Published May 12, 2020
How to Format Your Cover Letter [+ Examples]
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The best cover letters create good first impressions. Job seekers can use these formatting guidelines and example sentences to increase their chance of getting job interviews.
Finally, after correctly structuring your cover letter with all relevant headings and sections it is vital that you get your formatting correct. The most important aspects of formatting are making sure that the cover letter is clearly readable and clear.
- Font: Professional font type with appropriate sizing (usually between 10-12pt depending on the font. Some good choices are your default fonts, such as Calibri, Arial, Cambria, Helvetica, Roboto, Times New Roman, Lato.
- Spacing: of 1.0 to 1.15 between words, and appropriate spacing between paragraphs and each section of the letter (i.e. between the date and the salutation).
- Headings: Make sure your headings are clear but professional-looking.
- Appropriate margins are given on the page.
- Borders are an optional design accent – if in doubt, leave them out.
- File format: Take note of how your cover letter appears when downloaded. You want to ensure that your cover letter will appear the same for your employer as it does for you – that means downloading it into Word or pdf so that you can optimise its layout and formatting accordingly.
- Proofreading: Last but not least, you want to carefully proofread your cover letter and have somebody review it. A new pair of eyes may point out formatting or other typos you did not pick up on yourself.
What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is usually a one-page document that aims to summarise your professional background and your reason for expressing an interest in the job application. The idea of a cover letter is to give the potential employer a better understanding of who you are and showcase your familiarity with the company and its goals. There are several key sections of a cover letter that are important for the employer to read that are listed below.
What to Include in a Cover Letter
- Your contact information (phone number, email address, address, relevant social media such as LinkedIn profile, etc.)
- Salutation and introduction paragraph
- Body paragraph
- Closing paragraph and sign off
Salutation and Introduction Paragraph
The salutation is when you address your cover letter to the hiring manager. It usually consists of ‘to whom it may concern’, ‘Dear sir or madam’ or ‘Dear (hiring manager’s name if known)’. The cover letter introduction paragraph aims to grab the hiring manager’s attention. Its opening lines usually consist off ‘I am writing to you regarding a job opening (job ad) as a (job title) at (company name )’. In addition to this, the introduction paragraph details your years of experience in the field or previous work experience, or transferable skills related to the role. ‘I have worked as a (job title); from this, I gained skills such as teamwork, communication, customer service, etc.’
The body paragraph is similar to the introduction paragraph but in more detail. You want to mention your skills and how you fit in with the company’s vision and goals. It will include sentences like, ‘Duties at my previous company included (example making 60 cold calls a day), which led to (outcome such as increasing sales by 5%)’. In this middle paragraph, it is good to mention your best work achievements. Match up proven track records in some of your previous roles with the qualities that the hiring company is looking for. An example of your accomplishments can distinguish a generic cover letter from a great cover letter.
Closing Paragraph and Sign-off
The closing paragraph targets the hiring manager to take the next step and follow up action if necessary. An example sentence would be, ‘I’m looking forward to hearing back from you about (job position) soon.’
An excellent example of a sign-off would be, ‘Sincerely’ or ‘Kind regards’. Remember to keep the sign-off and salutation as formal as possible to maintain a professional relationship.
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