A drawing of a woman sitting on an orange bean bag near a cat using her laptop to send a cover letter.


How to write a cover letter — a guide to success.

Discover the best practices for writing a strong cover letter.

Standing out from the crowd of job applicants can be difficult — especially if you only submit a resume. A strong cover letter can set you apart from other candidates and help you land an interview and a job offer.

The job search process can be stressful, whether you’re entering the workforce for the first time, pivoting careers, or simply looking for a change. Hiring is competitive, and your application needs to clearly demonstrate why you’re an ideal candidate and distinguish you from other applicants.


To provide a holistic view of what you bring to the table and improve your chances of hearing back from a hiring manager, you should submit a cover letter. Read this guide to learn the best tips and tricks for creating an effective cover letter.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a writing sample that accompanies your application. It serves as an introduction, allowing you to explain why you’re a good fit for the position, demonstrate your knowledge and experience, and share more personal details outside of your resume.


Even if a cover letter is optional, you can significantly increase the probability of scoring an interview by providing one. According to a recent survey of 200 hiring decision-makers, 83% of respondents said that a well-written cover letter would persuade them to schedule an interview — even if the applicant didn’t have a strong resume.

How long should a cover letter be?

The average cover letter length is three to four paragraphs. In general, it should be no more than one page.


Your goal should be to create a concise letter that captures the most important details about your previous experience and skills, your interest in the job, and how you can contribute to the company or organization.


Since a cover letter is a quick read, you’ll need to make each sentence count. Be creative about demonstrating your unique personality and qualifications by sharing short stories and relevant details about your work experience and approach.

A drawing of a female business professional using a laptop to review cover letters for a job posting.

Why is a cover letter important?

First impressions are foundational to influencing your prospective employer’s expectations and perceptions of you. A cover letter is your chance to shape their idea of you and show off your accomplishments and distinct voice.


Your cover letter can add a personal touch to your application, giving the reader a better sense of who you are and why you would be successful in the position. It also demonstrates your interest in the job, your writing abilities, and your willingness to go beyond what’s required — especially if a cover letter isn’t specifically requested.


Job application forms often involve pre-assigned questions and information, with limited character counts or space to fill out your answers. A cover letter allows you to share additional details that don’t fit on your application, like personal connections to the company, previous internships or roles with the organization, and special circumstances that explain gaps in your resume.

What is the format of a cover letter?

Sharing your letter in a compact, secure format — like a PDF — will help create a professional look and feel, ensuring your document functions and appears the same across devices. While you can be creative about the content of your cover letter, you should follow a standard structure of one page with three to four paragraphs.


Since hiring managers skim many applications and are often short on time, this framework is the most effective way to quickly summarize your relevant experience, express your enthusiasm, and persuade the reader to consider you for the position.


You should include specific contact information for yourself and the company and clearly express a few main ideas in each paragraph.


Let’s get a closer look at the individual building blocks of an effective cover letter.

How to write a cover letter.

Before you begin writing the actual letter, choose a compelling design that matches your personality and the tone you’d like to set. Many free templates are available online, so get creative about which cover letter approach will let your individual experience and character shine.


Now that you’ve chosen your canvas, you’re ready to start crafting a standout letter. Ahead of delving into the actual body copy, you’ll need to research the company and gather relevant contact information for the header. Depending on the template you select, your header can include the following:


  • The date
  • Your full name
  • Your contact information (optional if included in other areas of your application)
  • Name of the hiring manager or contact
  • Title of the hiring manager or contact
  • Name of the company or organization
  • Full address of the company or organization (optional if space is limited)
An illustration of a cover letter header with the date, posted job title, recipient's contact information, and letter salutation.

After creating the header, write a salutation addressing the letter recipient. Be as specific as possible, greeting the person reviewing your application by name if you can. This information is not always readily available in a job posting, so you may need to peruse the company’s website or explore social media pages and profiles.

If you can’t determine who will read your letter, you can reference the company or department name or simply use “Hiring Manager.” You might also include honorific titles, like Dr. or Prof., before someone’s name if relevant.

Here are a few greeting ideas to get you started:


  • Dear [Full Name],
  • Dear [Department] Team,
  • Dear [Dr., Prof., Mr., Ms., or Mrs. Full Name],
  • Dear Hiring Manager,

Including a specific name or more personalized greeting will show that you took the time to learn more about the company, naturally helping the reader feel more inclined to review your letter. Avoid using a general greeting such as “To whom it may concern.” 

Opening paragraph.

In the opening paragraph, you should introduce yourself, express your interest in the position, and hook the hiring manager’s interest. These first few sentences set the stage for their impression of you and influence their decision to continue reading.


To create a strong opening, stay away from generic statements and prioritize highlighting concrete details and relevant experience. Remember to name the specific position for which you’re applying and outline how you will provide value to the company.

An illustration of an example cover letter salutation and opening paragraph.

Like a persuasive essay, your goal is to convince the reader and provide evidence for your claims. Include a thesis statement summarizing the top reasons you would be successful if selected for the opportunity.

First body paragraph.

The next paragraph should describe your previous experience, accomplishments, and skills. This is your chance to fill in details that didn’t fit on your resume or application and spell out how your career history or goals connect to the position. Be sure to add numbers or measurable impact to strengthen your case.


Steer clear of simply recapping your resume. Your cover letter should supplement your resume, encouraging the hiring manager to refer to it for more information.


Now is not the time to be shy — but don’t go over the top, either. Focus on using a confident tone and displaying your competence without exaggerating or using overly bold claims.

An illustration of the body paragraphs in an example cover letter.

Second body paragraph.

The following section of your cover letter should tie your career history and specialties to the company’s needs and position. A good practice is to include keywords from the job description. You can also study the organization’s website and posts to get a sense of their culture and writing style in order to match their tone.


Like a sales pitch, you want to show how you can solve the company’s “pain points” or contribute to their goals through your strengths and previous job experience. Even if you’re new to the workforce or pivoting careers, companies value candidates who demonstrate other traits that aren’t necessarily taught — like passion, reliability, and initiative.

Closing paragraph.

In your conclusion paragraph, you should reiterate why the hiring manager should consider you for the position and how you would bring value to their organization if chosen. Assert why you’re an ideal candidate and leave them with a positive impression.

An illustration of a closing and signature in an example cover letter.

It’s also a good idea to thank the hiring manager for their time. Inform them of the best way to reach you and indicate that you look forward to discussing your application and learning more about the opportunity.


Finally, select a professional closing to wrap up your cover letter. These are a few tried and tested options:


  • Sincerely,
  • Thank you,
  • Best,
  • Best regards,
  • All the best,

Write your full name after the closing, including a signature below if desired. 

A drawing of a woman reviewing a cover letter checklist on her laptop.

Tips for creating a strong cover letter.

  1. Do your research. Your letter should reveal your knowledge of the company and relate directly to the job position.
  2. Mention referrals or connections you have to the company. These references help establish trust and set you apart from other qualified candidates.
  3. Use clear, succinct language. Fit in specific examples of how you’ve brought value to other companies, proving your points with numbers or anecdotes about how you addressed challenges in previous roles.
  4. Save your cover letter in a format that will preserve the design on any device. We recommend converting your cover letter to a PDF — a versatile format that is sleek and easy to save and share, no matter the operating system. Adobe offers free online services to meet all your cover letter needs, like updating a Microsoft Word document to a PDF

Tailor your cover letter to the job and company.

Many people send generic letters with different job applications, and the lack of specificity shows. Universal cover letters can undermine otherwise strong applications and reduce your chances of landing an interview.


Mirror the language of the job posting and the company’s website to capture the right tone and ensure your interest in the position is apparent.


If you’re applying for many positions and want to save time by repurposing your work, make sure to customize each cover letter by honing in on specific details that apply to individual positions.


To speed up the process, you can create a personalized cover letter template using a digital document tool like Adobe Acrobat. A template will allow you to update and customize sections of your letter while maintaining the structure and evergreen information. 

Proofread and edit your cover letter.

For a polished final product, ask a mentor or trusted friend to read through your letter and provide feedback. It can be helpful to get a second opinion about whether your message is clear and anything that needs to be refined. 

A drawing of a woman holding a magnifying glass toward a cover letter on a computer screen, with a cat observing.

Using a collaborative digital document tool like Acrobat can make getting feedback a breeze, with editing tools like annotating, commenting, and drawing on a PDF.


Acrobat also has tools to spell-check your document — highlighting typos and grammar errors directly within the file and freeing your energy to focus on the content of your letter.

Cover letter checklist.

To help you develop an effective cover letter, we’ve created a checklist to help you remember what to include and put your best foot forward.

A checklist of cover letter dos.
A checklist of cover letter don'ts.

Example cover letters.

Check out these cover letter samples to spark your creativity. Note how each letter pulls keywords from the job descriptions and tailors the tone and content to the specific position.

Junior copywriter — job description

Memorable Marketing Agency is seeking a part-time junior copywriter to join our team. If you have a knack for creative writing and a way with words, we want to hear from you. You’ll work closely with our senior editor to craft copy across a variety of mediums, from social media platforms to websites. A successful applicant will have a sharp eye for detail, appreciation for clear messaging, and ability to adapt their writing to different voices and tones.




  • Interview subject matter experts and research a variety of topics to meet clients’ messaging requests.
  • Collaborate with the senior editor to create and interpret content briefs.
  • Write copy for social media posts, email marketing campaigns, search engine optimization (SEO) content, and design assets.
  • Stay current on style guidelines and social media trends.
  • Manage overlapping deadlines and projects.



  • Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in English, communications, marketing, or journalism
  • Exceptional writing and interviewing skills
  • One to two years of experience in copywriting
  • Experience writing for social media (preferred)

Junior copywriter — example cover letter

An example cover letter for a junior copywriter job opening.

Senior staff accountant — job description

Big Dipper Bank is looking to add a full-time senior staff accountant to the team. This role will take the lead on preparing financial statements, completing in-depth research analysis, and completing annual audits. To be successful, you should use a detail-oriented approach, possess strong organizational skills, and have the ability to manage and train junior staff members.


Job summary


  • Prepare and review tax return documents, balance sheet reconciliations, and general ledger analysis.
  • Coordinate annual audit preparations.
  • Mentor and guide junior staff accountants and interns.
  • Ensure accurate financial statements and create monthly reports.


Knowledge, skills, and abilities

  • Bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting
  • CPA credential (preferred)
  • Over five years of experience in finance or accounting
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Excel and Oracle NetSuite ERP
  • Strong knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and tax laws

Senior staff accountant — example cover letter

An example cover letter for a senior staff accountant job opening.

Frequently asked questions.

Here are some quick-hit answers to common questions about creating cover letters. 

What do I write in a cover letter?

In your cover letter, you should discuss your skills and experience and share why the hiring manager should consider you for the position. This is your chance to distinguish yourself from other candidates and provide a more qualitative and holistic picture of who you are outside of your resume.


You should include details like connections to the company, why you’re interested in the role, how you would contribute, metrics and specific benchmarks of previous success, and keywords from the job description. Most templates include a header with the hiring manager’s name, title, and contact information, as well as space for your name, contact information, and signature.

What is a cover letter? What should an example look like?

A cover letter is a writing sample introducing yourself to the prospective employer. Even if it’s not required, you should submit a cover letter with your resume and job application to add a personal touch and persuade the hiring manager to schedule an interview.


If you’re struggling to envision what a cover letter should look like, there are many free cover letter templates available online that you can browse. You should include a header with the hiring manager’s contact information, a salutation, three to four paragraphs detailing your qualifications, a closing, and your name or signature.


It’s best practice to convert your document to a PDF to keep a professional appearance across devices and share it with ease.

What is a cover letter for a resume?

When submitting a resume, you should include a cover letter to supplement your application. Encourage the reader to refer to your resume or CV in the letter to learn more about your career history and skills.

What do employers look for in a cover letter?

Since hiring managers have to sift through lots of applications, a cover letter can help you get noticed and shape the employer’s perception of you as a candidate.


Strong cover letters should be specific, concise, professional, and enthusiastic. They should mirror the language and tone of the company’s website and job description and capture your unique personality and strengths.

What is a good cover letter format?

After spending time researching and creating your cover letter, don’t diminish your hard work with an unprofessional format or lopsided design. Ensure your cover letter functions and looks great on any screen by saving it as a PDF file.


Keep your document to one page and include three to four paragraphs spotlighting the most important information the prospective employer should know about you and your application.

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