Parts of a Cover Letter: A Detailed Breakdown of 6 Must-Have Sections

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March 31, 2024
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min read

3 takeaways

  • Learn each part of a cover letter and proper cover letter structure
  • Discover how to correctly write each section of your cover letter 
  • The best method for generating personalized cover letters in seconds with the Teal AI Resume Builder

When you’re job searching, writing a cover letter can be one of the most discouraging tasks on the list. After all, you’ve already bookmarked the job you want, researched the company, and tailored the perfect resume to match the job description. 

And now, you need to find the time (and energy) to fit all that information into a single-page cover letter.

But by knowing all the parts of a cover letter, along with how to write them, you’ll have a massive head start in the application process. 

What are the parts of a cover letter?

Before you get started creating your cover letter sections, it's important to know the main parts of a professional cover letter. Here they are in order:

  • Header
  • Salutation (or greeting)
  • Opening paragraph
  • Body
  • Closing paragraph
  • Sign-off

Struggling to land interviews with your current resume and cover letter? Get started with Teal’s AI Resume Builder today.

1. Header

Just like there are resume sections, cover letters have sections, too.  So, first things first: should a cover letter have a header? Absolutely. 

More than just a list of ways to reach you, the header of your cover letter is your first branding opportunity. It should mirror the header of your resume to frame your application as a polished and cohesive package. 

This symmetry isn't just visually appealing; it shows a deliberate and meticulous approach to your job application.

But what should be on a cover letter header?

The key elements of a cover letter header include your:

  • Name
  • Location
  • Email address
  • LinkedIn URL (Optional)
  • Phone number
  • The date

Here’s an example: 

Parts of a cover letter showing the header
Use the header of a cover letter to highlight the best way to reach you.

Consider adding a link to your professional online profile, like LinkedIn, especially if you’re applying for a remote job. 

Note: Even if you’re sending an email cover letter, you should attach your letter as a PDF. First, it’s just easier to format. Second, it helps the hiring manager print or share this document with other decision-makers. 

Following the date, you’ll want to add the:

  • Name of the hiring manager 
  • The company you’re applying to 

Here’s what this looks like: 

Parts of a cover letter showing hiring manger details in the header
Focus on the hiring manager's name and company details in your header.

2. Salutation

When you’re on the hunt for a new job, first impressions matter. This is what makes the cover letter salutation so important.

This is where writing a personalized cover letter begins and where you demonstrate your interest and effort in connecting with the company on a human level. Directly addressing the hiring manager is highly recommended when you know their name. It signals respect, shows that you've done your homework, and positions you as a candidate who values personal engagement.

Why not just start your cover letter as “To whom it may concern”? 

Because in today's job market, where a lot of applications flood an inbox, a personalized greeting helps you stand out. It sets a tone of attentiveness and immediately tells the hiring manager that you pay attention to detail. 

Even this little gesture can transform a generic cover letter from a one-size-fits-all document into a tailored conversation starter that resonates with the person responsible for filling the role.

How to find the hiring manager's name

Finding the hiring manager’s name may seem difficult, but it’s often simpler than you think. 

Here are some strategies to uncover this key piece of information:

  1. LinkedIn: The professional network is your first port of call. Search for the company and sift through employee listings, focusing on those with titles like “Hiring Manager,” “Recruitment Officer,” or specific department heads if you’re applying for a specialized position.
  2. Company website: Sometimes, the information is hidden in plain sight on the company’s ‘Team’ or ‘About Us’ page. Larger companies might list their staff, job titles, and contact information.
  3. Calling in: A direct approach can be the most effective. Call the company’s front desk or HR department. Be polite, introduce yourself, and explain that you wish to address your cover letter appropriately. Most will be happy to help.
  4. Networking outreach: Rely on your network. Ask colleagues or mentors if they know who the hiring manager might be for the position you're eyeing. A mutual connection can often provide you with the name you need.
  5. Social media scan: Companies often post about their team and new hires on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. A quick search might yield the right name.

If you can’t find the hiring manager's name despite your best efforts, opt for a polite and general salutation like “Dear hiring manager” or “Dear hiring team” over the impersonal “To whom it may concern.” 

This retains a level of personalization and respect for the team's collaborative hiring effort. It also sets you apart from the many others who simply wrote: “to whom it may concern.”

Write the elements of a cover letter with Teal's AI

Before you start writing the main parts of your cover letter, consider using Teal instead.

Teal’s cover letter generator pulls from the information you added to a specific resume (also extracting the main keywords and details from the job posting you’re applying to) to align your content. Then, in just a click, you’ll have a great cover letter written before your eyes.

All of the parts of a cover letter written with AI
Have Teal write the first draft of your cover letter in seconds.

3. Opening paragraph

The opening paragraph of your cover letter is your chance to captivate the reader's interest and set the stage for your narrative. 

When it comes to your cover letter format, this section should include a succinct introduction of who you are, a brief mention of the position you’re applying for, and a compelling reason why the role aligns perfectly with your skills and career aspirations. 

How to grab your reader’s attention in the opening paragraph

To make your entrance memorable, the opening paragraph must do more than introduce – it must intrigue. Here’s how to ensure it does that:

  1. Start with a bang: Lead with a strong statement or a striking fact about your career achievements. Alternatively, a concise, bold expression of your enthusiasm for the company can be just as effective.
  2. Show, don't tell: Use a mini anecdote or a powerful example from your experience that reflects your capabilities and mirrors the values or needs of the company.
  3. Tailor your tone: Match the tone of your writing to the culture of the company. A startup might appreciate a more casual and innovative opener, while a traditional firm might respect a formal and straightforward approach.
  4. Add some flair: Add a touch of your personality without overshadowing your professionalism. Make sure it’s a blend that conveys your unique professional identity.
  5. Research results: Mention something recent about the company that impressed you, showing you’re up-to-date and genuinely interested in what they do.
  6. Give the why and the what: Clearly articulate why you’re excited about the role and what you bring to the table – this is your unique value proposition.

Example of cover letter content for an opening paragraph

“Imagine a marketing strategy so engaging that it doesn't just capture attention but creates a movement. That's been the hallmark of my approach as a Marketing Manager for the past decade, where I've increased brand engagement by an average of 65% year-over-year. Inspired by [Company Name]'s recent groundbreaking campaign on sustainability—a subject close to my heart since I was just a kid—I am eager to bring my expertise in crafting compelling narratives to the role of Head of Marketing.”

You can find more cover letter samples in these marketing manager cover letter examples.

What makes this a strong opening:

  • Engages with storytelling: The opening verb is “Imagine,” which is much more engaging than something more traditional, like “My name is…”
  • Quantifiable achievements: It includes a specific, measurable achievement (increasing brand engagement by 65% year-over-year), which adds credibility to the applicant’s claims and showcases a track record of success.
  • Personal connection: There’s a personal touch with the mention of a lifelong passion for sustainability, making the applicant’s interest in the company feel genuine and deeply rooted.
  • Alignment with company values: The reference to the company’s campaign on sustainability suggests that the applicant has done their research and shares the company’s values, implying a natural cultural fit.
  • Focus on contribution: By stating a desire to bring expertise in crafting compelling narratives, the applicant immediately addresses how they can contribute to the company’s success rather than just what they wish to gain from the position.

If you can get all of those qualities to shine through in your cover letter, you’ll be more likely to get the reader over to the body of your cover letter. 

4. Body 

Your cover letter body is the meat of your message. It's where you dive into your professional journey, aligning your skills and experiences with the needs of the job at hand. 

This part should be structured in a clear and compelling manner, usually composed of one to three paragraphs, each serving a distinct purpose. 

The first paragraph should connect your past successes to the potential future contributions you'll make to the company. Subsequent paragraphs, like the second or third paragraph, can be used to go further into your relevant skills, experiences, and achievements while also reflecting your knowledge of the company’s goals and challenges.

How to showcase relevant skills and experiences

Here’s how to write a cover letter body that resonates with hiring managers:

  1. Customize and contextualize: Tailor each example of your experience to mirror the job description. It’s about relevance—show the reader why and how your background prepares you for the specific role.
  2. Quantify your impact: Use numbers and metrics to give weight to your achievements. Whether it’s increasing sales by a certain percentage or reducing costs through innovative solutions, numbers speak louder than words.
  3. Problem, action, result (PAR) method: For each skill or experience you share, present the problem you encountered, the action you took, and the result of your efforts. This method illustrates your thought process and problem-solving skills.
  4. Align with the company's vision: Show that you’ve done your homework by relating your experience to the company's current projects or goals. This demonstrates not just alignment but also initiative and forward-thinking.
  5. Storytelling with substance: Craft your experiences into a narrative that’s engaging. Your goal is to lead the reader on a journey that showcases growth, impact, and relevance to the role.
  6. Be concise, be clear: Avoid jargon and overly complex language. The body of your cover letter should be easy to read and understand, ensuring that your points are made without confusion.

Example of what should be in a cover letter body

During my tenure with XYZ Corp, a pioneer in eco-friendly packaging, I spearheaded a transition that faced significant initial resistance both internally and from our customer base. The challenge was formidable: to reframe the public's perception of sustainable packaging from a costly alternative to a savvy, consumer-driven choice. My strategy was to launch an educational campaign that highlighted not just the environmental impact but also the long-term economic benefits. This initiative not only garnered a 120% increase in consumer engagement but also positioned XYZ Corp as a thought leader in the market.

In my most recent project, I led a cross-functional team to address a 15% slump in market share due to increased competition. By instituting a thorough competitor analysis and customer feedback loop, we identified key areas where our messaging fell flat. I orchestrated a brand revitalization campaign focused on our core strengths, infused with customer success stories. The result was a 25% market share rebound within the first quarter post-campaign.

In each role, I've aligned my actions not only with the company's immediate goals but with a visionary outlook. For instance, anticipating the rise of AI in marketing, I initiated a successful pilot program at XYZ Corp that utilized machine learning to personalize customer interactions, leading to a 30% uptick in customer retention rates.

But remember, not every cover letter will focus on the same information. You’ll need to craft your cover letter according to the specific job you’re applying to. 

While this level of personalization may seem tedious, it’s absolutely necessary. 

5. Closing paragraph

One of the last main parts of a professional cover letter, the closing paragraph, isn’t just a summary but a strategic push to get you into the interview room. This part should reiterate your interest in the position, succinctly summarize why you’re the right fit, and express your enthusiasm about the potential to contribute to the company. 

It's also the place to include a call to action, such as expressing your desire to discuss your application in more detail in a personal interview.

How to end the cover letter on a strong note

  1. Reaffirm your value: Concisely restate how your skills and experiences align with the job and can benefit the company.
  2. Personal touch: Express genuine enthusiasm and confidence in your ability to perform the role. Let them feel your eagerness and readiness to take on the challenges it presents.
  3. Call to action: Encourage the hiring manager to take the next step. You can say you look forward to the opportunity to discuss how you can contribute to their team or that you're eager to provide further details on how you can help achieve their goals.

Closing paragraph example in a cover letter

I am excited to contribute to [Company Name]'s innovative marketing efforts. My skill set aligns seamlessly with the objectives of the Head of Marketing position. I am eager to apply my expertise in strategic planning and digital engagement to drive impactful campaigns that resonate with your brand's vision, and I look forward to discussing how my experience and insights can support your company's success. Thank you for considering my application, and I am hopeful for the opportunity to discuss collaboration in person.

If you're looking for more inspiration, check out this comprehensive database of 1300+ cover letter examples.

6. Sign-off

A professional sign-off sets the tone for how your cover letter is received. It's the equivalent of the final handshake after a successful meeting—it should convey respect and formality. 

Here's how you can ensure your sign-off strengthens your application:

  1. Choose the right closing: "Sincerely," "Best regards," and "Kind regards" are safe and professional options. If the company culture is more casual, "Best" or "Warm regards" may be suitable.
  2. Include your full name: Your sign-off should always include your full name to ensure clarity and formality. If you've established a personal connection with the hiring manager, adding a handwritten signature above your typed name can add a personal touch.
  3. Professional contact details: Beneath your name, include your professional contact details, such as your phone number and email address, and LinkedIn profile URL to facilitate easy follow-up.

The best way to write a cover letter 

Again, if writing a cover letter is your least favorite part of the job application, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to take all the bullet-point information from a resume and turn that into a single page of compelling and persuasive text. 

From getting the cover letter format just right to writing the actual information, it’s not an easy task. 

That’s why, with a tool like Teal’s cover letter generator, there’s simply no excuse for not having a personalized cover letter with each application. 

Simply build your resume, and with the click of a button, you can have a polished and personalized cover letter in seconds. 

Sign up for Teal today to give it a try!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should each section of a cover letter be to maintain the reader's interest?

Each section should be concise and to the point. Aim for 3-4 sentences for the opening and closing paragraphs, and 4-6 sentences for the body sections, ensuring you provide enough detail to showcase your qualifications without overwhelming the reader.

Can I include bullet points in the body of my cover letter to highlight my achievements?

Yes, bullet points can be an effective way to draw attention to your achievements. Use them sparingly in one of the body sections to list accomplishments or key skills, making sure they align with the job requirements.

Is it necessary to address the cover letter to a specific person, and what if I can't find a name?

Personalizing your cover letter by addressing it to a specific person can demonstrate attention to detail. If you cannot find a name, use a general but respectful salutation such as "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear [Company Name] Team."

Nathan Thompson

Nathan is a professional content marketer who's been lucky enough to write for some of the best SaaS brands on the planet, including Twilio, Trello, OptinMonster, TrustPulse, and more. When he's not obsessing over performance metrics, Nathan spends most of his time wrestling around with his kids.

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