Condensing your skills, achievements and talents into a concise one-page letter can be challenging, but a convincing cover letter has the power to transform your life. So, what's the secret? How do you format a cover letter correctly? How do you captivate employers from the very beginning to the very end? Read on to find out!
How to format a cover letter
Generally speaking, all cover letters should contain the following elements:
- The header
- The greeting
- The body paragraphs
- The conclusion and call-to-action statement
- The sign-off
Don’t worry, we’ll explore each section and help you create a job-winning CV in no time! Without further ado, here’s our top ten tips for over letter formatting and writing:
1. Start with a well-designed cover letter header. A great cover letter layout consists of a header at the top of the page. The header should include your name, mailing address, phone number, and email. Sometimes, the mailing address is excluded, and people may choose to add their contact information for platforms like LinkedIn. This header serves as an electronic version of what was previously known as a letterhead.
The main purpose of the header is to convey your contact information so that potential employers know how to reach you. Headers also provide an attractive design element that can grab the attention of employers. Everything below the header will be black body text, which hopefully will be interesting to read, but unfortunately isn't very interesting to look at. The header is critical because it's the one place on the page where you have any real design options. You can opt for colour, creative use of typography, and other touches that start your cover letter off with a visual bang. That doesn't mean it should be garish or loud, but it should be pleasing to the eye. You can check out CVapp.ie’s collection of cover letter format examples to get an idea of some good design options for your header.
2. Engage the hiring manager with an appropriate cover letter greeting. Back in the old days, it was common to start a cover letter with greetings like "To Whom It May Concern," "Dear Sir or Madam," or "Gentlemen." However, times have changed! (Thank goodness: these greetings are a little stale!)
If the job posting doesn't mention the name of employers, you should try to do some research to find out who your employer is. It might involve making a phone call if necessary. Remember: it's crucial not to misspell their name and know their preferred title. Research shows that people enjoy reading their own names. Moreover, a letter addressed to a specific person is more likely to receive a response compared to those sent to an entire department. Sometimes, the name of the hiring manager or recruiter may intentionally be undisclosed, in which case you can use a more generic greeting like "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear (Company Name) Hiring Team."
3. Write an irresistible cover letter introduction. To craft an excellent cover letter, it's crucial to put careful consideration and attention to detail. Begin by introducing yourself in the opening paragraph, stating the position you're applying for, and giving a brief glimpse of your qualifications. Maintaining a friendly, enthusiastic, and confident tone is key, while steering clear of arrogance or conceit. The aim is to captivate the reader's attention in a positive manner! Here's an example:
After graduating with a BA degree in Hotel Management from Miami University, my first role in the hospitality industry set the tone for my career. I was sent on a year’s placement for Marriott to London during the 2012 Olympics, helping their London hotel network to organize events and promote their services at the various sporting venues.
4. Make your case in the body paragraphs of the cover letter. In the body paragraphs, focus on building a persuasive case for why you are the right candidate for the job. Highlight your work experience, specific accomplishments, and quantify them using facts and figures whenever possible. Share anecdotes that showcase how you have overcome challenges in the past. Align your skills, education, and aspirations with the job requirements. Remember to keep the tone appropriate for the company and industry.
During my teenage and college years, I worked at my parents’ hardware store and have a strong understanding of what goes into a successful retail business. I managed the inventory, sorted the pricing and ran the promotional calendar. I was passionate about the trade, so assisting customers who are always in need of practical advice was a pleasure.
A step into becoming a tradesperson myself was entirely natural, and after fifteen years of building up a local clientele, it is time for my career to come full circle. I have a huge number of contacts in the business and am sure I would attract many customers your way.
I understand the profile of customers that visit your store and am able to help in terms of ensuring suitable stock for project purchases and helping to coordinate the best promotions. Tradespeople love to take advantage of a bargain, so the role of a retail assistant is to point them in the right direction. I increased sales by 20% year-on-year when I worked in retail previously – you have to be proactive, or the customers will go elsewhere.
5. Conclude your cover letter with an effective conclusion and call to action: Conclude your cover letter by summarising key points, expressing gratitude, and including a call to action. Let the employer know that you are eager to take the next steps and are available for an interview or further discussion. End with an appropriate sign-off phrase and include your contact information.
I would welcome the chance to visit and understand more about your operation, your plans for the future and how I might be able to contribute.
6. Choose a sensible font that is modern, attractive, and easy-to-read. Avoid flashy or exotic fonts that may distract from your content. Stick to a font size between 10 and 12 points, ensuring it is neither too small nor too large. Align your text left to maintain readability. If your font looks a little wacky, don’t use it!
7. Keep paragraphs short. Keep paragraphs short, add a space between them, and do not indent. This advice is pretty simple, we know! Think about it: if you received a one-page letter containing 400 words that were all in the same paragraph, would you look forward to reading it? The eye needs a break, and the brain does too. That's why paragraphs were invented – keep ‘em short and sweet!
8. Use 1-inch margins. When creating your cover letter, it's important to leave space around the edges. This space is known as margins and should be 1 inch on all sides. Having margins is like having a white frame around your content, which helps to highlight and focus on the main text without any overcrowding. So, remember to give your cover letter some breathing room by providing these 1-inch margins all around.
9. Stick to one page. When it comes to cover letters, it's generally recommended to keep them to one page. However, many people find that their first draft ends up being too long. Instead of adjusting the formatting by reducing font size or margins, it's better to focus on simplifying your content. Think of it as trimming unnecessary information before making drastic formatting changes, which can make the letter harder to read. This way, you can maintain a concise and well-structured cover letter that effectively communicates your qualifications.
10. Use a professionally designed cover letter template. Using a professionally designed cover letter template is a fantastic approach to simplify the process and avoid any formatting mishaps. Our customisable templates include an attention-grabbing cover letter header, suitable fonts and effective use of white space. We make it easy to impress employers! The best part is that you only need to substitute the existing text with your own and your cover letter is ready to go! By using a professionally-designed CVapp.ie template, you can save time and ensure your cover letter looks polished and appealing without struggling with formatting.
Keen to learn more? Access more professional tips and advice by visiting the CVapp.ie website where you can create a job-winning CV in just a few clicks.
We’ll see you there!