How to Format Your Cover Letter
We reveal how to structure your cover letter template, impress the hiring manager and ultimately – secure the interview
Undoubtedly, you’ve heard that every cover letter needs to be tailored to the specific job you’re applying for – but that doesn’t mean that you can’t follow the same format for each one. You’ll likely have come across plenty of free templates to help you construct a killer cover letter. But wait! Let us explain the pitfalls.
If you can easily find a cover letter template, so can every other candidate. Think you’ve dodged this because you’ve found a super specific one that’s targeted at people working in your industry? Again, everyone else can find that too. Taking the time to understand how to create a cracking cover letter from scratch will allow you make yourself stand out among those who’ve found themselves on the ‘maybe’ pile and catapult you straight into the interview stage.
Fine-tune the formalities
Just like on any formal letter, you should list your own name and address in the top right-hand corner. Your recipient’s address should be underneath, on the left-hand side of the page – and after leaving one line blank, you’ll write the date below it. You’ve then got the option to include a subject line, which makes it really easy for the hiring manager to see what the letter is about at a glance. Stick with something simple, like ‘Application for the position of Electrical Field Engineer’ and underline it or format it in bold.
Open your cover letter with a polite greeting such as ‘Dear Mr. Smith’ – and if you’re unsure of a female recipient’s marital status then simply use ‘Ms’. Launch into the main body of text by briefly introducing who you are and what you’re looking for. You could state why you’re applying or highlight one of your biggest professional achievements.
Carefully craft your content
Before you begin stringing together sentences, note down a few bullet points to establish a clear direction in your cover letter. Make sure you’ve dropped in plenty of key words to draw attention to your relevant skills and experience. Remember that your choice of words should – subtly – mirror those used in the job description.
This is also the time to address any gaps on your CV and draw links between your qualifications and career goals. It’s easy to get carried away, but keep your paragraphs short and concise. As long as you’ve matched your own experience to the job description, there’s no need for a great deal of text.
Your final paragraph should refer to your availability for an interview, or examples of your work that you could present in a face-to-face meeting. This could be tied into a sentence about your goals for the future, or a standalone line to conclude your letter. If you’ve addressed the hiring manager by name, ‘yours sincerely’ is the most commonly used sign-off, but remember to use ‘yours faithfully’ if you’re unsure of their name. Be sure to sign your letter if it’s been printed, or add a digital signature if it’s being emailed to the employer.
You can compare the format and layout of your cover letter to some of our best examples or use it to apply for a new role.