Writing a cover letter is still an essential part of securing that job that you’re applying to. While some job postings no longer require that you spend time filling out, drafting, or coming up with a cover letter, nearly every position you apply to will still require that you at least submit some kind of a cover letter with your application and resume. Therefore, it’s important that you’re aware of the importance behind cover letters, and know what the essential parts of a cover letter are so you can stand out as a leading candidate when you’re applying to jobs.
Cover letters are an essential way for you to drive home why the employer should consider you over other applicants. In the event that your resume and application are just so-so, your cover letter can be the difference in being pushed forward during the consideration phase, or having your application put in the ignore pile.
Your cover letter gives you the ability to highlight important points to remember and demonstrate additional reasons as to why you should be considered for the position.
When you’re getting ready to draft your cover letter, it’s important to ensure that you cover all of the essential parts of a cover letter. Failing to hit all the right points throughout your cover letter either means that you’re missing an opportunity to sell yourself or you’re leaving room for improvement. We’ve taken the time to identify the essential parts of a cover letter that you should be sure to include, as well as the reasoning behind why each part of the cover letter is necessary!
1. Personal Contact Information
The very first thing you want to include in your cover letter is some personal contact information for yourself. This means that you’re clearly stating who the cover letter is from, how they can get in touch with you, and some additional methods of communication like your personal mailing address, your contact phone number, and an email address they can use to get in touch with you quickly.
You want to include your personal contact information in a block style, meaning that it should be left-aligned and at the top of your cover letter.
Here is a good example of what your cover letter personal contact information section should look like:
12345 Fake St
Schenectady, NY 12345
While this is an essential part of your personal contact information section, there are some other things you can include here as well. Just like your resume, you can also choose to include other important details that you want to draw attention to like your personal portfolio site, or your LinkedIn profile link as well.
If you’re submitting applications, resumes, and cover letters to jobs where they are going to need to review your personal portfolio, then including this information would be a good idea in the contact information part of a cover letter.
You need to be careful though when you’re considering using additional parts in your contact section, as your contact section shouldn’t be too lengthy. The contact section and part of your cover letter shouldn’t be half the page because you’re doing a new line for each new addition. Instead, you want it to be a succinct section of your cover letter that clearly highlights how the individual can get in touch with you if they’d like to reach back out to you at a later time.
In addition, you want to make sure that the contact email address you use in your personal contact information part of your cover letter is completely appropriate. You don’t want to include something that you used in elementary or middle school. Something along the lines of, “email@example.com” won’t work anymore.
Instead, you should opt for using a professional email address in your contact information along the lines of: “firstname.lastname@example.org” or “email@example.com”. This way you don’t have to worry about being eliminated from consideration because the email address you’ve chosen to list on your cover letter is deemed inappropriate.
The last thing you want to do is to appear unprofessional because they open your cover letter and read the very first section and instantly think to themselves, “Well this candidate can’t be taken seriously.” It’s a little detail, but it can have a massive impact on the impression you set.
The next thing you want to include on your cover letter is the date that the cover letter was written. If you’re submitting your cover letter with your application and resume, then you want to make sure that the date you’re including on your cover letter is the date that you’re submitting all the application materials.
Some individuals like to include or set the date at the top of the document, above the personal contact information, but the choice is up to you. You just need to make sure that you include this essential part of a cover letter either before your personal contact information or right after it.
Including the date is important to make sure that you are expressing your interest in the position that you’re applying to recently. You don’t want to frustrate the individuals who are reviewing application materials by making them question how long ago you had an interest in the position.
3. Employer Contact Information
Once you’ve gotten your contact information and date out of the way, the next essential part of a cover letter is the employer’s contact information. In the old days, when most applications were submitting in person or by mail, including the employer’s contact information was an important step to make sure that the cover letter was sent to the correct person. Considering times have changed and most contact letters are submitted as part of the online application process, including the employer’s contact information is still an important step to ensure that you’re addressing the right individuals.
You have two choices when you’re addressing the employer contact information part of your cover letter. If you know who will be reviewing all of the application materials and cover letters for the position that you’re applying to, you should address the cover letter to them specifically. If you don’t, then it’s ok to address the company itself in the employer contact information section. Here are two examples to highlight the differences between the two:
Anyone At The Company
12345 Fake St.
Schenectady, NY, 12345
Professional At The Company
12345 Fake St.
Schenectady, NY, 12345
The next essential part of a cover letter that you should include is the salutation. While it might seem like a tiny part of the cover letter itself, the salutation is one of the most important pieces and parts of a cover letter. The reason for this is that it helps to set the professional tone of the entire cover letter, and also highlights your ability to pay respect to the individual or individuals reading it.
One of the best ways to make sure that you help stand out as the leading candidate with your cover letter and set yourself up for success is to try and use personalized salutations. In the old days, it was completely acceptable to use, “To Whom It May Concern” as the main salutation. Unfortunately, times have changed and that greeting should only be used as an absolute last resort.
Instead, you should try and figure out who will be reviewing the application materials and making the decisions on the candidate consideration phase. In doing so, you can address your cover letter properly to set yourself apart from those other individuals and professionals who are using generic greetings in their cover letter.
One of the best ways to figure out who to address your cover letter to is to simply call up the organization that you’re applying to. All it takes is a quick question of who will be managing the applications or the candidate consideration process. Often, you can even get their personal contact information just by asking for it.
One of the best ways to figure out who you should address your cover letter to is by using this script we’ve outlined below:
“Hello, my name is (your name), and I’m just calling in regards to the (position name) position. I’m in the process of filling out the application online and I’d like to know who I should address it to. Can you tell me who is in charge of making the hiring decisions for the position? Is it possible to get their contact information?”
This simple script will help you get all the important information you need when you’re getting ready to craft your salutation. In addition, you might even receive their personal business email address, so you can submit the materials to them directly.
In the event that you cannot find out who the individual is by calling the organization, then do a quick LinkedIn search and see if you can identify who the HR professionals are or the hiring manager is on LinkedIn. You might have to do some digging with this route, but it’ll be worth it when you address the contact letter directly to them and make it feel more personalized than just some generic cover letter that you’re sending to everyone else.
In the event that you cannot find out who you should be addressing the cover letter to, then you can use a generic “Dear Hiring Manager”. This should be a last resort option like we’ve outlined above, as you want your cover letter to feel personalized each time you make it and send it out with a position you’re considering.
5. Opening Statement
The opening statement is arguably the most important part of a cover letter because it is where you will begin to set yourself apart from other candidates. The opening statement is the part of a cover letter where you will highlight why they should even consider you over other applicants. A good way to look at the opening statement of your cover letter is to think of it as the grab. You want to grab the attention of the individual reviewing your cover letter.
Similar to catching fish, you need to grab the attention of the individual reviewing your cover letter by making them think to themselves something along the lines of, “Hmm, this candidate seems interesting,” or “This candidate might seem like a good choice.”
If your introductory or opening statement of your cover letter is weak, what incentive does the individual reviewing your cover letter have to read the rest of it? You might lose them with a weak cover letter introduction, so you need to grab their attention right off the bat.
The best way to build a strong opening statement on your cover letter is to be straight to the point and let them know why you’re interested in the position. From there, you want to let them know why you feel that the position would be a good fit for you based on your experience and background, and demonstrate that you’re excited to be considered for the opportunity.
6. Sales Pitch
The second paragraph of your cover letter should be the sales pitch portion of your cover letter. This is the part of a cover letter where you demonstrate what you have to offer them by going into a little bit more detail about what you’ve been able to accomplish in your career or professional background.
For instance, this is a great way to demonstrate how you’ve been able to perform at a high level in the tasks or responsibilities they’ve outlined in their job posting. If they’re looking for someone who is an exceptional digital marketer, then you should highlight how you’ve been able to accomplish things in your past that would make your qualifications the ideal match for the position.
7. Call to Action
The next essential part of your cover letter is the call to action. This part of yoru cover letter is where you drive home the urge to have them reach out to you. It’s important to remember that your cover letter is just an introduction to who you might be and offer some additional details on why they should consider you for the position. You want to create a compelling argument throughout your cover letter that your call to action should be relatively straight forward and simple based on the groundwork you’ve laid earlier.
The best way to structure the call to action part of your cover letter is to reiterate why you’re interested in the job and highlight why you feel like you’d be a great asset to the organization. In your call to action, you also want to include that you’re excited to hear back from them and would be open to a call or interview to discuss potentially learning more about the position and company.
8. Closing and Closing Salutation
The next section of your cover letter is the closing paragraph and the closing salutation. This is where you bring the entire cover letter full circle and thank the individual reviewing your cover letter for both their time and their consideration. In this essential part of your cover letter, you want to remind them that you appreciate their consideration and that you look forward to hearing back from them regarding the position and potential next steps.
If you have additional documents you’d like the individual to look at as well, let them know that you’ve also attached the other documents for their consideration. Typical documents to list in the attachment disclosure is your resume, application, and portfolio (if it applies).
The next thing you should do is use a professional salutation to close the cover letter. The best closing salutation that we recommend is the “Sincerely” salutation.
While drafting and building a cover letter might seem like an outdated practice, many jobs will still require them as part of the application process. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you’ve included the essential parts of a cover letter that we’ve outlined above when you’re getting ready to submit your application for a job that you’re interested in.
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