How to Format a Cover Letter

Whenever you are applying for a job, there are two things you need to send. The first one is your resume, and the second one is a cover letter. Most companies ask for these two documents as part of your application. The cover letter, same as the resume is a formal document. That means there are strict and set guidelines that apply. An engaging cover letter should always tell the story of your passion for the position and how you can assist the company in future work. Sounds great and simple, right? Well, it is not as simple as it sounds. A hiring manager will look at the format of the cover letter first, and then at the contents. If your cover letter is not formatted properly, chances are, it will go into the archives. That being said, what is the format of the cover letter, and what are the guidelines you need to follow? Here is a format example that will help you understand what and where to put.

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How to Format a Cover Letter ?

The basic format of a cover letter

Contact information:
City, State, Zip Code:
Phone Number:
Email Adress:
Employer Contact Information (provided you know it)
City, State, Zip Code:
Body of Cover Letter

Let's break down every part of the cover letter. The contact information is self-explanatory, but what to write as a salutation, closing, and what is the body of the cover letter?

How to write a good salutation

A generic salutation is a good salutation. The trick is not to use generic salutations from a century ago. For example, we are long pass the “Dear Sir or Dear Madame” salutation. Write your salutation to the person you are writing to for. For example, Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Human Resource Professional, Dear Recruiting Manager. Never use cliché phrases like “To Whom it May Concern”. Some people go the extra mile and use social media to find out the name of the Hiring manager. You can do that to show effort. Another option is to use “Greetings”, which is informal, but still considered polite.

What goes in the body

The body of a cover letter contains three main paragraphs: the first paragraph, the middle, and the final paragraph. The middle section consists of several paragraphs, but they all follow one same idea.

First Paragraph

The first paragraph is your chance for a first impression. Some hiring managers read the cover letter first, so avoid using phrases like “as you've read in my resume”. Introduce yourself, and use basic information to do it. You should include name, experience, degree, the position you are applying for, and where you found out about the job position. For example, “A journalists with six years of experience working in daily newspapers applying for the job listed (list the link to the job if possible) here.

The middle paragraph

Many HR experts believe the middle paragraph (or paragraphs) is the body of the cover letter and the most important part. This is the section you can use to describe what you can offer to the employer. The middle, or the second and the third paragraph is called “the Hook”. And there is a reason why. These paragraphs give the hiring manager exactly what they want. And a hiring manager wants to know and see how are you going to fit into the company, solve the problems, and meet the needs. It was all written in the job description. In the middle paragraph, start by listing two or three of your strongest skills and achievements that match the crucial skills listed in the job offer. Then, fit these skills in the context of your previous and relevant work experience. The goal is to show that you have done that before, and your skills can help you finish the task again. The simple format is to start with a line that explains the basic details of your previous job (where+title+how long), and then continue with responsibilities, projects, and achievements you want to highlight. And then add few lines that will explain how everything you did before will help you be more successful in the new role. Always use facts and figures to draw attention to important information and backup your claims.

Final Paragraph

The final paragraph is a short conclusion of two to three sentences. They should include thanking the employer for reading the cover letter and considering you for the position. Add information how you will follow-up. Sometimes, it is a good idea to briefly summarize why you are a good fit for the job listing. How to close a cover letter As much as the salutation is important at the beginning, the complimentary close is also important. Here, you need to add your signature. Same as before, use a short complimentary close that is polite and formal. For example, “respectfully yours”, “truly yours”, “Sincerely”, “Kind Regards”, “With thanks” and similar.

Bonus Tips

- Know the difference between a hard copy and an email cover letter. If you are sending an email cover letter, pay attention to the subject line. This should enable the hiring manager who you are and the job you are applying for - Always write in a professional font size 10 or 12 - The letter should be single-spaced. Add space between every paragraph and each section of the letter - Remember to proofread the cover letter at the end.

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Wondershare Editor

Posted by to Cover Letter Tips

Published Jan 11,2018 16:56 pm / Updated Dec 03,2018 10:04 am


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