Writing A Professional Cover Letter Format

Ah, the dreaded cover letter. Every time you sit down to write one, you probably browse cover letter examples online, get overwhelmed, and think something to the effect of: Does anyone really read these? Wouldn’t it be so much easier if I could just let my resume speak for itself?

First off: Yes, we can assure you that cover letters do, in fact, get read. In fact, to some hiring managers, they’re the most important part of your application. And yes, while it would be easier to let your resume speak for itself, if that was the case you’d completely miss the opportunity to tell prospective employers who you are, showcase why they should hire you, and stand out above all the other candidates.

Ready to get started? To make sure your cover letter is in amazing shape (and is as painless as possible to write), we’ve compiled our 31 best cover letter tips of all time into one place.

Read on—then get cover letter writing.

1. Don’t Regurgitate Your Resume

Instead of just repeating yourself (“I was in charge of reviewing invoice disputes”), use your cover letter to describe additional details that you weren’t able to squeeze onto the single page of your resume: “By resolving invoice disputes, I gained a deep analytical knowledge—but more importantly, I learned how to interact calmly and diplomatically with angry customers.” A cover letter gives you the freedom to use full sentences—instead of bullet points—so use them to expand upon your resume points and tell the story of why you’re the perfect fit for the company.

2. Think Not What the Company Can Do for You

A common cover letter mistake? Talking about how great the position would be for you and your resume. Frankly, hiring managers are aware of that—what they really want to know is what you’re going to bring to the position and company. On that note:

3. Clearly Show What You’re Capable Of

Beyond explaining what you’ve done in the past, show hiring managers what you can do in the future. “Determine the key requirements and priorities for this job, and make it instantly clear to the reviewer that you can deliver the goods on these key things,” says Jenny Foss, job search expert and founder of JobJenny.com. “Consider crafting a section within the letter that begins with, ‘Here’s what, specifically, I can deliver in this role.’ And then expound upon your strengths in a few of the priority requirements for that role.”

4. Showcase Your Skills

When you know you have the potential to do the job—but your past experience doesn’t totally sell you as the perfect one for the position—try focusing on your skills, instead. Here’s a template that helps you do just that.

5. …Not Necessarily Your Education

Many new grads make the mistake of over-focusing on their educational backgrounds. At the end of the day, what hiring managers care about most is your work experience (and yes, that can be volunteer or internship experience, too)—and what you can walk through the door and deliver on Day 1.

6. Don’t Apologize for Skills You Don’t Have

When you don’t meet all of the job requirements, it’s common for job seekers to use lines like, “Despite my limited experience with marketing…” or “While I only have work experience doing administrative tasks…” But why apologize? Instead of drawing attention to your weaknesses, try to focus on the skills you do have, says career expert Lily Zhang. “Stay positive, focus on your strengths, and immediately launch into your transferable skills and infectious enthusiasm for the position.”

7. Highlight the Right Experiences

Not sure what skills and experiences you should be featuring? Drop the text of the job description into a word cloud tool like Wordle, and see what stands out. That’s what the hiring manager is looking for most.

8. Tell a Story

What brings you to this company? Did you used to sing along to all of its commercials as a kid? Did the product make some incredible difference in your life? Do you sometimes pull into the parking lot and daydream about what it would feel like to work there? Stories bring your background and experiences to life, so feel free to tell them. (Just, you know, keep them short and to the point.)

9. Use a Few Numbers

When it comes to the job search, numbers often speak louder than words. “Offer stats to illustrate your impact on companies or associations you’ve worked for in the past,” suggests career expert and founder of ProfessionGalMegan Broussard. “Employers love to see numbers—it shows them that you speak their language and that you understand what they’re looking for in an employee: results.”

10. Consider Testimonials

If you have great feedback from old co-workers, bosses, or clients, don’t be afraid to use it! A seamless way to integrate a positive quote from a previous manager or client is to use it as evidence of your passion for your area of expertise. For example, “I have developed a keen interest in data science during my years working various political campaigns (as my past supervisor once said, I love Excel more than anyone she knows).”

11. Cut the Formality

“Don’t be overly formal (‘I wish to convey my interest in filling the open position at your fine establishment’),” writes career expert Mark Slack. “It makes you seem insincere and even robotic, not anything like the friendly, approachable, and awesome-to-work-with person you are.

12. Think Custom, Not Canned

Most companies want to see that you’re truly excited about the position and company, which means creating a custom letter for each position you apply for. “When a recruiter reads, ‘Dear Hiring Manager, I am so excited to apply for the open position at your company, where I hope to utilize my skills to progress in my career,’ he or she immediately recognizes it for what it is—a stock cover letter that you’ve mass-distributed to every place in town,” says Muse career expert Katie Douthwaite. And then probably throws it in the trash.

13. Start With a Template

That said, there’s nothing that says you can’t get a little help. Our easy, downloadable cover letter guide will walk you through, step-by-step, how to create a cover letter that rocks.

14. …Or Some Inspiration

Having trouble getting started? Check out 31 examples of how to start your cover letter in an engaging, attention-grabbing way or these eight examples of awesome cover letters that actually worked.

Give yourself a little (or big) boost by running your application by an expert

Talk to a Cover Letter Coach Today

15. Be Open to Other Formats

If you’re applying to a more traditional company, then the tried-and-true three-to-five-paragraph format probably makes sense. However, if you’re gunning for a more creative or startup job—or need to explain to the hiring manager, say, how your career has taken you from teaching to business development, a different approach could be appropriate. Here at The Muse, we’ve seen cover letters use bullet points, tell stories, or showcase videos to (successfully) get their point across. This professional even turned hers into a BuzzFeed-style list!

16. But Don’t Go Too Far

Like this guy did. Just—don’t.

17. Consider Adding a Headline

One formatting idea from The Undercover Recruiter? Add an eye-catching headline to your letter, like “3 Reasons I’m an Excellent Fit for the Marketing Manager Position.” Again, no one says you have to follow the tried-and-true format, and this can be an easy way to catch the hiring manager’s eye quickly.

18. Be Real

“Honest, genuine writing always goes much, much further than sticking to every dumb rule you’ve ever read in stale, outdated career guides and college textbooks,” explains Foss.

19. ...And Normal

We can’t tell you how many cover letters we’ve seen from people who are “absolutely thrilled for the opportunity” or “very excitedly applying!” Downplay the adverbs a bit, and just write like a normal person.

20. Cut the Fluff

Avoid, at all costs, describing yourself as a “team player” or a “people person,” says Broussard. “Instead, show off your skills with descriptive statements like ‘I’m an expert communicator with experience bringing together diverse departments to develop a cohesive program.’ It’s longer—but it’s also stronger.”

21. Write in the Company’s “Voice”

Cover letters are a great way to show that you understand the environment and culture of the company and industry and prove that you’ve got what they are looking for. So, always keep in mind who will be reading your cover letter, and tailor it to what you know will get them excited. Spending five or 10 minutes reading over the company website before you get started can be a great way to get in the right mindset—you’ll get a sense for the company’s tone, language, and culture, which are all things you’ll want to mirror as you’re writing.

22. Boost Your Confidence Before Writing

Writing guru Alexandra Franzen offers a simple mind trick that will dramatically change the way you write cover letters: Pretend. “Pretend that the person you’re writing to already loves and respects you. Pretend that the person you’re writing to already believes that you’re worthy and valuable. Pretend that the person you’re writing to doesn’t need a big sales pitch,” she explains. Then, write. Your words will come out so much easier. (Here’s more on how to do it.)

23. Have Some Fun With It

News flash: Cover letter writing doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, there are plenty of ways to spice it up! Hoping for a job at a startup? Making your cover letter more creative—whether you use a spunkier tone, play with the format, or make it more visual—will likely improve your chances of getting a call back. Applying for a corporate position? Stick with the traditional format, but make it more conversational, or include a story about how you first came in contact with the company or how much you love it. Much more fun, right? (Here are a few other ways to make cover letter writing suck less.)

24. Don’t Let Your Fear of Bragging Get in the Way

If you tend to have a hard time writing about yourself, here’s a quick trick: Imagine you’re someone else writing a letter about yourself. Think from the perspective of a friend, mentor, or previous employer—someone who would only sing your praises—and then write the letter from her point of view. If it helps, you can even write the letter in third person (i.e. “Erin would be a great fit for this position because…”). Just make sure you’re very careful about going back through and changing it to first person when you’re done!

25. Have Someone Gut Check It

Have a friend take a look at your cover letter, and ask him or her two questions: Does this sell me as the best person for the job? and Does it get you excited? If the answer to either is “no,” or even slight hesitation, go back for another pass.

26. Keep it Short and Sweet

There are always exceptions to the rule, but in general, for resumes and cover letters alike, don’t go over a page. “According to the Orange County Resume Survey, almost 70% of employers either want a half page cover letter (250 words) or ‘the shorter the better,’ approach,” writes Slack.

27. Don’t Start With Your Name

Because, well, the hiring manager can see it already on your resume. Get right to the point with what you can bring to the job.

28. But Do Include the Hiring Manager’s Name

Use the person’s first and last name, including a “Mr.” or “Ms.” (e.g., Mr. Jack Smith). Never use “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear or Sir or Madam”—nothing could be more generic (not to mention archaic). For more on addressing it correctly, read these cover letter rules.

29. Unless You Don’t Know It

OK, sometimes, even after hours of online searching (try these tips), you still might not be able to definitively figure out who exactly the hiring manager for the position you’re applying for is. If you can only find a list of executives and you’re not completely confident who the hiring manager is, use the head of the department for the position you’re applying for. If you really don’t have a name to use, try to still be as specific as possible in your greeting. Consider using “Senior Analyst Hiring Manager” or “Research Manager Search Committee”—something that shows that you’ve written this letter with a particular audience in mind.

30. Edit

We shouldn’t have to tell you to run your cover letter through spell-check, but here’s an even better step: Check out how the wording sounds to others using Hemingway. Drop your text onto the page, and the color-coded app will give your writing a once-over. Is a sentence too wordy, overly complex, or totally unreadable? It’ll be highlighted in red until you revise it. Tend to overuse the passive voice? Every instance of it will show up in green. The site will even recommend when you can use shorter or simpler words (Why take up precious resume space with “utilize” when you can say “use?”).

31. But Care Most About Standing Out

Perhaps the best piece of cover letter wisdom we can offer you comes from Foss: The most memorable cover letters are written by people who care less about the rules and more about standing out to the hiring manager. “Next time you sit down to write a cover letter, vow to not get uptight about all the tiny little ‘rules’ you’ve picked up along the way,” she writes. “Instead, buck convention. Be memorable. Nail the stuff that will make you a true standout.”

By Mike Simpson

Before I give you all of my secrets for the perfect cover letter format for 2018 (and trust me, you want to keep reading because this is going to really help you), I have to ask you a question.

Have you ever heard the phrase “You never get a second chance to make a first impression?”

Of course you have. So what’s the point?

Bear with me for a moment.

Let’s say you’re at a party and meeting people for the very first time. You want to look your best, right?

You put on your favorite outfit, double and triple check your hair, brush your teeth five times, roll on your strongest deodorant and pack your pockets full of mints.

You’re doing everything you can to make sure you’re ready to go.

Okay so here’s another question: When people meet you for the first time, how long does it take for them to form an opinion about you based on their first impression.

Ready for this?

Seven seconds.

Seven seconds?! Are you serious?

That’s right, just seven fast seconds. As soon as you meet someone for the first time, their brains are processing everything about you at a rate of thousands of decisions a second:

Are you someone they want to talk to? Do you look friendly? Are you approachable? Do you look interesting? Is that spinach in your teeth?

Of course, most of these thoughts and decisions are made on the subconscious level at lightning speed and before you can fully get your name out and shake hands, that person has already decided whether or not they want to continue the conversation or move onto the next person to talk to.

Crazy, right?

Did you know the exact same thing happens in the job marketplace? It’s true.

Okay, so maybe you’re not meeting at the buffet line both contemplating the last shrimp puff, but when it comes to applying for a job and getting that interview, you need to treat it just like you treat your party, and that means getting everything exactly the way you want it to be for that first, crucial, first impression.

Hang on, how is that possible? Are you saying I have to dress up just to apply for my dream job? All I’m doing is sending in my paperwork…do I have to put on formal wear just to type it up?

In job interviews, just like our party, first impressions are everything, which is why we always encourage you to make sure you’re looking and sounding your best in every possible way, and in many cases that starts with your cover letter.

Oooh! My cover letter! But didn’t we already go over those?

Yes, we did! But this article is more than just how to write a cover letter. In this article we’re going to get down and dirty with the actual formatting of your cover letter.

Formatting? You mean there are different formats? I thought it was just a basic introduction and blah blah blah, here are my qualifications…hire me?

In a nutshell, yes, but remember, you only get one chance to make that first impression…so why run the risk of making the wrong one?

Why The Format Of Your Cover Letter Is Important

Let’s start with why cover letter formatting is so important.

As we’ve already said, first impressions are everything. You want a hiring manager to look at your cover letter and be so intrigued that they not only read it, but they call you in for an interview.

Chances are they’re going to be slogging through hundreds, if not thousands of cover letters and odds are the majority of those are going to be tossed in the trash after nothing more than a quick glance or two.

So, how do you make sure your cover letter (and attached resume) don’t get “filed under G” (for garbage… see what we did there)?

By making sure it’s not only the best first impression it can possibly be, but also the right impression.

Let’s get started.

How To Format A Cover Letter

To begin, let’s get some basics out of the way.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a quick way for you to summarize who you are, what position you are applying for and what skills and knowledge you have.

But can’t they just get the majority of that information from my resume?

Yes, but at the same time, a cover letter is a great opportunity for you to introduce information that’s not in your resume!

Most people fail to realize this and just use the cover letter as an opportunity to regurgitate everything that’s in their resume. Not only are they just doubling up useless information, they’re missing out on a huge opportunity to engage a potential employer as well as showcase other skills or outside experiences that might not be on their resume but which are perfect for the position.

Say what?!?

You don’t need to include every skill you possess in your cover letter, rather you use your cover letter to specifically target both the job and employer.

Using the cover letter as a way to express to your potential employer what it is about the position that appeals to you and why you want to work for them is a great way to both introduce yourself and get them curious enough about who you are to keep reading.

Think of your cover letter as the “laser pointer” highlighting exactly why you’re the Perfect Candidate.

So how long should my cover letter be?

A well written cover letter should never be longer than a single page.

No hiring manager wants to read a five page letter. Remember, they’re busy! Keep it short and sweet.

That’s it?! That doesn’t seem so hard!

Slow down there, turbo. It might not seem hard, but before you go rushing off to type yours up, we’re going to break it down even further…including the three different types of cover letter formats. Once we get those explained, we’ll circle back to actual formatting including fonts, margins, paper, etc.

Different Types of Cover Letter Format

There are three basic types of cover letter format you need to be aware of, and we like to call them:

The Paragraph cover letter
The Specific Needs cover letter
The Grocery List cover letter

PARAGRAPH COVER LETTER

The Paragraph cover letter is the most common form of cover letters and is probably the format you’ll end up using the most often, especially if you are just starting out in the job market or don’t have a ton of experience yet.

Paragraph letters allow you to engage your reader with direct story telling style utilizing a series of three to four short paragraphs.

People who would benefit from using the Paragraph Letter are:

High school grads
College grads
Entry Level Workers
People with Gaps in their Work History
People Making Career changes
Individuals with extensive experience
Executives
Specialists
Anyone!

But what does each paragraph contain?

Well, let’s take a look.

Your first paragraph is your introductory paragraph.

You use it to quickly tell a prospective employer who you are and why you are writing to them. You can include information here about things like your areas of expertise and your career goals and how they align with the company.

This is also where you let them know what position you’re specifically applying for as well as how you heard about it.

Your second and third paragraphs are all about what skills and knowledge you have that is specific to the job you’re applying for and will be bringing with you should they offer you the position.

Make sure you highlight your qualifications and how they fit in with the open position. Use words directly from the job description.

Again, this isn’t the time to just repeat your resume…use this space as an opportunity to really show them how you’re the employee they’ve been looking for all along and how you’re perfect for the job they’re currently hiring for.

When a company posts a job opening, they’re posting what they need. What skills, abilities, knowledge and experiences are they looking for?

Use this paragraph to highlight how you fill that need. This is also where you can fill in any information that might not be on your resume but which will help show why you’d be perfect for the position.

Your final paragraph is your conclusion. Wrap up your letter by thanking them for taking the time to read your letter and considering you for the position.

Don’t forget to include how they can contact you as well as your plans to follow-up with them.

All in all, a traditional paragraph letter looks like this:

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email

Date

Name
Title
Organization
Address
City, State, Zip Code

 

THE EMPLOYER SPECIFIC NEEDS COVER LETTER

The specific needs cover letter (also known as the “T-Format” cover letter) is a little bit different from the paragraph letter. Yes, you still start out with your introductory first paragraph, and wrap up with your final concluding paragraph…but the real difference is how you format the middle of your letter.

Rather than writing it out in paragraph form, you go straight to what the employer is looking for and addresses each one in turn with your own matching qualifications using a dual column format.

That style looks like this:

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email

Date

Name
Title
Organization
Address
City, State, Zip Code

 

This is a great format to use when you want to instantly show an employer that you have specific skills that are a direct match for what they are looking for.

People who would benefit from the Employer Specific List of Needs letter are:

Individuals with extensive experience
Executives
Specialists

THE SHOPPING LIST COVER LETTER

The Shopping List cover letter is a hybrid of the two other types of cover letter formats, the paragraph letter and the specific needs letter.

Just like the previous two letters, you start out with your opening paragraph and close with the same concluding paragraph, but much like the specific needs letter, it’s the central paragraph that’s a little different.

Rather than doing a two column comparison or a story style paragraph, you list out exactly what the employer is looking for and respond with your own matching qualifications.

Pretend that the employer is going to the grocery store to find the Perfect Candidate. It’s up to you to show them that you fill their shopping list!

People who would benefit from the Shopping List Letter format are:

People with Gaps in their Work History
People Making Career changes who have relevant experience that might not be on their resume
Individuals with extensive experience
Executives
Specialists

It looks a bit like this:

Name
Title
Organization
Address
City, State, Zip Code

Not only is a cover letter like this easy to write, but it allows you to quickly list your relevant skills and accomplishments and can instantly show a potential employer that you are a perfect match for the available position.

This is also an excellent format for someone who is in the middle of a career change or transitioning as you can showcase exactly how the skills and experience you possess relate to the position, regardless of your work history.

Okay, all this is great, and I’m really excited to start writing my cover letter, but before I do…what about cover letter formatting specifics, like paper and margins and fonts?

Best Cover Letter Fonts, Margins & Paper

When writing your cover letter, you should follow the same rules you use when formatting any professional letter.

Let’s start with fonts.

FONTS

Open your word processing program and take just a second to scroll through your font choices. If you’re like me, it seems as though there are a hundred different styles to choose from…so which one is the right one?

Yes, you want to stand out in a sea of other applicants, but remember, before you go selecting that font with all the swirls and loops that rule number one when typing up your cover letter is: legibility.

Making sure your cover letter is readable is step number one.

You want to make sure that a potential employer can easily read it regardless of if it’s printed out or on a computer screen. Speaking of computer screens, not everyone is on the same operating system which means a unique or quirky font on your screen might show up as code or nonsense on someone else’s.

Your cover letter, just like all documents you send to a potential employer, is a professional representation of who you are, and as such, should look professional.

Try to avoid any font or typefaces listed as a Serif. Yes, they look nice and they’re certainly legible, but Serif fonts are fonts with added embellishments and stylizations which, when run through a scanning program or software, can result in the program rejecting it.

Remember, many companies these days use an automated applicant tracking software to first pre-qualify candidates and the last thing you want to do is you’re your application rejected because the computer program didn’t recognize your font or had difficulty reading it.

So what fonts should you use?

Sans Serifs fonts are fonts which are clean, crisp, sleek, and most importantly, scanner-friendly! They’re also “eyeball-friendly” which means a hiring manager reading it won’t have any issues trying to figure out what they’re looking at or run into eye-strain.

Stick to classic fonts like ArialVerdanaTrebuchet MSCentury GothicGill Sans MT (but NEVER Comic Sans), Lucida Sans and Tahoma as well as our personal favorite, Helvetica. It’s a flawless blend of style and clarity.

Another thing to keep in mind with fonts is the size you’re using. Shrinking everything down to the size of an ant just so you can fit it all onto a single page won’t win you any points. Again, you want to ensure that your cover letter is readable.

Try to stay between 10.5 and 12 points. Any smaller and it’s hard to read.

MARGINS AND SPACING

When you format your cover letter you want to make sure that your leave enough margin space to allow for printing.

Try to resist the temptation to adjust your margins, even if you’re trying to fit more into your page. Just because it prints out on your printer doesn’t mean it will all print out exactly the same on an employer’s printer. Adjust your margins too much and you run the risk of critical information being cut off if an employer prints it out.

Inversely, making your margins too large will leave your cover letter looking boxed in and squished.

The general rule is to set your margins at one inch on all sides.

PAPER

When you turn a cover letter into a potential employer, you want to make sure you’re using paper that helps convey the message that you’re a professional.

Of course, if you’re using an online submission system, you don’t get to choose what sort of paper an employer might potentially print your cover letter out on, but in the instances when you’re physically turning something in, it’s a good idea to put some extra time, thought, and a little bit of money into the paper you’re using.

Yes, it’s a little more expensive to pick up a package of high quality paper, but think of it as an investment – in you!

Look for paper rated at around 24lb weight. Anything lighter is intended for bulk copying and will come across as cheap and flimsy. If you’re using paper with a watermark, make sure it’s facing the correct way relative to your cover letter.

When selecting the color of paper you’re using, it’s always a safe bet to stick to white or neutrals. Off-white, cream, ivory and light gray are acceptable for most professional jobs.

Finally, make sure you’re always using 8 ½ x 11 paper.

LENGTH AND SPACING

As we mentioned earlier, no matter which of the three formats you decide to go with, your cover letter should fit neatly onto one single sided page without crowding.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, and in some (rare) cases (career changes, highly advanced technical fields, or individuals at the senior/executive level), a slightly longer cover letter is acceptable.

Keep in mind this isn’t your autobiography!

In terms of the spacing, keep your cover letter to single-spaced with a blank line between each section of your content.

5 Common Cover Letter Format Mistakes to Avoid

1. Spelling and Grammar Mistakes (and Typos)

THIS IS A PROFESSIONAL DOCUMENT…which means, ALWAYS proofread your cover letter before you send it out! This includes double checking your contact information.

It won’t do you any good if you have the perfect cover letter and employers who want to hire you if they keep calling the wrong number or emailing the wrong email. Double check! Then…check again!

2. Not Tailoring Your Cover Letter

Stop me if you’ve heard us mention “tailoring before”. By now, you should have. After all, it’s the backbone to our whole job-getting strategy!

MIKE'S TIP:

Not familiar with "tailoring?" That's okay... it's quite simple. Think of it like “customizing“. We now know that your company has a specific type of person in mind for the role that they are interviewing for. They have a specific set of knowledge, skills and abilitiesthat this person MUST HAVE in order to get the job. So what do you need to do? You need to customize, or “tailor” your entire interview (including your cover letter!) to the needs of the company.

Blanketing the job market with a one-cover letter-fits-all approach not only makes you look lazy, but it shows an employer that you’re comfortable doing the bare minimum rather than going the extra step to make sure your cover letter is tailored to the job you’re specifically seeking.

Do your research beforehand and make sure the letter you’re sending out not only highlights your skills and experiences, but shows an employer that you’re the Perfect Candidate for not only the job but the company you’re applying to!

NOTE: This includes the greeting/salutation of your letter. It should be “addressed” to the hiring manager (full name if possible). Be sure to read our “how to address a cover letter” article for step-by-step instructions.

3. Rambling

Keep in mind your first impression rule. Submitting a cover letter that’s long, rambling, confusing or poorly organized isn’t going to get you anything except dumped.

This includes padding your cover letter with unnecessary information. Keep your cover letter tailored, clear, concise, and clean. A short letter that’s straight to the point and laser focused is far more powerful than a long letter filled with big words and confusing sentences.

4. Personal Information

Religious affiliations, social security numbers, personal social media contact, birthday (or age), marital status, or anything else that’s personal has no place on your cover letter.

This also includes photos or headshots. All a potential employer needs to know is what your name is, how to contact you, and why you’re the perfect candidate based off of your skills, experience, and qualifications.

5. Salary Information

Save that for a personal discussion with the hiring manager a little further down the road. Putting your salary requirements on your cover letter is never a good idea. Check out the article we wrote on “How to Negotiate Salary During the Job Interview Process” here.

Top 5 Cover Letter Formatting Tips

1. Keep your format simple: Remember, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Presenting a hiring manager with a cover letter that’s overly crowded, hard to read, confusing or just plain messy isn’t going to get you the job…it’s going to get you thrown out.

2.Keep it professional: Avoid cute fonts, gimmicks, scented paper, glitter, odd shapes, or anything that could potentially make an employer look at your cover letter and question your sanity. Don’t print on cheap paper. Show an employer you’re serious about the job. Save the stickers and smiley faces for your holiday letters you send home to family.

3.Focus on the job description and how you satisfy what the hiring manager is looking for. Read the job description and then read it again. What does the hiring manager need? How do your skills and experiences fill that need? Make sure when you’re writing your cover letter that you’re using words specifically used in the job posting and relating your skills directly to those that the hiring manager is looking for.

4. Make sure you’re selecting the cover letter format that best reflects who you are, your work history, and the job you’re applying for. Remember a cover letter is a great way to introduce yourself to an employer and explain away any questions they might have about you based on your resume information. Make sure you’re selecting the right format cover letter (paragraph, employer needs, shopping list) and that the information you include is relevant to the position you’re applying for.

5. Be honest: I know we’ve said this again and again in multiple articles on this site, but it’s a sentiment that bears repeating. Be honest. Don’t pad your cover letter with jobs or duties you’ve never held or exaggerate ones you have just to impress an employer. The last thing you want to do is get a job you can’t do. Not only will you look bad, but it’ll haunt you down the line with other future potential employers. Be honest!

Putting It All Together

We promised you a much deeper look into cover letter format and I think we’ve managed to deliver just that!

A cover letter is intended to introduce you to your potential future employer and show them who you are in the best possible way…and now, thanks to this article, you shouldn’t have any problems! Who needs a second chance at a first impression if you do it right the first time?

Of course, reading about it is one thing, but seeing how these cover letters look is another. If you’re interested in seeing examples of how these cover letters look in person, head on over to our 12 Great Cover Letter Examples article.

Just make sure, no matter which format you choose, that you’re tailoring it to the job you’re applying for, making sure to include relevant information, and that you’re using specific key words from the job posting and relating your skills directly to the needs of the employer.

And as always…good luck!

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Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

I'm writing to apply for your Corporate and Events Planning Director position at Big Top Bash, Inc. I have spent the past six years working exclusively in the event planning industry and bring with me both extensive experience as an event planner and an organized and detail-oriented work ethic to the position.

As an event planner, I have organized and executed hundreds of corporate events. Group sizes have ranged from small intimate gatherings to large-scale galas. My clients not only include corporations, but also include politicians interested in organizing fundraising and networking opportunities, weddings, retreats, anniversaries, and everything in between, including international events. I am also skilled in finding the appropriate venues, entertainment, security, transportation, vendors, and promoters.

I am also an experienced contract negotiator and am proud of my ability to secure economical solutions to fit the needs of my clients without compromising quality. I am skilled in working with budgets and guest lists of any size and am proud of my ability to deliver high quality results both on time and on budget. I am creative in my approach to problem solving and cool under pressure. I am confident in my crisis management skills and my ability to anticipate and proud of my long list of satisfied clientele.

I have enclosed my resume and will call within the week to see if we can arrange a time to speak.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Signature
First Name Last Name

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

I'm writing to apply for your Corporate and Events Planning Director position at Big Top Bash, Inc. I have spent the past six years working exclusively in the event planning industry. I bring with me both extensive experience as an event planner and an organized and detail-oriented work ethic which I believe apply directly to your job requirements including:

Experience – With over six years of practical hands on experience as a Senior Events Planning Director I have been responsible for successfully organizing and coordinating hundreds of events.

Attention to Detail – During my time, I’ve organized and executed events ranging in size from small intimate gatherings all the way up to political fundraising galas for over 1000 guests. No matter the size or budget, I approach each event with the same level of dedication.

Ability to Remain within Budget – I am comfortable working with both budgets and guests lists to ensure client satisfaction. I am also skilled at negotiating with vendors, venues, entertainment, security, transportation and promoters and am proud of my ability to secure economical solutions for my clients without sacrificing quality.

Ability to Work Well under Pressure – I am confident in my crisis management skills as well as my ability to anticipate potential problems before they arise. I am creative in my approach to problem solving and cool under pressure.

I have enclosed my resume and will call within the week to see if we can arrange a time to speak. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Signature
First Name Last Name

Cover Letter Format Guide 2018 [3 Great Sample Templates]

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In it you'll get a step-by-step process that will let you craft the perfect cover letter.

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