The Proper Cover Letter Format is Essential!
Here you will learn:
- cover letter format basics
- the proper cover letter appearance
- what information to include in each paragraph
Cover Letter Format Basics:
- A cover letter should never be more than one page long. Focus on three to five main skills or qualities. You will have time to share more information during the job interview. So don't "over do it" in the cover letter.
- Proper grammar and punctuation are critical. This is the first impression on the employer, so display your writing and communication skills. Always use spell check, and ask someone else to proofread. Another set of eyes may catch an error that you may have overlooked because you are so close to the information.
- The page margins, and font style/size should match that of your resume.
- Always type. Yes, I know this may seem obvious, but as a recruiter, I have received more than one hand-written cover letter. This is a huge mistake and is not professional. I did not even bother to read these letters because the applicants did not bother to put forth the time and effort to type a professional letter.
- If you mail your cover letter to an employer, do not staple it to your resume. Just place it on top of the resume as you fold the documents to fit into the envelope. Use the same good quality stock paper as your resume. Acceptable colors are white, pale, or ivory.
- Sign your name just above your typed name.
- If you e-mail your resume and cover letter to an employer, the subject line should include the title of the job you are seeking. The best option is to attach your resume in a Microsoft Word document, unless the job posting gives other instructions.
If you decide to type the cover letter into the body of the e-mail, place your contact information at the bottom, instead of at the very top of the letter.
Cover Letter Format
City, State, Zip Code
Name of Hiring Manager/Recruiter
City, Sate, Zip Code
Dear Mr./Mrs. Last name:
The opening Paragraph should be 1-2 sentences in length. Identify the position you are applying for and how you discovered the opening (e.g. in the newspaper, on the company's website, etc.) You may also mention the name of the organization and express the reason for your interest in that particular organization.
The middle paragraph is the body of the letter and tells the employer why you are qualified for the position. This paragraph will change each time you write a cover letter to match the job you are applying for. Choose 2-3 examples that highlight your skills and experience that relate to the target job. Refer to relevant aspects of the job description when identifying your qualifications. This is the longest paragraph and you may break it into two paragraphs if it looks too lengthy.
I recommend that the first sentence of each middle paragraph is strong, and focuses on specific accomplishments, skills, and qualifications necessary for the job. The body of these paragraphs should provide evidence to back up what you just claimed in the opening sentence. Research the company and express why you are a good fit for the company. Cite specific jobs, projects, and experience associated with your qualifications. Use strong examples.
The final paragraph is the closing paragraph. It refers to the enclosed resume, requests a meeting or interview, and tells the reader what will happen next. Advise what you will do to follow up - and do it! Thank the reader for his or her time and for considering you for the position. Include a phone number at which the employer can reach you.
Your full name
Follow the guidelines outlined on this page to ensure that your cover letter format is clear, concise and professional.
Remember this is your opportunity to capture the hiring manager's attention. Your cover letter should entice the employer to read your resume and consider you for the job.
Click here for sample cover letters.
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Smart tips to help you format and write a cover letter
Struggling to write a cover letter that will catch an employer's attention? We've got tips to help you show your best self—and a sample you can use to get started.
There's nothing scary about writing a cover letter.
You've found the perfect job, hit the "apply" button, and started the process with your engines revved and ready. But wait! Slam the brakes! They want a cover letter. Oh no.
Don't let this request derail you. Here's everything you need to know to write a letter that truly sells your skills. Plus, scroll down to see a sample cover letter you can use to craft your own.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a one-page document that, along with your resume, is sent with your job application. A cover letter is your chance to tell a potential employer why you’re the perfect person for the position and how your skills and expertise can add value to the company. The letter should be professional but personable, and serve as a sort of introduction.
Do I need to send a cover letter?
A lot of job seekers today wonder if a cover letter is still appropriate to send with your resume—and the answer is yes! Even if an employer doesn’t ask for a cover letter, it couldn’t hurt to send one. In fact, it’s can help you get someone's attention in a different way, and it can be a great way to display your enthusiasm for the job and company.
What are the basic elements of a cover letter?
- Greeting: Address your cover letter to the proper person.
- Opening: Write a personable, inviting opening paragraph that notes how your skills are a perfect fit to the job and displays your enthusiasm.
- Hook: Highlight your past achievements as they relate to the job you're applying for.
- Skills: Emphasize additional relevant skills, such as computer languages or certifications.
- Close: Briefly recap your strengths as a candidate, and include your contact information.
Cover letter tips
1. Parrot the keywords: Just like with your resume, your cover letters should be customized for each job you apply to. Start by reviewing the job description. In it, you will find important keywords that let you know what kind of employee the company is hoping to find. Use these same keywords throughout your cover letter.
2. Adapt for the company: Each version of your cover letter should talk about how your skills will benefit the particular company that you want to work for. You want to target the company’s needs—not your own. Demonstrate how you could help them achieve their goals. Remember: You're selling yourself in a resume and a cover letter, but the employer has to want to buy.
3. Show you "get" them: Your cover letter should demonstrate that you have done some research into what the organization's pain points are. Presenting yourself as a solution to a hiring manager’s problem can help your cover letter take the right tone. If you’re applying to an administrative position, be sure to mention your time-management skills; if you’re an IT professional, include your expertise in improving efficiency. Always ask yourself: How can I help this company?
4. Proofread. Don’t assume spell check will catch every mistake (it won’t). Slowly review your cover letter to make sure everything reads properly. Have someone else read your cover letter for backup.
Need even more confidence before you start your cover letter? Below are some additional cover letter tips you could reference—or keep scrolling for a cover letter sample:
Cover letter mistakes you should avoid: From overusing “I” to being too vague, there are a bunch of pitfalls that can trip you up. Don’t let them!
Cover letter format and advice tips: Learn how to set up your cover letter and what each section should include.
Cover letter tips for new grads: You might lack real-world work experience, but your cover letter can be chock-full of activities that demonstrate your potential to succeed.
Cover letter tips for technology professionals: The ease of applying to online jobs has led many IT professionals to skip sending a cover letter, but that’s a mistake.
Cover letter tips for finance professionals: If you’re searching for a finance job or want to be prepared just in case, you will need a dynamic cover letter to grab the hiring managers’ attention.
Tips for better email cover letters: If you're emailing a resume, your cover letter will deliver the first impression. These eight tips will help you craft a better email cover letter.
Cover letter sample
Check out the sample cover letter below (or download the template as a Word doc) to get some inspiration to craft your own. And we've also got you covered if you're looking for a cover letter in a specific industry.
Once you've finished your cover letter, consider joining Monster—you can upload and store up to five cover letters and resumes, so that you can apply for jobs on our site in a snap!
Ms. Rhonda West
Customer Service Manager
123 Corporate Blvd.
Sometown, CO 50802
Re: Customer Service Representative Opening (Ref. ID: CS300-Denver)
Dear Ms. West:
I was excited to see your opening for a customer service rep, and I hope to be invited for an interview.
My background includes serving as a customer service associate within both call-center and retail environments. Most recently, I worked on the customer service desk for Discount-Mart, where my responsibilities included handling customer merchandise returns, issuing refunds/store credits, flagging damaged merchandise for shipment back to vendors and providing back-up cashiering during busy periods.
Previously, I worked within two high-volume customer-support call centers for a major telecommunications carrier and a satellite television services provider. In these positions, I demonstrated the ability to resolve a variety of issues and complaints (such as billing disputes, service interruptions or cutoffs, repair technician delays/no-shows and equipment malfunctions). I consistently met my call-volume goals, handling an average of 56 to 60 calls per day.
In addition to this experience, I gained considerable customer service skills during my part-time employment as a waitress and restaurant hostess while in high school.
I also bring to the table strong computer proficiencies in MS Word, MS Excel and CRM database applications and a year of college (business major). Please see the accompanying resume for details of my experience and education.
I am confident that I can offer you the customer service, communication and problem-solving skills you are seeking. Feel free to call me at 555-555-5555 (home) or 555-555-5500 (cell) to arrange an interview. Thank you for your time—I look forward to learning more about this opportunity!