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 to Sign a Cover Letter With Signature Examples
What should you include in your signature when you're writing a cover letter to apply for a job? It varies, depending on how you are applying for the position. The format and information included in your signature is different for mailed, uploaded, and emailed cover letter documents.
How to Sign a Cover Letter That's Uploaded or Mailed
If you're uploading your cover letter to a job site, your signature will simply include a closing and your full name.
Place a comma after your close (e.g. Best, or Sincerely yours,) and then put your name on the line below.
When you're sending a written letter, include a closing, your handwritten signature, and your typed full name. Leave several spaces between the close and your typed name. That way, you'll have room for your signature when you print out the letter. Sign using either blue or black ink.
For uploaded or mailed cover letters, you do not need to include as much information as you would in an email message. That's because the heading of your cover letter includes your contact information.
A paper cover letter is a formal business style letter of application which includes a heading, salutation, the body of the letter, closing, and your signature. Review these guidelines for what to include in your letter.
How to Sign an Email Cover Letter
If you are sending your cover letter or inquiry letter by email, end with a polite sign-off followed by your full name.
You do not need to sign a cover letter that is being sent electronically. Write out your full name in the same font as the rest of the letter (no need for italics or a handwriting font).
The formatting here is very similar to an uploaded cover letter. However, emails do not have a header with your phone number or other contact information.
It's a good idea to include these details in your closing paragraph or after your typed signature. This makes it easy for the employer or networking contact to get in touch with you.
You can also include links to online portfolios (if appropriate) or a link to your professional social media account (LinkedIn, Twitter). You don't want to make this section too cluttered, however, so restrict yourself to the most relevant information.
Here's how to set up an email signature, along with more advice on what to include in it (and what to leave off).
Cover Letter Document Signature Examples
Here's how your signature should look:
Closing, (see sample closings)
Handwritten Signature (for mailed letters only)
For example (signed letter):
Janet Dolan (Your Signature)
For example (uploaded letter):
Email Cover Letter Signature Examples
When you are sending email cover letters, it's important to include contact information so the hiring manager can easily view how to contact you. At the least, you should include your name, email address, and phone number. Other information, like your street address, online portfolio, or social media accounts, is considered optional.
Sample Email Signature
Sample Email Signature With Full Address
City, State, Zip
Sample Email Signature With LinkedIn
LinkedIn Profile (Optional)
Sample Email Signature With Twitter
LinkedIn Profile (Optional)
Twitter Account (Optional)
Quick Tip: Don't use your work email address for job searching. Use your personal email account or set up a unique account to use just for your job hunt. There are many free online email services, like Gmail and Yahoo mail, you can use to set up a new email account for your job search. Even though you are using your personal account, your email address should still be professional. Your best bet is some variation on first initial, last name (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org) or first name, last name (email@example.com).
Here's how to set up an email account just for your job search.
How to Write a Cover Letter
Get information on how to write a cover letter, including what to include in your cover letter, cover letter format, targeted cover letters, and cover letter samples and examples.