Cover Letter Details

What to Include in a Cover Letter for a Job

What to Include in Each Section of a Cover Letter

When writing a cover letter, specific information needs to be included: a contact section, a salutation, an introduction to the hiring manager, information on why you are qualified for the job, a closing, and your signature. The way the information is listed and the format depend on how you are sending your letter. 

The goal of your cover letter is to make a case for getting selected for a job interview, so it's important to include all required information along with a compelling argument that you're a strong candidate for the position.

It can be time consuming to write a custom cover letter for each job you apply for, but it's important to take the time and effort to show the company why you are a good match. The more you and your skills match the job description, the higher your chances of getting picked for an interview.

Include information in your letter about how you have the requirements the employer is seeking. Don't simply repeat what's in your resume. Your resume lists your skills, but your cover letter should be an opportunity to highlight how you have put those skills to use.

Before you start writing, take the time to review cover letter examples, then make sure that your letter explains how your skills relate to the criteria listed in the job posting. Looking at examples of effective cover letters will give you a starting point for creating your own letter.

Here's what to include in a cover letter to send with a resume when you apply for a job.

  • 01

    What to List in a Cover Letter Contact Section

    When writing a cover letter to mail or to upload to a job board or company website, the first section of your cover letter should include information on how the employer can contact you.

    When you send an email cover letter, include your contact information in your signature instead of listing your contact information at the top of the message.

  • 02

    Choose a Cover Letter Salutation

    It's important to include an appropriate salutation at the beginning of the cover letter or message. If you have a contact person for your letter, be sure to include that name in your letter. Consider salutation examples that are appropriate for cover letters and other employment-related correspondence.

  • 03

    The Body Section of a Cover Letter

    The body is the important part of a cover letter or an email message applying for employment. The body of a cover letter includes the paragraphs where you explain why you are interested in and qualified for the posted job. Be specific by referencing in this part of the letter the employer's job requirements as listed in the job posting.

  • 04

    Include Keywords in Your Letter

    Including keywords related to the jobs for which you are applying in your cover letters can help you get selected for a job interview. These are specific words hiring managers look for when considering applications. As hiring processes have become automated, online applicant tracking systems are programmed to search for keywords.

  • 05

    Choose an Appropriate Closing

    Make sure to close your letter in a professional manner.

  • 06

    How to Add Your Signature to the Letter

    What is included in a cover letter signature depends on whether you are sending or uploading a cover letter document or using an email message as your cover letter. Hard copies of letters should be signed by hand. Scanning your section to include on PDFs can be a nice touch, while emails should include a professional electronic signature that includes your contact information.

  • 07

    What to Include in an Email Cover Letter

    The body of an email cover letter should contain the same information as a document cover letter, but two big differences are the subject line and your contact information. Follow instructions for the subject line. Many employers ask that specific information be included in the subject line. Follow those instructions carefully. Contact information should be included with your electronic signature.

  • A cover letter is generally the first point of contact with a prospective employer. It needs to be engaging and show the employer that you have the skills to do the job. A good cover letter can help you get a job interview by convincing an employer that you are what they are looking for and it will also demonstrate your written communication skills. Your letter should:

    • include a brief introduction about yourself and state the purpose for writing
    • highlight relevant skills, qualifications and experience to be considered for a job interview.
    • give real life examples (meeting minimum selection criteria).
    • target your letter to be specific about the role.
    • inject your personal style into your writing to stand out above the competition.
    Include contact details

    Your details

    • Name
    • Address
    • Telephone and mobile numbers
    • Email address

    Employer's details

    • Name
    • Job title
    • Company name
    • Address
    Opening and closing the letter

    Employer's name known

    • Dear Mr/Mrs (name)
    • Yours sincerely (your signature and name)

    Name unknown

    • Dear Sir/Madam
    • Yours faithfully (your signature and name)

    Content

    Paragraph Details
    1. Purpose of your letter If replying to an ad, include the job title and reference/job number (if known). You can state how you found out about the job. Sound enthusiastic about wanting the job to capture the employer's attention.

    Writing a letter of enquiry (sometimes known as cold contact letters), you should target organisations that you are interested to work for. Briefly include your current career or study circumstances and any specialised professional abilities. Be specific about the type of job you are interested in being considered for.
    2. Why you want this job Explain how your qualification and career plan match the job.

    The details you provide should show that you have done your research and understand what the job entail, what the company and industry are looking for. Do not copy sentences from their website.
    3. Your specialist skills that are relevant to the job Identify employer needs and the value you can bring to the organisation with the skills you can offer. Describe your specialist skills - relevant qualifications, experiences, achievements and skills as your selling point. Give examples to support your claims.

    Briefly describe your course (if not finished include your finishing date), majors or specialisations and results if they are strong.
    4. Your general skills that are relevant to the job List your general skills such as communication and interpersonal skills, teamwork, initiative and enterprise, problem solving, planning and organising, self-management, technology.

    Give examples from all your experiences - team projects, paid work, voluntary work, community activities or sport to provide evidence.
    5. Closing Refer to your resume and any attachments.

    Say you are interested in an interview and when you are available. For cold contact letters, say when you will call to follow up.

    Finish on a positive note and thank the employer for their time.

    Format and style

    • One A4 typed page with margins not too narrow
    • 10-12 point standard fonts (eg Times New Roman, Arial)
    • Plain business English (avoid abbreviations, jargon and slang)
    • 100% accurate spelling and grammar
    • Short concise sentences (avoid chunky paragraphs)
    • Clear structure - one main idea per paragraph
    • White space between paragraphs
    • A positive tone (do not include your weaknesses)

    Check the document

    Monash University Gippsland students studying at Federation University, view details on services provided.

    Resources

    Sample cover letters

    • Business - cold call enquiry (pdf, 0.36 mb)
    • Commerce (pdf, 0.4 mb)
    • Commerce - event follow up (pdf, 0.18 mb)
    • Education (pdf, 0.33 mb)
    • Engineering - graduate (pdf, 0.36 mb)
    • Engineering - vacation (pdf, 0.33 mb)
    • Engineering - vacation - cold call enquiry (pdf, 0.45 mb)
    • Environmental Science (pdf, 0.16 mb)
    • Information Technology (pdf, 0.34 mb)
    • Information Technology - vacation - cold call enquiry (pdf, 0.35 mb)
    • Interior Architecture (pdf, 0.39 mb)
    • Law (Clerkships) (pdf, 0.32 mb)
    • Medicine (pdf, 0.1 mb)
    • Music (pdf, 0.44 mb)
    • Nursing (pdf, 0.31 mb)
    • Politics (pdf, 0.34 mb)
    • Pharmacy intern (pdf, 0.23 mb)
    • Pharmaceutical science (pdf, 0.25 mb)
    • Pharmaceutical science - postgraduate (pdf, 0.27 mb)
    • Public Relations (pdf, 0.57 mb)
    • Radiation therapy (pdf, 0.27 mb)
    • Radiography and Medical Imaging (pdf, 0.33 mb)
    • Science (pdf, 0.24 mb)
    • Social work (pdf, 0.24 mb)
    • Volunteering (pdf, 0.32 mb)
    • Work shadowing request (pdf, 0.26 mb)

    Defining your general skills

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