How to open and close your cover letter
On a cover letter, formality is rarely a bad thing.
Write your cover letter opening and closing with these tips.
In a tight job market flooded with resumes and cover letters, it’s a given that your documents and messages need to be error-free. So how else can you distinguish your communications? Appropriate openings and closings that convey professionalism and polish.
Use our tips below on how to start your cover letter with a proper greeting and sign off with a polished signature. And if you need additional writing tips, join Monster today, so the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service can help you impress employers with a high-impact resume and cover letter.
Cover letter openings
Write a formal greeting, such as Dear Ms. Alvis or Dear Mr. Yang. If you're unsure of the person’s gender and can’t find out, write the full name, as in Dear Chu Li or Dear Chris Beltran.
While it is increasingly common to see greetings without the "Dear" in business, it is less formal. When applying for a job, sometimes you want to start off formally, even though you may take a less formal tone in subsequent written exchanges.
If you’re unfamiliar with someone’s name, be sure you don’t confuse the first name with the family name, which can easily happen in today’s global business environment, depending in part on the languages you know. For example, the CEO of Lenovo is Yang Yuanqing. His surname is Yang and his first name is Yuanqing (in Mandarin, the family name is written first), so if you are addressing him, you would write Dear Mr. Yang and not Dear Mr. Yuanqing.
A final comment on people’s names: be sure to spell them correctly. That is one typo no recipient will miss.
What if you cannot track down a contact name for your cover email? Use a generic salutation, such as Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Recruiting Manager or Dear Human Resources Professional. (Avoid To Whom It May Concern; it is antiquated.) Another option is to write Greetings, which is somewhat informal but polite. You could also dispense with the opening greeting altogether and start with your first sentence, although some recipients might find that approach to be abrupt.
In all openings, be sure to capitalize the first letter of every noun and follow your greeting with punctuation. Use either a colon (Dear Mr. Yang:) or a comma (Dear Recruiting Manager,).
Cover letter closings
End your message with a formal closing, such as Sincerely, Regards or Best regards. If your closing contains more than one word, capitalize only the first word, as in Best regards or Sincerely yours. And be sure to put a comma after your closing. A common error in business communications is the omission of that comma.
Your full name goes on the next line. No need for the extra space that used to go on letters for the signature. Write your telephone number and email address on separate lines after your name. Although this contact information is on your resume (and your email address is on your email), including it with your cover message makes life easier for the recipient.
This post is by Helen Cunningham and Brenda Greene, authors of The Business Style Handbook, An A-to-Z Guide for Effective Writing on the Job
Your cover letter is more likely to land in the right place when it is addressed to the reader. Unfortunately, many job postings do not include a contact name. When this information is missing, you can use available resources to learn the name of the person responsible for the hiring process. If your search is unsuccessful, there are other effective methods of addressing a blind cover letter. The salutation may be different, but the content follows the standard format for cover letters.
1. Search for a contact name with any information you have. For instance, check the job posting for the company’s name and number, then call and ask for the name of the hiring manager. If the call is unsuccessful, use professional-networking websites, such as LinkedIn and Ryze, to connect with someone who works in the company’s human-resources department.
2. Type your name and contact information at the top of the letter or at the top left corner of the page. Provide the date on the left side of the page, one space beneath your contact information.
3. Leave a blank line beneath the date and type the contact’s name. If you were unable to learn the name, use a general title such as “Hiring Manager,” “Recruiting Representative” or “Human Resources Department.” Provide the company’s address under the name or title.
4. Begin the body of the letter with a salutation to the contact. If you don’t have a name, use a greeting such as “Dear Hiring Manager,” “Dear Recruiting Representative” or “Dear Human Resources Team.”
5. Follow the standard format for the body of your cover letter. In the first paragraph, state the position you are interested in, how you heard about it and why you qualify; briefly highlight relevant key accomplishments in the second paragraph; and indicate how and when you plan to follow up in the last paragraph.
6. End the letter with a closing statement such as “Sincerely” or “Regards.” Leave a blank space beneath the statement for your signature then type your name.
- Gender-specific salutations such as “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam” display a lack of creativity and could be offensive if the greeting is not appropriate for the reader.
About the Author
Tina Amo has been writing business-related content since 2006. Her articles appear on various well-known websites. Amo holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a concentration in information systems.
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