A cover letter is an advertisement where you’re trying to sell yourself as an asset for a prospective employer to invest in. In general, it is the content of a cover letter that is the cornerstone of a successful job application. Nevertheless, the layout and visual aspects of the cover letter also play an important role in making a great first impression on hiring managers.
Simply put, a hiring manager would much prefer to call in an applicant for an interview whose letter is better formatted, than a better qualified specialist with vast experience but a messy and poorly structured cover letter. Why so? You’ll find out later in this article.
Thus, to make sure you preserve a perfect balance in writing compelling content for a cover letter and formatting it properly, we’ve rounded up the following tips and tricks to help you pick the right font, structure the content, use ample blank space and more..
Formatting a Cover Letter: Why Is It Important?
1. The layout of your cover letter is the face of the content. It deals with the way the text is set up on the page including font, spacing, and headings. No matter if you’re applying for a marketing internship or an entry-level job as a designer, properly formatting your cover letter is king. Formatting demonstrates your ability to structure and organize information, revolve around details, while also providing an example of your professionalism and writing skills. Let’s take two cover letters with identical content but different formatting.
Senior sales manager, 105B Round Ave.
7366-668-775 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief Recruiter, “Cloud ltd.”
I recently came across your new job position, and it piqued my interest. I’m a highly-qualified IT sales manager, with more than seven years of experience. I’ve read a lot about your company, especially over the last two years, after your amazing product presentation in Vienna. What your company does aligns closely to my point of view, so when I saw this position I decided to send over my CV as soon as possible.
I’m an environmentally conscious person, and your recycling program is admirable. That is why I want to help you present and sell it to companies all over the world. After all, client interaction is one of my strongest skills, and I am well-tuned to customer needs. At my last position, I managed to double sales in one year.
My technical skills include vendor sourcing, both online and personal business negotiations, and outsourcing. With these tools, I feel confident in the sales field, and believe that I would be a great fit for this position. I love sports, and play football very often. I’ve heard that you have a company football team, and I would gladly join the team.
I suppose you are wondering why I want to change my current job, and the reason is quite simple: your company provides one of the best environmental services, and I want to be a part of that.
You can find my CV and recommendations in the attachment. Please feel free to ask me any questions, and thank you for your consideration in advance.
2. The second example is formatted in a questionable style. It starts with a decent header, but then it turns into a mess. Though we know that its content is good, it looks odd, unreadable and makes your eyes hurt.
Senior sales manager 105B Round Ave.
7366-668-775 / email@example.com
Chief Recruiter “Cloud ltd.”
I recently came across your new job position,and it piqued my interest. I’m a highly-qualified IT sales manager, with more than seven years of experience. I’ve read a lot about your company, especially over the last two years,after your great product presentation in Vienna. What your company does aligns closely to my point of view, so when I saw this position I decided to send over my CV as soon as Possible. I’m an environmentally conscious person, and your recycling program is admirable. That is why I want to help you to present and sell it to companies all over the world. After all, client interaction is one of my strongest skills, and I am well-tuned to customer needs. At my last position, I managed to double sales in one year. My technical skills include vendor sourcing,negotiations, and outsourcing. With these tools, I feel confident in the sales field, and believe that I would be a great fit for this position.I love sports, and play football very often. I’ve heard that you have a company football team, and I would gladly join the team.I suppose you are wondering why I want to change my current job, and the reason is quite simple: your company provides one of the best environmental services, and I want to be a part of that. Please feel free to ask me any questions. Thank you for consideration in advance,
Which of these two letters would a hiring manager examine in detail? The first one, of course. Formatting is of the essence.
Do not waste time on doubts that you can spend on composing your document.Create a cover letter
What Content to Include in Your Cover Letter Formatting
A professional cover letter format includes the following structural parts (content blocks):
1.Header - sender and recipient
First things first, start the cover letter with a heading with your contact information. This section should be at the top of the page.
[Your Full Name]
[Street, City, State, Zip]
Leave one or two blank lines after the sender section and proceed to filling in the recipient information section.
[Recipient’s Full Name]
[Recipient’s Company Name]
[Street, City, State, Zip]
Leave one or two blank lines after the recipient information section.
If you have the name of the hiring executive and are 100% certain of their gender, use “Mr.” for men and “Ms.” or “Mrs.” for women, followed by the last name. If you find out that the hiring executive has a professional or academic title like Captain, Professor, Doctor, etc., use that.
- - Dear Dr. House,
- - Dear Ms. Withers,
- - Dear Maj. Payne,
- - Dear Prof. Hulk,
It’s acceptable to use either the full title or an abbreviation. If you don’t have the name of the hiring executive, then a generic salutation “Dear Hiring Manager,” is the way to go.
Check out our article on “How to address a cover letter”r to learn how to address your letter for any occasion! Leave 1 blank line after your greeting and get down to the first paragraph of the cover letter — the introduction.
Catch the reader’s attention with your opening paragraph. Introduce yourself, explain why you are contacting the employer, mention how you learned about the organization or job posting, and explain why you aspire to work for the organization. Leave 1 blank line before you proceed to the body of your cover letter.
4. Body (Middle Paragraphs)
Emphasize why you want to work with the employer. Show strong interest in their organization, its reputation, specialty area, or public service. Describe what you can bring to the role, providing examples of skills you’ve developed and the achievements you’ve enjoyed that are relevant to the job description. Be specific and honest; don’t exaggerate your accomplishments. Highlight your experiences without rehashing the descriptions in your CV. These experiences can include:
- Your education
- Prior professional positions
- Publications or other relevant writing
Tell the prospective employer why you’re specifically attracted to them and their work, and show that you’ve done research about and understand the organization’s mission and how it carries out its work. Show genuine and informed enthusiasm for the position. Leave 1 blank line before the last paragraph.
5. Final paragraph
Conclude your cover letter, perhaps mentioning that you’ve enclosed your CV and look forward to hearing from the firm. Thank the employer for taking the time to consider your application and sign off with a proper line.
You can us one of the following sign-offs:
Remember that the following sign-offs should never be used in a professional cover letter:
Leave 1 blank line, and then write your name.
Cover Letter Format Sample
Here is a sample of a professional-looking cover letter for a resume.
Global Drilling Inc.
27 Second Avenue
Dear Mr. Fox
Dear Mr. Fox My name is Mark. As you may have noticed from my CV, I am a highly-qualified engineer, and when I saw that your company had an open position I knew I could fit the bill. Global Drilling Inc. is the best and fastest growing company in the domain, and I believe that we have much in common.
For the past five years, I’ve been a mentor for my team, and we’ve made a lot of positive changes for our company’s business. The crew of drilling-machine operators that I ran managed to grow in monthly output by 17%, with no losses in quality of work. This resulted in a tremendous annual output growth and business expansion.
Based on this, I can say with confidence that I am a skilled and committed manager. I’m result-oriented, a good team player and a good team leader capable of building a solid working environment. I know how to work with people and establish strong and reliable communication in a team.
Thank you for your attention. I am looking forward to discussing things further. If you require more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me at any time that is convenient.
Correct Cover Letter Format.
Tips and Tricks.
Your cover letter should be clear and simple. Write a short, targeted letter by getting right to the point. Do not exceed one page; be brief and professional. Use a personal, yet polite and professional tone in your letters. Make sure to avoid cliches, jargon and overused phrases such as “thinking outside the box”, “hardworking”, “ambitious”, etc. This doesn’t mean that you should be overly formal ― simply avoid colloquial language and focus on providing facts about why you should be hired instead of claiming to be a “hardworking and ambitious person capable of thinking outside the box”.
- Keep your letter short and concise. Do not exceed one page of total length (300 words).
- Be organized – list out your strengths and qualifications one-by-one;
- Support your stated skills and experience with numbers;
- Include plenty of blank space;
- Use fonts like Times New Roman, Cambria, Georgia, Arial, Calibri, or Verdana— they are easy on the eyes;
- Adjust font size to 10 or 12 points;
- Set the page margins to 1”;
- Carefully proofread the letter before you send it to the recipient.
How to Quickly Format a Cover Letter
It is easy and hassle-free to format a cover letter when the content is ready. Paste the content on the
page, add padding (blank spaces), adjust the margins, alignment, and font. Having a “master cover letter”, a
templatized cover letter, comes in handy for occasions when you need to write several cover letters in a
very short time. Create your templatized cover letter with relevant static information. Things like your
personal and contact info, your skills, and closing words will most likely stay the same.
Leave gaps for:
- - Recipient info;
- - Salutation;
- - Company name;
- - Title of position;
- - And any information you consider necessary to format every time.
This approach saves your valuable time and nerves.
Tips for Reviewing a Formatted Cover Letter
It’s difficult to catch mistakes and typos in our own writing, it would be better not to hurry sending it to the prospective employer. You should always double check your documents for spelling, grammar, and style.
Tips for proofreading your own writing effectively:
Read it aloud. No joke. Read it like you recite a poem or sing a song. You may catch the problem with your ears.
Double-checking facts, figures, and proper names. Make sure that the spelling of names, addresses, is correct.
Review a hardcopy version of your document. Print your cover letter, take a pencil, and check the document line by line. A different format of your writing may help in catching mistakes that you previously missed.
Ask a professional proofreader/editor for assistance.
Remember to take a break before proofreading your application material. You should take some time away from your writing and unwind — outdoor activities are the best option to refresh your mind and eyes. If your schedule is tight, then consider asking someone (friends and relatives, the more the better) to read your cover letter and review it for mistakes and typos. You can also use different web services like Grammarly.com, the built-in “Spelling and grammar” tool in google docs, and various extensions and third-party tools which help catch errors in your writing.
Here’s an excellent example of a correct format for a cover letter:
Now you know how to properly format a cover letter for a job application. Don’t forget to check our comprehensive guide on how to write a cover letter that gets you hired and relevant articles on how to address a cover letter without a recipient’s name, and more. If you’re still hesitant about your capability to write a great cover letter or have questions on how to format a cover letter for a job application— our professionals are here for you. Don’t hesitate to contact us and ask for professional assistance.
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