How to close your cover letter
Monster career expert Vicki Salemi says to end your cover letter with a handshake, not a fist bump.
Goodbyes can be hard. Both in person and in writing. Do you get stiff and uncomfortably formal in your written closing statements, or do you like to keep them super light-hearted to the point where it’s almost comedic? Maybe you just avoid the closer altogether? But there has to be a right way to finish strong, especially when it comes to signing off a cover letter.
Luckily, there has been some recent analysis on the art of the written closing statement. In a new study, email software company Boomerang looked at sign-offs from more than 350,000 email threads to see which are most frequently used. There were eight popular closings, all ones you’ve probably used at some point in time: Thanks, regards, cheers, best regards, thanks in advance, thank you, best and kind regards.
Using these closers in emails is one thing, but the point of a cover letter is for you to stand out—and get a response back. That’s why Boomerang dived further into these emails to uncover which of these popular closings had the best response rate.
To our surprise, “thanks in advance” was deemed the most effective in the study. But from a job seeker’s point of view, at least, something about that phrase just doesn’t sit well with us.
That’s why we asked Monster career expert Vicki Salemi, who has read countless cover letters in her 15 years in corporate recruiting, to tell us what your sign-off says about you from a recruiter’s perspective.
Is “best” really best?
While the study determined “thanks in advance” was most effective when it came to receiving a response, Salemi is telling you—in advance—that it might not be best to close out your cover letter with that particular phrase.
“It sounds like a fist pump instead of firm handshake,” she says. “No one I ever considered as a candidate got looked over for being too formal and polite in their correspondence; however, the opposite—being too casual—always made me pause.”
When in doubt, Salemi says to go for the standard golden salutation: “Thank you.” She also likes “best,” “kind regards” and “best regards.” And although not mentioned in the study, Salemi says “sincerely” and “all the best” come across as formal and classy.
Say “adios” to these faux pas
When it comes to a cover letter, there is definitely a wrong way to write your sign off. Namely, if you go too casual, your cover letter is probably going into the trash.
“Even if you’re applying to a job at a startup with a laid back culture, avoid closings like ‘adios’ and ‘ciao,’” Salemi says. (Of course, ignore this rule if you’re applying to a job in which you’ll need to speak Spanish or Italian.)
Oh and maybe save the “cheers” for later when you’re out at the bar you’re your friends celebrating your new job.
“’Cheers’ is extremely casual and great for when you want to buddy up with someone,” Salemi says. “But as for a potential employer when you’re supposed to present your most pristine, polished self? Not effective.”
Just don’t leave without saying goodbye
Never thought this would be so complicated, did you? At this point, you are probably considering just ending your cover letter with your name, phone number and email address and calling it a day.
Well, turns out that’s not such a great idea either, Salemi says.
“It’s like working out without a cool down,” she says. “You need to come full circle and close it out.”
The main thing to remember about a closer, Salemi says, is that you shouldn’t overthink it. Something like, “Thank you,” “Thank you for your consideration” or “Looking forward to hearing from you soon” should be just fine.
XOXO, uhh, we mean: “Thank you for reading,”
Find more cover letter writing tips on Monster
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