Presentation is key to the success of your cover letter. Learn best practices for structuring to maximize your chances of securing a job interview!
What Does a Cover Letter Look Like?
What Does a Cover Letter Look Like?
Even the most well-written cover letter will fail without the right presentation. Learning how to structure and format your cover letter is an essential step in the cover letter writing process and will go a long way to helping you secure a new job. This guide will show you: - How to structure your cover letter - Best practices for cover letter presentation - Tips to make a good first impression with your cover letter
How to Structure Your Cover Letter
While the contents of your cover letter will vary depending on the role you’re applying to, the essential structure stays the same. Every successful cover letter is made up of the following six elements:
1. Your contact details. These appear in the cover letter header and should include your full name, professional email address, phone number, and address. You can also add a link to your professional profile, such as your LinkedIn.
2. The hiring manager’s details. As you would with any other type of business letter, add the hiring manager’s contact information above the opening paragraph. This includes their full name, job title, company name, and company address.
3. The opening paragraph. Once you’ve addressed the hiring manager with a formal salutation, use the first paragraph to express your interest in the role and briefly describe what makes you the perfect candidate. This will hook the hiring manager’s interest and encourage them to continue reading.
4. The main body. The main body consists of one or two paragraphs that focus on your key skills and experiences. This is where you describe your biggest accomplishments to convince the hiring manager that you’re the best person for the role.
5.The closing paragraph. In the final paragraph, thank the recruiter for their consideration, reaffirm your key selling point, and include a call to action (e.g., a request for a follow-up call to discuss the job opening in greater detail).
6. The close. Finish with a formal sign-off and your full name. A salutation, like “Sincerely” or “Best regards”, works best.
Once you’ve put these elements together, your cover letter should be about 250–400 words or around three-quarters of a page long. To see this structure in action, take a look at our industry-specific cover letter examples. Use our cover letter samples as a source of inspiration for your cover letter.
How To Present Your Cover Letter
The rules relating to the format and presentation of your cover letter are less clear-cut than those surrounding structure. A simple, sleek appearance is the preference of most hiring managers, but times are changing and, in certain industries, a more creative approach may pay dividends.
One piece of career advice is to maintain consistency between your resume and cover letter. This means using the same fonts, font sizes, margins, paragraph spacing, colors, and any other on-page elements used in your application.
The cover letter format you choose should be suited to the role and industry you’re applying to. If you’re struggling with ideas, visit the cover letter builder. It’s packed with hundreds of smart, professional cover letter templates that you can use for free.
5 Cover Letter Tips To Impress The Hiring Manager
Use the five tips below to write a great cover letter.
Use the hiring manager’s name.
Rather than use an impersonal introduction like “Dear Hiring Manager”, “Dear Sir or Madam,” or “To Whom It May Concern’, address the hiring manager by their full name. If you can’t find this information on the job posting, be proactive and check the company website.
Explain your best attributes
The cover letter is your opportunity to explain the key skills and experiences mentioned in your resume in greater detail, and show employers how they can applied to the position you’re applying for.
Tailor to the job description.
The best cover letters respond to the requirements for the job. Pick out some of the desirable skills listed in the job description to reference in your cover letter. The inclusion of keywords will help your cover letter perform well in applicant tracking systems (ATS) that employers use to scan resumes, and catch the attention of human resources staff.
Draw on real-life examples.
Case studies and specific performance data from your previous work experience will add credibility to your cover letter. Describe your biggest achievements and illustrate how they helped your previous employers using quantifiable data (e.g., “Brought in 20 projects on time and under budget”).
Proofread before sending off.
Hiring managers are inundated with job applications. If they spot a mistake linked to spelling, grammar, or formatting, they are likely to discard your job application and move on to the next. A good cover letter looks best when it doesn’t have any mistakes.
FAQ: What Does a Cover Letter Look Like?
Writing a cover letter is a very important part of your job search. The cover letter allows you to discuss your resume in greater detail, and shows you understand the needs of the job and how to fill them. It’s also your chance to add some personality to your application and distinguish yourself from other job seekers.
Your cover letter should include your contact information and explain what makes you the right person for the role. Open with a formal salutation and include your key selling point as a candidate in the first paragraph. Use the main body of your cover letter to provide more details on your biggest accomplishments. Close by reaffirming your best qualities and requesting an opportunity to discuss the role further.
Cover letter templates are fantastic resources for job seekers who want a smart, professional-looking cover letter design without the hassle of having to design it themselves. Templates provide a pre-set structure and format to use with your cover letter. Once you’ve chosen your template, you simply need to fill in the text.