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What is a cover letter? How to write a cover letter and what you should include to stand out.

W hen applying for a job or internship, companies could ask you to send in several documents, such as a resume or work samples. In many cases, you may also have to include a cover letter for an application. 

According to Indeed, resumes are essentially "condensed fact sheets" about an applicant, including someone's education, previous work experiences, qualifications  and skills, among other personal information. 

But what about a cover letter? What is it, and what should be in a cover letter? 

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If you are looking to send out some applications and need to amp up your professional prowess, read on to learn more about cover letters and how to write one. 

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What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a written document you send along with your resume to a company when you are applying for a job. This document contains additional information on your skills and experiences as they pertain to the job you applied for , according to Indeed. 

There are four types of cover letters, says Indeed: 

  • Application cover letter 
  • Referral cover letter 
  • Letter of interest
  • Value proposition letter

An application cover letter is often the standard when applying for jobs. This type expands on your previous professional experiences referenced on your resume and relates them to the requirements of the current job you are applying for. 

A referral cover letter is a deviation of the aforementioned but includes the names of a current employee who referred you to apply to the job opening. 

A letter of interest is a more general inquiry about any openings at a company where you are interested in working. In this type of cover letter, you are not applying for a specific position but are instead looking to learn more about a company's current hiring prospects.

A value proposition letter focuses on what you can add to a company and what makes you unique. This style of cover letter can often answer "tell me about yourself" type questions or personal essay prompts in applications. 

What should be in a cover letter?

The major component for a cover letter is personal information , says the University of Washington. 

Be sure to include your name and contact information, such as cell phone number and email, so the recruiter or hiring manager can easily identify your application and get in touch if they wish. 

As with any letter, add a greeting before you get into the main content, such as "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear (Insert name of contact)." You may also choose to include the company's name and address above your introduction. 

In the introduction paragraph, express your initial interest and name the advertised position you are applying for. You may also want to include how you learned of the opening, such as through LinkedIn or an employee referral. 

In the body paragraphs, outline how your previous experiences inform your work ethic. You may also want to feature your personal skills and provide specific examples to demonstrate your qualifications. 

In your closing, focus on why you fit the job opening and hone in on your capabilities. Make sure to thank the manager for their time and open the door to hear from the employer about the next steps.  

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How necessary is a cover letter?

Cover letters are important when applying for a job since they show an employer a deeper view of your initiative and highlight your qualifications beyond what is already on your resume, says Indeed. Through a cover letter, hiring managers can gauge how your skills and experience are relevant for the opening. 

According to Indeed, cover letters are necessary when sending out a job application if: 

  • The employer specifies to send a cover letter 
  • The application asks for a submission 
  • You have been referred to a position and wish to identify the company referral 

If an application explicitly states you should not include a cover letter, then do not. 

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What is a cover letter? How to write a cover letter and what you should include to stand out.

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  1. How To Write a Cover Letter (With Examples and Tips)

    The key to writing an effective cover letter is to clearly show how your professional experience fits the needs of the open role and the culture of the hiring company. In this article, we explain how to write a cover letter that makes a great first impression on potential employers.

  2. How To Write the Perfect Cover Letter (With Template and Example)

    Format appropriately. 1. Include contact information Begin by listing your contact information clearly and obviously. Often, applicants do this at the top of the document, but you should mirror the placement of your contact information on your resume for consistency and professionalism.

  3. Cover Letter Template (With Tips and Examples)

    Here is a template you can use as a general point of reference to ensure you include all necessary information in your next job application: [Your name] [Your phone number] [Your email address] [Optional: Your mailing address] [Date] [Employer's name] [Employer's mailing address] [Greeting], [The first sentence should include your name and ...

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    How to write a cover letter All right, let's get into it. What do employers really want from a cover letter? Well, let's start with your resume. Your resume provides a ton of great information about you, but at the end of the day, it's just an outline of your professional history.

  5. Cover Letter Basics (With Helpful Tips)

    6. Keep it simple. Use a plain, easy-to-read font and make sure your cover letter is no longer than one page. Avoid the use of graphics. For consistency, match your cover letter style to your resume style, including font choice. Related: How To Write a Cover Letter (Plus Tips and Examples)

  6. How to Write the Best Cover Letter (With Template and Sample)

    1. Use the proper formatting There are several rules to follow when structuring your cover letter: Make sure everything is left-aligned. Use single line spaces within paragraphs and double spaces between sections or paragraphs. Include a one-inch margin on every side of your letter.

  7. How To Craft the Perfect Cover Letter (With Template)

    Here are five basic steps to create the perfect cover letter: 1. Use a consistent structure. Visual consistency is essential for a cover letter. Your letter should fit onto one page and use the same font and font size throughout the body. Use a simple, easy-to-read font like Arial, Helvetica or Calibri. Your font size should be between 10 and ...

  8. How to Write a Cover Letter (Template and Example)

    1. Establish formatting Following a few guidelines can help you write an effective cover letter. It's common for a cover letter to use left-aligned paragraphs with equal breaks between them and double spacing between the paragraphs.

  9. How to Write a Powerful Cover Letter in 3 Simple Steps

    360 10K views 8 months ago #coverletter #careertips #Indeed Download the Indeed mobile app: https://go.indeed.com/3XTKG3 A powerful cover letter can make all the difference when...

  10. How to Write a Cover Letter (With Tips and Examples)

    Introduce yourself Make your opening paragraph about your interest in the position Include your background Focus on your qualifications End with the things you believe distinguish you from other candidates Sign with an appropriate salutation, including your signature 1. Note the date Document the date you are sending the letter.

  11. How to write a cover letter in 5 steps

    1. Customise your header based on the format of your application If you're writing your cover letter directly within an online job application, there's no need to include your address or other contact information, as you've probably already typed that into other areas of the application form.

  12. FAQs: Writing Cover Letters (Career Guide Templates and Tips)

    How do you write a cover letter? Take advantage of these tips and samples from Career Guide. Get help writing a cover letter Are there cover letter templates or cover letter examples I can download? Yes, explore the templates and cover letter samples in Career Guide. Download cover letter samples Reference letter

  13. How To Write a Personalized Cover Letter

    Here are some simple steps to guide you when you write your cover letter so you can tailor it to the employer: 1. Use a business letter format. For handwritten letters, include your first and last name, location, phone number and email address. Underneath your contact information, format the employer's contact information.

  14. How to write the perfect cover letter (With examples)

    1. Begin by introducing yourself To start your cover letter, introduce yourself. This means including your full name, your specific interest in the position and the reasons you've chosen to apply. If you got a referral to the job from another party, ensure to mention this in the first paragraph. 2. Mention your skills and qualifications

  15. How to Write a Cover Letter

    1. Customise your header based on the format of your application If you're writing your cover letter directly within an online job application, there's no need to include your address or other contact information, as you've probably already typed that into other areas of the application form.

  16. Cover letter examples and templates

    Introduction Body paragraph Closing paragraph Letter ending and signature The following cover letter samples and examples will show you how to write a cover letter for many employment circumstances. Browse cover letters by job title for inspiration. ( Get more cover letter tips and advice ).

  17. Writing an Internship Cover Letter With Examples and Tips

    Here are a few steps you can follow when writing an internship cover letter: 1. State the exact role you want. Starting your cover letter with the position you're applying for shows you thoughtfully considered what makes you the best candidate for this specific position while reminding the reader what role you're hoping to earn.

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    Here's a step-by-step guide on how to write a fresh cover letter for new job openings: 1. Consider the design elements. The purpose of your cover letter is to offer a concise overview of your CV, so keep it to a single page. Consider the design of your CV and use a similar look to keep your application on-brand.

  19. How To Write a Cover Letter

    Writing an effective cover letter that helps you get noticed by employers can be done by following a few simple steps: Start by listing your name and address. Include the date. List the recipient's name and address. Open with an introduction. Include an opening paragraph about your intent to apply.

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    To help you make an effective assessment of your engineer cover letter, you can use the three-part checklist below. When you are re-reading your cover letter, ensure that it is: Relevant: Even if you use a template or master copy, the final draft of any cover letter must be tailored to the position you are applying for, and the company itself ...

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    A well-written cover letter is often as valuable as a CV in the job application process. Related: How to write a car sales representative CV (With examples) How to write a car sales cover letter You can use the following eight steps to write an effective cover letter: 1. Provide your name and contact information

  25. How to write a cover letter

    1. Customise your header based on the format of your application If you're writing your cover letter directly within an online job application, there's no need to include your address or other contact information, as you've probably already typed that into other areas of the application form.

  26. FAQs: Indeed Messages

    Question: Do you have AI templates to help me write messages? Answer: No, sorry. This option is not available. Question: Does Indeed offer tools and examples to help me respond to messages? Answer: Yes. Read the Help Center's FAQs about writing different messages to help you respond to an employer.