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Five Elements That Should be Included in a Cover Letter

Creating a cover letter can seem like one of the most difficult parts of the job search process, but when it is broken down into smaller steps the process becomes a little easier. A cover letter should be four to five paragraphs in length and is an extension of your resume. Unlike a resume, there is no particular format for cover letter, but there are five important elements that should be included to ensure it contains all the necessary information. These five elements include a heading, an opening paragraph, a body, a closing paragraph, and a closing statement with a signature. Within this article, these five elements will be broken down and additional resources will be given to provide further explanation and examples.

  1. Heading:

The first element that needs to be included in a cover letter is a heading. The heading should be formatted in the top left-hand corner of your cover letter, and include information like your name, contact information, and current job title. You may also choose to add information like relevant social media handles or your home address, but this is often not required. After you have provided your contact information, the date that the cover letter is being sent should be written in the proper format.

Along with your contact information, the heading should also include the contact information of the person who will be reviewing your application. This information includes their name, job title, and work address written in the formal format. Your cover letter should be specifically addressed to this person, and a formal greeting should be written at the conclusion of your heading.

This photo from Zesty shows how the heading of a cover letter should be formatted.

2. Opening paragraph:

The second element that should be included in a cover letter is an opening paragraph. The purpose of this paragraph is to introduce yourself to a potential employer and attract their attention. This part of a cover letter is extremely important because it is the first impression a potential employer will have of you and it will determine whether they chose to continue considering your application.

When writing the opening paragraph you should begin by introducing yourself, including information like your full name and current job title. You should also express your interest in the position and explain why you want the job. Be sure to refer to the position by its official title listed on the application. Within this paragraph, you may also want to explain where you learned about the position and express one thing you admire about the organization. Adding this information shows that you took the effort to research the organization you are applying to and that you are enthusiastic about the organization and position.

3. Body Paragraph(s):

The third element that should be included in a cover letter is a body paragraph. This paragraph should be the bulk of your cover letter and is used to express your worth. Within these paragraphs, you should begin to paint a picture of who you are and display your value to a potential employer. The body of a cover letter should be used to showcase the skills that you have listed within your resume and provide context to them. When choosing which skills to highlight within your cover letter you should refer back to the job posting and include the skills that best align with the job's qualifications. Although a cover letter is an extension of your resume and you are using some of its content in your cover letter, it is important to note that your cover letter should not read like a carbon copy of your resume.

The Body of a cover letter should be used to detail specific experiences where you have developed and used the skills you have chosen to highlight. Further explaining your skills and giving them context shows a potential employer that you are able to apply them in the real world and that you are qualified for the position. Along with this information, your educational background, relevant accomplishments, and prior work experience should be included to further stress your experience and value.

4. Closing paragraph:

The fourth element that should be included in a cover letter is a closing paragraph. This paragraph should be used, to sum up, the contents of your cover letter while continuing to show your skills and value, stressing to your potential employer that you would be a positive asset to the organization through the skills you would bring to the table. In the closing paragraph of your cover letter, it is also important to show your enthusiasm toward the position and organization similar to what you have expressed in the opening paragraph, but be sure that you are not simply restating what you have said previously.

5. Closing statement and signature:

The fifth and final element that should be included in a cover letter is a closing statement with a signature. A closing statement should be written expressing gratitude toward the reader for taking the time to review your cover letter. After the closing statement, a complementary closing should be given like ‘Sincerely,’ or ‘Best regards,'. Below the complimentary closing your name should be signed, adding the signature concludes your cover letter.

Additional Cover Letter Writing Resources:

Novoresume is a great resource that simplifies the cover writing process, breaking down and explaining each component. Novoresume provides information and tips on creating a cover letter like what should and should not be included. In addition to information and tips, the site also provides sample resumes for you to review and use as a tool to help format your cover letter. Along with sample cover letters. Novoresume also provides various templates to help you format and customize your resume in a way that best fits you and your needs.


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