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The first step of your cover letter should be for it to be very easy to read. After all, if an employer can’t read your cover letter––they won’t be very impressed!
So, before you get to writing your letter, make sure the essentials of getting your fonts, spacing, margin and length picked before you write.
To make your cover letter to easy-to-read pick a single font that is clear and legible.
For those reasons, sans-serif fonts like Arial, Calibri Helvetica, Futura, and Verdana are all very excellent choices.
The font size should be kept between 10 and 12.
A little space between your words will make your letter easier to read for a hiring manager. Especially if they’re in the process of going through a stack of applications!
So, it’s important to make sure that your cover letter is single-spaced to give some room between lines.
Also create a line-break between each section: contact information, greeting, the opening, middle, closing paragraph and signature.
However, keep in mind, since it’s a business letter it is not custom to indent every time that you start a new paragraph.
One-inch margins are standard on a cover letter. Don’t adjust it if unnecessary.
If your information is spilling onto a second page it’s advisable that you try to rework the amount of information you include rather than try to cram it on to a single page by adjusting the margins or making the font tiny.
Every cover letter should fit on a single page as it should only consist of 3-4 paragraphs.
Always try to make sure that your cover letter fits on a single page.
Cover Letter Organization
Organizing a cover letter is a surprisingly simple task because there’s only one way to do it.
It doesn’t matter if you’re applying to be CEO of a company or for a receptionist, the cover letter for every single job is going to follow the exact same format seen here!
Like any standard business letter, you’re going to have your contact information located at the top of the page followed by the contact information for the hiring manager and company, a salutation, 3-4 body paragraphs and a signature.
3 Different Ways to Format Cover Letter Body
As mentioned above, every cover letter follows the formalities of a business letter and we’ve got a super guide on how to write a cover letter,
As far as formatting goes, there is only one section of a cover letter that can sometimes benefit from a change: the middle body paragraph.
The middle body paragraph of your cover letter is the only place where you have choices to make because it’s the place where you’re making the main argument for your job candidacy.
This is the space where you’re expressing yourself and not just following convention.
However, your choices are limited. There are three different ways to convey information about yourself:
Sentence structure.If you just write your middle body paragraph’s 4-5 sentences the same as you would any old paragraph, that’s called sentence structure.
Here’s an example of what sentence structure looks like on a resume:
Sentence structure is the traditional way that cover letters are written and no hiring manager would bat an eyelash seeing this used for any job. It’s still the most common way to write a cover letter by far.
Complete well-written sentences will show employers you’re thoughtful, good at communication, and it gives you a window to tell a story about what you’re like as an employee.
So, this is always a safe format to use for your middle body paragraph!
However, if you work in a more modern industry like tech for example––or, perhaps want a more impactful way to grab an employer’s attention consider these options:
Bullet Form. Using bullets in place of a middle body paragraph will focus an employer’s attention right here to this juicy part of your cover letter.
So, instead of writing in long complete sentences, you could instead use bullet points to make your points stronger and more noticeable.
Here’s an example of what bullet points in the middle body paragraph look like:
Since bullet points give more whitespace around them they tend to have a lot of visual gravity.
This means that a hiring manager’s attention is apt to get focused exactly where you want it: this space where you’re making the case for what you’ve accomplished in other roles that you’re bringing to the table for this new job.
Especially for data-driven jobs or jobs in information technology, this is a more modern approach to a cover letter that resonates with employers.
However, if getting rid of sentence structure completely seems too extreme, you could also consider the third and final formatting option:
Sentence/Bullet Point Mix, This is the so-called Goldilocks middle option for people who might want to feature a bullet point or two in their resume to draw attention, but don’t want to completely abandon sentence structure.
Here’s an example of how it looks in a cover letter:
This is a good method if you do want to give your cover letter a little added flair without abandoning the traditional format completely.
It’s also a good idea if you only want to feature one or two bullet points rather than three to four. Your bullet points should be newsworthy because they’re going to attract attention, use less if they’re not all solid.
3 Ways to Send a Cover Letter
Cover letters have evolved from handwritten objects of antiquity through typewriters into our modern age where the vast majority of cover letters are sent as emails or digital attachments.
Each method of sending your cover letter requires some different considerations. We’ll go over how to send a cover letter as an email, digital attachment and mail-sent hardcopies.
Let’s take a look at the biggest things to consider about how you send your cover letter.
To Email a Cover Letter
Email has become the main way to send a cover letter in recent years as most job hunting is now performed online from various job search sites.
There are two ways to include your cover letter in an email:
1Include the letter as the body of your email.
This means you just type or copy and paste your cover letter as the body of your email. It works. It’s effective.
Keep in mind, if you send your cover letter and resume as an email it’s important that you include a clear subject line with your name and the position you’re applying for in text. That’s the main added step.
The only real problem with including your cover letter as the body of an email is that you’re going to have less control over the formatting options such as margins and fonts because you’re limited to what your email service offers.
So, if you’ve taken the time properly format your cover letter in a document, consider this option:
2Include the cover letter as an attachment.
It’s very easy to create a cover letter in a word processor of your choice such as GoogleDocs or MSWord and save it in the format of your choosing.
PDF’s are the most universal format to include as an attachment, but pay attention to the job posting to see if the employer requests it be sent in a different format such as a GoogleDoc or JPEG for instance.
The advantages of including your cover letter as an attachment:
- it’s a bit more formal
- you don’t have to worry about the email service altering the formatting you have applied to your document
Also, on online platforms like Linkedin and other job-search sites, it’s common to apply from a job direct from the post and for these functions,
You might find yourself prompted to include your cover letter as an attachment. If ever given the option to include a cover letter, create a good one and do it!
Employers will open and scan your cover letter, never miss that opportunity.
3Send cover letters by mail and hardcopy.
This might be the least common way that resumes and cover letters reach employers in the 2020’s, but it still happens: some cover letters are submitted by hand or by post.
If this was the request of the employer in a job post, by all means, print out your cover letter and have it ready to deliver with your resume.
If you are delivering your letter in this method it is important that you take the extra step of making sure that you’ve included the name of the person relevant to your application and the business address at the top of your letter.
Some people opt to add the personal touch of leaving space for them to sign with a pen above their typed name.