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How and Why to Write a Great Cover Letter

Student working in career planning guide

A cover letter is a one-page business letter that you submit when applying to a job, along with your resume. As a piece of persuasive writing, your cover letter will aim to convey to the employer why you’re a great candidate for the role.

What is the purpose of a cover letter?

Your cover letter complements your resume by making it easy for the employer to see how your experience and interest connect to the position. Your goal is to convince the employer to interview you.

With your cover letter, you’ll aim to:

  • Highlight your qualifications:  You’ll show how your skills and experience relate to the employer’s needs for a specific position.
  • Showcase your motivation: You’ll demonstrate your enthusiasm for the specific position and the organization.
  • Reflect your voice and written communication skills: You’ll give the employer a sense of your personality and writing style.

When should I write a cover letter?

Not all jobs require cover letters. So, how do you decide whether to submit one?

Submit a Cover Letter when…

  • The posting explicitly requests that you do so
  • You’re applying to an opportunity at a mission-driven organization
  • You think that doing so could provide important information to the employer that they wouldn’t get from your resume

Consider Submitting a Cover Letter when…

  • It’s marked “optional” in an application, and you have the bandwidth to do so
  • You have content that you can easily recycle or repurpose into a tailored cover letter

No Need to Submit a Cover Letter when…

  • A posting specifically tells you not to submit one
  • There’s no way to submit one in an application portal, and doing so would require a serious workaround

If you’re applying to several similar opportunities, creating a draft cover letter in advance, geared toward that type of opportunity, can be a helpful way to save time in your actual application process.

How do I write a cover letter?

Your cover letter should articulate your qualifications and motivation for the position. Read the job description closely and research the organization. As you craft your cover letter, use examples that demonstrate your relevant skills, knowledge, and interests. The cover letter should be concise, clear, and well-organized.

Before Writing

Research the employer.

Learn enough about the organization to articulate why you are a strong fit for that firm. 

  • Review the firm’s website and LinkedIn page.
  • Speak with current or previous employees.
  • Read articles and social media for current news.

Analyze the job description

Look for skills, duties, and qualifications of the job so you can design your letter to match these as much as possible.

Reflect on your experience and motivation

Identify skills and personal qualities you have developed which will be useful in this role. Ask yourself:

  • What attracts you about this role/company/industry?
  • What have you have done in your work experiences, classes, internships, activities, projects, volunteer work, travel, etc., that is similar to the duties required of the job? 

Cover Letter Structure

As a business letter, the cover letter should include:

  • Heading: Include your name and contact information in the same format as your resume
  • Salutation: Address your letter to the specific individual who can hire you, if this is known. If the name is not included in the job description, address the letter to the Hiring Manager or title mentioned in the job description.
  • Body Paragraphs:  Discuss your experiences, interests, and skills to show the employer how you can add value to their team. See the section below for more guidance.
  • Signature Line: Include a closing and your name.

The cover letter should be one page, about three or four paragraphs, and single spaced. Use 10-12 point font and one inch margins. 

When applying online, upload your cover letter as a PDF file, unless another format is specified. When sending your resume and cover letter by email, you may write a short note or paste your cover letter in the body of your email (without the address header) and also attach the PDF file.

Cover Letter Content

Your cover letter should answer who, what, when, where and why you are applying for the opportunity. 


State the position for which you are applying. If you have a referral or spoke with someone from the company, you can mention it in the introduction. Provide some basic information about yourself; this can include your class year and what you’re studying at Columbia. Briefly outline why you’re interested in the organization and what you bring in terms of relevant experience and skills. 

Body Paragraphs

These paragraphs will highlight your qualifications and strengths that are most relevant to the organization and position. Use the job posting and your research as clues to determine what the employer is seeking in a candidate. Have your resume beside you and reflect on what you want the employer to know about you. Are there experiences you want to expand upon that demonstrate your understanding of the role and ability to do the job requirements?

Structure the paragraphs based on relevance, not chronology. Lead with your most relevant skill or strongest experience.

Start each body paragraph with a clear topic sentence.  This can highlight a key skill set, a transferable experience, or a core area of knowledge you’ve built through your studies. Walk the reader through a project or experience, integrating the relevant skills you used and qualities you demonstrated. Provide details about your accomplishments and impact. Connect how these experiences have prepared you for this role and why you are motivated to do this job. There is no need to apologize if you feel you lack experience; focus on the accomplishments that you have.

Recap what you would bring to the organization and your interest in the position. Thank the employer for their consideration. Keep your tone positive and enthusiastic. 

Check out our example of how to structure your cover letter content . 

Editing Tips

Use our  Cover Letter Checklist to make sure your format and content is in line with best practices. 

  • Ensure that the content reflects the requirements in the job description
  • Keep the cover letter concise, at one page or less
  • Correct any errors in grammar, sentence structure, and spelling
  • Use the active voice
  • Avoid beginning too many sentences with “I”

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What is a Cover Letter for a Resume?

A recent college graduate on a laptop who is reading a cover letter he wrote for his resume.

Understanding the Numbers When reviewing job growth and salary information, it’s important to remember that actual numbers can vary due to many different factors — like years of experience in the role, industry of employment, geographic location, worker skill and economic conditions. Cited projections do not guarantee actual salary or job growth.

Think about adding a shot of espresso to your favorite coffee beverage. Coffee purists may insist that a hot, black cup o’ joe is the only worthwhile option. When done correctly, though, the added espresso packs a powerful punch.

The same concept applies to adding a cover letter to your resume. It’s a boost to complement an already solid product (i.e., the experience on your resume) with a little bit of oomph. The cover letter is more or less a short, autobiographical professional story that accompanies your resume in your application.

What is the Purpose of a Cover Letter for a Resume?

In the cover letter, you can share fortified examples with a hiring manager about who you are, what you can do and why you’re the most interesting and interested job candidate. This is typically achieved in two to four paragraphs and strictly limited to one page or less. A cover letter can also build a bridge between your resume and the job description.

A debated topic in the hiring world is whether busy recruiters take the time to read applicants’ carefully crafted cover letters. A recent Fishbowl by Glassdoor survey reported 58% of workers say cover letters are unnecessary. Other sources, including job search coach Lynda Spiegel, mention how AI-powered Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) used by hiring teams may rank your application higher among the competition if you upload that supplemental cover letter document.

The recruiters and hiring managers who do read cover letters in full often find them helpful in getting to know a candidate as a viable fit for the open position and company culture .

What Do I Write in a Cover Letter?

Now that we understand what the purpose of a cover letter is for a resume, what should you include in a cover letter?

First, understand that the cover letter should not be a regurgitation of points already included on your resume. Let your resume speak for itself, and use the cover letter to focus on highlighting your personality and targeted examples of your interests and successes.

Convince yourself you are perfect for the opportunity. Then, craft your writing to subtly guide the hiring team to the conclusion that they would be remiss to pass up interviewing you.

Before you get started, ask yourself a few questions:

  • How well did you read and understand the job description? Think about what inspired you about the job before you selected “Apply Now.” Pick some key items where you can provide actual examples of your past experiences that relate to the listed job duties and responsibilities. A more impactful impression is possible if you reference select words from the job description within your cover letter.
  • What are the mission and values of the company? Every organization should have a purpose or goal, whether it’s to make the most money or to change the most lives. There could also be a significant part of the company’s history or current industry news relevance that piqued your interest. Do a bit of research to set yourself up for success and customize your cover letter content to showcase where your passions match with those of the organization.
  • Why are you writing the cover letter? Map out a few select reasons why you’re the ideal match for the role and plan to highlight the best options for the cover letter.

Not all application processes require the same documentation. Pay attention when the job description tells you not to include a cover letter. Including one anyway when they specified not could unintentionally seem like you lack attention to detail.

If including a cover letter is optional, it’s a good idea to submit one. It may help you stand out as a job candidate and help your application rank higher if the organization uses ATS software.

When you do need to include one, Follow the tips below to help your cover letter best represent the best applicant — you!

What are the 5 Parts of a Cover Letter?

To steal the attention of the hiring team, every great heist starts with a well-laid-out plan. This outline explains the tried-and-true formula of a cover letter to stake your job claim:

Let the hiring team know who you are and how to contact you:

  • Professional email address
  • Phone number
  • City and state (you do not need to include your full address)
  • Social media profiles relevant to the role (for example: LinkedIn, GitHub, Blogger)

Second, enter the date under your contact information so the team understands the immediacy of your application and interest.

Finally, the header should specify to whom you are writing so the letter finds its way to the right inbox:

  • Name of the hiring manager
  • Professional title of the hiring manager
  • Company name
  • Company address

If you’re not provided with a specific name, search LinkedIn by company and title or review the Staff Directory on the company’s website to locate a contact that may influence the final hiring decision.

If you’re still not sure, you can exclude the hiring manager’s name and jump straight to a professional title or the company name and address instead.

2. Greeting

Professionally address the hiring manager by name or by title.

If your staff sleuthing skills serve unsuccessful in finding the exact name of the hiring manager, you may also reference a generic title in the greeting, such as “Dear [Department] Hiring Manager,” to get your message across.

Toss out antiquated greetings used in the past, like “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam,” and personalize your greeting as much as professionally possible for the reader.

Greeting Example

Taylor Jones Austin, TX • 555-555-5555 • [email protected] NOTE: Copy / paste name and contact info directly from your resume so it matches

April 10, 2023

Ms. Erica Jones (optional if you can find this) Senior Vice President, Sales Development (optional if you can find this) ABC Company 123 Career Lane Cold Springs, AZ, 12345

Dear [Hiring Manager Name]: (if available), OR Dear [Department] Hiring Manager:

3. Introduction

Captivate the reader immediately. Weave together relevant professional skills and listed job requirements to lead with an enticing statement.

The introduction of a cover letter shares two to four sentences to explain your interest in the role while setting the stage for what is to come. Promote one or two of your impressive skills or specific knowledge as it relates to the position and grab the hiring manager’s attention.

You can start with a measurable example from your prior experience supported by a reflection of the job description. Then, finish with a question or statement that engages the curiosity of the hiring manager to further explore your professional story.

Introduction Example

From your job description listed on the Handshake job platform, I understand your next Director will be able to ‘meet or exceed established sales goals in a collaborative environment.’ I inspired and led a team of sales representatives who repeatedly surpassed annual profit projections as a regional manager with LMNOP Corporation. How could my team-focused sales management style benefit the overall operations of your organization?

Reinforce how the needs and values of the employer are mirrored by key examples of your past experiences.

Bolster your prior introduction statement with one or two additional stories or examples in the body paragraph to echo your past and potential future contributions. Relate keywords from the earlier company research you conducted and tie in requirements of the job description to explain your case for candidacy. Employment gaps or career transitions may also be addressed in the body paragraphs of the cover letter.

Body Example

Aligned with your company’s values, a Drive for Results was always a focus in my past sales positions. As I progressed through the quarterly campaigns at LMNOP Corporation in a fast-paced and ever-changing environment, I was able to adjust my tactics and use available performance metrics to continually motivate my team and further improve outcomes. I also found these skills especially relevant in my time as a stay-at-home mom of three young children from December 2021 through January 2023, where careful and intentional negotiation skills proved relevant in finding agreeable solutions to everyday challenges.

Express your gratitude and hint at the next steps of the process.

Wrap up your cover letter story with a closing that positions the reader to respond. Be sure to mention an appreciation of their time and attention while also reiterating your interest in being included in the next stages of consideration.

Don’t forget to sign with an outgoing pleasantry and your name.

Closing Example

Thank you for taking the time to review my qualifications and interest. I look forward to the opportunity to speak with you further about how my experience and skills could positively impact the team at ABC Company as your future Director of Sales.

Ready to Write Your Cover Letter?

Customizing your cover letter for each opportunity will be your key to unlocking the genuine interest of the hiring manager. It will also help to deliver your authentic tone and honest intentions of working for the organization.

Lean on family, friends or others who know you best to read through your cover letter draft and provide constructive feedback. You could also consult with a local workforce development office or the Career Services department at your school or university for professional support.

Overall, trust in yourself and your experience and let your accomplishments shine.

You’ve got this!

Is There an Express Version of What to Include in a Cover Letter?

Your newfound cover letter knowledge will be an important resource in your lifetime career journey. The need to write about your relevant professional story could come up at any time for a part-time job, an internal promotion to management or even that dream job just waiting for you in the days, months or years ahead.

Below is a helpful acronym to keep as your blueprint along the way:

  • C onduct research about the position and the company
  • O mit details that stray from job-relevant professional or personal experience
  • V alidate specific bullets on your resume with fortified examples, but don’t simply repeat the same information
  • E ngage the reader from the start with an enticing introduction
  • R espond in the body to listed job qualifications by using creative storytelling

[Take a breather and come back later with a refreshed set of eyes to continue writing]

  • L everage the company mission and values to reflect your own knowledge and skills
  • E xplain gaps in employment or career transitions more clearly and effectively
  • T rust in yourself and be confident in your experience
  • T hank the hiring manager for reviewing your cover letter and application
  • E xpress your interest in the next steps of the recruitment process
  • R emember to consult helpful resources for review and feedback before submitting the cover letter with your application

Online. On campus. Choose your program  from 200+ SNHU degrees that can take you where you want to go.

Dana McGrath is an employer relations partner with Southern New Hampshire University Career Services. She began her SNHU career journey as an admission counselor and was promoted in 2021 to her current role, where she meets and collaborates with external recruiting contacts interested in hiring talent from SNHU online programs.

McGrath holds a BA in Communication Media Studies. She has varied roles scattered throughout her professional story and understands the importance of using a cover letter to highlight her authentic personality and writing skills while also tactfully explaining employment gaps and job transitions. Connect with McGrath on LinkedIn .

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How to Write a General Cover Letter (w/ Templates & Tips!)

Background Image

You're on the hunt for a job, and your resume is all set.

It's the perfect summary of your professional journey so far, and you’re hoping it will land you at least one of the gigs you’re applying to.

There's just one thing left - you need to write a cover letter that fits your resume like a glove.

And, as you’re applying for several positions, you likely don’t want to start your cover letter from scratch every time. Instead, you’d rather learn how to write a general cover letter that you can tweak to fit many applications.

Well, we’re here to help you learn how to do just that.

In this article, we're going to cover:

  • What Is a General Cover Letter
  • How to Write a General Cover Letter
  • General Cover Letter Examples

...and more!

Let's get started.

What is a General Cover Letter?

A general cover letter is a flexible document that’s designed to accompany your CV or resume during a job application.

Unlike a regular cover letter, a general cover letter isn’t tailored to one job.

You can personalize general cover letters without being too specific about a position and easily adapt them to suit applications for different professions and industries.

The structure of a general cover letter makes it more versatile because it includes placeholders (or ‘blanks’) that you can easily swap out for job-specific details.

For example, your general cover letter could have a blank where the company’s name or the specific industry would be written, so you can quickly modify it before sending it out with different job applications.

General cover letters allow you to strike a balance between broad appeal and leaving room for a touch of customization, so you don’t have to struggle against writer’s block every time you try to write a new cover letter during your job hunt .

Still haven’t finished your resume? Check out our full guide on how to make a resume !

General Vs Generic Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter that can be used for different job applications might make you think you should write a generic cover letter.

But there’s a huge difference between writing a general cover letter and a generic cover letter.

A general cover letter is adaptable, and you can customize it to apply for different jobs and industries. The key to a general cover letter is that it has parts that you can easily change, such as the industry you’re applying to or the title of the job you’re after.

These gaps let you quickly tailor each cover letter to the specific position you want. They also manage to show employers that you've thought about how you would fit into their company without having to write a cover letter from scratch.

A generic cover letter, on the other hand, is a cover letter that’s the same for every job application.

Generic cover letters don’t change to match different jobs or companies. Because they aren’t tailored, they rarely impress hiring managers or show them why you’d be a good match for the job.

While generic cover letters are a one-and-done job, they’re not a particularly well-done job at all. Generic cover letters come off as impersonal and forgettable, so we recommend steering clear of them during your job search and instead going for a general cover letter that you can tailor.

Want a Standout Cover Letter? Use a Template!

Making sure your cover letter leaves a good impression on the hiring manager can feel overwhelming.

You have to carefully adjust the layout, tweak the page margins, set the line spacing, choose the most appropriate font, and make sure your text never spills over to page two.

Well, it doesn’t have to be that hard.

Just try one of our cover letter templates !

Each of our templates is made in collaboration with leading HR specialists to make sure your application is industry-friendly 

and stylish. You can even use our resume templates and pick a cover letter template for a matching set.

general cover letter templates

When Should You Use a General Cover Letter?

There are a few cases when you can use a general cover letter as opposed to a uniquely tailored cover letter for each job application.

These include:

#1. When You’re Applying for More Than One Position

If you’re applying for more than one position with the same employer, a general cover letter can help you showcase your interest in contributing to the company in various roles.

In this case, instead of writing a cover letter to fill in the blanks for separate job applications, you should aim for a single, thorough general cover letter that’s tailored to the different positions in the same company you’re applying for.

You can use your general cover letter to communicate your adaptability and enthusiasm for being part of the organization, not just filling a specific position, which can be a great angle for an entry-level cover letter .

Unlike a regular cover letter, which you tailor to the exact position you’re applying for, a general cover letter allows you to highlight skills and experiences that are relevant across all the roles you’re targeting. Use it to emphasize your overall potential as an asset to the company and demonstrate your ability to fit into multiple teams or projects.

Since you’re not focusing on a specific job, your general cover letter should instead show the employer how your personal and professional values align with those of the company regardless of the specific position. Focusing on your broad compatibility with the employer positions you as a valuable candidate.

#2. When You’re Attending a Job Fair

At a job fair, your goal is to present yourself as a good candidate to multiple employers.

In a dynamic setting like this, you have to interact with various companies, so a general cover letter can help you quickly adapt your approach to each potential employer you meet. If you do it right, you can highlight skills and experiences that are applicable across different industries.

A general cover letter also helps you make a strong first impression. Job fairs see their share of resumes, but having a cover letter ready to go puts you one step ahead of other candidates vying for the same job.

Instead of tailoring a cover letter for each company you might be interested in, you can focus on customizing key sections that are relevant to specific jobs or industries. For example, if you’re looking for a job as an accountant , you can easily write a general accountant cover letter and make minimal changes before applying for another job.

This can save you valuable time, and it lets you engage with more hiring managers at the job fair, so you can cast a wider net.

Not sure what to do at your first networking event? Check out these 75+ questions you can use at networking events to help break the ice.

#3. When You’re Applying Through a Referral

If you’re using your professional network to find your next job, a general cover letter can come in handy.

Applying for a job through a referral often means you don’t have a job ad to reference. So, when writing your cover letter, you should focus on your most impressive skills and relevant professional experiences.

Next, it’s time to remove all those blanks and placeholders and add details that will make the hiring manager notice your application.

The more you know about the company, the better. Researching the employer means that even if you don’t know the exact details of the job, you can still highlight what makes you a great candidate for the company in general.

Take the time to also mention your connection with the person who referred you. This can add a personal touch and show that someone who’s already part of the company thinks highly of you.

Trying to write a cover letter for your first internship ? Check out our detailed guide to learn how!

General Cover Letter Text Template

If you’re not sure how to write a general cover letter from scratch, there’s no need to worry. You can borrow our very own general cover letter text template!

Just copy and paste our free cover letter text template into the cover letter builder, and swap out the variables for your details.

[Your Full Name]

[Your Professional Title]

[Your Phone Number]

[Your Email Address]

[Your Location]

[Your LinkedIn Profile URL (optional)]

[Your Personal Website URL (optional)]

[Recipient's Name, e.g., Jane Doe],

[Recipient's Position, e.g., Hiring Manager]

[Company Name, e.g., ABC Corporation]

[Company Address]

[City, State/Country]

Dear [Recipient's Full Name],

As a seasoned [Your Profession] with [Number of Years of Experience] years of industry experience, I am eager to express my interest in the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. With my experience in [Your Industry/Sector] and the successes I've achieved throughout my education and career, I believe I can bring unique value and creativity to your team.

In my current role as [Your Current Job Title], I've taken the lead on more than [Number of Projects/Assignments] projects, some valued up to $[Highest Project Value]. I pride myself on consistently exceeding client expectations and have successfully [Mention a Key Achievement] in just a [Amount of Time] through [Skill] and [Skill].

I've collaborated with various professionals, such as [List Roles], ensuring that all [projects/tasks] meet [relevant standards or objectives]. This hands-on experience, coupled with my dedication to understanding each [client's/customer's] vision, has equipped me to navigate and deliver on complex projects.

My key strengths include:

  • Improving [Achievement] by [%] over [Amount of Time] which resulted in [Quantified Result].
  • Optimizing [Work Process/Responsibility] which saved [Previous Employer] [Amount of Time/Budget/Other Metric] over [Weeks/Months/Years].
  • Spearheading team of [Number of People] to [Task] and achieving [Quantified Result].

Alongside this letter, I've attached my resume. My educational background, a [Your Degree] with a concentration in [Your Specialization], complements the practical skills that I'm particularly eager to share with [Company Name].

I'm excited about the possibility of contributing to [Something Notable About the Company or Its Mission]. I'd be grateful for the chance to delve deeper into how my expertise aligns with your needs.

Thank you for considering my application, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Steps to Writing a General Cover Letter

Now that you’ve seen what a general cover letter looks like, it’s time to write your own.

Just follow these steps, and you’ll be done in no time:

#1. Add Contact Information

At the top of your cover letter, you should include all the information required for the hiring manager to reach you.

This includes:

  • Full Name. We recommend you bold your name and place it at the top of the page.
  • Professional Job Title. If you’re applying for more than one job, you might have to swap this out regularly. Make sure it matches the specific position you're applying for.
  • Email Address. Include a professional and straightforward email address, preferably a version of your first and last name. (E.g.: [email protected], not [email protected])
  • Phone Number. Make sure there are no typos in your phone number, so the hiring manager can easily contact you.
  • Location. Typically, your city and state/country are enough information. But if you're looking for remote work or are willing to relocate, make sure to specify that somewhere.
  • Relevant Links (optional). Feel free to add links to any relevant websites or social media profiles, such as your LinkedIn profile, GitHub, or an online portfolio.

Except for the job title, you don’t need to change your contact information between applications. But you also need to add the hiring manager’s contact information.

Customize this for each cover letter you plan to send:

  • Company Name. Always include the name of the company you're applying for.
  • Hiring Manager's Name. If possible, find the name of the hiring manager for the job you're interested in.
  • Hiring Manager's Title. The hiring managers for different companies will likely have different roles. Some will be head of the department you want to join, while others will be part of the HR team. If you want one less thing to swap out, you can simply keep the job title of the hiring manager in your cover letter as “Hiring Manager.”
  • Location. The general location of the company, such as the city and state/country, is enough. We don’t recommend going into more detail for your general cover letter.
  • Date of Writing (optional). Including the date you wrote your cover letter can add an extra professional touch to your application, so it’s something to consider.

#2. Address the Hiring Manager

Even in your general cover letter, you should skip the impersonal “To Whom It May Concern.”

Instead, give your cover letter a more personalized greeting. If possible, address the hiring manager by name .

You might need to do some research for that. Check the job ad, company website, or LinkedIn page to find out who’s hiring for the role you want. Then, just swap out your placeholder for their full name.

However, you might not have the time to do that. If you’re at a job fair or you just can’t find the name of the hiring manager, you don’t have to worry.

It’s perfectly acceptable to address your cover letter as “Dear Hiring Manager” or even address the company as a whole, like “Dear Company X.”

Take your cover letter to the next level by using these 21+ cover letter tips !

#3. Start with a Strong Opening

Hiring managers tend to skim through cover letters before deciding if they’re worth reading, so your general cover letter should always have an eye-catching opening paragraph.

You should start your cover letter by introducing who you are and why you’re interested in the specific position. Then, mention an impressive achievement or crucial skill that shows you would be an ideal candidate for the role.

We recommend shortlisting several of your most impressive skills and achievements and swapping them out for each other depending on what best matches the specific job you’re tailoring your cover letter for.

Just remember to keep your opening paragraph short and sweet. You’ll have the opportunity to give the hiring manager more details later.

#4. Use the Body for Details

When writing a general cover letter, you might have a hard time figuring out how to craft the body.

This is where all the details about you as a candidate and what you know about the company should go.

But don’t worry! All you need to do is follow these tips:

  • Explain what you can do for the employer. Talk about your most impressive skills and how you can use them to contribute to the company’s work.
  • Mention what you like about the job or industry. Focus on what you enjoy about the specific job or industry you’re aiming for.
  • Be enthusiastic about joining their team. Express genuine enthusiasm about joining their team, as well as confidence that you can make a meaningful contribution.
  • Use proactive language. Swap out cliche phrases for eye-catching action verbs and power words to make your cover letter pop.

Depending on how much time you have, you can research each employer in-depth and provide more details that show why you’re the best candidate according to each of these points.

Need more inspiration? Check out dozens of cover letter examples for different professions !

#5. Conclude It Professionally

Once you write the main body of your general cover letter, all you have to do is prepare a conclusion.

The end of your cover letter should leave the hiring manager confident that you’re the right person for the job.

You can do that by either summarizing your main selling points, like your top skills and most impressive achievements or by reminding them how you believe you can contribute to the company.

We recommend leaving a portion of your conclusion blank so you can tailor it for the specific job you’re applying for and leave the best impression possible on the hiring manager.

Next, include a call to action. This can be a polite prompt for the hiring manager to reach out to you and discuss your application or arrange an interview.

There’s no need to personalize your call to action—it can be simple and universal across all your applications. Finally, include a professional closing line and sign your name underneath to seal the deal on your cover letter.

Here’s an example:

I look forward to discussing how I may contribute to your business, so please don’t hesitate to contact me at your earliest convenience.

Best regards,

Cameron Pearson

general cover letter structure

General Cover Letter FAQs

Still have some questions about general cover letters? Check out the answers to the most frequently asked questions below!

#1. Is a generic cover letter okay?

You should never send a generic cover letter with your job application.

Generic cover letters don’t have any personalization that can show your genuine interest in the specific job or company. In fact, they come across as impersonal and show a lack of effort , which can make hiring managers reject your job application altogether.

You should always tailor your cover letter for each job so you can highlight the relevant skills and professional experiences that will impress the employer. This shows that you've done your homework” and that you’re genuinely enthusiastic about the position.

Even a slightly customized general cover letter is always going to be better than a generic cover letter.

Your general cover letter should still address the employer's needs and make a strong case for your application. It's your best tool for making a memorable first impression, and that’s something a generic cover letter simply won’t help you achieve.

#2. Should a cover letter be simple?

Yes, as a rule, cover letters should be kept simple.

The main focus of any cover letter should be its content. Make sure you keep your formatting clean , with an easy-to-read font and plenty of white space, so the hiring manager can quickly find the essential information.

If you’re applying for a more traditional industry, like law or finance , we recommend sticking to a minimalistic cover letter template. Bold colors or flashy fonts just don’t match those professions.

However, if you’re applying to an industry where creativity is valued, such as graphic design , you can try a more customized template. A strategically placed pop of color could make your cover letter stand out.

#3. How do you format a general cover letter?

A general cover letter is structured with blanks and placeholder information that you can easily swap out depending on the job application.

Make sure you include a place for the hiring manager’s contact information, the company’s name, the date of writing, and the title of the specific position you’re applying for.

Keep the text of your general cover letter separated into neat paragraphs so you can find and swap out the placeholders quickly and the hiring manager can easily navigate and read it later.

#4. Do employers read cover letters?

Yes, employers do read cover letters.

Regardless of whether the job ad explicitly asks for one, you should always submit a cover letter .

Once the hiring manager goes through the initial resume screening, they might use cover letters to decide among candidates they’re on the fence about.

That said, hiring managers might not read the entire cover letter in detail immediately, which is why your opening paragraph is crucial. You want to make sure to catch their attention right off the bat, so they want to read more about you.

If they skim through your cover letter and don’t see any relevant keywords or qualifications, they might skip your cover letter, and your application could get tossed in the ‘no’ pile.

#5. How long should a general cover letter be?

Your general cover letter can range from a half-page to one full page. On average, a cover letter should always be between 250 and 400 words .

The cover letter is your first chance to communicate who you are to the hiring manager and why you’re the right candidate for the job, using your own words. If you don’t consider the standard cover letter length, you could leave the hiring manager with a bad impression.

A good cover letter gets your point across quickly without delving into too many details the hiring manager could get lost in. If you go over the recommended length, the hiring manager might never actually bother reading your cover letter at all.

Key Takeaways

And you’ve made it to the end of our article!

Now you know all there is to know about writing a general cover letter. Hopefully, you feel confident about writing the perfect cover letter and landing your dream job!

But before we go, let’s quickly recap our main points:

  • General cover letters can usually be applied to different job openings, industries, and employers with minimal tailoring. We recommend writing one template with placeholders or blanks that you can swap out for details as necessary.
  • A general cover letter doesn’t need as much tailoring as writing a cover letter from scratch, but you should still put effort into it. Sending the same generic text to every employer is a huge mistake that could cost you a job opportunity.
  • Formatting your general cover letter can be time-consuming. Instead of spending valuable time on the layout, consider using one of our cover letter templates instead.
  • You’re most likely to need a general cover letter when applying for more than one job at the same company when applying for a job through a referral, or during a job fair.

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purpose of covering letter in resume

5 Easy-to-Use Online Resume Tools to Make Better CVs and Land Jobs

T he first step to landing your dream job is to make a resume that will impress any recruiter. From open-source and privacy-friendly online CV makers to AI-assisted cover letters, these free tools make it easier than ever to create a resume that will stand out from the crowd.

1. OpenResume (Web): Open Source, 100% Free and Ad-Free, Privacy-Friendly

A common issue with several online resume builders is that even though they tout they are free, there are several hidden clauses. They'll have ads, or ask you to sign up to store your personal and professional information on their servers or ask for a fee to remove watermarks when downloading the final PDF. OpenResume is an attempt to solve all those issues by building an open-source, completely free, and ad-free online resume builder which also protects your privacy.

OpenResume guides first-time resume makers to create a new CV with a template that relies on best standards and practices. Simply fill the data in the boxes as asked, and you'll see the resume updating in real-time in the preview. You can tweak colors, fonts, and paper size at any time.

The app works in your browser cache, so you won't be sending any of this data to the internet, keeping your information private and safe. OpenResume also includes a parser to check how ATS systems will read your CV, letting you then write an ATS-friendly resume .

2. Leet Resumes (Web): AI Analyzes and Upgrades Your Current Resume

After using writers to create thousands of free resumes for job applicants, Leet Resumes has trained an AI to analyze those resumes and use those learnings to make changes to your existing resume. It's completely free too.

Start by uploading your current resume as a PDF or DOC file. Leet Resumes will then take you through a series of steps to spruce up the CV. It will determine what your next job positions could be, suggest words and skills to add to your current resume, and coax information from you through pointed questions. Once you finish the questionnaire, Leet Resumes will create a new CV for you with all this information.

You can download the resume for free and then even tweak it if you want to make changes. Leet Resumes follows only one resume template design, but it's a standard recommended by founder Marc Cenedella, an expert in recruiting who has also written multiple books on how to write winning resumes.

3. Chat Career (Web): AI-Crafted Resume Tailored for Job Postings

One of the essential tips for a winning resume is to tweak it slightly for each job that you're applying for. It shows you have read the job posting and understood the requirements. Chat Career uses AI to help you make such tailored resumes.

When you start the app, you'll need to add the job description from the company's posting. Then, you can either upload your current CV, give it access to your LinkedIn bio, or craft a new resume from scratch. Chat Career will then review whether you are fit for the job. The AI asks questions in a chat window, much like using ChatGPT. Answer questions in plain English, and provide as many details as you want.

It will brainstorm with you about how you should highlight your experience and qualifications and even suggests how to add missing elements for maximum job fit. Once the process is done, you'll get a new resume, ready to send to this job. And if you save your profile, you can then use Chat Career to quickly generate tailored resumes for any future job postings.

4. CoverLetterGPT (Web): Generate Cover Letters Quickly With ChatGPT

Much like tailoring your CV for the job description, it's good practice to write a cover letter that addresses the hiring manager directly. The key to writing a good cover letter is to succinctly explain why you are the right fit for the job, how your resume will reflect that, and to display your personality through your words. A lot of people struggle with it, but the whole process is much smoother when AI assists you.

As the name suggests, CoverLetterGPT will help you write a cover letter using ChatGPT without needing to learn ChatGPT prompts or even create an OpenAI account. Add the job title, company, job description, and upload your current CV. Once CoverLetterGPT analyzes this input, it'll spit out a cover letter in a few seconds that you can copy-paste into a document.

CoverLetterGPT also lets you easily prompt ChatGPT to change any sentence or paragraph in the cover letter it has generated. Highlight the text, and you'll get an option to ask ChatGPT to make it more concise, detailed, professional, or informal. You can also ask for a whimsical sign-off to add a little fun to your letter.

5. SwiftCV (Web): Free, Beautiful Personal Online Resume Web Page

Can you really afford to apply for a job in the 2020s without an online CV? And it needs to look a little better than a basic web page where you've uploaded your resume as a PDF. SwiftCV makes it easy for anyone with no knowledge of creating websites to make a beautiful online resume that you can share with recruiters.

Create an account, and you can start adding details in different sections, as prompted by SwiftCV. You can also import your LinkedIn profile to quickly populate your online CV. The app makes good use of company logos, font colors, sizes, and other icons to make a resume that looks modern and professional. It also follows a responsive design, so your CV can be read on a computer or phone.

In the end, you'll get an online CV with a custom URL for you. SwiftCV also shows you analytics data of people who viewed your profile, so you can track who is interested. The free version has a few limitations (such as the downloadable PDF and website having SwiftCV branding), but most job-seekers probably don't need to pay for the premium version.

Don't Rely on AI Alone

It's amazing how AI is helping users to create better resumes and CVs, especially for those who don't have senior professionals to guide them through the process. But you do run the risk of not standing out from the crowd if you over-rely on AI. To add a personal touch, use the AI suggestions as a starting block, and edit it to infuse your personality into the resume or cover letter.

5 Easy-to-Use Online Resume Tools to Make Better CVs and Land Jobs


  1. What Is the Purpose of a Cover Letter?

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  11. What is a cover letter's purpose and how do you write one?

    It should help prepare a recruiter to read your resume and encourages the person to contact you. A cover letter normally takes up only one page and contains a greeting, followed by: Work experience relevant to the job's requirements. Your current career situation and reason for applying. An anecdote or success story.

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