What to include in a cover letter

When considering what to include in a cover letter, there are some standard elements and a certain flow to utilize: contact section, salutation, body, closing, and signature. There are some slight differences based on whether you’re sending a hard copy, attachment, or email cover letter. 

Your cover letter accompanies your resume and provides an opportunity to highlight why you are the perfect fit for the job. It’s essential to include the key elements and structure with a compelling case within the body to appear professional and make a good impression.  

Here is what to include in your cover letter to increase your chances of landing an interview. 

Two examples of cover letters with very different formatting approaches.
Resumes and cover letters can look nice without being right.

What to put in a cover letter contact section

The first section should include your contact information when mailing or attaching a cover letter to an email or job board application. The prospective employer can easily reference this section for your phone number and current location.

Printed or attached cover letter

Provide the following information in the contact section:

Your Name
Your Address
City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number


Hiring Manager Name (if available)
Company Name
Company Address
City, State, Zip Code

Email cover letter

If you’re emailing your cover letter within the body of an email, your contact information should be provided with your signature as follows:

Your Name
Your Address
City, State, Zip Code
Email Address
Phone Number

Selecting your salutation

Your cover letter needs to begin with a professional salutation. If you know the name of the person you are sending the letter to, include it. Otherwise, you can use a general salutation.

Appropriate business letter salutations

Without a name:

  • Dear Hiring Manager,
  • To whom it may concern,

With a name:

  • Dear Mr. Jones,
  • Dear Ms. Jones,
  • Dear Dr. Jones,
  • Dear Jane Jones,

A man smiles as he composes a cover letter on his laptop.
A cover letter is where YOU shine through.

What to put in the cover letter body section

The body of your cover letter gets to the heart of the matter. A well-thought-out cover letter will provide the following:

  • Include why you’re writing. The first sentence of your cover letter will state why you’re writing. “I am writing to express interest in the HR Manager position with HR Professionals Firm posted on LinkedIn.” 
  • Highlight your qualifications. The most important part of your cover letter is why you are qualified for the position. Include three bullet points that provide insights into why you are suitable for the job. Instead of pulling directly from your resume, summarize some key points from it. Be specific and refer to the employer’s job requirements from the job posting — align your qualifications with what’s required.
  • Address why you’re interested and give some insight to show you’ve researched the company. “In doing my research, I appreciate that your organization focuses on innovation. I also like that you emphasize career development for your employees.”  
  • Include an optional follow-up timeframe. You can share how and when you plan to follow up about the opening if you choose.
  • Provide appreciation for consideration. Your last sentence or two before your signature expresses your gratitude. “I appreciate your consideration in reviewing my application.” 

Include keywords in your cover letter

Incorporate keywords from the job posting in your cover letter. Doing so can provide an added boost to get past applicant tracking systems when submitting your application online. Keywords can also be beneficial in hard copy cover letters to catch the attention of hiring managers and recruiters. 

Choosing the right closing

Select a proper closing to finish your letter professionally and avoid being too casual. The last thing you want is to provide the perfect body and then close unprofessionally.  

Professional and appropriate closing:


Best Regards,



Thank you,

Too casual for business and employment-related letters:


Signing off,

Talk later,

Talk soon,

Adding your signature

For a hard copy cover letter or a cover letter attached to a job board or email application, print and hand sign the cover letter below the closing and above your typed name. For an email cover letter, type your signature at the end and include your contact information below.

Hard copy or attachment:


[handwritten signature]

John Smith

Email cover letter:


Your Name
Your Address
City, State, Zip Code
Email Address
Phone Number

Writing an email cover letter

The body of an email cover letter will reflect what’s included in a hard copy and attached cover letter. The key differences for an email cover letter include the subject line, signature, and contact information. As previously stated, an email cover letter will consist of a typed signature with the contact information contained with the signature.

An email cover letter will also include a subject line. Some employers provide explicit instructions on what to include in the email subject line, and you should follow them precisely to avoid being overlooked for an interview. When instructions aren’t provided, include the job title, reason for the email, and your name. For example:

HR Manager Job Application – Jane Doe

What not to put in a cover letter

Your cover letter needs to be focused and to the point. Don’t overshare by including unnecessary and unrelated personal information. If your cover letter is too long, it could land you in the “no thank you” pile. 

Tips to write a compelling cover letter

To write a compelling cover letter:

  • Customize your cover letter for each job to which you apply. This can be time-consuming but vital to supporting your job search process. 
  • Include research about the company. Doing so showcases your interest and ability to be proactive.
  • Clearly align your skills and experience with the job description. The employer needs to quickly see that you meet the job requirements. 
  • Review cover letter examples for insights and ideas. Cover letter examples can provide you with templates and a decent starting point.
  • Always send a cover letter. Unless there are explicit instructions not to include a cover letter, provide one and stand apart from the competition who don’t.

Cover letter example (hard copy)

Mary Jane Smith
111 State Street
Anytown, WV 26222

September 1, 2022

Molly Kensington
Human Resources
IT Professionals Inc.
123 Any Road
Business City, WV 26222

Dear Ms. Kensington:

I am writing to share my interest in the IT Specialist job with IT Professionals Inc. posted on LinkedIn. I believe my professional work experience, training, and skills make me an ideal fit for this position. 

During my five years with Intergy Energy, I have been responsible for a diverse range of IT functions, from network development and cybersecurity to data mining and business systems analysis. As you’ll see from my resume, I have an additional seven years of experience working in IT operations and have been driven to provide top-tier customer service to clients and their counterparts. 

I have also led the implementation of a global database for our entire organization of 3,000 employees. The project helped eliminate outdated systems and provided an overall cost savings of more than $50,000 over a two-year period. 

Your mission to make IT services cost-effective and available to as many people as possible is one I can get behind. I would very much appreciate the opportunity to speak with you about the IT Specialist job to discuss how I can contribute to the IT team and support your mission. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Mary Jane Smith

You can also review additional cover letter tips and examples to support your job applications.