How To Format A Cover Letter: Note The Right Things!

A cover letter can be critical for your job application success. Its primary goal is to attract attention to your message. Thus, it has to provide some basic data about your qualification and your reasons to apply. However, at this stage, the look of the letter is as critical as its contents. 

Besides exploring the cover letter writing principles, you need to pay attention to one more point. How to format a cover letter. This question is of great importance now. And it is understandable: with an endless document flow, chances to get lost in that flow are very high. Thus, you need to have an advantage at the start.  

Dealing with a cover letter, we have one more goal. We must make this document smart and pleasant to the eye. It should evoke some positive emotions about your application even before the readers proceed to the text. Of course, that moment, the contents will become the king. Still, it depends on the look if the reading stage comes at all.

This guideline will describe the right formatting principles. They are rather simple. Still, when you’re equipped with the knowledge, you can make your job application look irresistible. 

How to Format a Cover Letter: Why You Need It and What to Consider

The first question is, do we always need to format the cover letters? Not really. There are lots of digital solutions that provide ready forms to fill. After you’ve provided all the required information and submit it, the software will transfer the data into the manager’s space and present it in a convenient visual format. 

It is different if you have to send your application by email. The company might require the documents as attachments. In other cases, it might not allow any attachments at all. Then, you will need to provide the information in the email body. 

Depending on that, you would consider the following aspects: 

  • which file format to use, if it is applicable;
  • how to ensure the right format of cover letter in an email body. 

For sending a cover letter as an attachment, use the PDF format. Though Microsoft Word seems to be the most popular application globally and present on most computers, there might be issues with the cover letter layout displaying. The Word versions and their local settings can overlap the original formatting of the cover letter.  

PDF, unlike Word, always keeps the format you applied initially. Nothing will change the layout, the fonts, and any other elements. Besides, even if the recipients don’t have Acrobat products installed on their machines, Web browsers read PDF files efficiently and correctly. 

If attachments are not allowed, you have to provide the cover letter in the email body field. Unfortunately, many email clients tend to misrepresent the original look of the message. It happens most frequently if you use HTML tags or some non-standard formatting. 

Check the Formatting Setting Twice

Here, the simpler – the better. As you can’t be sure which email system your counterpart uses and how it might distort your formatting, don’t use any sophisticated means.

To ensure the correct look of the cover letter, apply the following settings: 

  • Choose Arial as the font. It is one of the default ones, displayed correctly by all operating systems and apps. 
  • The font size should be 10-12 pt. It makes the text easy-readable and ensures that the letter’s content fits the body accurately.
  • Separate the paragraphs with an empty line, but don’t use automated paragraph spacing as in Word. This formatting might get mistreated by the email client.
  • Avoid any text decoration means. You should not even use bold or italic, and it applies to both the PDF attachments and texts in the email body. Any additional formatting increases the risk of being distorted by the email app. Besides, it affects the authentic look of the document in any case. There must not be any other colors or font mixes – the layout must be unified and neat.
  • Pay attention to the subject line. In some cases, companies provide the right email subject format in the job posting. If not, make it short and concrete. Disallow any familiarity or distracting elements like “Hey, this is me, I’m interested in a job.” A well-formed and professional subject should state your name and the vacancy title. “Middle React Developer – your name” would be a subject line to help to pass the corporate filters. 
  • Proofread every line of the text. It applies to both the cover letter and the subject line. Don’t leave it to the automated grammar check systems. Even the best of them may miss a typo or fail to recognize an impropriate term. Grammar and spelling issues ruin the impression at once and for good. 

Useful Tricks of Letter Formatting

One more essential tip is the email address you use to send your job application. You might be surprised, but lots of candidates with excellent backgrounds let issues happen. It could be of inattention or carelessness. You should not allow such things if you want to grasp the employer from the start.

  • Never use the work email address to apply for a job in a different company. In fact, such things do happen quite regularly. You should use a private email address only.
  • Ensure a professional style for your personal email address. The best way is to relate it to your name – make it a combination of a name and a surname. As you need to make it unique, apply the methods that won’t affect its overall “professional look.” Add initials, play with spelling, but your name must be recognizable and accurate. Any nicknames are unacceptable.
  • Register yourself an account on one of the leading email providers. Gmail or iCloud mail are excellent options. First, such email providers are “trusted,” and your application should not get into Spam. Second, a separate dedicated account lets you not risk losing the response in correspondence. 

Thus, the main goal is to improve the application as much as possible for the first sight judgment. It is clear why – all companies want experts in their staff. You have to state yourself as a person with the most professional approach long before the recruiting people read your resume.

Let’s also consider what you need to include in the cover letter.

The Specificity of a Professional Cover Letter Format and Structure

After clarifying the most essential criteria of the cover letter look and format, let’s also examine its mandatory elements.

A professional cover letter format does not involve the size requirements. Google informs that it is a one-page document. However, how long should that page be? It should be short. The shorter – the better. Hiring managers have a very limited time resource to read every word carefully. They can’t afford to read long cover letters, even if they match the “one-page” size.

Thus, there are two requirements: 

  1. Be as concise as you can.
  2. Put the most important information in the beginning. 

In fact, the most frequent cover letter structure includes five parts that should be separate paragraphs:

  1. Greeting.
  2. Explanation of who you are and which vacancy you are interested in it.
  3. Brief description of your competencies and experience related to the profession. 
  4. Exposition of your reasons to contact the company with that job application.
  5. Conclusion with a call to action. 

Let’s explore these sections more precisely. 

  • The greeting is a formal sign and a necessary element of any business or private letter. In this section, you should address the company representative, who is in charge of hiring employees. If the name is present in the vacancy description – use it. Otherwise, you might use the “Dear Hiring Manager” greeting or a simple “Hello.” Here, one line is enough.
  • Who are you and which job do you want? You can start it like, “I am John Smith, and I am writing regarding the Middle React Developer vacancy you posted.” This section should also be short – a sentence or two. Ensure to name yourself and define the vacancy. This part is at the top of the message, and it is the first to get noticed first. Then the managers proceed to read the rest of the text, already knowing what they seek in it.
  • How do you qualify for the vacancy? The third paragraph should be more substantial, but still concise. Here, you need to describe your competencies. It is crucial to focus on how you meet and exceed the vacancy requirements. You should not list all your relevant skills and past experiences here. There is a dedicated section in your CV for that information. Thus, this document focus on the most essential information. Refer to the vacancy description again and pick the most crucial requirements. Relate your skills to those requirements and mention your past experience. In brief, this section should prove that you did similar work and coped brilliantly. It is crucial to mention the incomes your previous company increased due to your work performance and problems you resolved for them.
  • Why do you apply for this vacancy? It is the fourth paragraph that should clarify your motivation. Any hiring manager would want to know why you decided to change the job. Thus, you need to explain your reasons for doing it and specify why you chose that company. You may mention some facts about this company that motivated you to offer your services to it. By all means, expose the potential benefits that the company will obtain by hiring you. As you see, this section should naturally come from the previous one. First, you describe that you are qualified and already achieved much in a similar position. Then, you assure that you are highly motivated to grow professionally and excel. Thus, the new employer will get significant profit from you.
  • The conclusion is the fifth short section that summarizes your previous statements. It also must motivate hiring managers to learn more about you. Show your enthusiasm again, but don’t push. Be polite. Tell that you’ll be glad to answer further questions and provide more information regarding your experience, etc. Finish the letter with your signature.  

Don’t forget to separate all those sections with “empty line” spacing. It is necessary if you write and format the cover letter separately. If you put the cover letter text into an application form – separate the paragraphs too. Some digital resources may “merge” the sections if there are no such separators between them. As a result, a hiring manager gets a mass of text that is unreadable at first glance.

Get Familiar With a Cover Letter Format Example and Notice Its Features

Working with ready examples is a helpful practice. Here, you will find free pieces of successful cover letters. Each one can serve as a good cover letter format example. Note the most prominent features of formatting to apply them to your application.

However, you should not copy or rework any of those examples. The thing is, every application is unique. You need to adjust it to a particular position, make it original and personal. If you consider several positions – you will need several letters and even several resumes. General templates with the element sequences are suitable, but you need a precise and original piece of text without cliché.

We can help you with writing your cover letter. Our team will be glad to compose the most adequate, informative, and exciting cover letter. And, of course, to format the cover letter correctly. Just contact us!

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