An internship is a great way to kick-start your career. But to get there, you need an internship cover letter that’s not like the other 378 on the manager’s desk.
Knowing what to include in a cover letter is crucial. A wrong thing here, an irrelevant thing there, and your cover letter lands in the garbage can.
Once you’re done with this guide, you’ll write one that lands you that job interview instead.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What to include in a cover letter to snag that position you’ve been eyeing.
- What you should omit including in a cover letter.
- Key components and important sections you have to include in a successful cover letter.
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What to Include in a Cover Letter?
The main step to a successful cover letter is to include all the necessary information in the correct way. And data shows that cover letters are still as important as ever. Don’t sleep on writing one. Here are all the things you need to put in a cover letter:
1. Contact Information
What goes in a cover letter first? The address. And you’ve already put your address on a resume, so you know how to address cover letters, too, right? Well, the heading area on a cover letter follows a different set of rules.
Every cover letter (also known as an application letter) is formal, so address it following the standard format. This means your personal details go first, then the date of writing the letter, and lastly, the reader’s details.
Don’t have the name of a particular person when you’re sending the cover letter? Don’t worry. You can still address the cover letter without their name and job title if you can’t find them anywhere. Read more about that in our guide on how to address a cover letter.
Look at this example of how to put contact information in your cover letter:
What to Include in a Cover Letter—Header Template
[Your First & Last Name]
[Your Phone Number]
[Your Email Address]
[Today’s Date / Date of Writing]
[Addressee’s Professional Title]
Expert Hint: In resume writing, we recommend not adding your address. However, to follow professional cover letter formatting, you have to include it in your cover letter. Social links, on the other hand, you can leave off.
2. Professional Salutation
Using a full name to address a cover letter is important. Not only does it personalize the letter, but it also lets recruiters know you didn’t just spam every business in the country with the same generic cover letter template.
So the first step is to start with a simple but proper cover letter greeting that includes Dear + Ms/Mr + recruiter’s last name. It’s just so simple yet highly effective. The overused Dear Sir or Madam or To Whom It May Concern don’t carry nearly as much weight and commitment.
See an example of the simplest yet most effective greeting:
What to Put in a Cover Letter—Salutation
Dear Ms. Ruiz,
Right after the salutation, follow with an introductory paragraph. There are many ways to catch the recruiter’s attention, and no two cover letter introductions will look the same.
3. Gripping Opening Statement
Just like your resume summary statement or career objective, you have to make the cover letter intro compelling enough not to lose the recruiter’s interest. Why? If you present yourself poorly and bore them to tears, they won’t even look at your resume and will disregard your application.
There are many proven ways to start the first paragraph of the cover letter. Lead with an interesting anecdote, a story, or by showcasing an impressive achievement of yours. You also need to decide on the style of your writing.
Check the job listing. If it’s written in a casual and witty way, incorporate that style when writing your cover letter. But if it’s more formal and straight to the point, present yourself more professionally. However, one thing that is universal is to create a structure that shows you care about getting the job.
See this example:
Opening Statement to Include in a Cover Letter
As a yearlong client of 55 Finance, I’m still constantly amazed at everything your bank does better than the others—from personalized help to an accessible iPhone app. You can imagine my delight when, the week after finishing my bachelor’s in accounting, I saw that you have an opening for a junior accountant position. During my internship at We Count, I Implemented an efficient invoicing system, resulting in a 15% decrease in billing errors. I’m sure my work ethic will allow me to achieve similar successes for your company.
Expert Hint: Of all the best cover letter advice we give, the most important is to tailor the cover letter to the job description, as you did on your resume. To tailor your cover letter to the company you’re applying to, find their “voice” by reading their website or blog and replicate it in your writing.
4. Great Cover Letter Middle
You created a splendid opening paragraph and got the recruiter’s attention. Now, show them a cover letter body that’s just as strong. This part contains the most important information and tends to be the longest. When writing the body of a cover letter, provide an overview of your qualifications and:
- An explanation of how you can help the company succeed
- A convincing description of your hard and soft skills, showing that you’re the best candidate for the position
- Two or three key achievements with numbers proving your expertise
- How enthusiastic you are to become a member of their company and team
And remember to be specific. You’re writing a cover letter to sell yourself in the best way possible. Vagueness and unsubstantiated promises don’t do that. The body section of the cover letter should be composed of up to two paragraphs.
See this example to visualize:
What to Include in a Cover Letter—Middle Section
At We Count, I demonstrated proficiency in managing financial records, preparing accurate reports, and ensuring compliance with accounting standards. My attention to detail and analytical skills enabled me to identify cost-saving opportunities, resulting in a 15% reduction in unnecessary expenditures. I also assisted in preparing financial statements, leading to a 15% improvement in reporting accuracy. I’m positive that my success in enhancing data accuracy by implementing error-checking procedures, which resulted in a 30% decrease in data entry errors, will prove beneficial to We Count’s financial success.
3 or 4 paragraphs is an ideal cover letter length, which should take up no more than three-quarters of a page, somewhere between 250 and 400 words. But you can absolutely go for a short cover letter that’s barely half a page long.
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5. Positive Cover Letter Closing
You’ve written a killer introduction and added paragraphs full of your work accomplishments. Now, write a cover letter closing that includes a definitive call to action. It’s time for a happy ending!
A good cover letter call to action confidently states that you look forward to meeting the hiring manager and discussing how you can benefit the company as their future employee. In other words, it’s asking the recruiter to schedule a meeting with you. And the best thing about it? It’s effective!
Here’s an example of a successful call to action:
What to Put in a Cover Letter—Ending Statement
I am impressed by 55 Finance's commitment to excellence and innovation in the financial sector. Furthermore, I am confident that my academic background, coupled with my hands-on experience, aligns well with the values of your organization.
Could we schedule a meeting or a phone call? I would welcome the opportunity to demonstrate to you how my previous wins can be replicated and improved at 55 Finance.
And that’s how you do it. The ending to a cover letter should be short and sweet. Try to keep two sentences long. You really don’t need more. And you’ve got a solid cover letter ready. But there is still more we can do. So, let’s go even further beyond.
This is a completely additional section, so don’t go out of the way to write it if you don’t want to. But there are benefits to doing so.
A postscript (P.S.) is an additional note at the end of a letter that involves sharing the most significant (yet relevant to the role) achievement. It draws the reader’s eye, even if they haven’t read the rest of the letter first. Many people notice the P.S. first and may start reading from there rather than from the top.
Take a look at this sample:
Postscript to Include in a Cover Letter
P.S.—I’ll also be glad to share how I played a key role in implementing a new accounting software, improving overall team efficiency by 20%.
A postscript isn’t necessary; in some situations, it could be detrimental to your cover letter. It should complement the main content of the cover letter and should not substitute for addressing essential points within the body of the letter. If you choose to add it, ensure it’s sincere and adjusted to the company’s “voice.”
What You Can’t Include in a Cover Letter
So now you know what to include in a cover letter. But what about all the things that shouldn’t be put into one? There are a couple of things, so let’s go through them one by one:
Irrelevant Information & Lies
Like in your resume, your cover letter shouldn’t include any experience irrelevant to the job position you’re pursuing. If it doesn’t matter to the recruiter—don’t include it in your cover letter. Similarly, lying on a cover letter is forbidden. Only mention what you can do and what you can back up with facts.
Read more about Lying on a Resume.
A cover letter has to stay on one page. Do not spill your words onto a second page. It will only hurt your chances of landing the job.
Don’t mention the salary unless the job ad tells you to do so. Also, don’t write about your previous salary or expectations for a raise or promotion.
Negative Comments About Your Previous Job or Employer
You may have hated your job. Maybe your boss wronged you significantly. No matter how much you want to rant about it, don’t. Keep a professional face.
“I didn’t get a promotion because….” “I couldn’t do X in my previous job for a reason that….” And any other potential excuses make you look unprofessional and whiny. A cover letter must show your confidence. So don’t make excuses.
Typos & Grammar Errors
They suggest a lack of attention to detail, professionalism, and care in communication. Although a single typo won’t ruin your application, several of them are certain to make you look sloppy.
Now that you know what to include in a cover letter and what should be avoided, check out our other cover letter guides:
- Cover Letter Outline Guide
- How to Write a Cover Letter With No Experience
- How to Write a Motivation Letter
- How to Write an Entry-Level Cover Letter
- What is a Cover Letter
- What Should a Cover Letter Look Like
- What to Write in an Email Cover Letter
And check out these amazing cover letter templates:
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Let’s sum up what to put in a cover letter:
- Heading: Your name and details, the date of writing, and then the recruiter’s + company’s info.
- Salutation: A personalized greeting for the recruiter.
- Opening Section: An introductory section included in the first paragraph of your cover letter. It should be interesting and compelling to make the recruiter want to read more.
- Main Body: Two paragraphs proving you’re the best fit for the position.
- Closing Section: A confident call to action that encourages them to read your resume and invite you for a job interview.
- Signature: A polite sign-off.
- Postscript: An optional trick to hook the recruiter’s attention and give them an additional CTA.
Do you have any questions on what to put on a cover letter? Wondering whether writing a cover letter is at all necessary? Please write us a comment in the space below, and, as always, thanks for reading!