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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


How many times have you replied to a job ad via e-mail by shooting them a copy of your resume and cover letter?

Related:7 Features Of Effective E-Cover Letters

I’m going to venture a guess and say at least 20 (but more likely hundreds of times) if you’ve been searching for any significant length of time.

Cover Letter Mistakes

Here are some of the most notorious cover letter mistakes we’ve seen and what you can do to greatly improve your chances of being noticed.

1. Attaching The Cover Letter To The E-mail

What’s wrong with that, you ask? Most hiring managers aren’t going to open the cover letter and read it. They’ll go straight to the resume instead. Want to ensure your cover letter gets read? Copy and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Whoever received the e-mail will be much more likely to read it if it’s already right there in front of their face.

2. Writing Your Whole Life Story In The Body Of The E-mail

Don’t go overboard with details; keep it short. The hiring manager won’t be willing to invest a lot of time reading your e-mail. Keep it short and to the point.

3. Providing Information Not Relevant To The Position

Here is a great example. When I want to bring an additional resume/cover letter writer on staff, I’m not looking for someone with technical writing expertise, article writing skills, or journalism savvy. Those forms of writing aren’t relevant to what we do here. I want a writer who has extensive expertise and certification in resume writing.

If someone goes on and on in their cover letter (or in the body of the e-mail) about all their other writing experience, they will lose my interest. Instead, I want them to tell me about their most relevant experience as it relates to my needs. I want them to tell me about any resume writing experience they have. Give the hiring manager a brief overview of the most relevant experience you have, appropriate to the position they are trying to fill. This will pique their interest—rather than lose it.

4. Excluding Information They’ve Specifically Asked You To Include

Depending on the position, the employer may ask you to submit a sample of your work, portfolio, hours of availability, or even salary requirements. Whatever it is they’ve asked you to include, make sure you include it in your cover letter.

If not, you will most certainly be removed from consideration for failing to follow instructions. Following instructions and acknowledging everything the employer has asked you to address in the job ad not only saves the employer time but makes you look good. I can tell you this from experience because 9 out of 10 applicants will fail to address every stipulation the employer has listed. It happens to us all the time.

5. Not Using A Cover Letter At All

We’ve received e-mails from applicants, and the body of the e-mail provides either little or no information whatsoever.  Some simply state, “Here is my resume for your review.” You are selling yourself short by not including at least a brief introduction. Especially if the employer outlines specific requirements. Take the time to write, “I see you need someone with availability to work nights and weekends; I would enjoy working these hours and am available to do so.” Or, “I have included a sample of my work for your consideration along with my resume. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.”

6. Forgetting To Tell Them Why You’re The Best Fit

Let me tell you about one of THE BEST cover letters I’ve ever seen: I could tell this person put effort into it—and she took the time to specifically and meticulously review our job requirements. She scrutinized our requirements and detailed in her cover letter how she had experience meeting those needs. It was applicable, relevant, and attention getting. It was probably one of the only cover letters that actually made us want to read the corresponding resume.

7. Using A Boring Closing Statement

Instead of using the same old boring line, spice it up a bit. One of the more daring cover letter closings I have read closed with, “Call today, don’t delay.” I applauded her boldness and had to call her. The closing was confident, feisty, and it certainly grabbed my attention. Not to mention the entire cover letter addressed everything she brought to the table as a potential employee and how these elements were relevant to meeting our needs.

What I am trying to get you to see is boring the hiring manager with details not relevant to the opening—or not making the most of the space and time you’re getting is really to your detriment. Instead, take the time to write something catchy, relevant, and targeted to the position for which you are applying.

Sure, it may take a few extra minutes to tweak your cover letter—but in the end, if you get the interview, won’t it be worth it?

Related Posts

5 Parts Of A Cover Letter (A.K.A. How To Write A Good One!)
How To Get An Employer’s Attention In 20 Seconds
3 Tips For A Persuasive Executive Cover Letter

 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Jessica Holbrook HernandezJessica Holbrook Hernandez, CEO of Great Resumes Fast is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, and presenter. Want to work with the best resume writer? If you would like us to personally work on your resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile—and dramatically improve their response rates—then check out our professional and executive resume writing services at GreatResumesFast.com or contact us for more information if you have any questions.

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