Proper Form For Resume Cover Letter
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?! 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.
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.
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
Entry Level Workers
People with Gaps in their Work History
People Making Career changes
Individuals with extensive experience
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 City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
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 City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
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
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
It looks a bit like this:
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.
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 Arial, Verdana, Trebuchet MS, Century Gothic, Gill 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.
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!
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.
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!
Please be kind and rate this post 🙂
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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.
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.
First Name Last Name
Cover Letter Format Guide 2018 [3 Great Sample Templates]4.7 (93.53%) 68 votes
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It took weeks to find *this* job. It took hours to get your resume right.
Almost there. You just need a cover letter.
You only get one shot.
You can’t just write a cover letter. It has to be perfect.
But… How do you write the perfect cover letter?
You know—the kind of letter that will make the employer call you up in the middle of the night?
Give us 10 minutes and you’ll know how to write a cover letter like that.
This guide will show you:
- How to write a cover letter better than 9 out of 10 others.
- A sample cover letter that will get you more interviews (and why).
- Cover letter writing tips and hacks to boost your chances of landing a job.
- Actionable ideas on how to start and end a cover letter, plus how to address it.
Ready? Take a look at this basic cover letter sample. What do you think makes it so special?
An example of a cover letter format for every job made with our resume and cover letter builder.
Read on! We’ll break down the formula in 8 simple steps.
The Secret Behind Every Successful Cover Letter?
See, all great cover letters have something in common: they’re based on a proven, effective template. Here’s what I mean:
Meet Jane, the candidate who wrote the cover letter above. She’s applying for a digital marketing manager position with a pharmaceutical company, XYZ Corp. The company is planning to launch a new flagship website.
Jane’s experience and knowledge make her a perfect candidate for this role. The purpose of her cover letter is to prove that she’ll be able to replicate her past success in the new position.
Right, so you’ve seen a perfect example of a cover letter for a job.
Now, let me explain what makes this sample cover letter great and how you can use this cover letter outline to make the most of each section.
Use a Professional Cover Letter Header
Yup, the basics first. The header of every professional cover letter for a job application should include the following:
- Your name
- Your telephone number
- Your email address
- The date
- The name of the hiring manager and their professional title
- The name and address of the company to which you’re applying
Optionally, you can add:
- Your professional title
- Your home address
- Links to your professional websites
- Your social media accounts (applicable only for LinkedIn and Twitter)
- Your city of residence (it’s not mandatory but adds a professional touch—include it if your cover letter is highly official)
Just remember to keep it professional:
- Use an email address from a respected provider—that means either Gmail or your personal domain (if you have one.)
- Your email address should only include your first and last name—email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org will be deal-breakers.
- Don’t use your current work email. It’s impolite to both your current and potential future employer.
- Make sure your contact information is consistent across your resume, cover letter, and social media profiles.
Pro Tip: Writing a cover letter with no name of the hiring manager available? In the addressee section include only the name of the department: for example, “XYZ Sales Department.”
Want to save time and have your professional job application ready in minutes? Here are a sample cover letter and a matching resume made with our resume and cover letter builder. Write your cover letter and resume here.
Resume and a sample cover letter for a job application. See +15 resume and cover letter templates and create your job application here.
Open Your Cover Letter with a Proper Greeting
Who do you address a cover letter to?
Directly to the hiring manager who’ll read it.
The greeting of your cover letter (i.e., the salutation) might be the very first thing the hiring manager sees. There’s one great, foolproof strategy to make your greeting catch her attention:
That’s right. Her name.
If we hear or see our name, we react. Focus on what comes next. There’s a lot of science behind this:
Once the hiring manager sees her name in the greeting of your cover letter, she’s going to feel like she’s found something tailored specifically for her. It will feel personal, she’ll know whatever comes next might just be the exact information she’s been looking for.
All of the following are good examples of professional cover letter greetings.
Sample cover letter greetings:
- Dear Katherine,
- Dear Miss Jones,
- Dear Ms. Smith,
- Dear Mrs. Ford,
- Dear Mr. McConnor,
Pro Tip: Wondering whether you should use the hiring manager’s first or last name? That depends on the company culture. If you’re applying for a position with a relaxed, casual company, use the first name. For corporate cover letters, it’s safer to go with the addressee's last name.
How do you find out the hiring manager’s name?
Do some research!
There are multiple ways to find out who your hiring manager is. You can learn about them in our dedicated guide: How to Address a Cover Letter: Sample & Guide [20+ Examples]
If you’re unable to find the name by any means possible, you’ll need to write a cover letter to whom it may concern.
Who to address a cover letter to if there’s no name of the hiring manager provided?
Have a look at those sample cover letter to whom it may concern greetings:
- Dear Sales Team Hiring Manager,
- Dear Hiring Manager,
- Dear [XYZ Company] Team,
- To Whom It May Concern
Pro Tip: If you’re not living in Victorian England, don’t start a cover letter with “Dear Sir or Madam.”
Done with the header and greeting? Now it’s time for the meat and potatoes. The central paragraphs of your cover letter.
How to get them right?
Go for the three paragraph cover letter format:
- The first paragraph to grab the hiring manager’s attention
- The second to show what you’ve got to offer
- The third to prove that you’ll fit in
Want to learn more about best professional cover letter formats? Read our guide: Cover Letter Formats: A Complete How-To Guide [10+ Examples]
Now, have a look at a quick breakdown of the cover letter main body.
Write a Catchy Opening Paragraph
Here’s the brutal truth:
These few sentences at the beginning of your cover letter will determine whether the hiring manager will read on.
You need to make your cover letter introduction attract and hold the hiring manager’s interest.
Have a look at these two sample cover letter opening paragraphs:
How To Make a Cover Letter—Opening Paragraph
In response to your posting for the Digital Marketing Manager, I would like to express my interest in taking part in the recruitment process. As a digital marketing manager with 8+ years of experience, I am positive that I would be successful at this role.
Why is it so bad?
Because it provides no value and no details. The bottom line is basically “I’ve already done this job so I think I’d fit in.” That’s not what the hiring manager is looking for.
Now, see a properly written cover letter opening example:
As a lifelong enthusiast of XYZ’s marketing initiatives, I was thrilled to see your posting for the position of Digital Marketing Manager. I am positive I can help with XYZ’s upcoming challenges. I have experience with leading successful national online campaigns with budgets over $300,000. What is more, I have succeeded at expanding ABC’s client base by 19% since 2011.
“Wow, I’d have to be a lunatic not to hire her!”
That’s the response this cover letter first paragraph will bring.
There are a few different, effective strategies for your cover letter opening. You can highlight your achievements, show how well you know your prospective employer’s needs, or base the intro on your enthusiasm.
Even professional writers struggle to make a perfect intro to their pieces. We know that starting a cover letter can be daunting, that’s why we’ve put together a dedicated guide for you. Give it a read: How to Start a Cover Letter: Sample & Complete Guide [20+ Examples]
Explain Why You’re The Perfect Candidate
You see a job posting from your dream employer. The name of the job is the same as your current position. You’ve been a very successful professional so far.
This means, to get that job you just have to show off your best assets in your cover letter, right?
Your cover letter is not a trophy case.
What to write in a cover letter’s second paragraph?
You need to get the hiring manager exactly what she’s looking for. You have to show that you’re going to satisfy the company’s specific needs.
Remember Jane, our digital marketing manager candidate? The XYZ company to which she’s applying needs:
- First of all, a savvy digital marketing manager (1).
- And, on top of that, someone who will supervise the development of their new online portal (2).
Let’s have a look at how Jane managed to show that she’s both (1) and (2).
How To Make a Cover Letter—Second Paragraph
Sample cover letter for a job application in digital marketing:
In my current position at ABC, I have supervised all phases of our online marketing initiatives, both technical and creative (1). Last year, my key challenge was to design and optimize nine product websites for ABC’s most strategic products and improve our SEO results as well as enhance the UX (2). Here we are a year later:
- Eight of the nine websites I optimized have achieved and secured their spot in the top 3 results on Google (2). These are organic, non-paid results for 10+ key search terms;
- The incoming search engine traffic to all nine websites comprises 47% of the total organic traffic (2) for key terms and phrases.
See how it’s done?
In the first sentence, show that you’re an expert in your field. But don’t keep on bragging. The remaining part of your cover letter’s second paragraph should be all about how your previous experiences will help your future employer press ahead with their plans.
What if you’re creating a cover letter for an internship and don’t have a wealth of professional experience to present? Don’t worry, we’ve got a dedicated guide to show you how to write a good cover letter and land your dream internship: How to Write a Cover Letter For an Internship [+20 Examples]
Tell Them Why You’re Eager to Join
Your future employers have needs. If they’re willing to hire you, it’s because they think you’ll satisfy those needs.
But what they also want is for you to actually enjoy working with them. They want your future job to feel rewarding to you—that way, they know you’re more likely to stay with them for a longer period of time.
The key to writing a perfect cover letter third paragraph is showing the hiring manager why you want this job, not just any job.
Here’s the easiest way to do it:
- Start with a company fact - for instance, an upcoming project (1)
- Say why you find it interesting (2)
- Reiterate that your experience and knowledge will let you succeed with the project (3)
Have a look at this cover letter example:
How To Make a Cover Letter—Third Paragraph
I know that XYZ’s current plans involve developing a comprehensive online portal focused on healthcare-related issues (1). This project is a perfect match for my personal and professional interests and an exciting opportunity to create a unique online base of knowledge for patients and healthcare professionals (2). I would love to leverage my knowledge of SEO marketing and online growth marketing to achieve groundbreaking results with this initiative (3).
Pro Tip: How long should a cover letter be? In general, relevant and short cover letters are best. Three paragraph tops. Your go-to word count shouldn’t exceed 300 words.
Wondering how to write a good cover letter for a job application when there’s no job offer? Want to see some general cover letter writing tips? Read our handy guide, 35+ Successful Cover Letter Tips, Advice & Guidelines (With Examples), and find out about effective cover letter strategies for different types of cover letters!
Make Your Offer in the Closing Paragraph
So far so good:
Your cover letter shows that you have relevant skills. You’ve explained your motivation. What could possibly go wrong?
Actually, a lot.
You still have a cover letter ending to write. And it’s the decisive part.
It has to amplify the general impression you’ve made with the previous paragraphs. It has to make the hiring manager excited as she starts reading your resume.
How to make the best cover letter ending?
Long story short: by providing value.
Tell the hiring manager that you’re looking forward to meeting in person and discussing how your experience and knowledge can help your future employer in fulfilling their goals.
Like in this cover letter example:
How To Make a Cover Letter—Closing Paragraph
I would welcome the chance to discuss your digital marketing objectives and show you how my success at ABC can translate into digital and online marketing growth for XYZ.
Two worst cover letter mistakes you can make in the final paragraph are:
- Coming off needy - focusing on how much you want the job, not on whatyouhave to offer.
- Repeating the cliched phrase “Thank you for your consideration and your time.”
There are some easy tricks you can use to write an effective cover letter closing paragraph. Make sure to read our guide, How to End a Cover Letter: Sample & Complete Guide [+20 Examples] and check them out!
Use the Right Formal Closing
Once you’ve written the body of your cover letter, you just need to put a formal closing at the very end.
Write “sincerely” and follow it with your full name. Adding your handwritten signature is optional, but it’s recommended for more formal cover letters.
If you’re not a fan of the well-worn, “sincerely,” feel free to use any of the following synonyms:
Sample cover letter sign-offs:
- Thank you,
- Best regards,
- Kind regards,
- With best regards.
The ones listed above are going to be your safest bets. Still not what you’re looking for?
Have a look at some alternative cover letter sample salutations:
- Thank you for your consideration,
- Sincerely yours,
- Yours truly,
- Respectfully yours.
Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to repeat your basic contact information, such as your LinkedIn profile, email address and telephone number below your sign-off.
Add the Postscript: A Great Cover Letter Hack Nobody Uses
All of the above sections are must-haves in a good cover letter format.
But there’s one special trick you can use:
Why is the “P.S.” so important?
Because it’s like a magnet for the hiring manager’s eyes. It screams: “you cannot miss this information.”
Use the postscript to tell the hiring manager about something impressive about your career (1), even if it’s not strictly related to the job opening.
And say that you’d be happy to provide them with more details (2) if they find it interesting.
Like in our cover letter example:
How To Write a Good Cover Letter Postscript
P.S. — I would also value the opportunity to show you (2) how my e-detailing solutions grew the combined sales of three ABC flagship products by a record-breaking 13% in one year (1).
Don’t just send a cover letter in Word. Select the most important bits and paste them into your resume cover email: How to Email Your Resume to Get More Job Offers (Examples). It’ll immediately work magic on the recruiter.
Worried you might miss something? Don’t worry, we’ve got a checklist guide for you: What to Include in a Cover Letter (15+ Examples & A Complete Guide)
The most important thing to remember about how to write a cover letter for a job is to personalize it.
Address the hiring manager by their name.
Identify your potential employers’ needs and show how your past work experience can help them achieve their goals.
Don’t just talk about your past responsibilities—focus on your achievements. Provide details and quantify whenever possible.
Explain your motivation. Make your future employers feel special: tell them why you want this job, not just any job. Make them feel that you’d like to stay with them for a longer while.
Finish strong. Be straightforward about your interest and enthusiasm about the new position.
And for the final advice:
Keep it short.
Do you have any questions about how to create a successful cover letter? Want to share an example of a cover letter? Give us a shout in the comments and we’d be happy to reply!