Writing cover letters is no one’s favorite part of the job search process, and the body of the letter is the hardest part. This is where you try to capture the hiring manager’s attention and emphasize your unique qualifications for the job, without repeating the same exact information you’ve included on your resume.
What Is the Body of a Cover Letter?
The body of your cover letter is the section which tells the hiring manager what position you're applying for and why the employer should select you for an interview. You're selling your candidacy to the reader, so it's important to be specific about your qualifications as they relate to the position.
The body of your cover letter should include an explanation of why you're interested in and qualified for the job for which you're applying. These persuasive paragraphs are intended to convince the reader that you're the perfect person for the position.
A successful cover letter will win you an interview, so it's important to be compelling and show the hiring manager that you're a strong candidate. The hiring manager will spend seconds reviewing your letter or email message, which means you don't have much time to connect with the employer and make a positive impact.
What to Include in Each Paragraph
The first paragraph of your letter should include information on why you're writing. Mention the position you're applying for and where you saw the listing. Include the name of a contact or reference, if you have one.
The next section of your cover letter should describe what you have to offer the employer. Make strong connections between your qualifications and the position requirements. Mention specifically how your skills and experience match the job you're applying for. Use several shorter paragraphs or a bulleted list of your qualifications rather than one large block of text. This will make it easy for the reader to quickly scan and absorb this important information.
Conclude your cover letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position. Include information on how you will follow up if you have the contact information for the hiring manager to do so.
What Else to Include in Your Letter
The rest of letter is important, too. You will need to include your contact information, which is listed at the top of a written letter or below your signature in an email cover letter.
Your letter also needs to include a professional greeting, a professional closing, and your signature. You will sign your name on a printed cover letter. If you upload or email your cover letter, your signature will be your typed name.
This is especially important if you’re submitting your cover letter and resume to an online listing. To get past the applicant tracking system and to a real human being, your cover letter will need to contain the right keywords. To find these, scan the job listing for keywords related to the skills and qualifications required.
It’s fine to begin with a cover letter template, but you’ll want to customize your cover letter to each role. Include details like how you found out about the job, why you’re particularly interested in the role, and why your experience, skills, and qualifications make you the perfect candidate.
Here is an example of a cover letter. Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
Custom Cover Letter Sample (Text Version)
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
September 1, 2018
Director, Human Resources
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321
Dear Mr. Lee,
I am writing to apply for the store manager training program as posted on the careers page of Calico Corner’s website. I was excited to see this opening because I enjoy shopping at your stores and I have experience in retail management.
After reading the requirements, I believe I would be an excellent fit for the management position. I’ve spent the past three years as an assistant manager of a small convenience store, while finishing my bachelor’s degree. This job has given me the opportunity to manage employees as well as work with the general public. In addition, I have a background in textiles and recently graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Western State University, with a minor in business and marketing.
I’ve included my resume so you may review my education and work experience in addition to the skills I’ve gained, such as customer service, employee management, communication, social media marketing, and design.
If you have any questions or wish to know more about my qualifications, please do not hesitate to contact me. My cell phone number is 555-555-5555 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to hearing from you about this exciting position.
When You're Emailing a Cover Letter
If you're emailing a cover letter, list your contact information after your typed name instead of at the top of the letter.
Short and Sweet is Fine
Don’t feel the need to go on and on. Three well-written paragraphs that highlight your experience and make your case are better than a lengthy letter that no one will read.
Aim for Natural Language
While resumes are necessarily a bit more to the point, you’re trying to woo the hiring manager, and that means letting your natural charm and enthusiasm shine through. Think about what would make you sit up and take notice if you were reading this cover letter. What would inspire you to call you in for an interview?
Proofread and Proofread Again
It can never be said enough, have a trusted friend proofread your cover letter before you send it along. Even professional editors miss mistakes in their own writing. Get a second set of eyeballs on your cover letter before you hit send or upload.