Generic Cover Letter: How to Write + General Examples

You’re not the only person looking for sample generic cover letters or a general cover letter template. Something from which you can just copy and paste. Or a template through which you can patiently work once and then simply swap out address details and company names and fire off in application after application.

 

The problem here is that the kind of broad-strokes approach that allows for this kind of one-size-fits-most cover letter is exactly the opposite of what’s needed to write an effective cover letter. Think about it from the recruiter’s point of view: would you waste your time reading generic cover letters?

 

This article is here to give you the best of both worlds. A general cover letter sample and some general cover letter templates to work through, plus guidance on which parts you should write from scratch each time (and how to do that). So you can save time and effort without sacrificing on effectiveness.

 

Use the LiveCareer cover letter builder and your cover letter will write itself. Choose a professional template, answer a few easy questions and the creator will generate a professional cover letter for you with just one click.

 

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General cover letter sample 

 

Bailey Byrne

33 Old Edinburgh Road

Belstead

IP8 8HL

070 2222 2222

bailey.byrne@lcmail.co.uk

 

25th February 2021

 

Aimee Marshall

HR Manager

Tweedle Dee’s

46 Ponteland Rd

Howe

KW1 9GH

 

Dear Aimee,

 

I was extremely happy to read that Tweedle Dee’s is recruiting for team leaders in my area. Having worked in retail for 6+ years, I have long had Tweedle Dee’s in my sights, mainly as a result of its well-known culture of employee involvement and shared responsibility. In my current role as team leader at Cosy Corner, I managed to raise the performance and capability of my team by over 15% through clear accountability, coaching and regular feedback.

 

I have especially enjoyed the more managerial aspects of my work for Cosy Corner like, for example, coaching, mentoring and developing 17 team members to serve customers and take a more active role in the community. Strong organisational skills allowed me to keep 93% of product lines in stock at least 96% of the time by accurately monitoring stock levels. Working at Cosy Corner has also helped me to gain an appreciation for the importance of accurate and thorough reporting: I composed over 500 daily reports on KPI achievement, issues, and development areas, giving management a clear and up-to-date picture of the situation on the sales floor.

 

As you can see, I have successfully used my time with Cosy Corner to develop my leadership, administrative, and reporting skills, with a proven track record in each of these three areas.

 

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to having the opportunity to discuss my application further during the course of an interview.

 

Yours sincerely,

Bailey Byrne

 

Now you know what a perfect cover letter looks like. Here’s how to write a general cover letter step by step:

 

1. Include a proper header

 

The layout of your general cover letter header should never change. Start by aligning to the right your full name, postal address, email, and phone number. Drop down a line and add the date of writing. Skip another line and align to the left the recruiter’s name, their job title, company name, and company postal address.

 

General cover letter example header

 

Bailey Byrne

33 Old Edinburgh Road

Belstead

IP8 8HL

070 2222 2222

bailey.byrne@lcmail.co.uk

 

25th February 2021

 

Aimee Marshall

HR Manager

Tweedle Dee’s

46 Ponteland Rd

Howe

KW1 9GH

 

You can adjust every cover letter created in the builder to meet the job requirements. Choose the name of your profession and the company to which you’re applying, and the builder will automatically adapt the content for you. Create a cover letter faster than you ever thought possible and apply for the job in record time.

 

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2. Addressed it professionally

 

One huge key to success when making your general cover letter hit home is personalisation. No one likes to be depersonalised and treated like their job title and nothing more. Ensure that the recruiter who sits down to read your ‘generic’ cover letter feels like you’re writing to them personally.

 

The first step to making this happen is knowing to whom it is that you’re writing your cover letter. Check the job advert for a name and a job title. Failing that, check the company website and search around on Microsoft’s LinkedIn platform. If none of this helps, there’s always the virtually fool-proof calling up and asking.

 

If you really can’t find a name, go with a job title (like ‘Dear Marketing Assistant Head’) or, at worst, as precise a function as you can manage (e.g. ‘Dear Marketing Team Hiring Manager’). Forget about using ‘To Whom It May Concern’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madame’ if you want an invitation to an interview.

 

Aim for something professional and friendly, ideally ‘Dear + first name’. Although this might be a little too informal or forward of you if you’re writing to someone considerably more senior than you. In such cases go with ‘Dear + title + surname’ instead, for example ‘Dear Ms Jones’. Always use ‘Ms’ for women.

 

Sometimes names can be or at least seem gender-ambiguous. Silly as it may sound, make sure you know the recruiter’s sex before using a gendered title like ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’. If you’re left less than 100% certain but don’t feel comfortable starting off on a first-name basis, then use ‘Dear + first name + surname’ instead.

 

General cover letter example salutation

 

Dear Aimee,

 

3. Introduce and sell yourself in your general cover letter

 

This is one point at which writing a totally generic cover letter that’s also effective becomes impossible. There’s a lot here that you’ll be able to recycle from application to application without sacrificing on quality, but the rest will have to be rewritten for each new company that you approach.

 

For your opening paragraph to both grab and hold your reader’s attention, you want it to be very much focused on what you can bring to the company. You also want your enthusiasm for both the job and the company to come across loud and clear (without going overboard and seeming put-on, of course).

 

A fast and simple method for showing your enthusiasm for the company is to make it clear that you’ve done your background research on it, and that you’re up to speed with its current affairs. This alone can bring you to the tops of recruiters’ piles and put you miles ahead of your competition.

 

Give a really good indication of what it is that you can bring to this particular company by outlining what it is that you’ve brought to previous employers. Do this by describing one of your on-the-job achievements from your current or previous role. Pick something relevant to the role for which you’re applying now.

 

An achievement, in this context, is simply the description of an action you took at work (most often in response to a challenge or problem) and the benefits that went to your employer as a result. You can use something like the PAR (Problem-Action-Result) method to help structure your achievements. Quantify what you can.

 

This means putting numbers to whatever parts of your achievement you can, focusing first and foremost on the benefits your employer gleaned as a result of your actions. If you were working for a for-profit organisation at the time, then such benefits will always boil down to increases in profits.

 

You can show that your goals line up with the company’s goals simply by phrasing them as a response to the question ‘what do you hope to achieve for your new employer?’. Boost the effect by figuring out what it is that the company wants, drawing inspiration from its ‘mission’ and ‘values’ as well as recent news.

 

If you lack experience, then start your opening paragraph with a focus on your passion for the job and this particular company. Include a relevant achievement from your studies, any placement, internship and volunteer work you’ve done, or from your hobbies and extracurricular interests.

 

Include a belief statement in which you explain how you’re a good match for the company, in terms of its stated values and mission. This will require a little background research on your part, but the payoff is well and truly worth it. A general cover letter that’s tailored in this way is bound to be more effective.

 

Were you referred to the position to which you’re applying? The opening paragraph of your cover letter is the perfect place to drop names. The fact that someone within the organisation thinks you’re a good fit for the role can only be a good thing, and employers are well and truly aware of this.

 

There’s a lot happening in this single paragraph of your general cover letter, but it’s going to have to be short if it’s going to get read at all. Keep your opening to 40–80 words, 3–5 sentences – no more.

 

Generic cover letter example opening paragraph

 

I was extremely happy to read that Tweedle Dee’s is recruiting for team leaders in my area. Having worked in retail for 6+ years, I have long had Tweedle Dee’s in my sights, mainly as a result of its well-known culture of employee involvement and shared responsibility. In my current role as team leader at Cosy Corner, I managed to raise the performance and capability of my team by over 15% through clear accountability, coaching and regular feedback.

 

You don’t have to create any content yourself. The LiveCareer cover letter maker will automatically suggest the best content for your cover letter with ready-made examples and expert tips.

 

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4. Showcase your achievements in your general cover letter

 

This is only the second body paragraph in your general cover letter and you’re already on the downhill stretch. All you need to do is repeat a couple more times what you did to come up with an achievement in your opening paragraph. Your main body paragraph will be made up of 2–3 such achievements.

 

Stick to achievements that are strictly relevant to the job to which you’re applying. Remember to quantify what you can, focusing first and foremost on the benefits you brought to your employer. It’s perfectly acceptable to estimate these benefits, but keep it realistic and be ready to justify your estimates.

 

String your achievements together in as logical a way as possible, but don’t worry if they don’t flow perfectly or form a polished narrative. Keep additional explanation and connecting sentences to a minimum. You can break this section down into two paragraphs or use bullet points to improve readability.

 

Let your achievements shine by keeping this section down to the minimum—around 120 words in total is ideal, don’t exceed 200 words no matter what you do. Big blocks of text are likely to get scanned through quickly if not skipped over entirely. Keep it short to boost your chances of it being read properly.

 

Generic cover letter template: main body paragraph

 

I have especially enjoyed the more managerial aspects of my work for Cosy Corner like, for example, coaching, mentoring and developing 17 team members to serve customers and take a more active role in the community. Strong organisational skills allowed me to keep 93% of product lines in stock at least 96% of the time by accurately monitoring stock levels. Working at Cosy Corner has also helped me to gain an appreciation for the importance of accurate and thorough reporting: I composed over 500 daily reports on KPI achievement, issues, and development areas, giving management a clear and up-to-date picture of the situation on the sales floor.

 

5. Wrap up your generic cover letter and tie up any loose ends

 

Take 40−60 words to wrap up your cover letter, tying up any loose ends and summarising your experience. Ensure that the relevance of your experience to the job for which you’re applying is clear: this might mean having to fill in the blanks or you might not have to do anything at all.

 

Thank your reader for their time. This goes back to humanising the recruiter, it’s obviously good manners, and it can benefit your application in other ways, too. End with a confident call to action (CTA) in which you make it clear that you’re keen to move on to the next stage of the recruitment process.

 

Writing a general cover letter wrap-up and CTA

 

As you can see, I have successfully used my time with Cosy Corner to develop my leadership, administrative, and reporting skills, with a proven track record in each of these three areas.

 

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to having the opportunity to discuss my application further during the course of an interview.

 

6. Choose the right sign-off for your general cover letter

 

You’ve already decided how you’re going to sign off from your general cover letter, you just mightn’t know it yet. Use ‘Yours sincerely’ if you addressed your cover letter to somebody by name or ‘Yours faithfully’ if you weren’t able to pin down a name and used something like ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ instead. 

 

General cover letter example sign-off

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Bailey Byrne

 

7. Take care of the big picture before firing off your general cover letter

 

You’ll notice that all good general cover letter samples have at least one thing in common: there’s not a spelling or grammatical error in sight. Poor spelling and grammar say less about your language skills and more about your attention to detail and general work ethic. This is why they’re always red flags.

 

How long can your cover letter be?Writing a cover letter in line with the best practices outlined in this article will leave you with a total of about 250–400 words. This will nicely fill an A4 page, leaving you with plenty of white space to clearly break your cover letter down into sections. Your cover letter must never exceed one A4 page.

 

Choose a cover letter and CV font that won’t draw attention to itself—something professional and understated, like Noto, Garamond, Arial, Liberation, or even Calibri. Keep the font size at 11–12 points and the margins at the default 2.5 cm. Make sure the overall look matches that of your CV. 

 

One last cover letter tip. Save or export your work in PDF to protect all the effort you’ve put into formatting it. PDF is more stable than other formats like *.docx and should always be your default option. It should go without saying, though, that you should send your documents in whatever format the employer requests.

 

And that’s it! Now you know how to format a cover letter!

 

A cover letter alone simply won’t be enough—you need an impactful CV, too. Create your CV in minutes. Choose a professional CV template and quickly fill in every CV section using ready-made content and expert advice.

 

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Has this article answered your cover-letter-related questions? Are you convinced that a generic cover letter is not the way to go? Let us know what you think in the comments section below. And of course leave any other questions or comments you may have there as well – we’ll be sure to get back to you.

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LiveCareer Editorial Team

LiveCareer Editorial Team

About the author

Since 2005, the LiveCareer Team has been helping job seekers advance their careers. In our in-depth guides, we share insider tips and the most effective CV and cover letter writing techniques so that you can beat recruiters in the hiring game and land your next job fast. Also, make sure to check out our state-of-the-art CV and cover letter builder—professional, intuitive, and fully in line with modern HR standards. Trusted by 10 million users worldwide.

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