Writing Formal Cover Letters – A Guide

An official cover letter is a must for every job…

An official cover letter is a must for every job application. Nearly half of all employers will refuse a resume without a formal cover letter.

What is a Formal Cover Letter?

two men facing each other while shake hands and smiling
Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

A cover letter is a three- to a four-paragraph letter to employers that describes your interest in the job and the company. If you apply for a job, you are most likely to include it in your resume.

The purpose of this document is to introduce you and briefly describe your professional background. The average length of your cover letter should be between 250 and 400 words.

You may be able to get the hiring manager’s attention by writing an excellent cover letter.

But remember that a cover letter complements your resume and does not replace it. Basically, you don’t repeat what’s mentioned in your resume.

A well-crafted cover letter will help you get the job you want alongside your resume. 

Structure of a Cover Letter

We outline a cover letter section by section, so you can see how to write a letter yourself. Remember, if you are having trouble with the formatting, it is best to write the cover letter first and then check the correct formatting. Basically, a cover letter has six sections.

  • Contact Information & Date
  • Greeting
  • First Paragraph
  • Main Body
  • Closing Paragraph
  • Signature

Contact Information and Date

You should include this information at the top of the page, on the left-hand side. Typical contact information includes:

  • Date
  • Full Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address


While this may seem very straightforward, there are a few things to spice it up. The most important is to address the hiring manager directly, by name. You can find most hiring managers’ information on LinkedIn easily.

If you can’t find it, for some reason, go with the classic “Dear Sir/Madam.”

First Paragraph

Your opening paragraph is your chance to catch the hiring manager’s attention, introduce yourself, and express your enthusiasm to the employer. Mention why you’re enthusiastic about the job and how it fits into your career goals. Look up keywords from the job posting and match your skills to the employer’s needs.

Main Body

In the main body, summarize your most relevant experience, highlighting specific qualifications and skills that make you the perfect candidate. Make a connection between your previous accomplishments and your suitability for the position you are applying for in one or two paragraphs.

Closing Paragraph

You should use the final paragraph to thank the employer for their time and consideration. Also, use this paragraph to clarify any information (like employment gaps) from your resume.


Close with a well-known phrase, such as “Sincerely,” “Respectfully,” or “Thank You.” 


A formal cover letter is usually sent to a company in order to apply for a specific position. For starters, it should include all of your information, and the date you sent the cover letter.

After that, you should use a structured framework in order to effectively communicate your qualifications are and how they align to the position.

Finally, don’t forget to include a closing paragraph and a signature.

Frequently asked questions

How do you write a strong cover letter?

  • Write the letter to a specific person.
  • Please clarify the purpose of your letter.
  • Don’t rehash your resume completely.
  • Don’t overreact to the pronoun “I” when you use action words.
  • Engage the reader and thank you.
  • Format content in the same way you should.

Why is writing a cover letter so hard?

The job search takes time, but covering letters are particularly tough: making people like you without ever meeting them and articulated the perfect reason you’re a good fit for the job is not a simple task. Don’t put too many of them on your plate at once.

What should you say in a cover letter?

  • You should encourage your reader to read your resume.
  • introduce yourself
  • Name your job (or type of job) you’re applying for (or looking for).
  • Show that your skills and experience match those needed to do the job.

How do you write attention-grabbing on a cover letter?

  • Create a convincing introduction.
  • Make sure you use tasteful humor in your cover letter.
  • Name of the addressee.
  • Make a deep dive into the company.
  • Demonstrate your confidence
  • Keep it concise
  • Cover letter templates are striking.

What is a good opening sentence for a cover letter?

Here’s a simple-but-powerful cover letter template: Dear [First Name]: I found out about [Job Title] post over at [Company Name]. As a [Current Job Title] with [Five years I’ve been in the field] I have become quite talented in [Relative Skills & Job Abilities].

What are the 7 parts of a cover letter?

  • Header. Cover letters begin with a header that contains your contact information.
  • Greeting
  • Introduction
  • Qualifications
  • Call to action
  • Signature
  • Values and goals

How do you write a cover letter for 2022?

  • Contact your contact details.
  • Describe the hiring manager by name.
  • Create an eye-catching opening paragraph.
  • Describe why you are qualified for the position.
  • Your experience should be linked to the company’s needs.
  • Towards the end, you should have a concise closing paragraph and sign-off.

What should not be included in a cover letter?

  • Information that is not related to the job.
  • Salary expectations
  • Almost Nothing Is True.
  • Is the company name or contact person wrong?
  • Too Many Paragraphs
  • Negative comments about current or past employers.
  • Errors in spelling or grammar.

What are the 3 Ps of a cover letter?

A cover letter should consist of three paragraphs – Introduction, Sales Presentation, and Conclusion.

How do you write a formal cover letter?

  • Preferably, do your research. Make sure you know the company and the job you want before you begin writing.
  • Think about the future.
  • Open strong
  • Ensure your personal value.
  • Convey enthusiasm
  • Watch the tone
  • Keep it short
  • Get feedback

What should the first paragraph of a cover letter include?

Your cover letter should grab the hiring manager’s attention and make them want to read it. In order to make an effective opening paragraph, you may want to be direct, start with a strong belief statement, or lead with measurable achievement.

What 5 things should a cover letter include?

  • Second Middle Paragraph
  • Provide contact information and closure.
  • Information about you
  • Opening Paragraph
  • Name, title, employer, and address of the contact person.
  • Salutation
  • Date
  • Middle Paragraph

What are the 4 tips for a great cover letter?

  • How to write a cover letter.
  • Make sure your cover letter matches the role of your company.
  • Employ keywords in the job description.
  • Proudly recall your past successes.
  • Use fewer words for more.
  • Adding some examples will help.
  • The hiring manager should be personally addressed.

How do you impress your employer on a cover letter?

  • Use the top of the letter to describe the company.
  • Do not hesitate to introduce yourself with a strong first paragraph.
  • Make sure to describe your accomplishments in step 3.
  • You have conducted research on the company in step 4.

How do you sell yourself in a cover letter?

  • Make sure to research the company before you write.
  • Make sure you identify your best 2–3 achievements that fit their needs.
  • It’s important to share your work accomplishments, not just your job duties.
  • Add numbers for a greater understanding of your work.
  • Embrace their organization by showing your enthusiasm.
Writing Formal Cover Letters – A Guide

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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