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How to write a great cover letter in 2024: tips and structure


A cover letter is a personalized letter that introduces you to a potential employer, highlights your qualifications, and explains why you're a strong fit for a specific job.

Hate or love them, these brief documents allow job seekers to make an impression and stand out from the pile of other applications. Penning a thoughtful cover letter shows the hiring team you care about earning the position.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to write a cover letter — and a great one, at that.

What is a cover letter and why does it matter?

A professional cover letter is a one-page document you submit alongside your CV or resume as part of a job application. Typically, they’re about half a page or around 150–300 words.

An effective cover letter doesn’t just rehash your CV; it’s your chance to highlight your proudest moments, explain why you want the job, and state plainly what you bring to the table.

Show the reviewer you’re likable, talented, and will add to the company’s culture . You can refer to previous jobs and other information from your CV, but only if it helps tell a story about you and your career choices .

What 3 things should you include in a cover letter?

A well-crafted cover letter can help you stand out to potential employers. To make your cover letter shine, here are three key elements to include:

1. Personalization

Address the hiring manager or recruiter by name whenever possible. If the job posting doesn't include a name, research to find out who will be reviewing applications. Personalizing your cover letter shows that you've taken the time to tailor your application to the specific company and role.

2. Highlight relevant achievements and skills

Emphasize your most relevant skills , experiences, and accomplishments that directly relate to the job you're applying for. Provide specific examples of how your skills have benefited previous employers and how they can contribute to the prospective employer's success. Use quantifiable achievements , such as improved efficiency, cost savings, or project success, to demonstrate your impact.

3. Show enthusiasm and fit

Express your enthusiasm for the company and the position you're applying for. Explain why you are interested in this role and believe you are a good fit for the organization. Mention how your values, goals, and skills align with the company's mission and culture. Demonstrating that you've done your research can make a significant impression.

What do hiring managers look for in a cover letter?

Employers look for several key elements in a cover letter. These include:

Employers want to see that your cover letter is specifically tailored to the position you are applying for. It should demonstrate how your skills, experiences, and qualifications align with the job requirements.

Clear and concise writing

A well-written cover letter is concise, easy to read, and error-free. Employers appreciate clear and effective communication skills , so make sure your cover letter showcases your ability to express yourself effectively.

Demonstrated knowledge of the company

Employers want to see that you are genuinely interested in their organization. Mention specific details about the company, such as recent achievements or projects, to show that you are enthusiastic about joining their team.

Achievements and accomplishments

Highlight your relevant achievements and accomplishments that demonstrate your qualifications for the position. Use specific examples to showcase your skills and show how they can benefit the employer.

Enthusiasm and motivation

Employers want to hire candidates who are excited about the opportunity and motivated to contribute to the company's success. Express your enthusiasm and passion for the role and explain why you are interested in working for the company.


A cover letter should be professional in tone and presentation. Use formal language, address the hiring manager appropriately, and follow standard business letter formatting.


How do you structure a cover letter?

A well-structured cover letter follows a specific format that makes it easy for the reader to understand your qualifications and enthusiasm for the position. Here's a typical structure for a cover letter:

Contact information

Include your name, address, phone number, and email address at the top of the letter. Place your contact information at the beginning so that it's easy for the employer to reach you.

Employer's contact information

Opening paragraph, middle paragraph(s), closing paragraph, complimentary close, additional contact information.

Repeat your contact information (name, phone number, and email) at the end of the letter, just in case the employer needs it for quick reference.

Remember to keep your cover letter concise and focused. It should typically be no more than one page in length. Proofread your letter carefully to ensure it is free from spelling and grammatical errors. Tailor each cover letter to the specific job application to make it as relevant and impactful as possible.

How to write a good cover letter (with examples)

The best letters are unique, tailored to the job description, and written in your voice — but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a job cover letter template.

Great cover letters contain the same basic elements and flow a certain way. Take a look at this cover letter structure for ref erence while you construct your own.

1. Add a header and contact information

While reading your cover letter, the recruiter shouldn’t have to look far to find who wrote it. Your document should include a basic heading with the following information:

  • Pronouns (optional)
  • Location (optional)
  • Email address
  • Phone number (optional)
  • Relevant links, such as your LinkedIn profile , portfolio, or personal website (optional)

You can pull this information directly from your CV. Put it together, and it will look something like this:

Christopher Pike

San Francisco, California

[email protected]

Alternatively, if the posting asks you to submit your cover letter in the body of an email, you can include this information in your signature. For example:

Warm regards,

Catherine Janeway

Bloomington, Indiana

[email protected]

(555) 999 - 2222


2. Include a personal greeting

Always begin your cover letter by addressing the hiring manager — preferably by name. You can use the person’s first and last name. Make sure to include a relevant title, like Dr., Mr., or Ms. For example, “Dear Mr. John Doe.”

Avoid generic openings like “To whom it may concern,” “Dear sir or madam,” or “Dear hiring manager.” These introductions sound impersonal — like you’re copy-pasting cover letters — and can work against you in the hiring process.

Be careful, though. When using someone’s name, you don’t want to use the wrong title or accidentally misgender someone. If in doubt, using only their name is enough. You could also opt for a gender-neutral title, like Mx.

Make sure you’re addressing the right person in your letter — ideally, the person who’s making the final hiring decision. This isn’t always specified in the job posting, so you may have to do some research to learn the name of the hiring manager.

3. Draw them in with an opening story

The opening paragraph of your cover letter should hook the reader. You want it to be memorable, conversational, and extremely relevant to the job you’re pursuing. 

There’s no need for a personal introduction — you’ve already included your name in the heading. But you should make reference to the job you’re applying for. A simple “Thank you for considering my application for the role of [job title] at [company],” will suffice.

Then you can get into the “Why” of your job application. Drive home what makes this specific job and this company so appealing to you. Perhaps you’re a fan of their products, you’re passionate about their mission, or you love their brand voice. Whatever the case, this section is where you share your enthusiasm for the role.

Here’s an example opening paragraph. In this scenario, you’re applying for a digital marketing role at a bicycle company:

“Dear Mr. John Doe,

Thank you for considering my application for the role of Marketing Coordinator at Bits n’ Bikes.

My parents bought my first bike at one of your stores. I’ll never forget the freedom I felt when I learned to ride it. My father removed my training wheels, and my mom sent me barrelling down the street. You provide joy to families across the country — and I want to be part of that.”

4. Emphasize why you’re best for the job

Your next paragraphs should be focused on the role you’re applying to. Highlight your skill set and why you’re a good fit for the needs and expectations associated with the position. Hiring managers want to know what you’ll bring to the job, not just any role.

Start by studying the job description for hints. What problem are they trying to solve with this hire? What skills and qualifications do they mention first or more than once? These are indicators of what’s important to the hiring manager.

Search for details that match your experience and interests. For example, if you’re excited about a fast-paced job in public relations, you might look for these elements in a posting:

  • They want someone who can write social media posts and blog content on tight deadlines
  • They value collaboration and input from every team member
  • They need a planner who can come up with strong PR strategies

Highlight how you fulfill these requirements:

“I’ve always been a strong writer. From blog posts to social media, my content pulls in readers and drives traffic to product pages. For example, when I worked at Bits n’ Bikes, I developed a strategic blog series about bike maintenance that increased our sales of spare parts and tools by 50% — we could see it in our web metrics.

Thanks to the input of all of our team members, including our bike mechanics, my content delivered results.”

5. End with a strong closing paragraph and sign off gracefully

Your closing paragraph is your final chance to hammer home your enthusiasm about the role and your unique ability to fill it. Reiterate the main points you explained in the body paragraphs and remind the reader of what you bring to the table.

You can also use the end of your letter to relay other important details, like whether you’re willing to relocate for the job.

When choosing a sign-off, opt for a phrase that sounds professional and genuine. Reliable options include “Sincerely” and “Kind regards.”

Here’s a strong closing statement for you to consider:

“I believe my enthusiasm, skills, and work experience as a PR professional will serve Bits n’ Bikes very well. I would love to meet to further discuss my value-add as your next Director of Public Relations. Thank you for your consideration. I hope we speak soon.


Tips to write a great cover letter that compliments your resume

When writing your own letter, try not to copy the example excerpts word-for-word. Instead, use this cover letter structure as a baseline to organize your ideas. Then, as you’re writing, use these extra cover letter tips to add your personal touch:

  • Keep your cover letter different from your resume : Your cover letter should not duplicate the information on your resume. Instead, it should provide context and explanations for key points in your resume, emphasizing how your qualifications match the specific job you're applying for.
  • Customize your cover letter . Tailor your cover letter for each job application. Address the specific needs of the company and the job posting, demonstrating that you've done your homework and understand their requirements.
  • Show enthusiasm and fit . Express your enthusiasm for the company and position in the cover letter. Explain why you are interested in working for this company and how your values, goals, and skills align with their mission and culture.
  • Use keywords . Incorporate keywords from the job description and industry terms in your cover letter. This can help your application pass through applicant tracking systems (ATS) and demonstrate that you're well-versed in the field.
  • Keep it concise . Your cover letter should be succinct and to the point, typically no more than one page. Focus on the most compelling qualifications and experiences that directly support your application.
  • Be professional . Maintain a professional tone and structure in your cover letter. Proofread it carefully to ensure there are no errors.
  • Address any gaps or concerns . If there are gaps or concerns in your resume, such as employment gaps or a change in career direction, briefly address them in your cover letter. Explain any relevant circumstances and how they have shaped your qualifications and determination.
  • Provide a call to action . Conclude your cover letter with a call to action, inviting the employer to contact you for further discussion. Mention that you've attached your resume for their reference.
  • Follow the correct format . Use a standard cover letter format like the one above, including your contact information, a formal salutation, introductory and closing paragraphs, and your signature. Ensure that it complements your resume without redundancy.
  • Pick the right voice and tone . Try to write like yourself, but adapt to the tone and voice of the company. Look at the job listing, company website, and social media posts. Do they sound fun and quirky, stoic and professional, or somewhere in-between? This guides your writing style.
  • Tell your story . You’re an individual with unique expertise, motivators, and years of experience. Tie the pieces together with a great story. Introduce how you arrived at this point in your career, where you hope to go , and how this prospective company fits in your journey. You can also explain any career changes in your resume.
  • Show, don’t tell . Anyone can say they’re a problem solver. Why should a recruiter take their word for it if they don’t back it up with examples? Instead of naming your skills, show them in action. Describe situations where you rose to the task, and quantify your success when you can.
  • Be honest . Avoid highlighting skills you don’t have. This will backfire if they ask you about them in an interview. Instead, shift focus to the ways in which you stand out.
  • Avoid clichés and bullet points . These are signs of lazy writing. Do your best to be original from the first paragraph to the final one. This highlights your individuality and demonstrates the care you put into the letter.
  • Proofread . Always spellcheck your cover letter. Look for typos, grammatical errors, and proper flow. We suggest reading it out loud. If it sounds natural rolling off the tongue, it will read naturally as well.


Common cover letter writing FAQs

How long should a cover letter be.

A cover letter should generally be concise and to the point. It is recommended to keep it to one page or less, focusing on the most relevant information that highlights your qualifications and fits the job requirements.

Should I include personal information in a cover letter?

While it's important to introduce yourself and provide your contact information, avoid including personal details such as your age, marital status, or unrelated hobbies. Instead, focus on presenting your professional qualifications and aligning them with the job requirements.

Can I use the same cover letter for multiple job applications?

While it may be tempting to reuse a cover letter, it is best to tailor each cover letter to the specific job you are applying for. This allows you to highlight why you are a good fit for that particular role and show genuine interest in the company.

Do I need to address my cover letter to a specific person?

Whenever possible, it is advisable to address your cover letter to a specific person, such as the hiring manager or recruiter. If the job posting does not provide this information, try to research and find the appropriate contact. If all else fails, you can use a generic salutation such as "Dear Hiring Manager."

Should I include references in my cover letter?

It is generally not necessary to include references in your cover letter. Save this information for when the employer explicitly requests it. Instead, focus on showcasing your qualifications and achievements that make you a strong candidate for the position.

It’s time to start writing your stand-out cover letter

The hardest part of writing is getting started. 

Hopefully, our tips gave you some jumping-off points and confidence . But if you’re really stuck, looking at cover letter examples and resume templates will help you decide where to get started. 

There are numerous sample cover letters available online. Just remember that you’re a unique, well-rounded person, and your cover letter should reflect that. Using our structure, you can tell your story while highlighting your passion for the role. 

Doing your research, including strong examples of your skills, and being courteous is how to write a strong cover letter. Take a breath , flex your fingers, and get typing. Before you know it, your job search will lead to a job interview.

If you want more personalized guidance, a specialized career coach can help review, edit, and guide you through creating a great cover letter that sticks.

Ace your job search

Explore effective job search techniques, interview strategies, and ways to overcome job-related challenges. Our coaches specialize in helping you land your dream job.

Elizabeth Perry, ACC

Elizabeth Perry is a Coach Community Manager at BetterUp. She uses strategic engagement strategies to cultivate a learning community across a global network of Coaches through in-person and virtual experiences, technology-enabled platforms, and strategic coaching industry partnerships. With over 3 years of coaching experience and a certification in transformative leadership and life coaching from Sofia University, Elizabeth leverages transpersonal psychology expertise to help coaches and clients gain awareness of their behavioral and thought patterns, discover their purpose and passions, and elevate their potential. She is a lifelong student of psychology, personal growth, and human potential as well as an ICF-certified ACC transpersonal life and leadership Coach.

3 cover letter examples to help you catch a hiring manager’s attention

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How to Write a Cover Letter [Full Guide & Examples for 2024]

Background Image

After weeks of heavy job searching, you’re almost there!

You’ve perfected your resume.

You’ve short-listed the coolest jobs you want to apply for.

You’ve even had a friend train you for every single interview question out there.

But then, before you can send in your application and call it a day, you remember that you need to write a cover letter too.

So now, you’re stuck staring at a blank page, wondering where to start...

Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered. Writing a cover letter is a lot simpler than you might think. 

In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to write a cover letter that gets you the job you deserve.

We're going to cover:

What Is a Cover Letter?

  • How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter, Step by Step
  • 15+ Job-Winning Cover Letter Examples

Let’s get started.

A cover letter is a document that you submit as part of your job application, alongside your resume or CV.

The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce you and briefly summarize your professional background. On average, it should be around 250 to 400 words long .

A good cover letter is supposed to impress the hiring manager and convince them you’re worth interviewing as a candidate.

So, how can your cover letter achieve this?

First of all, it should complement your resume, not copy it. Your cover letter is your chance to elaborate on important achievements, skills, or anything else that your resume doesn’t give you the space to cover. 

For example, if you have an employment gap on your resume, the cover letter is a great place to explain why it happened and how it helped you grow as a person. 

If this is your first time writing a cover letter, writing about yourself might seem complicated. But don’t worry—you don’t need to be super creative or even a good writer .

All you have to do is follow this tried and tested cover letter structure:

structure of a cover letter

  • Header. Add all the necessary contact information at the top of your cover letter.
  • Formal greeting. Choose an appropriate way to greet your target audience.
  • Introduction. Introduce yourself in the opening paragraph and explain your interest in the role.
  • Body. Elaborate on why you’re the best candidate for the job and a good match for the company. Focus on “selling” your skills, achievements, and relevant professional experiences.
  • Conclusion. Summarize your key points and wrap it up professionally.

Now, let’s take a look at an example of a cover letter that follows our structure perfectly:

How to Write a Cover Letter

New to cover letter writing? Give our cover letter video a watch before diving into the article!

When Should You Write a Cover Letter?

You should always include a cover letter in your job application, even if the hiring manager never reads it. Submitting a cover letter is as important as submitting a resume if you want to look like a serious candidate.

If the employer requests a cover letter as part of the screening process, not sending one is a huge red flag and will probably get your application tossed into the “no” pile immediately.

On the other hand, if the job advertisement doesn’t require a cover letter from the candidates, adding one shows you went the extra mile.

Putting in the effort to write a cover letter can set you apart from other candidates with similar professional experience and skills, and it could even sway the hiring manager to call you for an interview if you do it right.

Need to write a letter to help get you into a good school or volunteer program? Check out our guide to learn how to write a motivation letter !

How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter

Now that you know what a cover letter is, it’s time to learn how to write one!

We’ll go through the process in detail, step by step.

#1. Choose the Right Cover Letter Template

A good cover letter is all about leaving the right first impression.

So, what’s a better way to leave a good impression than a well-formatted, stylish template?

cover letter templates for 2024

Just choose one of our hand-picked cover letter templates , and you’ll be all set in no time!

As a bonus, our intuitive AI will even give you suggestions on how to improve your cover letter as you write it. You’ll have the perfect cover letter done in minutes!

cover letter templates

#2. Put Contact Information in the Header

As with a resume, it’s important to 

start your cover letter

 with your contact details at the top. These should be in your cover letter’s header, separated neatly from the bulk of your text.

Contact Information on Cover Letter

Here, you want to include all the essential contact information , including:

  • Full Name. Your first and last name should stand out at the top.
  • Job Title. Match the professional title underneath your name to the exact job title of the position you’re applying for. Hiring managers often hire for several roles at once, so giving them this cue about what role you’re after helps things go smoother.
  • Email Address. Always use a professional and easy-to-spell email address. Ideally, it should combine your first and last names.
  • Phone Number. Add a number where the hiring manager can easily reach you.
  • Location. Add your city and state/country, no need for more details.
  • Relevant Links (optional). You can add links to websites or social media profiles that are relevant to your field. Examples include a LinkedIn profile , Github, or an online portfolio.

Then it’s time to add the recipient’s contact details, such as:

  • Hiring Manager's Name. If you can find the name of the hiring manager, add it.
  • Hiring Manager's Title. While there’s no harm in writing “hiring manager,” if they’re the head of the department, we recommend you use that title accordingly.
  • Company Name. Make sure to write the name of the company you're applying to.
  • Location. The city and state/country are usually enough information here, too.
  • Date of Writing (Optional). You can include the date you wrote your cover letter for an extra professional touch.

matching resume and cover letter

#3. Address the Hiring Manager

Once you’ve properly listed all the contact information, it’s time to start writing the content of the cover letter.

The first thing you need to do here is to address your cover letter directly to the hiring manager.

In fact, you want to address the hiring manager personally .

Forget the old “Dear Sir or Madam” or the impersonal “To Whom It May Concern.” You want to give your future boss a good impression and show them that you did your research before sending in your application.

No one wants to hire a job seeker who just spams 20+ companies and hopes something sticks with their generic approach

So, how do you find out who’s the hiring manager?

First, check the job ad. The hiring manager’s name might be listed somewhere in it.

If that doesn’t work, check the company’s LinkedIn page. You just need to look up the head of the relevant department you’re applying to, and you’re all set.

For example, if you’re applying for the position of Communication Specialist at Novorésumé. The hiring manager is probably the Head of Communications or the Chief Communications Officer.

Here’s what you should look for on LinkedIn:

linkedin search cco

And there you go! You have your hiring manager.

But let’s say you’re applying for a position as a server . In that case, you’d be looking for the “restaurant manager” or “food and beverage manager.”

If the results don’t come up with anything, try checking out the “Team” page on the company website; there’s a good chance you’ll at least find the right person there.

Make sure to address them as Mr. or Ms., followed by their last name. If you’re not sure about their gender or marital status, you can just stick to their full name, like so:

  • Dear Mr. Kurtuy,
  • Dear Andrei Kurtuy,

But what if you still can’t find the hiring manager’s name, no matter where you look?

No worries. You can direct your cover letter to the company, department, or team as a whole, or just skip the hiring manager’s name.

  • Dear [Department] Hiring Manager
  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • Dear [Department] Team
  • Dear [Company Name]

Are you applying for a research position? Learn how to write an academic personal statement .

#4. Write an Eye-Catching Introduction

First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your job search.

Hiring managers get hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of applications. Chances are, they’re not going to be reading every single cover letter end-to-end.

So, it’s essential to catch their attention from the very first paragraph.

The biggest problem with most opening paragraphs is that they’re usually extremely generic. Here’s an example:

  • My name is Jonathan, and I’d like to work as a Sales Manager at XYZ Inc. I’ve worked as a Sales Manager at MadeUpCompany Inc. for 5+ years, so I believe that I’d be a good fit for the position.

See the issue here? This opening paragraph doesn’t say anything except the fact that you’ve worked the job before.

And do you know who else has similar work experience? All the other applicants you’re competing with.

Instead, you want to start with some of your top achievements to grab the reader’s attention. And to get the point across, the achievements should be as relevant as possible to the position.

Your opening paragraph should also show the hiring manager a bit about why you want this specific job. For example, mention how the job relates to your plans for the future or how it can help you grow professionally. This will show the hiring manager that you’re not just applying left and right—you’re actually enthusiastic about getting this particular role.

Now, let’s make our previous example shine:

Dear Mr. Smith,

My name’s Michael, and I’d like to help XYZ Inc. hit and exceed its sales goals as a Sales Manager. I’ve worked as a Sales Representative with Company X, another fin-tech company , for 3+ years, where I generated an average of $30,000+ in sales per month and beat the KPIs by around 40%. I believe that my previous industry experience, passion for finance , and excellence in sales make me the right candidate for the job.

The second candidate starts with what they can do for the company in the future and immediately lists an impressive and relevant achievement. Since they’re experienced in the same industry and interested in finance, the hiring manager can see they’re not just a random applicant.

From this introduction, it’s safe to say that the hiring manager would read the rest of this candidate’s cover letter.

#5. Use the Cover Letter Body for Details

The next part of your cover letter is where you can go into detail about what sets you apart as a qualified candidate for the job.

The main thing you need to remember here is that you shouldn’t make it all about yourself . Your cover letter is supposed to show the hiring manager how you relate to the job and the company you’re applying to.

No matter how cool you make yourself sound in your cover letter, if you don’t tailor it to match what the hiring manager is looking for, you’re not getting an interview.

To get this right, use the job ad as a reference when writing your cover letter. Make sure to highlight skills and achievements that match the job requirements, and you’re good to go.

Since this part of your cover letter is by far the longest, you should split it into at least two paragraphs.

Here’s what each paragraph should cover:

Explain Why You’re the Perfect Candidate for the Role

Before you can show the hiring manager that you’re exactly what they’ve been looking for, you need to know what it is they’re looking for.

Start by doing a bit of research. Learn what the most important skills and responsibilities of the role are according to the job ad, and focus on any relevant experience you have that matches them.

For example, if you’re applying for the position of a Facebook Advertiser. The top requirements on the job ad are:

  • Experience managing a Facebook ad budget of $10,000+ / month
  • Some skills in advertising on other platforms (Google Search + Twitter)
  • Excellent copywriting skills

So, in the body of your cover letter, you need to show how you meet these requirements. Here’s an example of what that can look like:

In my previous role as a Facebook Marketing Expert at XYZ Inc. I handled customer acquisition through ads, managing a monthly Facebook ad budget of $40,000+ . As the sole digital marketer at the company, I managed the ad creation and management process end-to-end. I created the ad copy and images, picked the targeting, ran optimization trials, and so on.

Other than Facebook advertising, I’ve also delved into other online PPC channels, including:

  • Google Search

Our example addresses all the necessary requirements and shows off the candidate’s relevant skills.

Are you a student applying for your first internship? Learn how to write an internship cover letter with our dedicated guide.

Explain Why You’re a Good Fit for the Company

As skilled and experienced as you may be, that’s not all the hiring manager is looking for.

They also want someone who’s a good fit for their company and who actually wants to work there.

Employees who don’t fit in with the company culture are likely to quit sooner or later. This ends up costing the company a ton of money, up to 50% of the employee’s annual salary , so hiring managers vet candidates very carefully to avoid this scenario.

So, you have to convince the hiring manager that you’re passionate about working with them.

Start by doing some research about the company. You want to know things like:

  • What’s the company’s business model?
  • What’s the company’s product or service? Have you used it?
  • What’s the company’s culture like?

Chances are, you’ll find all the information you need either on the company website or on job-search websites like Jobscan or Glassdoor.

Then, pick your favorite thing about the company and talk about it in your cover letter.

But don’t just describe the company in its own words just to flatter them. Be super specific—the hiring manager can see through any fluff.

For example, if you’re passionate about their product and you like the company’s culture of innovation and independent work model, you can write something like:

I’ve personally used the XYZ Smartphone, and I believe that it’s the most innovative tech I’ve used in years. The features, such as Made-Up-Feature #1 and Made-Up-Feature #2, were real game changers for the device.

I really admire how Company XYZ strives for excellence in all its product lines, creating market-leading tech. As someone who thrives in a self-driven environment, I truly believe that I’ll be a great match for your Product Design team.

So, make sure to do your fair share of research and come up with good reasons why you're applying to that specific company.

Is the company you want to work for not hiring at the moment? Check out our guide to writing a letter of interest .

#6. Wrap It Up and Sign It

Finally, it’s time to conclude your cover letter.

In the final paragraph, you want to:

  • Wrap up any points you couldn't make in the previous paragraphs. Do you have anything left to say? If there’s any other information that could help the hiring manager make their decision, mention it here. If not, just recap your key selling points so far, such as key skills and expertise.
  • Express gratitude. Politely thanking the hiring manager for their time is always a good idea.
  • Finish the cover letter with a call to action. The very last sentence in your cover letter should be a call to action. This means you should ask the hiring manager to do something, like call you and discuss your application or arrange an interview.
  • Remember to sign your cover letter. Just add a formal closing line and sign your name at the bottom.

Here’s an example of how to end your cover letter :

I hope to help Company X make the most of their Facebook marketing initiatives. I'd love to further discuss how my previous success at XYZ Inc. can help you achieve your Facebook marketing goals. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at the provided email address or phone number so that we may arrange an interview.

Thank you for your consideration,

Alice Richards

Feel free to use one of these other popular closing lines for your cover letter:

  • Best Regards,
  • Kind Regards,

Cover Letter Writing Checklist

Once you’re done with your cover letter, it’s time to check if it meets all industry requirements. 

Give our handy cover letter writing checklist a look to make sure:

Does your cover letter heading include all essential information?

  • Professional Email
  • Phone Number
  • Relevant Links

Do you address the right person? 

  • The hiring manager in the company
  • Your future direct supervisor
  • The company/department in general

Does your introductory paragraph grab the reader's attention?

  • Did you mention some of your top achievements?
  • Did you use numbers and facts to back up your experience?
  • Did you convey enthusiasm for the specific role?

Do you show that you’re the right candidate for the job?

  • Did you identify the core requirements for the role?
  • Did you show how your experiences helped you fit the requirements perfectly?

Do you convince the hiring manager that you’re passionate about the company you’re applying to?

  • Did you identify the top 3 things that you like about the company?
  • Did you avoid generic reasons for explaining your interest in the company?

Did you conclude your cover letter properly?

  • Did you recap your key selling points in the conclusion?
  • Did you end your cover letter with a call to action?
  • Did you use the right formal closing line and sign your name?

15 Cover Letter Tips

Now you’re all set to write your cover letter! 

Before you start typing, here are some cover letter tips to help take your cover letter to the next level:

  • Customize Your Cover Letter for Each Job. Make sure your cover letter is tailored to the job you're applying for. This shows you're not just sending generic applications left and right, and it tells the hiring manager you’re the right person for the job.
  • Showcase Your Skills. Talk about how your skills meet the company’s needs. And while your hard skills should be front and center, you shouldn’t underestimate your soft skills in your cover letter either.
  • Avoid Fluff. Don’t make any generic statements you can’t back up. The hiring manager can tell when you’re just throwing words around, and it doesn’t make your cover letter look good.
  • Use Specific Examples. Instead of saying you're great at something, give an actual example to back up your claim. Any data you can provide makes you sound more credible, so quantify your achievements. For example, give numbers such as percentages related to your performance and the timeframe it took to accomplish certain achievements.
  • Research the Company. Always take time to learn about the company you're applying to. Make sure to mention something about them in your cover letter to show the hiring manager that you're interested.
  • Follow the Application Instructions. If the job posting asks for something specific in your cover letter or requires a certain format, make sure you include it. Not following instructions can come off as unattentive or signal to the hiring manager that you’re not taking the job seriously.
  • Use the Right Template and Format. Choose the right cover letter format and adapt your cover letter’s look to the industry you’re applying for. For example, if you’re aiming for a job in Law or Finance, you should go for a cleaner, more professional look. But if you’re applying for a field that values innovation, like IT or Design, you have more room for creativity.
  • Express Your Enthusiasm. Let the hiring manager know why you're excited about the job. Your passion for the specific role or the field in general can be a big selling point, and show them that you’re genuinely interested, not just applying left and right.
  • Address Any Gaps. If there are any employment gaps in your resume , your cover letter is a great place to mention why. Your resume doesn’t give you enough space to elaborate on an employment gap, so addressing it here can set hiring managers at ease—life happens, and employers understand.
  • Avoid Quirky Emails. Your email address should be presentable. It’s hard for a hiring manager to take you seriously if your email address is “[email protected].” Just use a [email protected] format.
  • Check Your Contact Information. Typos in your email address or phone number can mean a missed opportunity. Double-check these before sending your application.
  • Mention if You Want to Relocate. If you’re looking for a job that lets you move somewhere else, specify this in your cover letter.
  • Keep It Brief. You want to keep your cover letter short and sweet. Hiring managers don’t have time to read a novel, so if you go over one page, they simply won’t read it at all.
  • Use a Professional Tone. Even though a conversational tone isn’t a bad thing, remember that it's still a formal document. Show professionalism in your cover letter by keeping slang, jargon, and emojis out of it.
  • Proofread Carefully. Typos and grammar mistakes are a huge deal-breaker. Use a tool like Grammarly or QuillBot to double-check your spelling and grammar, or even get a friend to check it for you.

15+ Cover Letter Examples

Need some inspiration? Check out some perfect cover letter examples for different experience levels and various professions.

5+ Cover Letter Examples by Experience

#1. college student cover letter example.

college or student cover letter example

Check out our full guide to writing a college student cover letter here.

#2. Middle Management Cover Letter Example

Middle Management Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to writing a project manager cover letter here.

#3. Team Leader Cover Letter Example

Team Leader Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a team leader cover letter here.

#4. Career Change Cover Letter Example

Career Change Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to a career change resume and cover letter here.

#5. Management Cover Letter Example

Management Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a management cover letter here.

#6. Senior Executive Cover Letter Example

Senior Executive Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing an executive resume here.

9+ Cover Letter Examples by Profession

#1. it cover letter example.

IT Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing an IT cover letter here.

#2. Consultant Cover Letter Example

Consultant Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a consultant cover letter here.

#3. Human Resources Cover Letter

Human Resources Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to writing a human resources cover letter here.

#4. Business Cover Letter Example

Business Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a business cover letter here.

#5. Sales Cover Letter Example

Sales Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a sales cover letter here.

#6. Social Worker Cover Letter

Social Worker Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to writing a social worker cover letter here.

#7. Lawyer Cover Letter

Lawyer Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to writing a lawyer cover letter here.

#8. Administrative Assistant Cover Letter

Administrative Assistant Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to writing an administrative assistant cover letter here.

#9. Engineering Cover Letter Example

Engineering Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing an engineer cover letter here.

#10. Receptionist Cover Letter Example

Receptionist Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a receptionist cover letter here.

Need more inspiration? Check out these cover letter examples to learn what makes them stand out.

Plug & Play Cover Letter Template

Not sure how to start your cover letter? Don’t worry!

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

[Your Full Name]

[Your Profession]

[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 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.

The Heart of Your Job Search - Creating a Killer Resume

Your cover letter is only as good as your resume. If either one is weak, your entire application falls through.

After all, your cover letter is meant to complement your resume. Imagine going through all this effort to leave an amazing first impression in your cover letter, only for the hiring manager to never read it because your resume was mediocre.

But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered here, too.

Check out our dedicated guide on how to make a resume and learn everything you need to know to land your dream job!

Just pick one of our resume templates and start writing your own job-winning resume.

resume examples for cover letters

Key Takeaways

Now that we’ve walked you through all the steps of writing a cover letter, let’s summarize everything we’ve learned:

  • A cover letter is a 250 - 400 word document that’s meant to convince the hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for the job.
  • Your job application should always include a cover letter alongside your resume.
  • To grab the hiring manager’s attention, write a strong opening paragraph. Mention who you are, why you’re applying, and a standout achievement to pique their interest.
  • Your cover letter should focus on why you’re the perfect candidate for the job and why you’re passionate about working in this specific company.
  • Use the body of your cover letter to provide details on your skills, achievements, and qualifications, as well as make sure to convey your enthusiasm throughout your whole cover letter.
  • Recap your key selling points towards the end of your cover letter, and end it with a formal closing line and your full name signed underneath.

At Novorésumé, we’re committed to helping you get the job you deserve every step of the way! 

Follow our career blog for more valuable advice, or check out some of our top guides, such as:

  • How to Make a Resume in 2024 | Beginner's Guide
  • How to Write a CV (Curriculum Vitae) in 2024 [31+ Examples]
  • 35+ Job Interview Questions and Answers [Full List]

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  • Resume and Cover Letter
  • Essential Cover Letter...

Essential Cover Letter Elements for Job Success

11 min read · Updated on April 17, 2024

Marsha Hebert

The cover letter you write for a job has to complement your resume, not reiterate it.

There is a common misconception that cover letters for a job have gone the way of the do-do. The fact is that hiring managers use cover letters quite frequently to determine the potential success of a job applicant in a new position. 

When you write a cover letter that complements your resume, you open the door to a couple of things:

You get to inject some personality into your application

You can explain any faux pas that may show up in your resume, like employment gaps

With that said, what should you write in your cover letter? Let's talk about the essential cover letter elements that you'll need to consider for job search success. 

Related reading: Do Hiring Managers Actually Read Cover Letters?

Things to consider as you write your cover letter for a job

When you write a cover letter for a job opening, you're not supposed to simply regurgitate what's already on the resume. No one wants to read the same thing twice. Instead, use the cover letter to 

Talk about how your personality aligns with the company culture

Mention how you learned about the job – this provides an excellent opportunity for you to bring up whether you were referred to the job and do some name-dropping

Emphasize how much you know about the company by talking about what you've learned during your research to exclaim that you're excited to be a part of their team

You already know that your resume is your first chance to make a great  impression on a company. The cover letter you write for a job does the same thing. So, be sure to highlight your relevant skills and experiences with a personalized and detailed explanation of your qualifications. 

How to write a cover letter – some rules

As with anything you submit to a prospective employer, there are some best practices to follow. For the cover letter, rule number one is that it should be written like a formal business letter , using this structure:

Your contact information – Lay this part out the same way you have it formatted on your resume. 

Recipient information – The name of the company and its location 

Salutation – “Dear Hiring Manager,” but try to use a person's name, if possible

Paragraph 1 – Your introduction to the hiring manager and  why you're reaching out

Paragraph 2 – Detail why you're a great match for the job and explain any issues that you may see that could cause the hiring manager to be concerned about your candidacy

Paragraph 3 – You could opt to use bullets or a paragraph here, but your goal is to emphasize career achievements that make you the best fit for the job

Call to action – Your final paragraph – it's less a paragraph and more a blurb – should encourage the hiring manager to reach out to you to schedule an interview

A template you can use for the cover letter you write for a job

If you're a visual person, it may help for all of that to be put into something more tangible. Here's a good example of a cover letter:


Location | (111) 222-3333 | [email protected] | LinkedIn URL


April 1, 2024

Company Name

RE: Job Title/Reference Code

Dear Hiring Manager: (Try to use a person's name, if possible)

The first paragraph of your cover letter introduces yourself and briefly touches on how you can benefit the company. In everything you write, you must always talk about how you'll be of use to the company. You can even include how confident you are that you'll be an immediate asset. 

The second paragraph will discuss two or three things you've accomplished in your career. A common way to start this paragraph is with the words, “In my current role, …” Keep all paragraphs of your cover letter between 3 and 5 sentences. 

If you really have MAJOR accomplishments to call out, you can add a bulleted list.

MAJOR accomplishment one.

MAJOR accomplishment two.

MAJOR accomplishment three.

End with something like: “I look forward to meeting with you so that we can further discuss how my talents match what you seek.”

How to write a cover letter for a job – step-by-step guide

As you work your way through the steps below, refer to the template so you can have a visual of what the outcome looks like. 

The header of your cover letter for a job

The best way to get a cover letter with the right header is to open your resume. Click File and then Save As so you can save the resume as a cover letter. Then, delete everything beneath the contact information and title section of the resume. Now, you'll have a blank document with a header that you can use to write your cover letter

All you'll need to do is add in the date and recipient information. If you're using MS Word, you can insert the date so that it automatically updates with the new date when the file is opened. However, this is not a requirement. Just make sure that your cover letter is properly dated.

The greeting/salutation of your cover letter for a job

For the love of all things great on this planet, you should avoid writing “To Whom It May Concern.” It's outdated and has a very high cringe factor. Do a bit of due diligence and look for the hiring manager's name. The best place to find the name you need is on the job description. 

Sometimes, it'll be way at the bottom. If not, then head to LinkedIn and search for the company that you're applying to. When their page pops up, click on the number of employees that have LinkedIn profiles to get to the list and scroll through until you find the manager's name. 

Related reading: How to Use LinkedIn to Get a Job

If you absolutely cannot find a person's name, then use “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Paragraph one of your cover letter for a job

Remember, this is only an introduction paragraph – how you know about the job, why you want the job, and why you're interested. It's the shortest paragraph of your cover letter for a job, sometimes coming in at only two to three sentences. Write it in a way that makes them want to keep reading.

“As an experienced research and development scientist with exposure to product development, quality assurance testing, safety, and environmental protection standards, I am an ideal candidate for your *Job Title* opening. Having progressed through a series of laboratory-based projects spanning 10 years where I've integrated protocols and presented findings to medical and scientific professionals, I am excited to become a valuable member of the *Company Name* team.”

Be sure to customize the job title and company name every time you send out the cover letter for a job listing. 

Paragraph two of your cover letter for a job

This is the time to explain in detail why you're a great fit for the role. Just like you did when you wrote your resume, take some keywords from the job description and weave them into the cover letter – specifically into this paragraph. Remember, you're attempting to add value to what they've already learned about you in the resume.

“My passion and energy allow me to approach each role with dedication and enthusiasm while maintaining balance with the organization's core mission. Comfortable in collaborative and independently-driven roles, I am a future-focused leader with refined analytical and critical thinking skills. I am a strong communicator with natural interpersonal strengths that drive me to engage with my peers and other stakeholders to both identify needs and develop problem resolutions”

You should include a balanced mix of hard and soft skills so that your cover letter properly relays that you have what it takes to succeed in the position.

Related reading: What Are Skills? (With Examples and Tips on How to Improve Them)

Paragraph three of your cover letter for a job

Again, you can use another paragraph for this part of your cover letter, or you can use bullet points. Bullet points are a great way to add white space in your cover letter, allowing the hiring manager to quickly assess your value as a job seeker. 

Whether your decision is to write a paragraph or bullets, you should add some quantifiable achievements to this part of your cover letter. Hiring managers are able to assess your future value based on past accomplishments. 

“Further, I would bring the following strengths to your team:

  • In my last role, I designed 3 new medical devices, formulated ideas for 6 new products, and worked with a team to come up with methodologies for treating 12 new ailments.
  • I apply GxP standards in all projects and am well-versed in GCP, GLP, GMP, and CCLP protocols. I am also extremely dedicated to stringent compliance with federal regulations governing research and development, having improved compliance by 15% in my last role.
  • I am fiercely committed to continuing education and staying abreast of modern scientific developments and standards of excellence. I am 9 credit hours from completing my Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Toledo and have completed over 40 hours of graduate-level coursework from MIT, in addition to my Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine education.”

Did you notice how that last bullet mentions that the candidate isn't quite finished with their education? This point was made to explain away the unfinished degree listed on her resume and is what we meant when we said that cover letters can be used to explain any information gaps in your resume. 

Related reading: How to Track Your Work Accomplishments Throughout the Year

The call-to-action and closing for your cover letter for a job

The main point of writing a cover letter and resume to apply for a job is to get an interview. Just like the first paragraph, this doesn't have to be a long and drawn-out message. Thank the hiring manager for reviewing your application and letting them know how to get in touch with you to schedule a meeting. Then, close the letter with your signature.

“I look forward to meeting with you where we can discuss my background and your needs in detail. Thank you for your time and kind consideration.

Your Name”

Some do's and don'ts

Knowing the right way to put together a cover letter for a job is only part of the picture. You also have to follow certain standards to ensure that the hiring manager will actually take the time to read the letter you've submitted. 

1. Don't restate your entire resume

The recruiter already has your resume, so there's no need to rehash your entire work history in your cover letter. This is often a turn-off for employers who are sick of letters that merely summarize their candidates' resumes. Consequently, they see no need to read them.

2. Don't make your cover letter generic!

Boilerplate is not the way to go. You need to tailor your cover letter to speak specifically to each company's needs. Read the job description and brainstorm how you have each prerequisite. Then, pair it with a specific contribution, experience, or accomplishment. Relay this information in a paragraph or a set of bullets. 

3. Keep it short

Your cover letter for a job opening should not exceed one page – ever. You don't have to say it all when you write a cover letter. If you want to get a job interview, just say it right.

Cover letter plus resume equals complete job search toolkit

Just like every good toolbox needs a hammer and a screwdriver, every good job search should have an accomplishments-driven resume and a complementary cover letter. When done correctly, both work together to prove to future employers you're the best candidate for a job. 

Key takeaways:

  • Avoid restating what's already on the resume
  • Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the company and your passion for the job
  • Use a formal business format
  • Tailor your cover letter to the job description
  • Don't let your cover letter go over one page in length

Make sure your resume is as strong as your cover letter. Request a free resume review from one of our career experts today!

Recommended reading:

7 Ways You're Trying Too Hard in Your Job Application

The Dos and Don'ts of Cover Letter Salutations

10 of the Worst Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid

Related Articles:

Why You Lose When You Lie on Your Resume: Learning From Mina Chang

How to Maximize Your Resume Action Words to Wow the Employer

Resume Spelling and Accent Explained

See how your resume stacks up.

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What Should A Cover Letter Say? Here's What You Need to Know

Avatar image

In This Guide:

What should I say in a cover letter? It's all about the reader

The purpose of using a cover letter

Cover letter vs resume, what's the difference?

What are the cover letter sections you need to include?

Do generic statements spoil your otherwise potential great cover letter, how unique should a cover letter be, how can your cover letter sound confident without being cocky, how long should a cover letter be.

Resume image 1

Okay, you’ve built your resume and you’ve managed to avoid the top resume mistakes.

Now you’ve realized you need a cover letter.

If you’ve made your resume using Enhancv’s resume builder , you know your cover letter needs to be just as good. But with jobs and the industry constantly changing, you’re probably asking the golden question:

What should your cover letter say?

While there are several areas that need to be covered, don’t fret.

We’ve compiled a list of the most common questions people have about cover letters and explained everything you need to know. After reading this guide, you’ll know exactly what you need to put on a cover letter and how to write one that leaves a positive impact.

Are you ready? Let’s get straight to it!

What should I say in a cover letter? It's all about the reader

Truth is, many companies tend to be impressed by different styles and approaches .

The art of getting one step ahead of competitors when writing a cover letter CANNOT, and SHOULD NOT be limited to simply following a set of rules.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of your job application depends on the “taste” of the hiring company.

That being said, it’s important you understand the company you’re writing for.

Every company has different values and missions. The goal is to not tell them you’re a perfect fit but to show them why you’re a perfect fit.

The most effective way to do this is by understanding your reader and relating everything back to what they’re looking for. It’s one reason why we stress doing the background research to understand the company so you can apply these ideas on your cover letter to keep them engaged.

Your cover letter is sent alongside your resume or CV. There are two main reasons why they’re needed:

  • Recruiters have asked you to send a cover letter
  • To give recruiters a more detailed and tailored application for what you can do for their company

In essence, you’re giving the employers a better idea and understanding of the value you bring to the industry. If you can convey enthusiasm, experience, and unique benefits that make you a valuable asset for their team, you’ll have the recipe for a game-winning cover letter.

Like resumes, cover letters have their own sections that need to be covered too. At the same time, your cover letter shouldn’t be completely identical to your resume.

In fact, it should be complimenting your resume.

You do this by adding further depths of description and personalization to what’s already been mentioned.

To make sure you’re not mixed up with what to say in a cover letter to what you should put on a resume, we’ll take a look at the key differences.

Cover letter vs resume, what's the difference?

Enhancv What Should A Cover Letter Include? Here’s What You Need to Know What should a cover letter include

At first glance, the answer might seem obvious .

But it’s actually more complex and important than you realize…

A cover letter that resembles your resume content-wise is bad by definition.

If you’re blatantly stating facts about your education and previous job occupations throughout the whole thing, you’re missing the whole point. Quoting from your resume verbatim on your cover letter will have the reverse effects.

It’s misleading.

And it can lead to the wrong ideas or impressions than what you initially planned.

When printing out your resume, it’s most likely going to be stapled to your cover letter. It’s useless to make them twins and exactly the same as one another.

It’s a mistake .

You’re saying the same thing twice if you do – talk about being boring and redundant…

So, don’t do it.

Here’s what you can do instead, it’s simple:

Think of these three things when thinking about what to include in your cover letter:

  • Write about who you are: what are your passions? Why are you curious about this job posting?
  • Tell the reader a story about yourself that emphasizes your compatibility with the position
  • Consider tasteful humor – it adds more personal thought and making your reader smile can give you a competitive edge

Here’s an example of what a cover letter SHOULD NOT say:

“My name is James. I graduated from Intellectual Property in 2009, then I had an internship in Scotland. I then had an internship in Scotland, I then got hired at this and that company where I worked for a period of 2 years. I don’t work there anymore (obviously), and here I am – a perfect fit for your job opening. I deserve the position, are you interested?”

That’s no good.

The candidate sounds robotic, and there’s no taste for personalization or aspects that make them sound unique.

On the other hand, here’s what a cover letter SHOULD include:

“I worked (or studied) Psychology (or whatever it is that you’ve studied). This experience taught me how to understand and approach difficult people in a way that nurtures effective communication and minimizes conflicts. It also fortified my ability to give the best I am capable of even under stressful and perplexing circumstances.”

Now, that sounds a lot better.

Rather than the systematic approach, you’re talking about how one of your experiences has helped you grow and develop skills that are going to be useful. Notice that the description will match the job demands for the job vacancy being applied for.

By matching the job requirements, employers will instantly see you as qualified for the role.

Bear in mind it’s not just about listing valuable things out. But, by showing the hows and whys through a specific, detailed explanation.

What are the main cover letter sections? Which ones do I need to include?

These are the main parts you need that make up your cover letter:

  • Cover letter header
  • The opening paragraph

For the full cover letter checklist, check out our guide by clicking here.

Before seeing how it looks in action, let’s first ensure you’re familiar with the cover letter header.

Take a look at Alvin’s retail cover letter example below:

Enhancv What Should A Cover Letter Include? Here’s What You Need to Know What should a cover letter include

Like the resume header , it contains your contact details so recruiters will know how to reach out to you. He’s also included his LinkedIn profile so employers can learn more about him without having to ask for more information.

Now, here’s what he put on his cover letter:

Dear Kylie,

I am applying for the position of Senior Retail Leasing Executive as advertised.

My professional background includes as a Director in a multi-outlet haircare and skincare business, as an operator where I leased, fitted out, and ran my own business, and as the General Manager of a gourmet grocer where I coordinated the operations and offer of five separate departments.

I am passionate about retail and have devoted interstate and international travel to identify the style, process, and offers of high-quality, high-turnover retailers. Recently I visited Sydney to look at the best practice in gourmet grocers and was impressed by the scale of Harris Farm Markets, the industrial chic of the Tramsheds food precinct, and the fine hand-crafted offering of the Victor Churchills butchery.

Whilst my background is in retail operations, the skills that I have gained in these positions are directly translatable into retail leasing operations – the ability to identify talented operators, understand contemporary trends, and negotiate to achieve a win:win outcome according to the terms of the landlord.

I am adept at picking up new skills quickly, becoming fluent in the language, and quickly understanding the parameters set, to ensure I hit the ground runnings.

I look forward to the opportunity to learn more about the role.

Alvin Baker

Why did Alvin's cover letter work?

There are multiple things to notice – we’ll look at each one step by step.

First, is the salutation . This is how he greets the hiring manager and he does this professionally in a formal manner – “Dear Kylie.”

If you know the name of your employer, don’t be afraid to namedrop. It’s not a problem as long as you’re doing it appropriately. If it’s not professional and you’re greeting your recruiter by saying “Hey Kylie” or “Yo Kylie”, it’s a big no.

Next, the opening paragraph.

Alvin gets straight into it by stating his experiences working in retail. He summarised his skills and expertise through that short paragraph and one reason why it was effective is because of how specific and relevant his responsibilities are.

Remember, your opening paragraph needs to grab the reader’s interests. If it doesn’t, your cover letter won’t get the attention you want.

After the introduction, it leads to the main body of the cover letter. This is where he goes into more detail not just about his experiences but his personality.

You’ve shown what you’re capable of.

Now you need to show employers the reasons why. Bear in mind that the purpose of your cover letter is to give employers insight to what makes you the best candidate to hire. If you want to get called in for that interview, this is what you need to dig deeper on in your cover letter.

Your resume has already stated the facts.

The reason why Alvin managed to do this successfully is that he made it into a short story where it’s easy for him to highlight key information. Above all, he’s made it easier for us to understand his perspective.

Lastly, the disclosure .

To finish, use a professional signoff and review. Here are some synonyms that you can include at the end of your cover letter:

  • Thank you for your consideration,

So you don’t get a blank the next time you’re thinking about what to include on a cover letter, consider the questions below that’ll help you find the answers you need:

Why is it an ideal job? How is there mutual benefit for the company & yourself?

Throughout your cover letter, you need to be answering the employer’s question:

What makes you the candidate our company needs? Why should we hire you?

Talk about exactly why you would be a benefit to their team and how it’s going to benefit both of you.

Don’t just answer what you can do for them, but also answer why you want to.

What are your passions, skills, and motivations?

How will all of this be helpful?

This all needs to relate back to the company’s best interests.

Other than the necessary hard skills required, bring up any transferable skills or relevant background that puts you one step ahead of the curve.

There’s more to consider for hiring a potential worker not just for what they can do. But to see if they’re strongly compatible with the company’s cultural values.

What keywords do you need to use?

Resume or cover letter, background research is a must.

However, when you’re describing things it shouldn’t be 100% identical to your resume.

To avoid this, you need to shift your perspective and change your approach when using the keywords for your cover letter. But just by including them, it demonstrates that you have a good understanding of what it takes to get the job done.

Try to remember this:

If recruiters feel that you understand what you need to do better than how they can explain it to you without coming off as arrogant, your chances of landing that job opportunity will be higher.

What this does is sets their mind at ease and positions you as an expert. In order to do this, you need to include the right keywords. When you’re describing something, buzzwords work well in amplifying the meaning and perceived value.

Don’t forget to use the terms they want to see in your cover letter. Explain in their line of thinking why you’re a valuable asset.

Enhancv What Should A Cover Letter Include? Here’s What You Need to Know What should a cover letter include

Generic statements can kill an otherwise promising cover letter.

A catchy declaration of what you excel at should be based on specifics and not general assumptions.

For instance, when you want to highlight your ability to overcome challenges, refrain from writing, “I usually overcome challenges bravely.”

Instead, you want to illustrate your statement by using real examples or a story (preferably a one- or two-sentenced story).

Who doesn’t love a good story?

Give numbers, name places, and companies, be concrete and clear.

Stories are memorable. On top of that, they’re effective when it comes to helping someone understand an idea or concept.

Not only that, but it makes you stand out as a candidate.

By using stories, the recruiter will also consider your statements more legit. What you say won’t seem like a stretched out truth since the storytelling will make you sound confident in yourself.

Those are the three of the most important things a cover letter can do.

This is what a cover letter SHOULD NOT include:

“My previous occupation involved working closely with the Legal Department. I participated in various processes and activities. I was also responsible for the proofreading and editing of their documentation.”

Here’s the alternative for what a cover letter should include:

“For 3 years I worked as a marketing specialist – I had to write, proofread, and edit legal, pharmaceutical, and marketing-related documentation. In addition, I participated in the development of 4 marketing campaigns that tripled our monthly revenue (quote any relevant number that you can). It was my responsibility to write and edit site contents for the official website of the company (give a link to the website).”

Enhancv What Should A Cover Letter Include? Here’s What You Need to Know What should a cover letter include

Did you know that hiring managers have to read through piles of cover letters all the time?

Because of this, standing out and showing your personality is necessary.

To be clear, your personality is not what or where you studied. Nor is it based on how much your previous employer fancied your punctuality and diligence.

It’s deeper than that.

Your personality is engraved in your passions and what you love to do most.

In other words, what a hiring manager really wants to see in a never-ending pile of redundantly polite, monotonous, personality-free cover letters is YOU.

Tell them who you are and why you like them.

Be sincere, concise, and passionate. Leave a link to your portfolio, blog, website, or whatever there is that proves you’re savvy, resourceful, and unique.

Remember, you’re not a robot.

You’re a human being with certain hobbies and interests that makes you who you are today. These are the things employers want to see from you, not just rigid work, work, work.

What a cover letter should NOT say:

“I am a huge fan of your company. I’ve always liked you because your commercials are entertaining, your services – flawless, and your CEO is a friend of my mother’s third cousin.”

What a cover letter should say:

“I really loved the marketing campaign you launched last April. I was impressed to see the subtle way you presented [their product] as a tool for people to give their best to the ones they love and treasure. I want to be part of the development of such ideas because they have liveliness, beauty, and that extraordinary ordinariness we can find everywhere, in everything – if we only looked with our heart and not with eyes only.”

Enhancv What Should A Cover Letter Include? Here’s What You Need to Know What should a cover letter include

Confidence is classy, self-promotion is not.

Confidence is being sure without being arrogant, and cockiness is being defiant because you’re afraid of being beaten. It points to having unstable self-esteem.

Here’s another way to see the difference between the two.

Arrogance: “I’m the best at what I do. Everyone is simply not as good as I am – no one else out there is near my level.”

Confidence: “I’m the best at what I do. I’ve worked harder than everyone else and no one’s better than me at my craft.”

There’s a slight difference between the two.

The first example leans more towards arrogance because that mindset steps down on others.

Whereas, the second example leans more towards confidence because there’s a sense of humility. More importantly, this perspective doesn’t look down on others. Instead, it states that no one is better because of how hard they’ve worked. This exudes confidence in their ability over insecurity.

It might be useful to remember that suggestion when you feel tempted to boldly declare your awesomeness.

“Ever since I first started school I’ve been a high achiever. In the fourth grade, I was voted “most likely to succeed”. Today, not much has changed. I’ve been a star employee at my last two positions and want to advance my career even more.”

“In the course of recent years, I had the chance to live and work in various cultural environments, an experience which has helped me to better understand how people communicate. Even working in environments where I did not speak the language, I was able to effectively build professional networks. I believe these skills will greatly contribute to your team.”

Enhancv What Should A Cover Letter Include? Here’s What You Need to Know What should a cover letter include

What’s the best length for your cover letter?

You’ve heard it before – size matters.

The motion of the ocean is just as important, but in the end, the size itself has a role. And just to make sure we stay on the right topic, you should know that sometimes smaller can be better.

Hopefully, we’re not getting any wrong ideas here…

At Enhancv , we encourage you to keep your cover letter one-page long. This way, it’s more concise and specific, which leaves a bigger impact on the recruiter.

On our top 5 successful cover letter examples , you’ll notice that each example is a one-page cover letter.

Anywhere more than that can be a sign of inefficiency since you’re not capable of putting everything together on a single page. It could also put employers off because it’s pretty much a college dissertation which they don’t have time to fully analyze.

Great cover letters have one feature in common:

They briefly present relevant information.

What this means is you should tell the truth. And, tell it very briefly in an engaging way.

Save yourself the effort of filling your cover letter with ambiguous sweet talk and lengthy references to previous endeavors (remember, that should all be in your resume).

Skip the exposition and jump right into what’s essential about you.

If you want to get started on the right foot, have a go with Enhancv’s cover letter templates. They’re designed to leave an impact on your reader and our content analyzer feature will give you ideas so you won’t be stuck thinking about what you should write!

“Enhancv is an easy way for me and my coaching clients to transform their unique and seemingly unrelated work experiences into a compelling story.” – Michele

Enhancv What Should A Cover Letter Include? Here’s What You Need to Know What should a cover letter include

Now that we’ve answered the common questions floating in the air, it’s time to make sure your cover letter is just as polished and prepared as your resume.

Here’s a quick rundown of the elements of a successful cover letter:

  • Compelling hook right from the get-go of your opening paragraph – pique your reader’s interests by getting them engaged in the beginning.
  • Tinder match – like Tinder, you want to match with the company you’re applying for. So through the body of your cover letter, give the recruiter all the points that make it obvious you’re a perfect match.
  • Don’t be generic – it’s vital you stand out, otherwise, your cover letter will be skipped. Reveal your personality through a story that demonstrates your passions and motivations.

It’s all about the reader.

Simultaneously, the recruiter will want to know more about yourself too. So, don’t be afraid to add personal elements that reveal your personality.

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How to Choose the Right Greeting for Your Cover Letter

what my cover letter should say

Cover Letter Greetings to Avoid

When you have a contact person.

  • When You Don't Have a Contact Person

Examples of General Salutations

  • When to Use 'Dear' in a Cover Letter
  • Writing a Cover Letter Salutation

Concluding Your Letter

Cover letter example, sending your letter.

Hilary Allison / The Balance 

A salutation is the greeting at the beginning of a cover letter that is included with a resume when applying for a job. When you're  writing a cover letter  or sending an  email message  to apply for a job, it's important to include an appropriate greeting at the beginning to set the tone for your letter, which should be professional and appropriate.

The greeting is the first thing the recipient will see  when they read your cover letter . Therefore, it's important for you to convey the appropriate level of familiarity and respect.

Using casual greetings, such as “Hello” and “Hi” can make your letter seem unprofessional. Reserve these casual greetings for personal email and refrain from using them in your cover letter unless you are very familiar with the recipient. Such greetings are simply too informal—not the most professional way to begin the conversation if you’re looking to land a job.

“Hi” is appropriate only in casual email correspondence with people you personally know well. For example, if you're checking in with a close friend to find out if they've heard of a job opening at their company. "Hello" is appropriate only in email correspondence. It should be used primarily for people you know well but can be used in very casual circumstances.

Beginning your correspondence “To Whom It May Concern,” on the other hand, may seem too impersonal and make the hiring manager believe you do not care enough to find out whom you should be addressing. The only time to use " To Whom It May Concern " as a cover letter greeting is when you simply cannot find out the specific person to whom you are writing.

You should, of course, make every effort to find the name of a contact in the specific department in which you are interested. When making an inquiry  with a company for unadvertised openings, this greeting may be most appropriate.

The following is a list of letter salutation examples that are appropriate for cover letters and other employment-related correspondence when you have the name of a contact.

  • Dear Mr. Jones
  • Dear Ms. Brown
  • Dear Riley Doe
  • Dear Dr. Haven
  • Dear Professor Lawrence

When You Don't Have a Contact Person

If this information was not provided in the job announcement and you cannot find it on the company’s web site, then you may be able to call the company, ask to be forwarded to their Human Resources department (if they have one), explain that you will be applying for a job there, and ask for the name of their hiring manager.

Always make every effort to find a contact name to use in your letter. It leaves a good impression on the hiring manager if you have taken the time to use their name, especially if you needed to work a little to find it.

LinkedIn is also a great tool to find out the name of the hiring manager. You can do a search for the company you are applying to with one or two keywords that would describe the person hiring for the position. Scroll down the list until you find the person who fits the criteria. This approach may help you pinpoint the appropriate contact person.

Many companies don't list a contact person when they post jobs, because they have a team of hiring staff who sort through cover letters and resumes before passing them to the hiring manager for the appropriate department. They prefer to leave the hiring manager anonymous until he or she contacts you for an interview.

An organization may also not want to disclose who the hiring manager is to avoid emails and phone calls from applicants, particularly if they anticipate receiving a large number of applications from potential job candidates. So, don't worry if you can't find someone to address your letter to. It will be forwarded to the correct department and recipient.

If you don't have a contact person at the company, either leave off the salutation from your cover letter and start with the first paragraph  of your letter or, better yet, use a general salutation.

When using a general salutation, capitalize the nouns.

  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • To Whom It May Concern
  • Dear Human Resources Manager
  • Dear Sir or Madam
  • Dear [Company Name] Recruiter

When to Use 'Dear' in a Cover Letter

It is appropriate to use “Dear” in most circumstances, such as when the potential employer is someone you know well, or they are a business acquaintance. Follow these tips on choosing the right greeting:

  • For people who you know well on a first-name basis, it's okay to use their first name only. For a business acquaintance or associate, use their first name if you met them more than once and addressed them by their first name.
  • For potential employers, use Mr., Ms. or Dr., unless you have been instructed otherwise. Even if you know a woman is married, it is safer to use “Ms.” as opposed to “Mrs.,” as the latter may be offensive in certain circumstances.
  • If you are unsure of the appropriate greeting, play it safe and use Mr./Ms./Dr. [last name] or Mr./Ms./Dr. [first name, last name].

How to Write a Cover Letter Salutation

Standard business correspondence formatting requires that, after providing your own contact information and the date of your letter, you then write down your contact person’s name, the company’s name, and the company’s address.

The formal salutation/greeting comes next: “Dear [Contact Person’s name].” If you have a contact person for your letter, include their personal title and name in the salutation (i.e. "Dear Mr. Franklin"). If you are unsure of the reader's gender, simply state their full name and avoid the personal title (i.e. "Dear Jamie Smith"). Follow the salutation with a colon or comma, leave one line blank, and then start the first paragraph of your letter on the following line.

Your letter greeting has the potential to improve your chances of getting an interview. To enhance your candidacy, make sure your  cover letter  maintains a professional appearance and offers relevant information, including your qualifications for the position. Choose the appropriate closing and always thank the reader for their time and consideration.

This is a cover letter salutation example. Download the salutation cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

Cover Letter With Salutation Example (Text Version)

Alex Applicant 123 Main Street Anytown, CA 12345 555-555-5555 alex.applicant@email.com

September 1, 2018

Brett Lee Nurse Manager St. Ansgar Hospital 123 Business Rd. Business City, NY 54321

Dear Mr. Lee:

I am writing to apply for the position of nursing attendant, as advertised on the St. Ansgar Hospital website. As a trained nursing assistant who is fulfilled by working with patients and staff, and by helping people, I would be a great asset to your nursing staff.

I completed my nurse assistant program in June of 20XX, and I also have a nurse attendant certificate from the state of New York. I have been working part-time at Dr. Ellen Mueller’s primary care office in Smithtown, NY, for the past year, so I am experienced in working with patients. In addition, I am diligent about my responsibilities, and I have a flexible schedule which enables me to work almost any hours that you need.

I’ve attached my resume so that you can review my education and experience. I hope to hear from you soon. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


Signature (hard copy letter)

Alex Applicant

When you are sending your letter via email, include the reason you are writing in the subject line of your message:

Subject: First Name Last Name – Nurse Attendant Position

List yourcontact information in your signature, rather than in the body of the letter:

FirstName LastName Your Email Your Phone Number

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What to Say in Your Cover Letter

No matter how much advice is out there, a lot of job seekers still seem baffled by the concept of using cover letters . They wonder if they really need a cover letter ( yes ); if it should just repeat what's in the resume ( no ); if it has to be customized for every job ( yes ), and how long it should be ( 1 page max ). But the burning question, the one that really seems to gets people's knickers in a twist, is:

What should I say in my cover letter?

Clue Wagon's Kerry Sandberg Scott ( yesterday's guest blogger ) puts it this way: "Really think about why you want this particular job, and why your experience makes you the one they should call first. This doesn't have to be long, because you want to save something for the interview. It just has to show them that you really did read the ad, that you understand what they're looking for, and that you might be the one they need."

6 Key Cover Letter Elements In order to convey that message effectively, there are six things you must include in your cover letter. The table below shows the six must-have elements for an effective cover letter, and gives an example of how you might express them:

RELATED LINKS 7 Experts Offer Their No. 1 Cover Letter Tip 3 Tips to Avoid a Boring, Self-Absorbed Cover Letter Good vs. Bad: Make the Best of Your Cover Letter

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To Whom It May Concern: How (Not) to Use It in Your Cover Letter

what my cover letter should say

When writing a cover letter or business email, you might be tempted to use the generic "To Whom It May Concern" salutation. However, this outdated greeting can make your message seem impersonal in today's professional world.

While "To Whom It May Concern" is still acceptable in some situations, it often implies you didn't take the time to find the right contact person or are sending a mass email rather than a tailored message.

This article will explain when it's appropriate to use "To Whom It May Concern", provide alternatives for your cover letter or email greeting, and share tips on finding the right person to address to make a stronger first impression.

When Is It Appropriate to Use "To Whom It May Concern"?

There are still some scenarios where using this generic salutation is appropriate when writing business correspondence. One instance is when you are sending a letter of recommendation or reference and you don't know the recipient's name or title. In this case, using "To Whom It May Concern" as the greeting can be used, as the recommendation letter may be passed on to various people

Another situation where "To Whom It May Concern" is acceptable is when you are writing to a company or department and don't have a specific contact person or point of contact. If you are unable to find the name of the person you are addressing, this generic greeting that can be used.

In general, formal documents that you intend to send to an institution or company can start with this greeting if they are not meant to introduce yourself. For example, filling a complaint, a job verification letter, or the recommendation letter mentioned above. If you do not know the recipient, as long as you keep it formal , the greeting is not a huge deal in these types of messages.

However, applying for a job is a much more personal matter, and avoiding being generic can make you stand out. It is not totally wrong to start a cover letter for a job with “To whom it may concern”  if no name is provided in the job posting and you can't find one after carefully reviewing the job posting, but it is certainly not the best move. 

to whom it may concern 1

How to Format "To Whom It May Concern" Correctly

Here's how to format "To Whom It May Concern" correctly in your letter or email:

  • Capitalize the first letter of each word in the phrase "To Whom It May Concern". While this may not be grammatically necessary since it's not a proper noun or title, it's considered standard practice and helps maintain a formal tone.
  • Use a colon, not a comma, after the phrase "To Whom It May Concern". The colon signifies that the salutation is complete and the body of your letter or email is about to begin.
  • Double space before beginning the body of your letter, email, or cover letter. This helps visually separate the salutation from the main content and improves readability. In some cases, such as when the body of your letter is very short, it's acceptable to single space for cosmetic reasons.

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Why You Should Avoid "To Whom It May Concern" in Your Cover Letter

When applying for a job, your cover letter is often the first impression you make on hiring managers and recruiters. As mentioned before, using a generic greeting like "To Whom It May Concern" may come across as lazy and impersonal, suggesting that you didn't take the time to find the right person to address.

Today, with internet access and professional networking sites like LinkedIn, it's usually possible to find a specific person to address by name in email or letter. Taking a few extra minutes to research the company and find the hiring manager or recruiter responsible for the position can make a significant difference in how your application is perceived.

If you can't find and don't know the name of the person you should address, consider using alternatives like "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear [Department] Team". These greetings are more engaging and targeted than "To Whom It May Concern" while still maintaining a professional tone suitable for business correspondence.

to whom it may concern 2

What to Write Instead of "To Whom It May Concern" in a Cover Letter

Let’s expand on some possible alternatives to replace “To Whom It May Concern”, so that you have an arsenal of less formal options for when you are writing your next cover letter.

  • Dear [Hiring Manager's Name]: Take the time to look up the name of the recruiter or hiring manager online. Check the job listing, company website, or LinkedIn to find the right person to address your cover letter to. Using their name shows that you've done your research and are genuinely interested in the position.
  • Dear [Department] Team: If you can't find the hiring manager's name, you can address your cover letter generally to the most relevant team, such as "Dear Marketing Team" or "Dear Human Resources Team." This approach still demonstrates that you've tailored your application to the specific department you'd be working with.
  • Dear [Job Title] Hiring Manager: Another option is to reference the position you're applying for in your salutation. For example, "Dear Marketing Coordinator Hiring Manager" or "Dear Social Media Intern Hiring Manager." By using the job title or department, you show that you've carefully considered how your skills align with the role

Other Cover Letter Salutation:  FAQs

There are many different ways in which you can start a cover letter, and so, there are many different questions that can arise. Here are some of them.

How do I find the hiring manager's name and email?

To find the hiring manager's name, start by carefully reviewing the job posting for any mention of the person you should address your application to. If no name is provided, search the company website or LinkedIn for the relevant department head or recruiter. You can also try contacting the company, either calling or sending an email, and asking for the name of the person handling the position you're applying for. 

to whom it may concern 3

Is it acceptable to use "Dear Sir or Madam" in a cover letter?

While "Dear Sir or Madam" is a traditional generic greeting, it's best to avoid using it in modern business correspondence. This salutation, just like “To Whom It May Concern”, may come across as outdated and impersonal, and it also assumes the recipient's gender. Instead, opt for a more inclusive and targeted greeting like "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear [Department] Team".

What's the best generic greeting to use if I don't have a name?

If you can't find the hiring manager's name or email, the best generic greeting to use in your cover letter is "Dear Hiring Manager." This salutation is professional, concise, and targeted to the person responsible for reviewing your application. Other acceptable options, as discussed above,  include  "Dear [Department] Team" or "Dear [Job Title] Hiring Manager".

To Whom It May Concern: Conclusion

To sum up, while "To Whom It May Concern" has been a standard salutation for business correspondence when you don't know the recipient's name, it's important to understand when it's appropriate to use and when it's better to opt for an alternative.

When it comes to your cover letter, it's crucial to make every effort to find the full name of the specific person you want to address. Tailoring your salutation to the hiring manager, recruiter, or relevant department head shows that you've taken the time to research the company and are genuinely interested in the position. If you can't find a name, opt for a more targeted greeting like "Dear Hiring Manager" rather than the generic "To Whom It May Concern."

Remember, your cover letter is your chance to make a strong first impression and demonstrate your fit for the role. By avoiding generic salutations and instead tailoring each cover letter to the specific job and company, you'll set yourself apart from other applicants and increase your chances of having a successful process. So, even if you don't have a name, take the extra step to personalize your greeting and show your enthusiasm for the opportunity.

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Medicare Part A and Part B, also known as Original Medicare or Traditional Medicare, cover a large portion of your medical expenses after you turn 65. Part A (hospital insurance) helps pay for inpatient hospital stays, stays in skilled nursing facilities, surgery, hospice care and even some home health care. Part B (medical insurance) helps pay for doctors' visits, outpatient care, some preventive services, and some medical equipment and supplies. Most folks can start signing up for Medicare three months before the month they turn 65.

It's important to understand that Medicare Part A and Part B leave some pretty significant gaps in your health-care coverage. This is why increasing numbers of Medicare beneficiaries choose to go with Medicare Advantage, which purports to fill some of those gaps.

A private plan through Medicare Advantage can offer more benefits and lower premiums. But a recent report from the Office of Inspector General found that some beneficiaries of Medicare Advantage are denied necessary care.

Here's a closer look at what isn't covered by traditional Medicare, plus information about supplemental insurance policies, Medicare Advantage and strategies that can help cover the additional costs, so you don't end up with unexpected medical bills in retirement.

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1. Does Medicare cover prescription drugs?

1. Does Medicare cover prescription drugs?

Medicare doesn’t provide coverage for outpatient prescription drugs, but you can buy a separate Part D prescription drug policy that does, or a Medicare Advantage plan that covers both medical and drug costs. (Some retiree health-care policies cover prescription drugs, too). You can sign up for Part D or Medicare Advantage coverage when you enroll in Medicare or when you lose other drug coverage. And you can change policies during open enrollment season each fall. Compare costs and coverage for your specific medications under either a Part D or Medicare Advantage plan by using the Medicare Plan Finder .

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2. Does Medicare cover long-term care?

2. Does Medicare cover long-term care?

One of the largest potential expenses in retirement is the cost of long-term care . The median cost of a private room in a nursing home was roughly $120,304 in 2024 (according to Genworth estimates cited by SeniorLiving.org ); a room in an assisted-living facility costs $66,126, and a home health aide costs $213 per day.

Medicare provides coverage for some skilled nursing services but not for custodial care, such as help with bathing, dressing and other activities of daily living . But you can buy long-term-care insurance or a combination long-term-care and life insurance policy to cover these costs.

You can also get a long-term care rider on an annuity , which could help defray the cost of long-term care.

3. Does Medicare cover deductibles and co-pays?

3. Does Medicare cover deductibles and co-pays?

Medicare Part A covers hospital stays, and Part B covers doctors’ services and outpatient care. But you’re responsible for deductibles and co-payments. In 2024, you’ll have to pay a Part A deductible of $1,632 before coverage kicks in, and you’ll also have to pay a portion of the cost of long hospital stays — $408 per day for days 61-90 in the hospital and $816 per day after that. Be aware: Over your lifetime, Medicare will only help pay for a total of 60 days beyond the 90-day limit, called “lifetime reserve days,” and thereafter you’ll pay the full hospital cost.

Part B typically covers 80% of doctors’ services, lab tests and x-rays, but you’ll have to pay 20% of the costs after a $240 deductible in 2024. A Medigap (Medicare supplement) policy or Medicare Advantage plan can fill in the gaps if you don’t have the supplemental coverage from a retiree health insurance policy. Medigap policies are sold by private insurers and come in 10 standardized versions that pick up where Medicare leaves off. If you buy a Medigap policy within six months of signing up for Medicare Part B, then insurers can’t reject you or charge more because of preexisting conditions. See Compare Medigap Plan Benefits at Medicare.gov for more information. Medicare Advantage plans provide both medical and drug coverage through a private insurer, and they may also provide additional coverage, such as vision and dental care. You can switch Medicare Advantage plans every year during open enrollment season.

4. Does Medicare cover dental care?

4. Does Medicare cover dental care?

Medicare doesn’t provide coverage for routine dental visits, teeth cleanings, fillings, dentures or most tooth extractions. Some Medicare Advantage plans cover basic cleanings and X-rays, but they generally have an annual coverage cap of about $1,500. You could also get coverage from a separate dental insurance policy or a dental discount plan. An alternative is to build up money in a health savings account (HSA) before you enroll in Medicare; you can use the money tax-free for medical, dental and other out-of-pocket costs at any age (you can’t make new contributions to an HSA after you sign up for Medicare).

5. Does Medicare cover routine vision care?

5. Does Medicare cover routine vision care?

Medicare generally doesn’t cover routine eye exams or glasses (exceptions include an annual eye exam if you have diabetes or eyeglasses after having certain kinds of cataract surgery). But some Medicare Advantage plans provide vision coverage, or you may be able to buy a separate supplemental policy that provides vision care alone or includes both dental and vision care. If you set aside money in a health savings account before you enroll in Medicare, you can use the money tax-free at any age for glasses, contact lenses, prescription sunglasses and other out-of-pocket costs for vision care.

6. Does Medicare cover hearing aids?

6. Does Medicare cover hearing aids?

Hearing aids are critical for maintaining a healthy brain for those with hearing loss. A recent study found that hearing aids lowered the rate of cognitive decline in older adults at high risk of dementia by almost 50%. 

Medicare doesn’t cover routine hearing exams or hearing aids, which can cost from $2,000 to $4,000 per ear. However, some Medicare Advantage plans cover hearing aids and fitting exams, and some discount programs provide lower-cost hearing aids. If you save money in an HSA before you enroll in Medicare, you can also use that tax-free for hearing aids and other out-of-pocket expenses.

If you have mild hearing loss, an over-the-counter hearing aid might be a good fit for you. According to the Mayo Clinic, these devices typically cost between $99 and $1,700 a pair. Be sure to get an audiology test before you get over-the-counter hearing aids, as Johns Hopkins recommends.

7. Does Medicare cover medical care overseas?

7. Does Medicare cover medical care overseas?

Medicare usually doesn’t cover care you receive while traveling outside of the U.S., except for very limited circumstances (such as on a cruise ship within six hours of a U.S. port). But some Medigap plans will cover 80% of the cost of emergency care abroad up to a certain limit. 

Medicare Supplement plans C, D, F, G, M and N cover some travel-abroad emergency help. No other Medicare Supplement plans provide foreign travel emergency coverage.

Additionally, some Medicare Advantage plans cover emergency care abroad. Or you could buy a travel insurance policy that covers some medical expenses while you’re outside of the U.S. and may even cover emergency medical evacuation, which can otherwise cost tens of thousands of dollars to transport you aboard a medical plane or helicopter.

A note about Medicare Advantage

A note about Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage may provide coverage for some things not covered by traditional Medicare. However, as mentioned above, a 2022 report found that some Medicare Advantage insurance providers unnecessarily denied care or payments for care that would have been provided to beneficiaries had they chosen traditional Medicare.

The Advantage insurance providers likewise “denied payments to providers for some services that met both Medicare coverage rules” and the organizations’ billing rules, according to the report . This could prevent or delay needed care for beneficiaries and could result in a burden on medical providers.

The report also found that 13% of the time that Medicare Advantage providers denied prior authorization, the requests met rules making them eligible under original Medicare, suggesting they would have been approved if the beneficiaries had not chosen Advantage instead of standard Medicare.

The report concluded that in those instances, Advantage insurance providers “used clinical criteria that are not contained in Medicare coverage rules.” For example, they might require an X-ray before approving more advanced imaging. In addition, the Advantage insurance providers denied some prior authorizations for care on the basis that the requests didn’t have enough documentation to support approval. Yet, the inspector general found, “our reviewers found that the existing beneficiary medical records were sufficient to support the medical necessity of the services.”

Often, when challenged, however, the Advantage insurance providers would reverse their decisions. So, it’s important for patients to be able to advocate for necessary coverage if denied.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recently introduced legislation to curb frivolous denials of care by Advantage insurers. And the Department of Health and Human Services finalized rules in April 2024 to overhaul how Medicare Advantage customers get prior approval for care. The changes will take effect next year. So stay tuned and do your research when choosing an Advantage provider.

To look up Medicare’s coverage rules and other types of care and procedures, go to Medicare.gov/coverage and use the “Is my test, item or service covered?” tool. Also see . If you believe a claim was unfairly denied, see How to Appeal a Denied Medicare Claim .

Donna joined Kiplinger as a personal finance writer in 2023. She spent more than a decade as the contributing editor of J.K.Lasser's Your Income Tax Guide and edited state specific legal treatises at ALM Media. She has shared her expertise as a guest on Bloomberg, CNN, Fox, NPR, CNBC and many other media outlets around the nation. 

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Grieving the loss of your mom: How to cope with grief on Mother's Day

Grief is normal. it is a part of life and it's ok to sit and feel these emotions, experts say..

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Mother's Day is on Sunday May 12, but those grieving the loss of their mother or child may feel a lot of dread around this time of year.

"Mother's Day is not a universal celebration for everyone," said Sherry Cormier, an author and psychologist who specializes in bereavement.

She encourages people going through grief to be kind to themselves and provide what they need to make themselves feel comfortable this weekend.

She adds that feeling that loss and sorrow while others might be celebrating is okay.

"People move forward, they don't really move on," she said. "The grief is always part of you. That loss of your mom or your child always stays with you in your heart."

Mother's Day: To the single woman, past 35, who longs for a partner and kids on Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a 'trigger day'

According to the psychologist, Mother's Day can be a "trigger day."

These kinds of holidays or special occasions can be a trigger, meaning they cause an intense emotion that is usually negative.

"Things like Mother's Day or birthdays or anniversaries or holidays, for example, are hard," said Cormier.

She adds that it's best to have a plan on these kinds of days. Plan a day and schedule that will work best to help you cope and deal with your emotions, but be flexible.

The plan can include anything from a self-care day to spending time with friends and family to exercising and moving your body, but she recommends tuning in with yourself and staying flexible. The plan doesn't have to be the end-all-be-all for that day if it is no longer needed.

"I can't tell you how many people I've spoken with that have a plan for a trigger day, and then the day comes and they end up saying, 'You know what? I felt the worst the day before," she said.

Cormier suggests staying away from social media to avoid seeing posts about Mother's Day. She said it can help with trigger days because people are posting pictures with their moms or children and seeing that may do more harm than good.

"If you're already sitting there longing for your child who's passed or your mom who passed, and then you see all these pictures, that may make you feel worse," said Cormier.

Journal about your grief

Journaling for 10 to 15 minutes about your grief a few times a week is another helpful exercise, said Cormier.

"This can be very therapeutic just sitting down and writing," she said. "Just not even thinking, letting your body flow and writing about how you're feeling."

She adds that all one needs is a piece of paper and a writing utensil. However, it can also be done on a phone, computer or tablet. Cormier even said folks could draw their grief, but the point of the exercise is to sit with the grief and acknowledge it.

"If you're dreading Mother's Day, the first thing is to feel what you feel," said Cormier. "Feel what you feel, and that's dread, that's sadness, that's sorrow. That may be anger in some cases, so feel what you feel."

However, she warns that going over the time and writing about it for too long may cause the grief to become "all consuming."

Journaling validates the grief, but "you don't want the grief to take over your life," said Cormier.

Don't force someone to grieve in a certain way

Sometimes, people might try to help, but they do it by forcing their own beliefs and habits onto the person they're trying to help.

"Helping is a form of control" is a quote from Anne Lamott that Cormier said she loved.

Cormier said she does not, "under any circumstance," recommend people force those mourning a loss to grieve in a specific way.

"So often when we think we should 'help' one with grief, what we really mean by that is that we're trying to control the way that they grieve," said Cormier.

Everyone goes through loss differently, and how someone grieves, vents and gets support is entirely up to them, she said. What might work for one person may not work for another and forcing someone to grieve in a specific way is a form of coercion.

"We all find comfort and solace from different people," she said.

At the end of the day, grief is a normal feeling

Now, there are exceptions to this rule. If someone who is mourning says they are contemplating suicide or can possibly be a danger to themselves, it is ok to get involved and recommend calling the crisis hotline, a grief therapist or suicide counselor.

"If you feel like you're ever going to be in a crisis, go to your emergency room," said Cormier.

Helping a child grieve

Just like with adults, a grown-up can not force a child to grieve in a specific way or ignore the day to help them cope with their feelings.

"There are people who would rather avoid the day than acknowledge it, and they do it for good reason," said Vicki Jay, the CEO of the National Alliance for Children’s Grief . "They're trying to protect the child from having difficult feelings where we know that you can't hide it from them, so the best thing is to acknowledge the day and open conversation so that the child feels free to talk or not talk."

According to Jay, it's best to let the child take the lead in this situation.

 "Let the child help determine what that day looks like," said Jay.

The only one who really knows how the child is feeling is the child themself, and Jay advised that the grown-ups in their life give them the space to express their feelings.

"You may assume that it's really difficult for them, and that may or may not be true, and so what you wanna do is learn from them," said Jay.

She adds that children might start to deal with difficult feelings before Mother's Day.

"It starts when the child is at school, and everybody else is talking about Mother's Day or making Mother's Day cards or whatever it is," she said. "And so just holding that opportunity open to have discussions, you know and even just [asking] what was the best and worst thing that happened at school today may open the door."

She adds that enrolling a child into a peer support group may also help them cope with their feelings about death.

"We found that peer support is amazing because kids don't want to be different than any other kids," said Jay. "To find out you're not the only one, in this case, who doesn't have a mom is so, so very supportive."

Remember the people in between

Not everyone who is grieving their mom is doing so because she died.

"There are a lot of other situations that need to be recognized where kids, in particular, don't have moms for various reasons," said Vicki Jay, the CEO of the National Alliance for Children’s Grief.

Whether it is because the person is estranged from their parent or child or simply can't be with them because of other circumstances, they may be grieving on this day, too.

And this is not only true for children, but adults too.

"Maybe they never had a chance to be with their birth mom or know their mom," said Jay. "Maybe you know they live in separate situations where they never get to see their mom, and I think those kids often get overlooked because it's not in our face that somebody died, but that loss is huge to those kids."


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