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Cover Letter Format: A Step by Step Guide for 2024

Cover Letter Format, Infographic

In today’s highly competitive job market, a well-structured and compelling cover letter is crucial to make a positive first impression on potential employers. Our article offers a comprehensive and step-by-step guide on the proper format for crafting a professional cover letter. From the header to the closing, we break down each section and offer valuable tips and examples to help you create a standout cover letter that highlights your qualifications and increases your chances of landing your dream job.

Cover letter format for job application: Step by step

When formatting your cover letter, it’s important to follow a clear structure that includes specific sections. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to format each section:

 

Step 1: Create a professional header

  • To create a professional header for your cover letter, include your full name, email address, phone number, and physical address. Additionally, consider including a link to your LinkedIn profile or professional website, if applicable.
  • Use a clear and legible font, such as Arial or Times New Roman, with a font size of 10 or 12 points.

Cover Letter Header Info1

Step 2: Start with a professional greeting

  • When starting your cover letter, it’s important to use a professional greeting. Unless you have a personal connection with the hiring manager, begin with a formal “Dear…” followed by their name.
  • Addressing the hiring manager by name increases the likelihood of capturing their attention. If you’re unsure about their name, take the initiative to call or email the organization and inquire

Cover Letter Greeting Info2

Step 3: Catch the recruiter’s attention with your opening part

  • The opening paragraph of your cover letter is crucial in capturing the recruiter’s attention. It should be concise, engaging, and impactful. Avoid being dull or generic.
  • Instead, focus on highlighting your accomplishments, unique qualities, or a specific aspect of the company that resonates with you. Show enthusiasm and express why you are interested in the position. 
Cover Letter Opening Part Info3

Step 4: Pitch yourself in the middle part

  • In the middle section of your cover letter, it’s time to pitch yourself and highlight why you are a standout candidate for the role. Expand on your qualifications, skills, and experiences that directly align with the job requirements. Share specific examples of achievements or projects that demonstrate your capabilities.
  • Additionally, express why you believe the company is a good fit for you. Discuss your passion for their mission, values, or industry. Show genuine interest in their work and explain how your skills and expertise can contribute to their success. By showcasing your enthusiasm and demonstrating the value you can bring to the company, you will leave a lasting impression on the reader.

Cover Letter Middle Part Info4

Step 5: Ask about the next steps in the closing part

  • Summarize the most relevant experience or qualification that distinguishes you from other candidates in just a sentence or two. Express gratitude to the hiring manager for considering your application and the opportunity to be considered for the role.
  • In the closing, it is appropriate to ask about the next steps in the hiring process. This demonstrates your interest and engagement in the position. However, be cautious not to oversell yourself or come across as too pushy. Maintain a professional tone and consider structuring your closing as an offer, expressing.
Cover Letter Closing Part Info5

Step 6: Finish with a complimentary close and signature

  • End your cover letter with a complimentary close, such as “Sincerely” or “Best regards”, followed by your full name.
  • If you are submitting a digital copy of your cover letter, you can include a typed signature below your name. If you are printing and signing the cover letter, leave space for your handwritten signature.
Cover Letter Signature Part Info6

Step 7: Save your cover letter in a compatible file format

  • After crafting your cover letter, it’s crucial to save it in a compatible file format. Opt for a widely accepted format like PDF or Word (.doc or .docx) to ensure compatibility across various devices and systems.
  • Saving your cover letter in the appropriate format helps to maintain the formatting, layout, and overall appearance of your document. This ensures that the hiring manager or recruiter can easily open and view your cover letter without any issues.

Professional cover letter format tips

Cover letter fonts 

Choose a font that is professional and easy to read. Opt for Sans Serif fonts like Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, Lucida Sans, Century Gothic, or Trebuchet MS. Additionally, it is crucial to pay attention to the font size. To ensure optimal readability, it is advised to use a font size of 10 or 12 points. This size strikes the right balance, allowing the content to be easily legible without overwhelming the reader with excessively large or small text.

Structure

When it comes to structuring your cover letter, prioritizing what’s important is key. While there are various formats to choose from, opt for a professional one that effectively highlights your qualifications. Make sure to leave enough white space to enhance readability. By organizing your cover letter in a clear and concise manner, you can effectively showcase your relevant skills and experiences.

Email or printed copy

Pay attention to the submission requirements. Some employers may ask for a hard copy or a PDF, while others prefer email submissions. If emailing, use a clear subject line that states the position you’re applying for and your name. Consider including a digital signature. If printing, use high-quality paper that is not flimsy, and stick to white or ivory color.

Proofread 

Double-check your cover letter for any typos or mistakes before submitting it. While spellcheck can be helpful, don’t rely solely on it. Take a break after writing your cover letter and return with a fresh set of eyes to catch additional errors. Consider reading your cover letter backward to spot syntax errors. Finally, ensure that your contact information and personal details are accurate.

Common cover letter mistakes to avoid 

  • Not tailoring your cover letter to the job: When a company is hiring, they are looking for a very specific set of skills and knowledge in the applicants. So, to get the job, you need to show them that you have those specific skills they are seeking. Sending out a generic cover letter will make you look unmotivated and lazy. Instead, do your research and highlight the skills and experience that are most relevant to the job and the company.
  • Not highlighting achievements: Make the most of your cover letter by emphasizing your achievements and illustrating their relevance to the position you’re seeking. By doing so, you’ll distinguish yourself from other candidates and effectively demonstrate the value you bring to the table. Use specific examples to showcase your accomplishments and how they directly align with the job requirements. 
  • Repeating information from your resume: Your cover letter should expand on and support your resume, not repeat it. In other words, it should provide information that the hiring manager wouldn’t get from your resume. To do this, expand on specific aspects of your resume that are relevant to the position. For example, explain one of your achievements and how it could help you succeed in the job.

Cover letter format examples

Example #1: Cover Letter Education Lecturer

Example: Cover Letter Education Lecturer, MS Word

Example #2: Cover Letter Executive Assistant

Example: Cover Letter Executive Assistant, MS Word

Example #3: Cover Letter Entry-Level Accountant

Example: Cover Letter Entry-Level Accountant, MS Word
Remember: that your cover letter should leave a great first impression and set you apart from other candidates. To achieve that, focus on relevant skills, make sure your cover letter format is neat and professional, and tailor it to the job. By following these cover letter format tips, you will be well on your way to creating a great cover letter.

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