Cover letter

A cover letter, covering letter, motivation letter, motivational letter or a letter of motivation is a letter of introduction attached to, or accompanying another document such as a résumé or curriculum vitae.[1]


For employment

Job seekers frequently send a cover letter along with their CV or employment application as a way of introducing themselves to potential employers and explaining their suitability for the desired position. Employers may look for individualized and thoughtfully written cover letters as one method of screening out applicants who are not sufficiently interested in their position or who lack necessary basic skills. Cover letters are typically divided into three categories:

  • The application letter or invited cover letter which responds to a known job opening
  • The prospecting letter or uninvited cover letter which inquires about possible positions
  • The networking letter which requests information and assistance in the sender's job search


Cover letters are generally one page at most in length, divided into a header, introduction, body, and closing.[2]

  • Header. Cover letters use standard business letter style, with the sender's address and other information, the recipient's contact information, and the date sent after either the sender's or the recipient's address. Following that is an optional reference section (e.g. "RE: Internship Opportunity at Global Corporation") and an optional transmission note (e.g. "Via Email to"). The final part of the header is a salutation (e.g., "Dear Hiring Managers").
  • Introduction. The introduction briefly states the specific position desired, and should be designed to catch the employer's immediate interest.
  • Body. The body highlights or amplifies on material in the resume or job application, and explains why the job seeker is interested in the job and would be of value to the employer. Also, matters discussed typically include skills, qualifications, and past experience. If there are any special things to note such as availability date, they may be included as well.
  • Closing. A closing sums up the letter and indicates the next step the applicant expects to take. It may indicate that the applicant intends to contact the employer, although many favor the more indirect approach of simply saying that the applicant will look forward to hearing from or speaking with the employer. After the closing is a valediction ("Sincerely"), and then a signature line. Optionally, the abbreviation "ENCL" may be used to indicate that there are enclosures.

Other uses

Cover letters may also serve as marketing devices for prospective job seekers. Cover letters are used in connection with many business documents such as loan applications (mortgage loan), contract drafts and proposals, and executed documents. Many US MBA programs, such as the MIT Sloan School of Management and Harvard Business School, request a cover letter as part of their admission application. Cover letters may serve the purpose of trying to catch the reader's interest or persuade the reader of something, or they may simply be an inventory or summary of the documents included along with a discussion of the expected future actions the sender or recipient will take in connection with the documents.


  1. ^ Yate, Martin John (15 November 2004). Cover letters that knock them dead. Adams Media. pp. 1–. ISBN 9781593371074. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Wallace, Richard (15 February 2006). Adams cover letter almanac. Adams Media. p. 75. ISBN 9781593376000. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 

Further reading

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • cover letter — n. a letter sent with an enclosure or package as an explanation: also covering letter * * * …   Universalium

  • cover letter — UK US noun [C] US ► COVERING LETTER(Cf. ↑covering letter) …   Financial and business terms

  • cover letter — n. a letter sent with an enclosure or package as an explanation: also covering letter …   English World dictionary

  • cover letter — cover .letter n AmE a covering letter …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • cover letter — cover ,letter noun count AMERICAN a letter that you send with a document or package to explain what it is or to give some extra information …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • cover letter — noun a letter sent along with other documents to provide additional information • Syn: ↑covering letter • Hypernyms: ↑letter, ↑missive * * * noun, pl ⋯ ters [count] US : a letter that is sent with something to explain the reason for it or to give …   Useful english dictionary

  • Cover Letter — A written document submitted with a job application explaining the applicant’s credentials and interest in the open position. Since a cover letter is often one of only two documents sent to a potential employer, it is often extremely… …   Investment dictionary

  • cover letter — HR a letter sent to a potential employer together with a résumé. It is used when a jobseeker knows the exact position he or she is applying for, and the name of the person to whom the résumé is being sent. A cover letter is important because it… …   The ultimate business dictionary

  • cover letter —  Letter sent with a document or resume introducing it or adding further explanation to the reader …   American business jargon

  • cover letter — noun A letter or written communication that serves to introduce an accompanying document; especially, a letter that introduces a résumé or curriculum vitae …   Wiktionary

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