate for a job. You should also avoid too much flattery. Remember to maintain a professional tone throughout.

  • Font and alignment
    The font size you’ve chosen must be big enough for someone to read without putting in an effort. Neither should it be too big. 12 points is an appropriate size to use. Don’t use fancy or decorative fonts, use professional-looking fonts like Arial, Times New Roman or Calibri. Also, make sure you have your paragraphs in place and not a big chunky document that’s hard to read. Your paragraphs should all be indented properly, not some sticking out and some pushed in.

  • Errors
    Spelling errors, grammatical errors and typographical errors don’t make a good first impression. If you’re careless in your writing, there's a good chance that your hiring manager will think you do not have good communication skills or you make mistakes often. It also shows that you didn't proofread your document, which in turn shows how little of an effort you’ve put into writing and sending the letter. So, do proofread before sending your letter. It might be hard for us to proofread our own writing; we might miss out on checking or editing important details. Hence, it’s also good to use online tools or have a friend read it for you.

Dos and Don’ts

Let’s quickly recap a few important things to do and not to do in a cover letter.

  • Address the person you’re writing to, by their name if you know it.
  • Be direct and specific, do not tell stories.
  • Be honest and true to yourself.
  • Be positive and professional.
  • Follow a formal style and tone throughout unless and until you’re sure it’s not required.
  • Include only information that’s relevant to you’re the role you’re applying for. 
  • Know the roles and responsibilities of the position you’re applying for and what’s expected of you.
  • Spend an ample amount of time in proofreading your letter before sending it.
  • Make it about the company not about you.
  • Use the same template over and over again for all the jobs that you apply for.
  • Simply repeat points you’ve already mentioned in your resume.
  • Include incorrect or untrue information in order to get the interview.
  • You don’t need to begin your letter with ‘To whom it may concern. It’s outdated and not used anymore.
  • Use jargon, colloquial, informal words or phrases.
  • Send a rushed letter with mistakes.
  • Try to be funny or sarcastic.
  • Say negative things about your previous organization or people you worked with
  • Talk about salary, ask questions or inquire about something.
  • Include pictures including your photo.
  • Include referrals unless asked.

It’s your turn

Yes, now it’s your turn to write your own cover letter. If you’re a job seeker, this is a good time to start practising writing cover letters by yourself. Even if you aren’t looking for a job at the moment, you can think of your dream job you and draft a letter for it. It will help you understand the position better, realise where you stand and help you improve your writing skills.

Good luck!

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